The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Dzogchen Verse (7)

The Natural State is called the Great Perfection of Bodhicitta. Without doing anything or searching for anything, simply leave this Bodhicitta or Great Perfection which you experience as it is. If you search or do something, you can't find anything. There is nothing special, nothing visible. This Nature has no root and there is nothing which can be found; it is very clear presence....

This Nature, called the Nature of Mind, neither grasps nor perceives anything. Seen from its perspective, the mind and consciousness are completely deluded. There is nothing particular to focus on within this Nature, nor is it possible to meditate upon it. If you focus on or think of it, you have lost your way, you are wrong. This Nature has neither subject nor object and is ever unborn. It is called Self-Born Wisdom. Your meditation should be this: Remain in equipoise in this Nature. This is the real knowledge of the Buddhas.

(Yongdzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak, Masters of the Zhang Zhung Nyengyud)

Indian Musical Instruments (16): Bansuri

Indian Musical Instruments (15): Pakhawaj

Barack Obama: Wall-Street Democrat

I'll ask the same question that Ralph Nader has asked: When will Progressives, Independents and many others who supported Barack Obama finally reach their breaking point with Obama and the corporate Democrats?

The following is a portion of an interview with noted economist Michael Hudson conducted on the Democracy-Now telecast on July 22, 2011. Professor Hudson's views on Mr. Obama's financial policies should be carefully noted by the thoughtful reader:

MICHAEL HUDSON: --- The Federal Reserve can create a deposit, just like a bank does. If you go into a bank, you sign an IOU, and the bank adds money to your account. It’s done on a computer keyboard. That’s what money—how it’s created these days. And the government can do exactly what the bank can do. They can create the money on their own computer keyboards. And that’s—usually, they do that by running a budget deficit. That’s why the economy needs a budget deficit to grow. When the government runs a budget deficit, that puts money into the economy and helps us recover from the recession. That’s pretty obvious.
Under Clinton, we had a budget surplus. And what that meant was, normally, that would have pushed the economy down, but the gap was all provided by banks, commercial banks, on their computer keyboards, at interest. They cleaned up. And that’s a situation that President Obama is trying to restore today. Instead of the government creating free money on its keyboard with a deficit, all of the increase in money used by the American economy will be created by Wall Street at interest. It’s completely unnecessary.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, let me ask you about the $3 trillion deal that no one yet knows the specifics of, but we’re already getting the outlines of it leaked little by little. This whole issue of eliminating the tax deduction that millions of Americans use for home mortgage interest, this was supposedly what helped so many people be able to buy homes. With the entire housing industry of the United States in crisis, why would they eliminate mortgage interest deduction, which it seems to me would make—mean fewer houses are bought and sold in the United States?

MICHAEL HUDSON: The banks, normally, wouldn’t back anything that was going to lead to more foreclosures. But in this case, the government has told the banks, "Yes, there are going to be a lot more foreclosures, but we’re going to bail you out, because we’ve insured the mortgages." Eighty percent of the mortgages in America are now insured by the government, so the banks won’t lose the money. By cutting the deduction, this is going to lead to a huge—a higher bailout by the government to Wall Street on the guarantees that Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Authority have done.
Now, you said one thing, that making mortgage interest deductible makes homes more affordable. It really didn’t. What happens is, it enables the banks to make a larger loan against the value of the home, and the buyer of the home now has to pay more interest and take on a larger debt, because they have more free money to pay. Whatever the tax collector relinquishes is available to be paid to the banks as interest. So all of this tax deductibility in the first place was an attempt to un-tax real estate, so that home buyers could take out larger mortgages. And 80 percent of banks’ business is making mortgage loans.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Hudson, let me ask you about the Republican proposal dubbed "cut, cap and balance." It passed the House earlier this week, and the Senate will vote on the measure today. This is House Speaker John Boehner.

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Also this week, the House passed our "cut, cap and balance" legislation that represents exactly the kind of "balanced legislation" the President has talked about. It provides him with the debt limit increase that he’s requested. But it gives families and small businesses the real spending cuts and reforms that they’re demanding without any job-crushing tax hikes. What this legislation also shows, that it’s not only important to avoid default, it’s also important that we take a meaningful step toward real deficit reduction. This means, in addition to cutting and capping spending now, there should be real structural reforms to our entitlement programs. And there will be no tax increases.

AMY GOODMAN: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described the "cut, cap, balance" bill as one of the worst bills in the history of the country.

SEN. HARRY REID: I think this piece of legislation is about as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come on this Senate floor. And I am not going to waste the Senate’s time, day after day, on this piece of legislation, which I think is an anathema to what our country is all about. So everyone understand, we’re going to have a vote tomorrow. I’m not going to wait 'til Saturday. We're going to have a vote tomorrow, and I feel confident that this legislation will be disposed of, one way or the other. The American people should understand that this is a bad piece of legislation, perhaps some of the worst legislation in the history of this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Hudson, your response?

