Divining the News (DTN)

Not Mainstream News

Israel Shamir: Seven Lean Kine

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Seven Lean Kine

By Israel Shamir

seven_lean_kine

It is warm and sunny in Jaffa, a fishing harbour on the Eastern Mediterranean just south of Tel Aviv; the skies are blue and the sea rather calm, with the clientele of sidewalk cafés enjoying their milky arak and coriander-laced coffee. The economic crisis never arrived here; there are few lay-offs, prices have remained high, though the shopping frenzy has somewhat subsided. A steady stream of tourists from overseas reassures us that Israel is not the only island of calm in a troubled world. However, the newspapers compete with one another’s economic horror stories. They
say that sales of vintage French champagne in Kazakhstan are down. “Sales of Porsche and Mercedes cars have fallen by half so far this year. People are just going to have to get used to buying fewer Louis Vuitton bags”, bewail American salesmen. Jeez, this is a real calamity, calling for emergency measures!

Picture by Joe Moorman at Riverson Fine Art

I read Tom Friedman’s column in the NY Times, asking young Americans who normally crowd restaurants to stay home, eat tuna fish and be afraid, very much afraid – but they do not heed his warnings. Well, the old boy has cried wolf too often. He tries to scare us, but I do not get scared, as Leo Tolstoy once said about a fellow writer. The great Western propaganda machine has run too many scares for us to care. Do you remember Iraqi WMD, evil al-Qaeda, world terror, Peak Oil, global warming, mad cow disease, bird flu? Do you know personally of even one person who suffered because of any of it?

Or look further back, into the great AIDS scare of 1990. Then, AIDS was supposed to destroy the world as we know it and kill billions; but actually it caused just a few casualties within the gay communities. Yes, condom manufacturers and the Big Pharma made a fortune and professional guilt-trippers accused us of being not-sufficiently-compassionate with the sufferers, but otherwise, it was just a scare. Now they want to scare us into eating tuna fish sandwiches.

This is not to say that they can’t succeed. If one shouts ‘Fire!’ in a crowded cinema, the results could be tragic even if there is no fire. And there are reasons why things happen this way.

The usual explanations refer to bankers being stupid. They did not know what they were doing when they flooded the markets with their cheap credit, or sold swaps or marketed derivatives. Alternatively, it is argued that they were so greedy that did not understand their long-term interests and ruined everything. But the bankers and the financial elite are not stupid, neither are they short-sighted. I believe that things happen because people intend them to happen, unless there are very strong proofs to the contrary. I believe that unless we do something pretty drastic, they will emerge out of this crisis even more rich, more powerful and in fuller control of our lives. –more–

Written by morris

March 1, 2009 at 3:02 am

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