Two Obamas, Two Classes of Children. By Ralph Nader

Art by Naji al Ali

Via: The Nader Page.

An Associated Press photograph brought the horror of little children lying dead outside of their home to an American Audience. At least 10 Afghan children and some of their mothers were struck down by an airstrike on their extended family household by order of President Barack Obama. He probably decided on what his aides describe as the routine weekly “Terror Tuesday” at the White House. On that day, Mr. Obama typically receives the advice about which “militants” should live or die thousands of miles away from drones or aircraft. Even if households far from war zones are often destroyed in clear violation of the laws of war, the president is not deterred.

These Obama airstrikes are launched knowing that very often there is “collateral damage,” that is a form of “so sorry terrorism.” How can the president explain the vaporization of a dozen pre-teen Afghan boys collecting firewood for their families on a hillside? The local spotter-informants must have been disoriented by all those $100 bills in rewards. Imagine a direct strike killing and injuring scores of people in a funeral procession following a previous fatal strike that was the occasion of this processional mourning. Remember the December 2009 Obama strike on an alleged al-Qaida training camp in Yemen, using tomahawk missiles and – get this – cluster bombs, that killed 14 women and 21 children. Again and again “so sorry terrorism” ravages family households far from the battlefields. Continue reading

The Practice of Neoliberalism: How Think Tanks, Foundations, Big Oil and the CIA Undermine Democracy. By David Livingstone

Via: Global Research.

Canada’s Fraser Institute

How American right-wing foundations, Big Oil and the CIA collaborate to undermine the social democratic systems of Canada and other countries around the world.

Since the early 1970s, there has been a broad international agenda led by right-wing American foundations to sway public opinion towards greater acceptance of an economic philosophy called Neoliberalism, of which Canada’s Fraser Institute has been a pivotal part.

It is by tracing the connections between the Fraser Institute and several prominent Canadian politicians, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and other far-right conservatives, including BC Premier Campbell of British Columbia, that we can identify the source of their disdain for democracy, a penchant for slashing social programs, their unconditional support for American foreign policy expeditions, and an utter refusal to condemn the gross human rights abuses of Zionism in Israel.

Every year, the Fraser Institute announces a Tax Freedom Day, the first day of the year when the country of Canada has theoretically earned enough income to fund its annual tax burden, and its “Report Cards” of schools and the health care system, designed to convince Canadians of the importance of reducing public spending and privatizing these and other social services.

As reported in The Tyee, Paul Shaker, dean of the faculty of education at Simon Fraser University, said recently:

“Part of the international movement of neoliberalism is to treat schools as simply another service that can be commodified and deserve no special place in society. This movement has been coming along since Thatcher and Reagan, and reached a fevered pitch over the last 10 years.” If you want to analyze why things have deteriorated in Vancouver, Shaker said, “it probably has to do with this global and political movement.” The premise of Neoliberalism, and that of Neoclassical Economic theories in general, is the pessimistic view that human beings are selfish creatures. It develops from a crass darwinian attitude, that deems that people aught to be responsible for their own “failings”, like poverty, and therefore, that governments should not provide services to assist them when they are in need.

Ultimately, the pursuit of self-interest is thought to create efficiencies that should be favored over any form of government activity. However, while the profit motive is certainly tolerable in certain cases, it is actually contrary to the public good in others, as in cases of essential human needs, like education, health, water, energy sources and so on.

Essentially, Neoliberalism draws support from the philosophy of Adam Smith, who maintained it was not necessary for governments or any other social organizations to enforce a redistribution of wealth, because the free pursuit of self-interest would create enough surplus to benefit all. The disguised intent is to induce societies to expose what should be publicly held assets or industries to exploitation by private interests, and to then prevent governments from taxing these corporations, or regulating their activities in ways that might restrain their lust for profits.

The chief propagandists of Neoliberalism, were Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, who, in 1947, founded the Mont Pelerin Society, to coordinate the creation of an international network of think-tanks and foundations, to spread their philosophy of corporate greed. The basis of their propaganda was a scare-tactic of equating “big government” with totalitarianism. In Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Milton Friedman proposed that centralized control of the economy was always accompanied with political repression. Similarly, in The Road to Serfdom (1944), Hayek argued that “Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends.” Continue reading