1. “Latvia’s Economic Disaster Heralded as a Neoliberal “Success Story”: A Model for Europe and the US?
In a page one The New York Times feature article accompanying that paper’s celebration of the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Cliff commitment to budget cutting, Andrew Higgins provides the latest attempt to applaud Latvia’s economic and demographic plunge as the “Latvian Miracle.” The newspaper thus has fallen in line with the surrealistic Orwellian attempts to depict Latvia’s austerity and asset stripping as an economic success as rendered in the brochures distributed by the Institute for International Finance (the now notorious Peterson bank lobby “think tank”) and international financial institutions from the IMF to the European Union banking bureaucracy. What they mean by “success” is slashing wage levels and leaving the tax burden primarily on labor and lightly on capital gains, without spurring a revolution or even Greek style general strikes. The success is one of psy-ops and engineering of consent Edward Bernays style, rather than of successful economic policy.
Latvia is the country that has come closest to imposing the Steve Forbes tax and finance model advanced during his failed Presidential campaign : a two-part tax on wages and social benefits that are near the highest in the world, while real estate taxes are well below US and EU averages. Meanwhile, capital gains are lightly taxed, and the country has become successful as a capital flight and tax avoidance haven for Russians and other post-Soviet kleptocrats that has permitted Latvia to “afford” de-industrialization, depopulation and de-socialization.”
2. “Renditions Continue Under Obama, Despite Due-process Concerns”