Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion is a must-read for those who want to go into the impeding crises our country face with their eyes wide-open. In the last of the book’s chapters on today’s political leadership, Hedges holds out little hope for the actions of President Barack Obama. Here’s a rather pessimistic take on the state of the Union (pg 178):
The road ahead is grim. The United Nations’ International Labour Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide in 2009. The collapse had already seen close to 4 million lost jobs in the United States by mid-2009. The International Monetary Fund’s prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5 percent – the worst since the Second World War. There were 2.3 million properties in the United States that received a default notice or were repossessed in 2008. And this number is set to rise, especially as vacant commercial real estate begins to be foreclosed. About 20,000 major global banks collapsed, were sold, or were nationalized in 2008. An estimated 62,000 U.S. companies are expected to shut down in 2009.
We have few tools left to dig our way out. The manufacturing sector in the United States has been dismantled by globalization. Consumers, thanks to credit card companies and easy lines of credit, are $14 trillion in debt. The government has spent, lent, or guaranteed $ 12.8 trillion towards the crisis, most of it borrowed or printed in the form of new money. It is borrowing to fund our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And no one states the obvious: We will never be able to pay these loans back. We are suppose to spend our way out of the crisis and maintain our part of the grand imperial project on credit. We are supposed to bring back the illusion of wealth created by the bubble economy. There is no coherent and realistic plan, one built around our severe limitations, to stanch the bleeding or ameliorate the mounting deprivations we will suffer as citizens. Contrast this with the national security state’s preparations to crush potential civil unrest, and you get a glimpse of the future.
This excerpt was from Chris Hedges’ masterful Empire of Illusion. To read how Hedges views the Obama presidency, read “Buying Brand Obama” and other columns on the state of today’s political scene south of the border: