dr anonymous's blog

Please Spread the Word: Political Disaster In Motion

By: on 24 Sep 2008

xposted at election08.passtheroti.com

What would you say if someone asked you to borrow $2000 dollars or more and give it to Wall Street companies right now, and that if you waited more than a day, the world would end? That is what is happening to taxpayers in the United States- American citizens and otherwise. These are my thoughts in response, which you should note are shifting as events change rapidly and I get more educated on the politics of this. For example, drawing distinctions between "Is there a credit crisis?" and "Why is Congress in political crisis mode now as opposed to a year ago or a year from now" is important. I hadn't thought this through last week, because I wasn't aware that actually, to some extent, the Emperor Looked In The Mirror And Liked What He Saw, in addition to what I had previously written. In other words, despite that the bank collapses were a major warning economically, there is still strong cause for some skepticism about the politics of it all and the notion of "crisis" ;)

Tidbit: It's Election Season...In The Maldives

By: on 24 Sep 2008

The Maldives are one of those South Asian countries that are not just neglected, but completely forgotten.  I'm pretty certain that if one did a poll of South Asian Americans like me and asked them to list the countries in South Asia, the results would be, um, underwhelming.

As such, I don't know enough to write about the elections in the Maldives on the 8th of October.  That's the first round, according to a source from the Maldives; if no one gets over 50% it moves to the second round.

The Emperor Finds a Mirror, and is finally worried

By: on 19 Sep 2008

I remember when the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999, eliminating the divisions between the banking and insurance industries and other regulation of the financial sector. The New York Times front page had this picture.

The picture features Bill Clinton sitting at a wooden table, smiling and laughing, as he put his imprimatur on the bill. Surrounding him are a crowd of gray or balding old men, smiling and laughing, as they collectively sign away the regulations on the market.  Had I been better educated at that point (i.e. not from an elite university in the U.S. ;), I would have been able to put words to my feeling of, let's say, discomfort. You might consider this an emblematic moment at which the balance of the pro-rich, pro-corporate policies was moving away from pro-market- a very useful distinction that political scientist Atul Kohli has drawn in discussing the last 25 years of politics in India (pdf).

Flash forward to today.  Politico reports that the people in power have had a Very Serious Meeting. For the interests of those who are interested in the stability of 'the market' (henceforward known simply as 'capitalism' or 'the established order'), this is a Very Serious Meeting that should have been held a Very Long Time Ago. Like, say, the summer of 2007 when the people in power were too busy blaming poor people subjected to predatory mortgage policies and not a policy regime over many years that fostered high risk, low regulation investments on a massive scale, frequently on margin, and not just on mortgages. A good example is the Yen Carry Trade:

But what is the yen carry trade? Put simply, it is borrowing at low interest rates in yen and using the loan to buy higher yielding assets elsewhere. During the past decade, the trade has become a “staple” for many investors, says William Pesek Jr on Bloomberg. Perhaps the most popular form of the strategy exploits the gap between US and Japanese yields. Anyone borrowing for next to nothing in yen and putting the money into US Treasuries (US government bonds) has received a double pay-off: from an interest rate difference of more than three percentage points and from the dollar’s rise against the yen. Investors make their profit when they reverse the trade and pay back the yen loan.

In other words, large amounts of money borrowed on credit for the purposes of speculation.

But, like the picture described above, I thought that a paragraph in the Politico article was precious in how many different things it says about what's wrong with the world today. I take this as a sign that things are about to change, potentially drastically (a good rule of thumb for me is that if you read it in a newspaper and notice it, it's probably already happened, though I'm working on trying to get ahead of the curve ;)).

Here's the money paragraph:

“This is a very serious moment, very serious. It was a very sober gathering.” said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D- Conn.). “I’ve been in the Senate for 28 years; Congress 34. There has never been a moment as serious as this one.”

What are all the things this tells us?

Tis The Season: Terrible Articles About India, Part (n+1)

By: on 24 Aug 2008

The article on India currently up on Open Democracy right now is absolutely terrible.

How Do You Spell A$$hole? J-I-N-D-A-L

By: on 21 Aug 2008


An anti-discrimination order put in place by former Governor Kathleen Blanco won't be renewed by Governor Bobby Jindal.


The order prohibited various sorts of harassment and discrimination at all state offices, including discrimination by race, sexual orientation and political affiliation. It expires Friday.

Action Alert: South Asian Language Interpreters Needed For American Workers (Updated)

By: on 23 Jul 2008

You may remember a brief, previous post on the Indian and Gulf Indian workers were trafficked into the U.S. to assist in rebuilding the areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina, denied their rights broadly, abused, in at least one case driven to attempted suicide, and eventually forced to go on hunger strike, etc. A request from the YSS list for Telegu interpreters to help them in their work with Southern Poverty Law Center (please contact them directly at the number below...just passing on the news).

An Infomercial For Stupidity

By: on 23 Jul 2008

From "Why India Will Beat China" at Business Week (currently the Most Read article!):

But even if the hare is running into obstacles of its own design, how will it give India the competitive edge? The advantage comes in the form of an entrenched and vibrant democracy that will ultimately drive India to outperform China socially and economically.

This Week in Spain: Liberal Humanism Meets Its Logical Conclusion!

By: on 14 Jul 2008

Exhibit A:

...a new European Union proposal aimed at tackling illegal immigration.

The proposal has already caused concern in Africa for criminalising immigrants and building a wall around Europe.

Exhibit B:

Spain is to become the first country to extend legal rights to apes, wrongfooting animal rights activists who have long campaigned against bullfighting in the country.

In wha

Does This Look Like A Good Idea To You?

By: on 9 Jul 2008

If not, maybe it's time to reevaluate the domestic political "wisdom" of the India-US nuclear deal, because there's nothing worse than bringing down your government over something that struts and frets its hour upon the stage and then is heard from no more.

Towards a Pro-Migrant, Pro-Worker Platform

By: on 7 Jul 2008

As I noted earlier, a coalition of South Asian organizations (spearheaded by SAALT?) released a national policy platform for South Asian American progressive politics.  I want to use that here as a jumping off point for talking about migration politics in the U.S. - but I think that this conversation will have uses beyond the U.S.  Although the specificities of conditions differ, I would speculate on the basis of what I've read and seen that there's a lot that "guestworkers", undocumented people, and others who are performing low-wage labor have in common in the United States, the Gulf, Lebanon, Europe, etc.  Global migration with its accompanying abuses, norms, economics, and all is just that -- global -- so we should try to  understand it in that context, even as we pay attention to the specifics of the national, the state, the local, the family, the individual.

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