Here Thar Be Monsters!

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28.2.11

The Vultures Are Circling

Reader Note: Over the next couple of weeks, we will be traveling quite a bit, so please forgive us if the updates get a little spotty.  We will, however, be bringing you reports on various cities around Indonesia, including Medan (Sumatra) and Denpasar (Bali).  Thanks for your understanding.

Indonesia is one hot property right now.  There is a huge interest in investing here.  The economy is red-hot and foreign capital is pouring in.  In fact, there is so much coming in, that the foreign investors are putting heavy pressure on the Bank Indonesia (central bank) to adjust its policies to make them happy.

There are a number of reasons for this.  Indonesia is next door to China, which, unless you've been under a rock for the last 10 years, has become at least the second largest, if not the largest economy in the world.  China, because of its own meteoric growth, has been sucking up resources globally like a black hole eats stars.

Indonesia has a vast natural wealth that the world has been happy to exploit for centuries.  Not only does the land support a rich agricultural sector, but the country is rich in gold, coal, oil, nickel, iron, silver, sulphur, rare earths, and dozens of other commodities.  The massive rain forests here used to provide tons of lumber from mahogany and teak, though so much was stripped out in the 1950s that they are desperately trying to protect the fraction of old-growth forests, and the vast number of rare species of beasts that live here.

One of the primary resources making money right now is coal.  Used both for energy and for things like coke for concrete, nearly every Asian country is competing to lock up a 20 or 30 year supply.  Additionally, the recent floods and disasters in Australia have put Indonesia's nearest competitor out of business, at least for the time being.  Thus, demand and prices have shot up.

Another hot interest here is Indonesia's own growth.  Because the country is making so much money, and because the wealth, at least ostensibly, is filtering down to the common folks (finally), there is big demand for power, roads, shipping infrastructure, and all the related building that goes with it.  In Jakarta, the boom has brought with it a massive influx of people to the capital.  This has strained the existing infrastructure to the breaking point.  Even in the three years I've been here, I have witnessed the traffic go from bad to nighmare.

Two abortive attempts to build a monorail have left pylons standing unused around certain parts of the city.  The bus system is pushing overcapacity, with some routes almost unusuable due to waiting times and crowding.  There's a plan to install an MRT with the first line scheduled to open in 2014, but by then the city may be completely impassable, assuming that graft and corruption don't kill the project like the monorail.

Because the country refuses to automate anything, good for labor bad for mobility, the tolls roads that lace Jakarta and surrounding areas, are at virtual stand-stills during rush hour, which for intents and purposes, is daylight hours.  Combined with Indonesian's disdain for traffic laws, the whole system teeters on collapse.

For all these reasons, the vulture captialists are circling the country, waiting to pick off unsuspecting prey.  If you are not familiar with vulture capitalism, then you really need to read John Perkin's book, "Confessions of an Economic Hitman."

The basic modus operendi is to swoop in to developing countries in desperate need of infrastructure, offer massive loans to build power plants and industries that really do nothing to put folks to work, but seem like good deals at the time.  Later, as the country's economy begins to cool off, folks find that a few corrupt individuals have made off with all the dough and left the country with a crushing debt.

At that point, everyone is convinced by a few talking heads that the debt must be restructured, which really just increases the burden, thus making everyone a slave to their jobs and houses just to survive.

The only way out is the same one that home-owners in America haven't yet figured out en masse, if they can't produce a contract, you don't owe the debt.  The people are carefully groomed so that it never occurs to them that they never incurred the debt, or the original contract holder no longer holds the paper, having sold it off four or five times over.  So, in fact, there is no debt.  But no one ever figures that out.

That's part of the reason the democracy movement is so important.  See, if the people think they elect representatives, who then incur a massive national debt, then the people think they actually owe it because the voted for the scumbags.  In steps George Soros, et al., to push democracy, which is a huge scam of perportions so vast that no one thinks it can be a scam because of the sheer size of it.

In fact, it is the root of all this crowing about 'democratic' revolutions.  See, it there is a king, a dictator or a select few oligarchs, then the people can overthrow them and repudiate any debt as being the sole responsiblity of the few or one who are thrown out.  But, if the leaders are 'democratically' elected, then the banksters can claim that the debt is owed by the entire population, thus we must all cling to our jobs in order to survive, or the banksters will reclaim everything we owe.  Keeps us little people in line, right?

The Middle East is one of the few remaining strongholds of monachs and dictators.  South America has already been tamed, though Equador is a fine example of the people telling the banksters to go jump off a cliff and taking control of their country.  At any rate, the Middle East is being cleansed of autocratic rulers so that they can be effectively enslaved by the banksters, who hate sovereign individuals, sound money and especially sharia banking (interest free).  It is the compounding interest that eventually enslaves the populations under a crushing debt that can't be paid.

Bottom line, I hope that Indonesia doesn't cave to these blood-sucking bastards.  I hope that it continues it long tradition of 'just deal with it,' and so doesn't slide down the road of borrowing to build that has captured the people of so many nations, including my own.  With so many billions of dollars flowing into this country, and the constant temptation and barrage of marketing, it's hard to say who will win.  If I had my way, I would pass out copies of Perkin's book and show people what to watch out for.

We shall see.

Every day, I battle amazing hordes of cars and motorcycles, trying to get from one end of the city to other on time.  In moments of weakness, I actually wish that something could be done, but then I remember that the cost is more than most will bear, if they know it up-front.

So, for now, I suffer.  And Indonesians, who are notorious for just tolerating the uncomfortable because the effort to change it is even more repulsive.  With the ingenuity and creativity evident in this country, there is no doubt that home-grown solutions can be found that don't involve vulture capitalists.  Let's just hope the impulse for the simple short-term solution doesn't overcome the current devil-may-care attitude.

There's something to be said for controlled anarchy.

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