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http://freedom.orlingrabbe.com/lfetimes/bush_baghdad.htm Gangster's Paradise Carpetbagging in Baghdad by Michael Gilson De Lemos Pseudo-privatization from the pseudo-President who won in the pseudo-election? You be the judge. The ridiculous claim ( here) of the Bush administration that it will bring an "assisted free market" and "privatization" to Iraq is as likely as Republican claims they are the union's friend. It is another in a long train of lies about Iraq documented by people such as former (here) Libertarian US presidential candidate Harry Browne, who chides people newer to the movement for falling for discredited government propaganda that keeps re-appearing like (here) undead Dracula: from claims of WMDs to evidence that turned out to be some college kid's term paper to stories of atrocities contradicted by Bush's own CIA. Do not be fooled: unless it is Iraqi Libertarians (here) doing the privatization through peaceful persuasion, it isn't Privatization-it is soft fascism in drag. In fact it is threatening to become a massive expropriation of Iraq for US old-party political cronies, with a few bones thrown in for Iraqi collaborators. The only private thing about it is the "Keep Out" sign to the Iraqi people. A free market by definition needs no government assistance, not that Iraqis should hold their breath with "Promises of $8 million in assistance to Iraqi small business." Wow! This is ten bucks per Iraqi business-and pales besides revelations that US Soldiers were caught looting $13 million dollars from the selfsame businesses' banks-those are the soldiers, mind you, those are only the ones who were caught. Gangster's Paradise One lawyer with a briefcase is doing more damage than 100,000 soldiers in the new three-piece Gangster's Paradise (here). Bush spoke of a new charter that would encourage trade and freedom. One reacts as Gandhi did when asked what he thought of Western Civilization after a British led massacre of protesters-he replied he thought it would be a good idea. Some privatization-it envisions: --- Millions to consulting firms with no experience in Libertarian-oriented privatization, the same kind of accounting-company based political firm that brought us monstrosities like Enron-and justly derided as "report writers" by real, smaller, in the trenches, management productivity and operations (here) or management-enginering (here) consulting firms that, far from sucking up unscrutinized millions, create wealth using sustainable operational improvements at no net cost to their clients, and often returning several times their fee. Unsuprisingly, lest reality, competition or even privatization creep in, it is already decided this will be a "limited" pool of unelected consultants. Tax rises on a blasted country --- A Master US Government plan (hint: if the US Government must plan it, it ain't privatization) --- The same coerced monopoly-money "ownership vouchers" that messed up Russian privatization and allowed business built by workers to be seized by crooked officials and organized crime --- A consumption tax on the poor --- Slow "government run" privatization so there will be plenty of red tape to mystify average people while foreign vultures pick the bones --- Higher tariffs designed to kill off import dependent start-ups and create dependency on the US --- IMF involvement as in the pseudo-globalization that has harmed Argentina with insane budgetary demands and cruel regulations --- "Asset transfer" to US companies. And from there, the major US parties and from there, who knows? This is called a test case for "American style free-market capitalism" in the article, in case you're wondering if any of this might return to US shores. Who are the geniuses who wrote this? The same US Treasury that admitted it has lost track of $7.3 Trillion (here) in recent years-the equivalent of several US militaries. They and their business and military cronies stand by, humbly, ready to bring order to Iraq. It's Kelly's Heroes-the dark (here) comedy of soldier's plundering Nazi Gold-turned into official policy. Understandably, leftist commentators are having trouble distinguishing between what is meant by privatization and what is meant by expropriation by MBA'd goons.The truth is, any such plan is a White Collar Gangster's Paradise, and not far behind, as we may have already seen with the Museums, real organized crime that long ago infiltrated the Army and may find this even more lucrative, as happened in some of Russia, instead. This isn't the first US War begun where they said it's the principle, not the political power and money-and ended where it was the political power and money. These aren't privatizers but carpetbaggers. Quite simply, if you want a textbook lesson on how not to privatize, Libertarianize, decentralize-follow what Bush is doing in Iraq. Bush touches on almost every theme like Midas-in reverse. Real Privatization Ideas When Libertarians tried to organize in Iraq in the mid-'80's, their biggest problem was CIA support for Hussein spy squads who looked at anything that might bring a little more openness as destabilizing US plans-not to mention having overt US blessing, as in this photo of (here) Rumsfeld and Hussein yukking it up. And, despite pious claims, it continues: the recent mass seizure by the US government of Iraqi assets has had the under-reported effect of making it impossible for dissident groups to use normal banking channels. Libertarians weren't alone: Many other groups attempting to open the regime reported similar problems. The concept of re-privatization, sometimes called privatization, was re-introduced by management consultants such as Peter Drucker and Libertarian Robert Poole. It means getting government and public services away from governing people and enforced monopolies run by corporate fatcats and instead having them governed by people and creative voluntary groups. As employed by Libertarianis these may be corporations and businesses-but also include co-ops, mutual aid societies, voluntary trusts, neighborhood associations, traditional methods and intentional