It’s easy to point the finger at the US government for exercising hypocrisy on the world’s biggest budget.
Its economy is driven mainly by warfare and it has an appalling foreign affairs record. It bullies because it can and it suffers from a complete lack of transparency, as exemplified by president Obama’s hostile reaction to whistle-blowing.
But considering societies that kill and mutilate – mostly females – in the name of bronze-age religions, free-market democracy with all its faults has some appeal.
Yes, there is hope for the world’s most influential and powerful entity: consider the recent ambition by a small group of senators across party lines to restore the financial integrity which helped make the US successful in the first place.
The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 is actually a well-known topic within Occupy activist circles, but what is it? To paraphrase the HBO series Newsroom, there are two types of banks: investment and commercial. Investment banks are the gamblers (futures trading, derivatives, hedge funds, etc) while commercial banks are where general savings and cheque accounts are held.
They were separated from each other after the 1930s depression because, when combined, it proved to be unstable for the entire nation – and world. But in 1999, both banking systems were again combined under president Clinton and guess what – there was a financial crash in 2008. The Washington Post online reported on July 12, 2013 that ‘Nobel laureate economist Joe Stiglitz, among many others, fingered 1999’s partial repeal of the [Glass-Steagall Act] law as a contributing factor behind the  financial crisis.’
Why does this matter locally? Any collapse of the US economy affects the West, as it did in the 1930s depression. In 2008, billions were wiped out globally, affecting Australia’s local governments as many held ‘toxic’ assets tied to the US.
Until we can wean ourselves from the US greenback we are stuck with their good or bad decisions.
Hans Lovejoy, editor
Haters of free speech
It’s either good or bad news: the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) was thrown a cash lifeline by the federal government last week after the state government, with pressure from the mining sector and News Ltd, cut some of its funding late last year.
The EDO is a small team of lawyers, with offices in Sydney and Lismore, which examines government policy and represents and advises the public in environmental law cases.
So re-instating their operational costs is good news if you value free speech and a differing opinion.
But as reported in News Ltd’s The Australian, it’s bad news.
Its Friday July 5 headline, ‘Boost for anti-coal body shows Labor knows how to alienate its heartland,’ can be found amid stories spruiking new mining projects.
According to corporate shill journalist Chris Merritt, Hunter Valley coalminers should reject Labor because they are now funding the EDO, which ‘advises those who want to destroy their industry.’
In contrast to News Ltd, the ABC reported at the time of the funding slash that there was ‘an angry backlash in the Hunter Valley’ over the EDO cuts. So which media outlet offers less spin?
Bulga-Milbrodale Progress Association vice-president, John Krey, told ABC that without the EDO’s help, mining expansions such as the Mount Thorley-Warkworth mine will continue unabated. ‘We could not, as a community group, afford to run and pay full fees for legal teams to run our case.’
Meanwhile NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher told The Australian late last year there’s a ‘left agenda to destroy the economy.’
Politics aside, if the mining industry were prevented from dictating Australia’s economic growth and we adopted best practice sources of renewable energy already available, our economy and environment would be in much better shape. Preventing the fossil fuel industry from regulating the renewable sector would be a start. It should be noted that our local NSW MP, Don Page, appeared to have no interest in fighting against his government’s cuts to the EDO.