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Crowd at New York's American Union Bank during a bank run early in the Great Depression. (Photo: Public Domain)

Inviting Chaos: The Perils of Toying With the Debt Ceiling

Friday 27 May 2011
by: Ellen Brown, Truthout

[T]hreatening to default should not be a partisan issue. In view of all the hazards it entails, one wonders why any responsible person would even flirt with the idea.
Alan S. Blinder, Princeton professor of economics, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve 

A game of Russian roulette is being played with the national debt ceiling. Fire the wrong chamber of the gun, and the result could be the second Great Depression.

The first Great Depression led to totalitarian dictatorships, war to consolidate power and concentrations of capital in the hands of a financial elite. The trigger was a default on the global reserve currency, in that case the pound sterling. The US dollar is now the global reserve currency. The concern is that default could create the same sort of global panic today. Dark visions are evoked of the president declaring a national emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans locking into place, camps being readied for protesters and the secret government taking over.

This may all just be political theater, but do we really want to get close enough to the economic precipice to find out? The conservative ideologues toying with the debt ceiling are doing it to force cuts in the budget, a budget that was already approved by Congress. Congress is being held hostage by a radical minority pushing a risky agenda, one that is based on an economic model that is obsolete.

High-Stakes Gambling

On May 16, The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece titled “The Armageddon Lobby,” which claimed that a “technical default” on the federal debt was just “political melodrama” and not really a big deal: “[B]ond markets can figure out the difference between a genuine default when a country can’t pay its bills and a technical default of a few days if it serves the purpose of fixing America’s fiscal mess.”

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Armed Revolt in the Obama Era? Right-Wing Gun Nuts Share Their Paranoid Worldview

By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted May 1, 2009.

Gun show enthusiasts make it abundantly clear why they’re stocking up on firepower.

On April 18 and 19, I attended gun shows in Antioch, Calif., and Reno, Nev., to probe the culture of gun enthusiasts at the onset of the Barack Obama era.

I came away from these events with a portrait of a heavily armed, tightly organized movement incited by right-wing radio to a fever-pitched resentment of Obama and his allies in Congress.

Even as the economy suffers, gun dealers and their Washington lobbyists are leveraging renewed anti-government sentiment into unprecedented sales figures and fattened membership rolls.

“We’ve been swamped today,” an NRA representative from Antioch boasted. “We’ve practically ran out of our materials that we give away at sign-up.”

Fueled by the screeds of radio hosts Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, and the lesser-known, but increasingly influential, online conspiracist Alex Jones, many gun-show attendees I spoke to were convinced Obama planned to usher in a Marxist dictatorship.

They warned that the president’s power grab would only begin with mass gun seizures. “If Obama takes away our guns,” a young, .45-caliber-pistol-toting man from Reno told me, “it’s just a step into trying to take away everything else.”

Indeed, in their minds, average Americans opposed to the Obama agenda would be herded into FEMA-run concentration camps by a volunteer army of glassy-eyed liberal college graduates.

“When they start imprisoning Americans, and people start seeing that we’re the enemy, then that’ll make it hot,” predicted one young man from Antioch sporting a button for former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. “People talk about a revolution,” the young man continued, “an armed revolution. I think police crackdowns on individuals will tip the scales.”

More than a few gun dealers and attendees echoed the young man’s seeming enthusiasm for armed revolt. One Contra Costa, Calif., gun dealer named Rich predicted, during an otherwise casual off-camera conversation, that “some nut” would assassinate Obama within one year of any Democratic attempt at gun-control legislation.

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