or non-governmental communities. Under no circumstances does it mean handing a coerced government monopoly over to a private monopoly enforced by government-or with sweetheart regulatory rules as is being contemplated, such as eminent domain or phony "voucher" programs where worthless 'shares' are distributed to citizens who nonetheless have little control over operations. An example of what Libertarians say works can be seen in utility deregulation. This would include things like removing restrictions on ( here) home-based energy generation, selling excess to utilities, and limits on the number or nature of utility companies. One favorite example of a near privatization is the electricity co-operatives such as at Pine Island, the (here) LCEC. While having a quasi-monopoly, it has nothing to fear from competition: it is owned and managed by users who see there are no Enrons there, and so efficient that the lower rates have brought down rates across Florida. Indeed, the main component of electricity costs there is taxes and regulation. Libertarians ask: shouldn't energy be essentially free by now? Why are there laws that tax capital accumulations by firms and non-profits that could provide sufficient revenue to make the service free? Why not let people not only have business options, such as competing public services as in electricity (for text http://www.cei.org/cpc/crewsonline.html), but also facilitate direct local non-profit ownership and management of utilities, libraries, and dare one say, oil? The opposite is the notorious Energy deregulation in California-a pseudo-privatization where behind every law was a crony, and which accomplished the amazing feat of in a few years causing black-outs in an energy-abundant State. These privatizations are socialism under another name-without at least the benefit of actual socialism: equal shares and control by those directly involved. Is that is what is in store for Iraq? Energy shortage, bread shortage and who knows what else? When Libertarians discuss privatizing prisons and justice, they don't mean at best familiarization measures like hiring private prison guards-but bold thinking like restitution, private arbitration and harm reduction, restorative ( here) justice, even more open prison communities as exist in Palawan in the (here) Philippinnes, and moving (here) towards a non-punitive and non-prison model entirely. But Bush is already planning enforcing his privatizations with "privatized" democracy and CIA-trained police for dissenters who protest against having their land, cultural artifacts and oil seized. Under cover of ending a perverted government that mouthed equality and nationalism, people will find one more perverted as it mouths the phrases of freedom and progress. Sure, property seized by Hussein must be devolved-but not to American mega-firms like Bechtel, unless they can show they were being tortured in a dungeon instead of financing the very US political figures who kept Hussein in power. True, the issue becomes more delicate when you have national patrimonies run by the government such as oil or museums, which may have had a repugnant component of seizure of people's lands and goods by the Hussein government. A Libertarian approach might be seeing to restoration to original owners, and getting the remainder out of the hands of the government into a true National Trust not run by the government but by the users, and in local sections at each level-along with removing restrictive legislation on market alternatives. An example of how well such a trust can work is the (here) Alaska Permanent Fund. When Alaska attempted to impose an income tax to raise bureacrat's salaries and sell off public lands to political contributors, the Libertarian legislator, Dick Randolph, building on ideas from various Libertarian thinkers including this author, proposed not only no income tax, but placing the land in a Trust owned by the people and managed by them. The result is after 2 decades it has assets of about $500,000 per Alaskan and gives a reverse "Untax" of $7,500-$10,000 provided per family of 5 based on revenues-and growing, all neatly solving issues of poverty, unemployment stipend, and living wage. Perfect? No, it depends in part on not only government efficiencies being captured but also questionable government properties. But it demonstrates the Libertarian concept that public services should be in the hands of the public-not the government; and taxes are not needed. This is the sort of idea people can and are developing on a non-partisan basis. Now that's a Libertarian privatization. You don't need big consulting firms getting millions to get these ideas out to the people. And Republicans help manage the Fund, so it is hardly a Libertarian secret. Is that what the Treasury report has in mind for Iraq? No. Politicians hate the Fund. Things like that make them useless. They are horrified by Libertarian ideas of more personal control by the people. In fact, Libertarians in Alaska had to get it passed with a people's initiative, and now ( here) fight to keep it from being looted by government to raise salaries and pay off debt to . . . political contributors. Arrest Those Privatizing Anarchists Is Bush talking about utility co-ops owned by Iraqi users? Restoring stolen oil lands while putting the rest in a National trust of the People? Heaven forbid, non-profit privatization owned by consumers? No. Will Iraqis enjoy what Alaskans enjoy in 30 years thanks to Republicans? No. While talking tax cut in the US-Bush is devising a plan for tax rises in Iraq to fund this expropriation. While praising the wonders of his twisted version of private action in Iraq, he has passed the draconian Patriot Act at home that so far has been used to harass Administration critics such as the pro-Libertarian creator of PayPal, (here) Peter Thiel. Bush can't even privatize the US. How about some political competition? But his party is working overtime in Alabama, Colorado, and elsewhere where people are staring to vote for Libertarians and other alternative parties with sneaky restrictive legislation to bump Libertarians, Greens, and