MICHAEL HUDSON: He’s quite right. This is an awful piece of legislation, and it’s too bad that Mr. Obama supports it. But you could see it all coming even before Mr. Obama took office, when he appointed the Deficit Reduction Commission. He appointed opponents of Social Security to the commission: Republican Senator Simpson and Bowles, who was Clinton’s chief of staff. Obama really believes in trickle-down economics. He believes that Wall Street are job creators, not downsizers and outsourcers and foreclosures. That’s the tragedy of all this.
Now, how—the question is, how can a Democratic president put forth a Republican program? There has to be a crisis. Now, in reality, there is no crisis at all. In reality, the raising the debt ceiling has been done for a hundred years automatically. There is no connection between raising the debt ceiling and arguing over tax policy. Tax policy takes many years to work out. All of a sudden, Mr. Obama is going along with the charade of saying, "Wait a minute, let’s create a crisis." As his former manager, Rahm Emanuel, said, a crisis is too important an opportunity to waste. And Wall Street doesn’t like real crises, so there’s an artificial non-crisis that Obama is treating as a crisis so that he can put forth the recommendations of the Deficit Reduction Commission to get rid of Social Security that he has supported all along. That’s the problem. He believes it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You know, I wanted to ask you specifically about that, because every time you turn on the TV now or you read a mainstream newspaper, there are all of these quotations from Moody’s and this rating agency and this expert that August 2nd will be a financial Armageddon for the country. And I’m saying to myself, we’ve already been through a financial Armageddon for the last couple of years, and now they’re suddenly saying that, on this date, if this stuff is not passed, if a deal is not reached, suddenly the entire world financial system will be under severe strain.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, you had this kind of debt ceiling come up, I think, maybe 20 times under Bush’s administration. It’s a non-threatening thing. It’s something automatic. It’s technical. It’s sort of like going to the corner and having a certified—somebody certify what you’ve done. It’s a technical thing that has nothing to do with the real economy or policy at all. They’re pretending it’s a crisis because they have a plan. And the plan is what Mr. Boehner has put forth. Just like after 9/11, the Pentagon pulled out a plan for Iraq’s oil fields, Wall Street has a plan to really clean up now, to really put the class war back in business and get rid of Medicare, get rid of the programs for the poor, and say, "There’s no money for you. We’ve given it all away in the bailouts."

AMY GOODMAN: So, Michael Hudson, what could President Obama do?

MICHAEL HUDSON: He could say, "This debt ceiling has nothing to do with policy. You want to argue about the tax policy? Fine, let the Democrats and Republicans do it under non-crisis conditions. But this has nothing to do at all with the debt ceiling. If you want to refuse to increase the debt and plunge the economy into disaster, maybe you’d better talk to your campaign contributors and see what they want, because I know what they say. Your campaign contributors, in the Republicans, are my campaign contributors. They don’t like crises." And you’ll find that it’s all—the charade will—it’s just like pricking the balloon.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, what about that? I mean, the very people that are supporting the Tea Party, you know, congressmen activists, are these very same financial institutions that, of course, are demanding a lifting of the debt ceiling.

MICHAEL HUDSON: What they’re pushing for really isn’t a default on the debt. They’re pushing for a crisis to let Mr. Obama rush through the Republican plan. Now, in order for him to do it, the Republicans have to play good cop, bad cop. They have to have the Tea Party move so far to the right, take a so crazy a position, that Mr. Obama seems reasonable by comparison. And, of course, he is not reasonable. He’s a Wall Street Democrat, which we used to call Republicans.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms of the danger to Social Security and Medicare, how do you see the direction that they are hoping to go into, in terms of the reductions on this deal?

MICHAEL HUDSON: As Mr. Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission said, we have to get rid of Medicare, we have to get rid of Social Security, put the Social Security funds into the stock market, create a stock market boom, create a new business for his—for Wall Street. He believes in trickle-down economics.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the retirement accounts.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes. That’s what he believes in. And this would be a disaster, as people have already seen the last time the market crashed.

AMY GOODMAN: What about unemployment? How does it fit into this picture? We say 9.2, but in fact it is so much higher in so many communities. We’re talking 30 and 50 percent.

MICHAEL HUDSON: That’s right. And it’s getting worse. The interesting thing is when you look at the press reports, the adjective you always see is "unexpected" or "surprising." What that means is plausible deniability, as if nobody could have foreseen it, while every economist I know says, "Look, we’re in the middle of debt deflation." In fact, before he took office, Mr. Obama said he was going to fight to make sure that mortgages—relief was given to mortgage debtors, because if there were foreclosures, there was going to be unemployment. He then did absolutely nothing. He broke the promise. And everything that he warned about has taken place. So it really should not be surprising.

Sunday, July 17, 2011