Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bamako - The Movie


Bamako Mali has the reputation of being one of the most 'african' places in Africa, eg, authentic environs, kind people, mostly from the same ethnic group - the European governments didnt divide the indigenous peoples apart, desert climate, the long-and-wide River Niger running right through the middle of town, thriving markets, post-Soviet-supported government, with the colonials making less of dent in the local culture than they did in other places because, well, it is in the middle of the desert, not a nice coastal-beach metropolis like so many other colonial cities.

The new film called Bamako is out in NYC today. One of the first things you learn in economics school is that journalists and the mainstream media know nothing about economics (this could be snobbism or predictable public choice behaviour but 90% of the time it seems true except in the business sections of newspapers).

Anyway in the NY Times today they review Bamako and said the film is a about a trial, "On trial is not a person but the World Bank - which is to say, global capitalism - itself." I wish. The World Bank is not capitalism, it is 1) crony capitalsim, 2) state-capitalism, and 3) monopoly capitalism, but it is not free-market capitalism. "The Bank", as insiders call it, gives subsidized monies to inefficient governments that don't deserve, waste it, then stick their peoples with the debt. That is not capitalism. In the Austrian Economics version of capitalism, people interact with each other freely, the state enforces contracts and keeps the peace, and civil society takes care of their own.

The movie's probably pretty good though as Bamako is a wonderful place, despite the presence of neo-imperalists like "The Bank".

Deconstructing the US Government

The government is not your friend

Bush II has presented the first budget (for 2008) of a bipartisan government in 10 years. Thus maybe it is time to shine some light on where we are headed. Let’s look at three guiding realities about the US Government.

1) Debt is bad, especially at the current high levels. Why? Because it is spending now and saddling the next generations with the bill, thus large unsustainable debt is immoral in that we are limiting our children’s future without their say in the matter;

2) The USA is a military machine, until we give up our fatal conceit of military intervention overseas and protector of last resort the taxpayer is stuck paying the bills (17% of the budget). There are US troops everywhere from Saudi Arabia to Germany to South Korea and Japan, constructs of post-war situations long over with and now placed in countries where we are not wanted and countries who are now able to take care of themselves. Thus, to force yourself on others is also immoral; and,

3) There are changes needed to the non-discretionary programs. Medicare and social security each take up 20% (thus a total 50% of the budget is non-discretionary as 10% of budget is interest payments) are increasing exponentially; health care costs are rising at least 10% per year, or three time that of inflation, and the number of workers per retiree is quickly decreasing as the birth-rate decreases and people are living longer. We are therefore promising payments to people at unsustainable levels (eg program spending must go down or taxes must go up to cover the payments), again promising what you cannot delivery is also immoral.

So what will the new leaders do about this situation? Who wants to live in an immoral society, let alone contribute to (pay for) it?