Friday, May 13, 2022

Understanding Financial Capitalism

 Hungry for Knowledge,

  I am happy to be able to provide a transcript (finally) of Professor Michael Hudson's recent interview, which succinctly explains our current moment in history from the perspective of power-elites using financial paradigms, like "financial capitalism", "industrial capitalism" and "socialism". He directly addresses the underlying realities.
I will edit it down to the best of my ability, but it is well worth the read/listen.

Michael Hudson: Destiny of Civilization
..Wednesday, May 11th, the book comes out. And it’s called “The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism.”...

..In order to understand today’s finance capitalism, you have to understand what industrial capitalism was, as it was described in the 19th century.
  And it’s often forgotten, or played down, that industrial capitalism was revolutionary. What it was trying to do – from the physiocrats in France in the late 18th century to Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Marx, and the whole late-19th century flowering of socialism – the ideal of classical value theory and rent theory, was to say what is the actual value, the cost value of producing goods and services?
  And what is earned by the capitalist, when he employs labor to make a profit, and what is unearned? 
And what is unearned was the landlord class. That was the hereditary warrior class that conquered all of the European kingdoms in the Middle Ages...
..look, we cannot become the workshop of the world; we cannot undersell foreign countries if we have a landlord class ripping off all of the money in land rent​...
..we have predatory banking, or the wealthy people just lend really for buying property, or making distressed loans or predatory loans that have nothing to do with financing actual capital formation...
​..​If we have democratic reform and give voting to the people, they’re going to vote against the landlord class, and then we can have an efficient economy where our prices of our exports and our goods and services reflect the actual cost of production, not the rake off for the rentiers class, not the rake off of what landlords take, not the rake off of what predatory bankers take.
​  ​And the whole long 19th century leading up to World War One was this revolutionary value theory that depicted land rent and monopoly rent and financial returns as being unearned income and wanting to strip it away.
​  ​And all of this seemed to be moving toward socialism. The industrialists were all in favor of government public utilities, of government enterprise, because they said, if the government doesn’t provide health care, then individuals are going to have to pay it, and it’ll cost a lot of money, like it does in the United States.​..
..So all of this move towards socialism was not only in favor of increasing living standards, which soared in the 19th century, but also in freeing the economy from the rentier class, from the landlords, from the bankers.
​  ​And for the classical economists, a free market was a market free from landlords, free from bankers, free from monopolists.

​  ​Well, needless to say, the rentiers fought back. And by after World War Two, we’ve seen a continual anti-classical theory replacing the classical idea of free markets with a value of free theory, saying, well, everybody earns whatever they they have. All wealth is earned, not unearned. And if Goldman Sachs partners are paid more than anyone else, that’s because they’re so productive.​..
..And as it turns out, the business plan of finance capitalism was so predatory that it was anti-industrial...
..So finance capitalism is what has essentially de-industrialized the United States and turned the Midwest into a Rust Belt.
Well, the alternative, obviously, are the societies that have not followed this neoliberal finance capitalist plan. And the most successful economy, obviously, has been China...
​  ​And China has done exactly what 19th-century United States, Germany, England, and France did. It has kept basic utilities, basic needs, housing, and above all, finance and banking, in the public domain, as public utilities.​..
..Well, that is obviously the way in which you survive and you avoid the kind of overloading the economy with debt service, with high rents, with high payments to the health-care monopoly in the United States, by avoiding all of this payment to a rentier class that has what the classical economists call unearned income, predatory income.​ ​And instead of unseating them, we’ve put them in charge, and made the banks and Wall Street, and the city of London, and the Paris Bourse, the central planners.​.. it’s short-term planning; it’s take your money and run...

