Thursday, May 8, 2008

NPR lies and Socialism.

Nazarian posted a video produced by NPR about the ideas of Hernando de Soto, economist exraordinaire. De Soto argues that the absence of property rights and corruption are the reasons why "developing" countries, kind of like Armenia, are poor. This is obfuscation: he is reversing cause and effect: the corruption and lack of property rights are the effect of poverty, not the cause. And the ultimate cause of the poverty is unbridled capitalism.

I see this kind of obfuscation all the time, and it makes me want to reach through the screen and choke the liar expressing it, especially when it is disseminated through NPR. NPR, once upon a time, really was a National Public Radio, but for the last ten years or so, it has been nothing but a particularly pernicious propaganda outlet for the sly re-education of precisely the kind of college-educated, middle-class, latte-drinking liberals that the right likes to rail about.

When the right wing is talking to its supporters, it demonizes urban professionals as pretentious nobodies.

When the right wing is talking to urban professionals, it speaks through NPR, because, truth be told, the right really is trying to spread its radical, anti-enlightenment ideas to those among the "latte-drinkers" that are too distracted to notice.

So I've decided to address this treachery on the part of NPR and get down to the heart of a typical example of the false, partisan arguments that it broadcasts.

There are two components to every lie: the hidden false logic, and the way that the lie is told: logic and rhetoric. I am going to address the false logic, but the rhetoric definitely merits looking into: the way the scenes are set up, the music, the voice of the narrator, the nauseatingly thick praise of de Soto at the beginning to make de Soto the ass look like de Soto the prince, the contrast between "we" westerners and the earth-plowing coloreds of the "developing" world... The list goes on and on. All of that, the rhetoric, for another time. Let's dig into the logic of the argument.

Basically, de Soto is one apologist in the long line of apologists for capitalism starting, in our epoch, from Keynes, to Sachs, and now, him.

They write some batty paper explaining the rote inequalities and crises that capitalism produces as the fault of this or that scapegoat, like, for example, distance from the center, racial immaturity, corruption, and so on. Then some hireling PhD reads their batty paper, reports to his ruling elite bosses, and all of a sudden de Soto is a "celebrated" economist, the smartest guy since, erm, Alan Greenspan, don't you know.

It's all bullshit.

De Soto says that corruption is to blame for capitalism not working miracles in "developing" countries. What he is covering-up is that capitalism is the cause of the corruption. In a system where the rich necessarily get richer and the poor necessarily get poorer, the word "corruption" is nothing but the word that the rich use to entertain the poor's notion of ethicality. "Corruption" is "inequality" with ethics mixed in.

Who would say that Kocharian and Sargsyan and their cronies are not capitalists? They have the money and they have the power: meaning, they have capital. They are using that money and power (capital) to get more money and power (capital). That's capitalism. It's that obvious.

There is as much ethics in capitalism as there is ethics in mathematics. If you call Kocahrian "corrupt," then what you are doing is saying that his enjoyment of capitalism is going beyond a certain ethical limit.

Admit it.

Historically, this tendency for people to go beyond the ethical limit has been checked by the regulation of the economy. The state has said to the capitalists: you can't privately own the water supply of the country, you can't own the electricity, the roads, or any other vital resource a human being needs to live and work. That is what socialism really is: state regulation of the excesses of capitalism, the only thing standing between the people and the Kocharians of the world.

But all of that disappeared with, generally speaking, the (predictable) economic crisis of the 70s, infantile voters, and the monster named Reagan that they gave birth to, who started a trend of deregulation the hag mother of which was the banking deregulation of 1996: the--real--cause of the housing/mortgage crisis that is threatening the welfare of the entire world today.

And none of this is accidental, mind you. This is why de Soto is a lying crony. Those who do have capital don't want any competition. They make sure that the working class--read, erstwhile middle-class--remains ignorant, without capital, and at the mercy of the hate it has for the scapegoats that are put on the television for it to blame for its misery: homosexuals, "liberals," Mexicans, and, in Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian.

The poor people of Peru, or of Egypt, or of Armenia are poor because they have no capital and nothing to invest. All they can do is to go out and work for someone who does have capital and make enough to pay the bills and get by, if they're lucky. And they never make enough to be able to save, and even if they manage to save, inflation makes sure that their savings end up meaning nothing. That's not accidental.

Applied to Armenia, de Soto's bogus argument would be that Kocharian and Sargsyan corrupted the system that would have worked otherwise. But the real question is: Who corrupted Kocharian and Sargsyan? Who? The answer is the World Bank, the IMF, and the Millenium Fund that sent billions of dollars of--unmonitored--money in their direction. These institutions are happy to loan money to--read, buy Armenian children's lives from--Kocharian and Sargsyan, because on top of everything else, they get deregulation of state services in Armenia. That's not accidental, either.

The truth is the exact opposite of what de Soto says: Developing countries aren't poor because their corrupt local governments keep them like that, no. Developing countries are poor because rapacious--global--capital corrupts local governments, then hides behind the people it has corrupted and gives the microphone to useful idiots like de Soto to spread his personal confusion far and wide.

And that's how we all became slaves.


Wallace Reid said...

I've been watching a similar drama acted out, in the current food for fuel hysteria sweeping the globe.

The hidden false logic; ethanol was developed to protect the evironment.

The way the lie is told; Food riots are the result cruel and greedy farmers.

The truth is, small, un-subsidized farmers pushed legislation allowing them to distill their own grain, to run their own equipment, on their own farms to off-set the ever increasing price of the fuel required to farm their own land. Their only significan hurdle was liquor laws carried over from prohibition. Small farmers were being bankrupted, and corporation were grabbing the land.

Environmentalists that were preaching 'acid rain' politics, saw the new industry's political potential, and hijacked the movement, preaching Global Warming. Both acid rain, and global warming are bad science.

In a nation where there are 'property rights', and those land-owners find financial independence from the oil cartels, their is no expense too great, no lie too large. For if the American Farmer ever did achieve independence, then they might actually gain control of their own 'prime source of energy', in the same manner of OPEC.

That is:
- Collective Bargaining
- Pruduction Goals

This is not likely to happen soon, as corruption is another name for government, and politics is crime in a suit.

Thanks for a very good read, I've been following your blog for a while, but only just now been motivated to comment.

parisan said...

I have seen how poverty can be the cause of corruption just as I have seen how corruption can cause poverty. The two help each other.

Corruption certainly stems from the Law. Remove all laws, and corruption disappears. It doesn't matter whether it's capitalism or communism -- where there are laws and rules, people will cheat. They do it even when playing simple games!

In any society, the elite attempts to establish and maintain various monopoles. A monopole on violence exists where only the police officer or the soldier can use violence legally, for good or bad. Another monopole is such that corruption seems nonexistent except at high levels. In Armenia, anybody can easily get out of troubles with a "gift" given to the right person, but in America not everybody can do it.

Robots, or people robotized with brain washing or television, and the legal drugs, might be able to live in a corruption free society.

Interesting post, and good comment by Wallace.