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We are All Bolivians Now

We are living in Chile 1973 or more likely Bolivia of 1985 when Naomi Klein believes there was a backroom deal aka coup that solved the election crisis that had split the vote between the two candidates Victor Paz Estenssoro and their former dictator Hugo Banzer. It was to be their first democratic election after decades of dictatorships.

The election was so close that according to Bolivian law it was the Congress that had to decide who won. After all kinds of horsetrading behind the scenes just like here, Paz became president and a Senator, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada "Goni" got to run the country financially.

And…surprise…surprise. He was a rich businessman who had gone to…drum roll, please….the U of Chicago where "he was strongly influenced by Friedman’s ideas." So first thing they did was cut food subsidies, froze wages and opened up Bolivia to privatizing their state companies. Jeffrey Sachs had suggested to Banzer that “shock therapy” was the remedy for the country’s hyperinflation. That the hyperinflation was helped along big time by Reagan attacking the Bolivian coca farmers, doesn’t get mentioned a lot.

I believe what Sheldon Wolin believes in his book “Democracy Inc: Managed Democracy and Inverted Totalitarianism” that the coup here took place in 2000. The Friedman Shock Doctrine (Neo Feudalism) began in earnest. The plans for a Homeland Security Department was already in place waiting. And so began “disaster capitalism” with a vengeance. We have bad people making money from natural disasters from floods and tsunamis to manufactured wars to protect our “national interests” (big weasel phrase).

Naomi Klein warns us that

Economic shock works according to a similar theory [the military’s 1996 published doctrine "Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance" that overloaded and paralyzed the people enemy): the premise is that people can develop responses to gradual change–a slashed health program here, a trade deal there–but if dozens of changes come from all directions at once, a feeling of futility sets in, and populations go limp.

Are we doing too many thing at once? On purpose?

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