​  ​“The neoliberal ideology inverts the classical idea of a free market from one that is free from economic rent to one that is free for the rentier classes” – that is the rent-extracting classes – “to extract rent and gain dominance.” ... That is, of course, what we could call the Washington consensus.​..
..“U.S. foreign policy seeks to extend this neoliberal rentier program throughout the world.” .. “free-trade imperialism.”​  ...
​..And the term “free-trade imperialism” was actually created by a British historian of trade theory who pointed out that, wait a minute, when England went for free trade, the idea was, if we have free trade, we can stifle other countries from being able to industrialize, because if we have free trade, then we can tell America, we will open our doors to your markets – meaning the markets of the slave South, that Britain supported – and in exchange, you will open your markets to our industrial goods.
​ ​And America followed that until the Civil War, which was fought not only over slavery, but by the Republican Party after 1853 that said very explicitly, if we’re going to win the election – the Whigs never could win – if we, the new party, are going to win the election and industrialize America, we’ve got to integrate ourselves with the anti-slavery issue, with emancipation, but for us, the economic war of America is a war of, either we’re going to have protective tariffs in the North, or we’re going to end up as a non-industrial, raw materials-producing society, as the South wants.
​  ​And that was the debate from 1815, when the Napoleonic wars ended and world trade began again, until really the Civil War.
​  ​And America became strong in the way that Germany became strong too, by having protective tariffs, in order to have prices large enough to nurture what was called infant industry, to nurture American manufacturing.​..  the reality is, if we have free trade, you’ll get poor, if you’re not already able to have industrial and labor productivity and agricultural productivity on par with the most advanced countries.​..
..the leading American protectionist economist, Erasmus Peshine Smith, went to Japan and helped industrial help Japan break away from British free trade, helped Japan industrialize.​..

..But after World War One, America had already achieved its industrial dominance. And it was after World War One that America said, ok, now our protective tariffs have enabled us to outproduce all the other countries, and our protectionist agriculture especially – the most protected sector in America, has always been agriculture, since the 1930s.
  Basically it said, well, now we can outproduce other countries, we can undersell them, now we can tell them to go for free trade.  And after World War Two, the Americans created the World Bank for economic impoverishment, and the International Monetary Austerity Fund.
And the World Bank’s leading objective was to prevent other countries from investing in their own food production...
​  ​And so the function of free trade, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund has been to finance dependency, backed up by the American support of dictatorships throughout Latin America who agree to have client oligarchies supporting pro-American trade patterns and avoiding any kind of self-reliance, so that the United States can do what it has recently done to Russia and other countries, impose sanctions – say, well, now that you depended on us for your grain, we can now impose sanctions, and you can’t feed yourself if you don’t follow the policies we want..
​..​So basically, free trade means no government, no socialism. It means central planning essentially by Wall Street – countries should let American firms come in, buy control of their raw materials, resources, control of their oil and gas, and mineral rights, and forests and plantations, and basically let other countries send their whole economic surplus to the United States, where it will be duly financialized to buy out other countries’ raw materials and rent yielding resources.​..

​ “We must recognize how finance capitalism has gained power over industrial economies, above all in the United States, from which it seeks to project itself globally, led by the financialized U.S. economy. Today’s new Cold War is a fight to impose rentier-based finance capitalism on the entire world.”​ ...

​..Well, as we’re seeing now, the world is dividing into two parts. We can see that in the fight against Russia, which is also a fight against China, and against India, as you noted. And it seems Indonesia and other countries as well.
​  ​The United States is pushing a world that can be controlled by American investors. The ideal of the American neoliberal plan is to do to other countries what it did to Russia after 1991: take all of your public domain, your oil companies, your nickel mines, your electric utilities, give them all to the wealthy oligarchy, that can only make money once it’s taken control of these companies, by selling the stocks to the West.
​  ​The West will buy out oil, just like Mikhail Khodorkovsky tried to sell Yukos oil to Standard Oil in the West. And we’ve got to put an oligarchy that will sell all of the national domain, all of the patrimony and natural resources, and all the companies, to American investors on the cheap.​..
​..And it was furious when Russia said, we’ve lost more population as a result of neoliberalism than we did in all of World War Two fighting against Nazism. We’ve got to stop.
​  ​And Russia began to say, we’ve got to use Russia’s population, and industry, and natural resources for Russia’s benefit, not for the United States’ benefit.​..

