1. Have you heard about the plan to transform Honduras into a Libertarian "Free Market" Wonderland? Over at Alternet, The Nightmare Libertarian Project to Turn This Central American Country Into Ayn Rand's Paradise has all the juicy details. After detailing some of the ramifications of the 2009 coup that ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya and the subsequent election of Porfirio "Pepe Lobo" Sosa, who eventually handed over the Presidency to his hand-picked successor, Juan Orlando Hernandez - the selling off of public utilities, properties, and services to "private" interests and the militarization of security forces being top of the list - the article goes on to describe a peculiar new sociological experiment with "Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico" (special employment and economic development zones), also known as ZEDEs or “charter cities.” From the article:
According to reporting by Danielle Marie Mackey for the New Republic last month, here is how the project works: "An investor, either international or local, builds infrastructure. ... The territory in which they invest becomes an autonomous zone from Honduras... The investing company must write the laws that govern the territory, establish the local government, hire a private police force, and even has the right to set the educational system and collect taxes."
An earlier article by Erika Piquero at Latin Correspondent described the law as “allowing the corporations and individuals funding the ZEDEs to dictate the entire structural organization of the zone, including laws, tax structure, healthcare system, education and security forces. This kind of flexibility is unprecedented even in similar models around the world.”
George Rodríguez reported for the Tico Times that the plan was previously challenged and ruled unconstitutional in Honduras' supreme court, but Hernandez "twisted arms, had the [dissenting] judges removed, and brought in obedient replacements." Hernandez then re-tooled the bill and pushed it through the congress.
As Mackey reported, "The ZEDE’s central government is stacked with libertarian foreigners," including a former speechwriter for presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., conservative political operative Grover Norquist, a senior member of the Cato Institute think tank, and Ronald Reagan's son Michael, as well as "a Danish banker, a Peruvian economist, and an Austrian general secretary of the Friedrich Hayek Institute."And if you think the plans listed above are disturbing, wait until you read the rest of the article, which details the links between Honduras's home-grown One Percenters and the newly militarized police force, private security goon squads, and vicious street gangs that they will no doubt be relying on to provide "security" for this Brave New World of Libertarian Fiscal Freedom. As Maya Kroth wrote in September for Foreign Policy: "Critics worry that evidence to date — the government’s opaque approach, the ZEDEs’ undemocratic features, the cast of characters backing the scheme, and the vulnerabilities of people likely to be affected by development — indicate that charter cities would be little more than predatory, privatized utopias, with far-reaching, negative implications for Honduran sovereignty and the well-being of poor communities."
2. Have you ever read Franz Kafka's "In The Penal Colony"? No? Well then, here's your chance. For free, even! Go ahead... what are you afraid of? Being a tiny bit better read than you were before? It's Kafka! He's an important 20th century voice, it'll take you like 20 minutes to read, and you should read something by Kafka before you die. This particular story also happens to be a whole lot more entertaining than the far more popular "Metamorphosis", in which the protagonist wakes up in his bed as a giant dung beetle.
3. Although regular Dirt readers probably know about my admiration for Frank Zappa, my love of early Pink Floyd and my fondness for obscure 70's Prog Rock, I don't often discuss my musical preferences in my blogs. There are numerous reasons for this. For one thing, writing about music isn't really my forte. I like what I like, and that's that. And one genre of music that I sometime enjoy is death metal. I have long been a fan of Celtic Frost, for instance, and I think their 2006 release, Monotheist, was probably the finest album of any genre released in that year, and "Synagoga Satanae" the best metal song of the decade. More recently, this week I came across "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" by Polish death metal band Behemoth, from their critically acclaimed CD, The Satanist, and I really, really like it. I think there's some pretty powerful stuff going on here, and after checking out this analysis of the lyrics for the whole album, I found a lot of food for thought. Anyway, enjoy the video, embedded below, and let me know what you think of it!