anyone else not humming along off the ballot. His legislation is one interference on personal and private initiative and local autonomy after another. So why expect any different in Iraq? Libertarians favor consensus neighborhood mini-governments. When local Iraqis in Bagdhad formed an interim government, it wasn't entirely what Libertarians mean, but it suggested what a real government privatization could do. Local people formed 22 problem solving groups, got the consent of community leaders over several days, set up neighborhood councils, and were well on their way to restoring services, rounding up thugs, and forming community arbitration groups and other neighborhood action. Bush should have cheered: but he knew he didn't mean that sort of privatization. It was promptly denounced as anarchy, which is also what Republicans (here) call Libertarians, clearly with little idea of what classical anarchy-and self-government- (here) means: "a society . . . by free agreements concluded between the various groups . . . (and where) voluntary associations . . . substitute for the state in all its functions."  Local people having meaningful, non-"democratic" discussions and actually deciding for themselves? Why, that's anarchy. And thus the supporters being "accidentally" shot, children massacred, the leaders arrested and stooges put in by the US? Why, that's order. And the arrested mayor? He was a leader of the Iraqi National Congress on whose interim government in exile plea for help much of the justification for intervention substantially rested. At least FDR didn't arrest De Gaulle when he insisted on entering Paris first. At this moment, privatization and local participation is do what the US government says -or else. The worst is Bush can't even follow his own "small-government" ideology. The international association of conservative groups, the International Democrat Union (here) , praises non-intervention, gradualism, and thus most of his fellow parties don't go along with the US Republican adventure. Why? Here is what the man who wants to seize the property of Iraq and dismisses innocent civilians killed by troops as "collateral damage" said to IDU dignitaries two years ago: "We believe targeting innocent civilians for murder is ( here) always and everywhere wrong; and political, social and economic freedoms are always and everywhere right . . . we fight for limits on the power of the state . . . for private property." No wonder even old allies like Chirac, who helped co-found IDU with Bush's father, have kept a distance. Dear President Dear President Bush: The fact that you're in business for yourself and giving everyone else the business doesn't mean you're a friend of business. You want to help business? Ask the Iraqi farmer whose family was incinerated and whose land will be seized by your oil buddies and the small Iraqi vendor who gets ten bucks from Uncle Sam to replace his bombed out shop what they want you to do. But please- do not Shanghai words so they mean the opposite of what is intended. Leave re-privatization to Libertarians, Iraq to Iraqis, and privatization in Iraq to Iraqi Libertarians who are ready and willing over years to gradually demonstrate the idea until they have earned the respect and trust of their fellow people the hard way-and the only real way. And who knows? Given a chance, Iraqis might someday bring real low-cost energy co-operatives to Texas. Reference  Britannica 1910 in effect correctly wonders if American Libertarian Anarchism could lead to a form of "contractual government" even worse than before by corporate gangsters, a claim sometimes repeated by Chomsky. However, for decades now modern Libertarians agree that Proudhon, Bakunin and Tucker erred in believing contracts binding and Jefferson's view that they weren't was a correct reading of the evolution of law. They instead recognize such contracts might create an oppressive quasi-state or even feudalism. They have revived the Anglo and Roman common-law doctrine that all that is bound in a contract is a bonded exchange of existent property, a contract cannot compromise fundamental rights or be unfairly negotiated, and that otherwise agreements are voidable at will or reasonable notice. Contractual covenants that attempt to circumvent real agreement through 'privatized' phantom exchanges of considerations and thus create runaway mini-governments without rights, as has happened in some homeowner associations and being fought by Libertarian homowners (here), are also voidable. As a result of this discourse, even as government attempts to bind people more with theories of social contract and national duty, jurists influenced by Libertarians have aggressively struck down adultery laws, invidious covenants, refuse to enforce specific performance or executory clauses, and other provisons.See e.g. Rothbard, Murray: (here) Libertarian Manifesto and preliminary discussion of history contract and agreement mechanisms in Ethics of Liberty and comments on consent, neural shock, social expectations and habit in Leary, Timothy Neuropolitique. The claim by Nozick, Robert Anarchy, State and Utopia that such agreements were binding creating a minimal state was thus immediately derided by Libertarians such as Childs, Roy The Invisible Hand Strikes Back (here) which issue also contains an illuminating precis of contract law problems in Evers; and later modified by Nozick himself as unconsciously statist. One thing is certain: this "freedom-restoring" pseudo-privatization of Bush's will occur without signatures from a single one of the looted Iraqis as politicians and the new carpetbaggers wax increasingly rhapsodic on "committments" and "contracts" with the Iraqi people. Michael Gilson-de Lemos co-founded the Libertarian International Organization (www.libertarian.uni.cc) and is on the National Committeee of the US Libertarian Party. For more of his contrarian and informative commentary see his site, www.gilson.uni.cc -30- from The Laissez Faire Electronic Times, Vol 2, No 20, May 19, 2003 Editor: Emile Zola Publisher: Digital Monetary Trust _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk