Thursday, March 4, 2010

Naomi Klein: Chile's Socialist Rebar, Today's Events in LA, SD and UCLA

"There's a whole lot of shakin' going on" was my preferred intro
to what's above in the Subject line. Not enough room. -Ed

Chile's Socialist Rebar

"if one person deserves credit for the law, it is not Friedman, or Pinochet,
but Salvador Allende, Chile's democratically elected socialist President."

By Naomi Klein
The Nation: March 3, 2010

Ever since deregulation caused a worldwide economic meltdown in September
2008 and everyone became a Keynesian again, it hasn't been easy to be a
fanatical fan of the late economist Milton Friedman. So widely discredited
is his brand of free-market fundamentalism that his followers have become
increasingly desperate to claim ideological victories, however far-fetched.

A particularly distasteful case in point. Just two days after Chile was
struck by a devastating earthquake, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret
Stephens informed his readers that Milton Friedman's "spirit was surely
hovering protectively over Chile" because, "thanks largely to him, the
country has endured a tragedy that elsewhere would have been an
apocalypse.... It's not by chance that Chileans were living in houses of
brick--and Haitians in houses of straw--when the wolf arrived to try to blow
them down."

According to Stephens, the radical free-market policies prescribed to
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet by Milton Friedman and his infamous
"Chicago Boys" are the reason Chile is a prosperous nation with "some of the
world's strictest building codes."

There is one rather large problem with this theory: Chile's modern seismic
building code, drafted to resist earthquakes, was adopted in 1972. That year
is enormously significant because it was one year before Pinochet seized
power in a bloody U.S-backed coup. That means that if one person deserves
credit for the law, it is not Friedman, or Pinochet, but Salvador Allende,
Chile's democratically elected socialist President. (In truth many Chileans
deserve credit, since the laws were a response to a history of quakes, and
the first law was adopted in the 1930s).

It does seem significant, however, that the law was enacted even in the
midst of a crippling economic embargo ("make the economy scream" Richard
Nixon famously growled after Allende won the 1970 elections). The code was
later updated in the nineties, well after Pinochet and the Chicago Boys were
finally out of power and democracy was restored. Little wonder: As Paul
Krugman points out, Friedman was ambivalent about building codes, seeing
them as yet another infringement on capitalist freedom.

As for the argument that Friedmanite policies are the reason Chileans live
in "houses of brick" instead of "straw," it's clear that Stephens knows
nothing of pre-coup Chile. The Chile of the 1960s had the best health and
education systems on the continent, as well as a vibrant industrial sector
and rapidly expanding middle class. Chileans believed in their state, which
is why they elected Allende to take the project even further.

After the coup and the death of Allende, Pinochet and his Chicago Boys did
their best to dismantle Chile's public sphere, auctioning off state
enterprises and slashing financial and trade regulations. Enormous wealth
was created in this period but at a terrible cost: by the early eighties,
Pinochet's Friedman-prescribed policies had caused rapid
de-industrialization, a ten-fold increase in unemployment and an explosion
of distinctly unstable shantytowns. They also led to a crisis of corruption
and debt so severe that, in 1982, Pinochet was forced to fire his key
Chicago Boy advisors and nationalize several of the large deregulated
financial institutions. (Sound familiar?)

Fortunately, the Chicago Boys did not manage to undo everything Allende
accomplished. The national copper company, Codelco, remained in state hands,
pumping wealth into public coffers and preventing the Chicago Boys from
tanking Chile's economy completely. They also never got around to trashing
Allende's tough building code, an ideological oversight for which we should
all be grateful.

Thanks to CEPR for tracking down the origins of Chile's building code.

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the
author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock
Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (September 2007); an earlier
international best-seller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the
collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the
Globalization Debate (2002). more...


Hi. This California initiated day of action has now spread throughout
the US. Democracy Now spends most of today's show on the issue. -Ed

The student-worker movement that's emerged in California over the past five
months is gearing up for a strike and day of action. On March 4 students all
over the state will strike, march, and occupy buildings to keep education
accessible to all-and ensure sustainable jobs for those working in
education. (from the UC Berkeley march bulletin)

MARCH 4TH Unite for Public Education March and Rally
Gather at 4 pm at 5th and Hill (near Pershing Square)
March to the Reagan State Office Building for Rally from 5-6 pm (300 South
Spring St.) Wear your union shirts and college/school gear.

On Thursday, March 4, unite with students, teachers, other educators and
union members, and parents from all levels of public education to
participate in a statewide day of action for public education! It's time to
stop the budget cuts that are destroying access to quality public education
and fair working conditions in California's public schools and colleges!

The goal of March 4th is to raise awareness about the crisis in public
education and the need to fullyfund our schools, colleges and universities.
Across the state, supporters from all segments of public education,
pre-kindergarten through Ph.D., will hold
rallies, demonstrations, teach-ins, and other events.

In Los Angeles, we invite you to participate in the Unite for Public
Education March and Rally sponsored by the Southern California Public
Education Coalition. For the first time, public education unions (including
the United Teachers of Los Angeles, California Faculty Association,
California Teachers Association, and others) at all levels are working
together to get the funding needed to restore the promise of quality public
education in California.


Sponsored by the Southern California Public Education Coalition: Academic
Professionals of California (APC), Alhambra Teachers Association (ATA),
Community College Association (CCA), California Faculty Association (CFA),
California Federation of Teachers (CFT), California State University
Employees Union (CSUEU), California Teachers Association (CTA), Inglewood
Teachers Association (ITA), Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB),
United Auto Workers (UAW), United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)


UC San Diego

For more info/news and opinions:

March 4 is a day of action on campus and in San Diego - to keep education
public, and this will also be an opportunity to address systemic problems of
racism at UCSD. If you are here at UCSD let's all represent and show a
Visual Arts presence, for real. "Public culture" anyone??? If you live in LA
consider coming down in support. You know you want to visit me anyway!

! Schedule !

9.00 AM - 12.00 PM: Breakfast at Sustainability Resource Center (next to
Price Center Theater)

9.30 AM: BSU Rally at Chancellor's Complex

11.00 AM: Faculty Press Conference at Cross Cultural Center, Comunidad Rm

11.30 AM: Walkout/gather at Gilman Parking Structure

11.45 AM: March to Geisel Library

12.00 - 3.00 PM: Rally at Silent Tree (Library Walk)

a.. including the Arts Collective, Sam Jung, Jake Blanc, Fnann Keflezighi,
Mar Velez, Edwina Welch, Kuttin Kandy, Micah Cardenas, Yen Espiritu, Ivan
Evans, K. Wayne Yang, Maria Tillmanns, Carolan Buckmaster, Matias Marin, L.
Chase Smith, Krishna Sriram. And MCs: Chevelle Newell and Bryant Pena.
2.30 PM: Buses leave for All San Diego Rally from Chancellor's Complex

a.. March begins at Centro Cultural de la Raza (Park & President's Way) @
3.30 PM
a.. March Downtown to Governor's Office (1350 Front Street)
a.. first-come-first-serve on buses
a.. travel to downtown also by Rt. 150 at Gilman


I won't repeat the list of endorsers of this UCLA program, sent you
March 1; the longest, widest, most impressive such, I've ever seen. -Ed

Day of Action for Public Education!
No Cuts! No Furloughs! No Fee Hikes!

*** If you can't make it, tune in for live coverage all day on KPFK-FM at ***

7-11 am. Picketing at Sunset & Bellagio.

11:30 am. Student Walkout.

12 noon. Rally at Bruin Plaza.

1:00 pm: There will be a march through campus after the rally.

3:00 - 4:00 pm: Teach-In - Powell Library, outside steps

4:30 pm: Rally at Bruin Plaza. Outside people from the educational
community will be attending as well as the UCLA community (this is one of
UTLA members' four rallies citywide).

5:30 pm: There will be a march after the rally.


Thursday, March 4, 7:30-9 PM

Phyllis Bennis on Ending the War in Afghanistan

Middle East expert and author Phyllis Bennis will present her latest book
(co-authored with David Wildman), Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A
Primer, followed by a Q & A,

Levantine Cultural Center, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035
street parking and in the CVS underground lot until 10 pm
$10 donation

Co-sponsored by Code Pink

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