..So the world is dividing into two parts. And it’s not simply the United States and its European satellites on the one hand versus the non-white population on the other hand; it’s finance capitalism versus the rest of the world, which is protecting itself by socialism, which in many ways fulfills what was the ideal of industrial capitalism during the 19th century, when industrial capitalism was actually progressive.​..
..And now the financial class is no longer the landlord class, but the landlord class pays most of its rent to the financial class in the form of mortgage interest, as it borrows money to buy property and housing and commercial sites on credit...
​..​Privatized health care, 18% of GDP, that is pricing America out of the world market. Debt, auto debt, student debt, which in other countries education is free; that’s pricing America out of the market.
​  ​So you have a basically un-competitive economy that’s committing financial suicide, following the same dynamic that destroyed the Roman empire, where a predatory oligarchy took over and maintained power by an assassination policy of its critics, just very similar to what America has been doing in Latin America and other countries.​.. ​

​..​And this split couldn’t have occurred back in the 1970s, with the Bandung Conference in Indonesia. There were other attempts by the Non-Aligned nations to break free of American imperialism, but they didn’t have a critical mass.
​  ​So right now, for the first time, you have a critical mass. And you have the ability of China, Iran, Russia, India, other countries together to be self-sufficient. They don’t need relations with the United States.
​  ​They can handle their own; they can create their own monetary system outside of the International Monetary Fund, which is basically an arm of the Defense Department. They can give loans to build up the infrastructure of countries outside of the World Bank, which is basically an arm of the Defense Department, the deep state.​..
​..And so we’re seeing in the last few months the beginning of a war that is going to go on for, I think, 20 years, maybe 30 or 40 years. The world is splitting away.
​  ​And it won’t be a pretty sight, because the United States and its European satellites are trying to fight to prevent an inevitable break away they cannot prevent
, any more than Europe’s landlord class could prevent industrial capitalism from developing in the 19th century.​..

..But on the subject of Russia, Professor Hudson, we now have seen that since Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine on February 24th, we saw really what could be referred to as financial shock-and-awe. That’s a term that’s been used...
..Well, it didn’t work that way. They did grab the $300 billion of Russia’s reserves. Russia immediately said, ok, we have our own money. We now, fortunately, have enough oil and gas that we don’t have to sell to Europe and Germany. If they want to freeze in the dark and let their pipes burst when the weather gets cold, that’s their problem. We’ll sell to India, and China, and other countries....
​..And so what has happened is that immediately the ruble not only recovered, but is now selling at a higher rate than it was before the American sanctions. So there was no shock at all. The Americans felt shock.
​  ​The Americans are shocked. The Americans are awed. The Russians are laughing and everything is going their way.​..

​..​And the sanctions are forcing Russia to do exactly what the United States, Germany, and other protectionist countries did in the 19th century, developing their own industry by isolating it from low-priced foreign imports that would be priced so low that the Russians otherwise could not afford to make the investment in factories, plants, equipment, research, and development.​..
..China is watching what the Americans are doing to Russia, and listening to President Biden saying, you know, Russia is not our real enemy, our real enemy of China. And when we’re finished with Russia, then we’re going to go against China and do the same thing to it.
​  ​Well you can imagine what this is leading the Chinese government to try to plan to be sufficiently independent from the United States, so that similar type sanctions will not hurt it.
​  ​And President Xi in the last few weeks has said we’ve got to make China as independent as possible...

 ..I had mentioned earlier that finance lives in the short term. American policy, being financial policy, lives in the short term. And it’s looking at if it can make a quick, a quick victory, and forget about what’s going to happen next.​..
​..​So they have people who have no idea of what’s happening in Russia, no idea what’s happening in these other countries. And they’re blinded by their ideology.​..
​..​So you’re having American policy pretty much run by the blind, and the Europeans are simply taking orders, and money in little white envelopes from the United States, to just show their loyalty, and basically are willing to spend three to seven times as much for their energy, for their liquefied natural gas and oil, by buying from the United States, than they are by a long-term contract with Russia.
​..​Europe is willing to spend now $5 trillion on putting together ports that can handle shipping tankers for liquefied natural gas instead of relying on the Russian pipeline, the Nord Stream Two, that’s already there.​..​
​..​To the United States, other countries protecting their economy, other countries trying to raise their living standards, and especially other countries undertaking land reform, are viewed as enemies of the United States, because they’re an enemy of the neoliberal American financial system.​..

​..So Europe is willing to say, well, ok, if we don’t have a Russian gas, well, that means that our chemical companies cannot buy the gas to make the fertilizer to make our crops grow, and our agricultural productivity is going to fall by about 50%.
​  ​We’re also going to spend a lot more money on America’s military, NATO arms to support NATO. So higher food, higher military spending, higher energy costs.
This ends Europe as an industrial rival to Asia, and Eurasia...
leaving the United States and Europe without any industrial competitive power. They’ve priced themselves out of the world market. They’re no longer competitive.
​ .. And I’m sure the only way that the NATO countries can fight against it is militarily, by threatening to bomb. 
But they can’t fight economically. They can’t fight financially.​.. 
​..​It really is left without a strategy, except that it’s done a wonderful job of controlling the public relations dimension of this war, making it appear as if somehow other countries are the aggressors, in not letting America exploit them, and making it appear as if Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine, instead of NATO prodding and prodding Russia...

