Zeit Guy Links – 9/19/12

Michael Hudson on How Finance Capital Leads to Debt Servitude  (Naked Capitalism)

The original hope of banking and finance capitalism in the 19th century was that banks would make productive loans to finance industry. The aim was for banks to do something new, that no economy had done in the past: make loans not merely to ship and market goods once they were produced, but to finance new capital investment by manufacturers and producers, as well as by the public sector to build infrastructure. The idea was for these investments to create profits out of which to pay the interest and the principal back to the lenders.

This was defined as productive lending. Nothing like it occurred in antiquity or in the post-feudal period. Investment always had been self-financed out of savings. Banks only entered the picture when it came to shipping and trading what had been produced.

As matters have turned out, banking has allied itself with real estate, mineral extraction, oil, gas and monopolies instead of with industry. So instead of getting a share of the profits, it has focused on lending against economic rent. This technical term is defined as unearned income. It is obtained by charging prices in excess of cost value.

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Majority of New Jobs Pay Low Wages, Study Finds  (Ny Times)

While a majority of jobs lost during the downturn were in the middle range of wages, a majority of those added during the recovery have been low paying, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

The disappearance of midwage, midskill jobs is part of a longer-term trend that some refer to as a hollowing out of the work force, though it has probably been accelerated by government layoffs.

“The overarching message here is we don’t just have a jobs deficit; we have a ‘good jobs’ deficit,” said Annette Bernhardt, the report’s author and a policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project, a liberal research and advocacy group.

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You’re Only a Hero Until You Tell the Truth  (Gawker)

When news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a team of Navy SEALS, the first thought of everyone in the media business, and of many curious Americans was: when can we get one of these heroes to tell his story? Well, now we have. And a lot of people want the government to crush him for it.

Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette published his firsthand account of the killing under a pseudonym in his book No Easy Day, but his identity was quickly outed. The Pentagon was fairly pissed, due to various nondisclosure requirements it said Bissonnette violated. Now, the idea of making an example out of Bissonnette has become a cause among militaristic right wing types: “Secrets are secrets, and leaking them should get you hammered,” says Jim Hanson in a USA Today op-ed today.

It only took a little over a year for a Navy SEAL who helped kill America’s greatest enemy to go from glorified, untouchable hero to scumbag who should be jailed, in the eyes of those who, politically, like to think of themselves as a soldier’s greatest ally. What did Matt Bissonnette really do that was so bad it revoked what one would assume would be a lifetime pass to heroism? He told a different version of his story than the US government did.

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The Salton Sea: Death and Politics in the Great American Water Wars  (Wired)

This week, Los Angeles got a whiff of the future.

A heinous rotten-egg smell settled into the metropolis, a stench more familiar to residents lining the Salton Sea, some 150 miles to the east. It was this 376-square-mile body of water, created by accident in the middle of the desert over a century ago, that belched up the fetid cloud. And such episodes will continue to plague Southern California as the collapse of the Salton Sea ecosystem accelerates over the coming years.

Considered to be among the world’s most vital avian habitats and — until recently — one of its most productive fisheries, the Salton Sea is in a state of wild flux, the scene of fish and bird die-offs of unfathomable proportions. It was the resulting sea-bottom biomass that a storm churned earlier this week, releasing gases that drifted into Los Angeles.

This is just the latest episode in the Salton Sea’s long, painful history of sickness and health and booms and busts — a stinky side effect of a great American experiment to civilize the western deserts. By economic measurements, this experiment has been an astounding success. By environmental measurements, it’s shaping up to be pure disaster.

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