There's an odd mood in the streets as the global recession begins to bite in Australia. Many people seem to have their heads down, worrying about their own problems.
Nasty nationalist and racist ideas are getting a bigger run by the politicians and the big business media. Even Pauline Hanson is attempting a political comeback for the umpteenth time.
It can get depressing, but I felt a lot better after watching the US comic Jon Stewart, on the Daily Show's Jon Stewart making side-splitting mockery out of CNBC financial advisers who, in Stewart's words, "showed us how to make a million dollars … if you had one hundred million to start with".
Stewart showed footage of CNBC's Jim Cramer is shown enthusiastically urging viewers to buy shares in Bear Stearns, the US investment bank, just before it crashed in March 2008. Cramer's craziness was a dramatic illustration of Karl Marx's observation of capitalist mentality: "Business is always thoroughly sound, and the campaign in full swing, until the sudden intervention of the collapse."
In the US, even conservative TV comedians such as Jay Leno are making fun of capitalism: "In a stunning announcement, Citigroup showed a profit and had its best quarter since 2007. They made [US]$8 billion in profit. That just goes to show you, you give a company $45 billion in government bailout money, and they'll show you how to turn it into $8 billion.
"See, this is capitalism!"
Working people in the US are even angrier this week after finding out that the American Insurance Group (AIG), a giant insurance company that is being kept alive on a taxpayer-funded $180 billion lifeline, is paying out $165 million in bonuses for 2008.
But don't think for a second that this sort of CEO greed is only a US phenomenon. The business section of the March 19 Sydney Morning Herald listed the 12 biggest golden handshakes for Australian corporate CEOs:
•John Ellice-Flint, Santos, $16.8 million;
•John Alexander, ConsMedia, $15 million;
•Tony D'Aloisio, ASX, $7.8 million;
•Mike Tilley, Challenger, $6 million;
•Michael Chaney, Westfarmers, $5.3 million;
•Paul Anthony, AGL, $5.1 million;
•Malcolm Broomhead, Orica, $4.8 million;
•Fred Hilmer, Fairfax Media, $4.5 million;
•Tony Palmer, Newcrest, $4.4 million;
•Paul Moore, Pacific Brands, $3.5 million;
•Sol Trujillo, Telstra, $3 million; and
•Andrew Scott, Centro, $3 million.
Venting your rage (even with laughter) at these greedy corporate bastards can help with the recession blues, but an even better antidote is to do something effective to help end this systematic obscenity. As Marx's closet collaborator, Friedrich Engels said: "Freedom is the recognition of necessity."
Since last week, some of our readers began receiving the latest instalment of the Australian governments stimulus package for capitalism.
We are asking you to divert at least part of this stimulus away from the capitalist system that does not deserve to be rescued and use it instead to stimulate the movement to get rid of capitalism and replace it with a society based on solidarity, cooperation and environmental sustainability. Donate it to the Green Left Weekly fighting fund!
You can make a donation to the GLW fighting fund at: Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 901992. Alternatively, send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007, phone it through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia), or donate online at