..What is in store is a new monetary system that is an alternative to the dollar IMF system.
And in this system other countries will hold their reserves in each other’s currencies
. In other words, Russia will hold Indian rupees and Chinese yuan. China will hold rupees and Russian rubles.
​  ​There will be the equivalent of what Keynes thought of as something like artificial special drawing rights that the banks will be able to create to help fund governments to undertake capital investment.
​  ​But for settlements settling balance of payments deficits among countries, once they don’t have enough foreign exchange to make a swap, they will use gold as the means of settlement, because gold is a pure asset. It’s not a liability.
​  ​Any foreign currency basically is held in a foreign country that has the power to do what America did to Russia and just grab it all, and say, we’re just wiping it all out.
​  ​It’s as if you have a bank account, and the bank says, we’ve just emptied out your account to give it to one of our friends, and you don’t have it anymore. You can’t do that if gold is held in your own country.
..So, obviously, countries are not going to leave their gold in other countries. Even little Germany has asked America to begin sending back the gold that it has in the Federal Reserve Bank of America because it’s worried that what if it ever buys Russian gas again? America will grab all of Germany’s gold...
​..​So this act that America did of grabbing Russian money, Afghanistan’s foreign reserves it grabbed, this is telling all the other countries, pull all your money out of dollars. What are they going to put it in? There’s not that much they can put it in that it is absolutely safe.
​  ​So gold is a flight to safety today, because it’s one of the things that all of the world realizes as having an international value for settling balance of payments deficits, that is independent of world politics.
​  ​So that’s the explanation. Russia is not going on gold. It’s going on an independent standard from the United States with gold as an element of its foreign reserve, just as it’s holding Chinese yuan and Indian rupees.​..

..So these are Russia’s deposits in American banks that it used to buy or sell rubles, or to buy goods from America, or to receive payments in, if Russia exports something such as oil. Americans buyers of Russian oil would put the money into the Russian bank account.
  They never dreamed that this would be grabbed. But now Russia says, ok, you’ve grabbed our money, now that means that we get to grab all of your assets in Russia. This is great! All of your stock holdings in nickel, and Yukos, and all these other companies, ok, you’ve got the money, we have the assets, look at us as just buying the assets on the cheap.
​  ​And the Western investors in Russia have all been selling their Russian assets to show that they’re good American citizens in NATO, and the Russians are buying up these European and American assets on the cheap...

​..(Due to entrenched ideology) ​Americans and Europe are operating in the blind, and Russia and China, and Iran, and India, are all looking at how are we going to restructure the world so that we come out of it more prosperous than we were before, not more impoverished. That’s really what the world is dividing into.​..
​..Germany, with all of its history of hyper inflation, I think just realizes that, now that gold is not used to settle balance of payments deficits anymore – the gold that Germany had in America was all of the exports that it made to the United States during the Vietnam War. This is Vietnam War gold...
​..​But now it says, well, America is never going to settle its balance of payments deficits and its foreign debt in gold again, because it doesn’t have any balance of payments surplus, any ability to do that.
​  It’s going to spend its export surplus and its investment surplus on war. So it’s never going to be able to pay. That’s obvious. Let’s get the gold back.
​  ​That was the calculation that every country was making already a decade ago. They realized that America can never repay its foreign debt..

​​..Well, now other countries are saying, wait a minute, if America’s never going to repay its foreign debt, why do the Global South countries have to pay their debt to the IMF and the World Bank, all this dollar debt to dollar bondholders?
  If America won’t pay, we don’t have to pay. Let’s have a clean slate. 
Let’s start from the beginning. And we’re only going to have debt and credit relations with friendly countries, not countries that want to go to war with us like America did in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and now Russia.​..

