Chris Hedges has a suggestion for anyone searching for a New Year's resolution: overthrow the speculators. His targets are the big banks, whose reach is global and who brought the economy to its knees in 2008. Now, five years later, they are bigger and their influence is greater. Hedges writes:
Speculators at megabanks or investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are not, in a strict sense, capitalists. They do not make money from the means of production. Rather, they ignore or rewrite the law—ostensibly put in place to protect the vulnerable from the powerful—to steal from everyone, including their shareholders. They are parasites. They feed off the carcass of industrial capitalism. They produce nothing. They make nothing. They just manipulate money.
To put things in perspective, Hedges reminds his readers that financial speculation used to be a crime. In the 17th century, speculators were hanged because they were considered dangerous to the commonweal. They remain so. And that is why the public needs to wrest control from them:
We can wrest back control of our economy, and finally our political system, from corporate speculators only by building local movements that decentralize economic power through the creation of hundreds of publicly owned state, county and city banks.
An example of such a public bank is the state public bank in North Dakota which "permits localities to invest money in community projects rather than hand it to speculators. It keeps property and sales taxes, along with payrolls for public employees and pension funds, from lining the pockets of speculators such as Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Money, instead of engorging the bank accounts of the few, is leveraged to fund schools, restore infrastructure, sustain systems of mass transit and develop energy self-reliance."
In Canada, we used to promote the advantages of a mixed economy. But, with the advent of the Mulroney and Chretien governments, all public enterprises were branded a drain on the public purse. So Air Canada, Petro Canada, and Canadian National Railways were privatised. Those companies gave citizens a piece of the action. Now citizens are sheep to be fleeced.
2014 may turn out to be the year of revolt down on the farm.