Wednesday, September 29, 2004

YEAR ZERO: This article is devastating. Naomi Klein is reporting about how the Bush Administration neocons were staggeringly overconfident in their ability not only to install democracy in Iraq, but to create a radical Western-style free market economy at the same time. They tried to hit the reset button on the entire economy: privatize state industry, break the labor unions, no trade barriers, no regulation -- Paradise as theorized by Milton Friedman. It's another huge smackdown for the neocons. Iraqi industry is now a blood sport, with threats and murders and bombings between labor and management. Klein tells of one labor union who trumped their company (and Paul Bremer's CPA) in contract negotiations with the demand, Give us a raise or we'll all join the armed insurgency. They got their raise.

Bush's people are unbelievable. Are there actually people this arrogant and dense? Of all the places in the world to use as a petri dish for their pet economic theories, they had to pick Iraq: the oldest culture on earth, a multi-ethnic nation jerry rigged by thoughtless British colonial bureaucrats, just starting to deal with the mass psychic aftermath of Saddam's state terror. Hardly the easiest place to wipe the slate clean and start over.

Props to Harpers magazine for publishing a good article online (I usually find their website to be kind of useless). And big props to Naomi Klein, whom I was unkind to in an earlier post. (Though with this scathing indictment of neocon economics, it makes me wonder anew why Klein is so cavalier about the difference between a Bush and a Kerry administration in '05.)

A choice quote:

New Bridge Strategies, the company that had gushed back in October about
how “a Wal-Mart could take over the country,” is sounding distinctly humbled.
“McDonald’s is not opening anytime soon,” company partner Ed Rogers told the
Washington Post. Neither is Wal-Mart. The Financial Times has declared Iraq “the
most dangerous place in the world in which to do business.” It’s quite an
accomplishment: in trying to design the best place in the world to do business,
the neocons have managed to create the worst, the most eloquent indictment yet
of the guiding logic behind deregulated free markets.

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