​..​Dollar hegemony means America’s entire balance of payments deficit in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s was military. So the dollars that were being pumped into the world economy were the result of military spending.
​  ​But the dollars would end up in foreign central banks, especially from Asia to France, Germany, others. What were they going to do with it? Well after 1971 they could not buy gold anymore, so all they could do was buy U.S. Treasury securities. IOUs.
​  ​And so they re-lent to the Treasury all the money that America was spending militarily. And the more money America spent in waging its cold war militarily against the world, the more money central banks would lend to the U.S. government to finance the U.S. deficit that was spent largely on the military-industrial complex and foreign military operations.
​  ​So dollar hegemony was a free lunch financing America’s almost 800 military bases across the world, to fight against communism, defined as any country that doesn’t let American industry and finance buy control of its raw materials, agriculture, resources.
​  ​And this has now come to an end. Right now America has grabbed Afghanistan’s, and Russia’s gold. 
All of a sudden it’s obvious that, this summer, there’s going to be an enormous squeeze on Third World countries, on the Global South.
​  ​Their energy prices are going to go way up, and that’s going to hurt them just like the oil shock of 1974 and 1975 did.
They’re going to have to pay higher food costs, because ​food prices are going to go way up​ now that the Ukraine war is erupting.

​  ​And a lot of their foreign debt, dollarized debt service, is coming due. ​ 
And they’re facing a choice: if they pay the foreign debt, they can’t afford to buy the oil and energy that they need to run their factories and heat their homes. They can’t afford to buy the food to feed their people.​..
​..​And so the tensions, the disruption of world prices, and inflation, and trade that is a result of the NATO attack on Russia, now threatens to drive all of the southern hemisphere countries into an alliance with Russia, China, India, and all the rest.​..
.. America basically is creating a new Berlin Wall, but the wall is isolating itself from other countries, and driving other countries all together into what I hope will be a happy, self-sufficient, non-U.S. globalized economy.

​This concludes a long and well documented article about the 2 months of the Ukraine war. I personally see the global financial capitalists as being independent of nations and regions, not "American" or "European", so I think things are going bad more quickly in resource-poor Europe, but the American people are also completely vulnerable to the same economic weapons.
..but where will Europe turn if it really cuts itself off from Russian energy sources​?​
​  ​One certain consequence from all these events will be a decline in the level of security and economic stability in Europe. The decline in living standards is almost inevitable, which will, in turn, lead to progressive radicalization or demoralization of the population. The internal cohesion of the Union, already on shaky ground, will only decrease. Political dependence on imperial policy of Washington will undermine the sovereignty of European Union and its prestige on the global level. All of this will be presented as a result of Vladimir Putin’s evil genius and despotic aspirations. As usual, this will not be the truth. The only culprit for the current situation is the NATO alliance and political elite of its leading country, United States. Negative economic and social trends within the collective West will provoke a backlash from their populations, characterized by violence. No matter what form of instability it takes, Europe will be far more exposed to the crisis, given that Washington will use every instrument at its disposal, for sake of its own survival, to transfer the negative consequences of its current moves onto its European satellites in the future.

​Consciousness Of Sheep looks at some of the failures of neoliberal-central-planning, as it has come to exist, focusing on energy requirements for economic survival​.
  The problem though, is that events over the past two years have dramatically accelerated the trend of declining surplus energy to the point that non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) are no longer just a sop to green protestors and a money spinner for the corporations that deploy them.  With oil and gas going away, and with the coal-based infrastructure largely dismantled, NRREHTs are becoming essential to keeping the lights on…  Except, of course, that the engineers who are supposed to make the system work – like the bankers before 2008 – know damned well that this project is a non-starter and that a coal-based Grid cannot accommodate a massive expansion of NRREHTs until or unless we have a massive expansion in storage technologies which have yet to even be invented.  And while nobody is quite saying this in public, the bright green mask is slipping as the impossibility of the task becomes more apparent and more urgent, and the true cost of attempting it is realised...
..In the past it was possible to assume that because these problems are far off in the future, clever people somewhere else would come up with viable solutions.  But the sudden fall in supplies of oil and gas following two years of lockdown and the – frankly insane – decision by Europe to disconnect itself from one of the last suppliers of affordable oil and gas on the planet, have put us in a position where NRREHTs, nuclear and what remains of coal power are the only things standing in the way of mass hypothermia this winter.  
​ ​ And when the lights go out, as they surely will the moment the wind stops blowing, the whole energy Ponzi scheme will go the way of the banking and finance system fourteen years ago.  Once again, the economists and policy-makers will be asked why nobody saw it coming.

​  There will be a diesel fuel shortage this summer. That's the hot and believable rumor. The other part of the rumor is that it is a created crisis, which is rational. Create a crisis a little bit before it would happen anyway and maybe you can control it a bit better...​

I have to wonder if "Joe Biden" is doing everything possible (under remote-control) to bottom out the US and European economies so that whoever follows him can appear to do much better... Biden Admin Cancels Huge Alaska Oil And Gas Lease As Gas Prices Hit Record Highs

Soak some fake money with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and give it to children to spread at home after they put it in their mouths... "Biowarfare"
​..​The special military operation by Russian troops succeeded in obtaining additional information about bio-incidents in Ukraine.
​  ​For example, materials indicating the intentional use of a multidrug-resistant tuberculosis pathogen in 2020 to infect the population of the Slavyanoserbsky district of the LPR were examined.
​  ​The flyers, made in the form of counterfeit currency notes, were infected with the tuberculosis agent and distributed to minors in Stepovoe village. The organisers of this crime took into account the behaviour of children, who have a habit of “putting everything in their mouths” and taking food with unwashed hands.
​  ​The results of bacteriological studies have confirmed the resistance of the isolated bacteria to first- and second-line anti-TB drugs, meaning that the disease caused by them is much more difficult to treat and the cost of treatment is much higher.
​  ​According to the conclusion of the Lugansk Republican Sanitary and Epidemiological Station, “…the contamination of the notes was most likely carried out artificially, as the material contains extremely dangerous strains of the pathogen in concentrations capable of ensuring infection and development of the tuberculosis process…”.
​  ​In his conclusion, the chief doctor of the Lugansk Republican TB Dispensary also notes that “…there are all signs of deliberate, man-made contamination of the flyers with highly pathogenic biomaterial…”.

Where is Canadian General Cadieu, captured in Mariupol by the Russian army, as he tried to escape during the release of civilians from  the Azovstal complex?
​  ​Cadieu was especially close from their time together as cadets, as junior officers in the Strathcona regiment, and then as tank commanders in Kandahar to Colonel Mark Lubiniecki, who ran the Canadian operation in western Ukraine in 2017-2018. Lubiniecki’s family comes from the western Ukraine. Once back in that region, he taught mobile armour, tank and anti-tank tactics to the Ukrainians.  The strategic target of those tactics – and of Cadieu’s and Lubiniecki’s plans – was the Russian army; that’s to say, fighting the Russian Army with NATO tanks and artillery, using Ukrainian troops and fighting on Ukrainian territory. When Cadieu moved to Ottawa in 2019, Lubiniecki also moved to Ottawa.  These two Canadian soldiers have been planning the tank war in Ukraine for several years.​ 
But Cadieu’s sexual conduct with a female cadet before they graduated in 1994 has interrupted this battle plan. Although he was promoted to lieutenant-general and to Chief of the Defence Staff at the beginning of last August, he was stopped when the woman filed formal charges against him a month later, and Cadieu was suspended.

​Thanks for that story and this one F.S. That is a lot of the Canadian government that went to Kiev! More than PR?
​  ​Trudeau’s visit was a closely guarded secret. Canadian media, including CBC News, were only made aware of Trudeau’s trip after he left Canada, on the condition that it would not be reported before it was made public.
​  ​The Prime Minister and his delegation departed Ottawa on Saturday morning aboard a Canadian Air Force Airbus CC-150 for an eight-hour flight to Rzeszow in southeastern Poland. From there, a high-ranking government source said, they took the train to Kiev Central Station. Once in Ukraine, they traveled in a motorcade convoy of two dozen vehicles, including police escorts and an ambulance.
​  ​Trudeau’s small delegation included Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Secretary of State Mélanie Joly, National Security and Intelligence Adviser Jody Thomas, Chief of Staff Katie Telford, Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Clow and photographer Adam Scotti.

Senator Rand Paul blocks the fast-track for the $40 billion money-package to Ukraine, since it lacks any oversight. 
That money can just be given to anybody, for anything, and also, nobody has had time to read it yet. 
(This may reduce the critically necessary freedom to pay out bribes quickly and massively...)

Avoiding Food Shortage
(pictured with  vegetable garden)

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