[OPE] Frei Betto, "I apologise"

From: <glevy@pratt.edu>
Date: Fri Oct 31 2008 - 15:57:31 EDT

October 30 - November 5, 2008
I apologize By
Frei Betto

I am gravely ill. I would like
to publicly express my apologies to
all those who trusted me
blindly. They believed in my alleged power
to multiply fortunes.
They placed in my hands the fruit of years of
labor, of family
savings, the capital of their enterprises.

I apologize to
whoever sees his savings evaporate up the virtual
chimneys of the
stock exchange, as well as those who find themselves
asphyxiated by
the impossibility of paying high interests, by the
lack of credit
and the proximity of a recession.

I know that, in the past
several decades, I exceeded my own limits. I
became King Midas, I
created around me a legion of devotees, as if I
had divine powers.
My apostles -- the neoliberal economists -- went
throughout the
world announcing that the financial health of all
countries would
improve, the lower those countries bowed at their

I made governments and public opinion believe that my success would
be proportional to my freedom. I freed myself from the restraints of
production and the State, of laws and morality. I reduced all values
to the global casino of the stock exchanges; I transformed credit
into a consumer product; I convinced a significant part of mankind
that I could perform the miracle of making money out of money without

the encumbrance of goods and services.

I clung to the
belief that, faced with turbulence, I would be able to
self-regulate, as happened in Nature before its balance was affected
by the predatory action of the so-called civilization. I became
omnipotent; I imposed myself on the planet as if I were omnipresent.
I globalized myself.

I never slept. When the Tokyo Stock
Exchange shut down for the night,
there I was, trading euphorically
at the Sao Paulo exchange. If the
New York exchange closed at a
loss, I made up for it with the gains
in London. My pronouncements
on Wall Street turned the opening of its
stock exchange into a
liturgy that was televised throughout the
globe. I became a
cornucopia that (many thought) would always spout
wealth, easy,
immediate, abundant wealth.

I apologize for having fooled so
many in such a short time,
especially the economists who tried so
hard to immunize me from the
influences of the State. I know that
their theories are now melting
as their actions did, and that the
state of depression in which they
live can be compared to that of
the banks and the major corporations.

I apologize for inducing
crowds to accept as sacred the worlds of my
supreme pontiff, Alan
Greenspan, who occupied the Financial See for
19 years. I admit I
incurred the mortal sin of maintaining interest
rates low, lower
than the index of inflation, for a long time. Thus,
millions of
USAmericans were encouraged to follow the dream of owning
homes. They obtained credit, bought houses. Then, because of
increased demand, I raised the prices and pumped up the inflation. To

contain it, the government raised the interest rates -- and the
defaults multiplied like the plague, undermining the purported
solidity of the banking system.

I collapsed. The paradigms
that held me up were swallowed by the
unforeseen black hole known as
lack of credit. The spring dried out.
Wearing the sandals of
humility, I beg the State to protect me from a
shameful demise. I
cannot stand the thought that I, not a left-wing
revolution, am the
only one responsible for the progressive
nationalization of the
financial system. I cannot picture myself
under the tutelage of
governments, as in the socialist countries.
Just now that the
central banks, a public institution, were achieving
autonomy in
relation with the governments that created them and
sitting down at
the table of my cardinals, what do I see? The entire
argument that
"outside of me there is no salvation" cracks and

I apologize in advance for the bankruptcy that will spread
this globalized world.

Farewell, assigned
credit! The interest rates will rise along with a
insecurity. Once the faucets of credit have been closed,
consumer will become cautious and businesses will suffer a thirst
for capital. Obliged to reduce production, they will reduce the
number of their workers. Exporting countries, such as Brazil, will
have fewer clients abroad; therefore, they will place fewer profits
in their coffers and will have to rethink their economic policies.

I apologize to the taxpayers in the rich countries, who see their

taxes becoming life vests for banks and financial institutions, a

fortune that should have been invested in social rights,
environmental protection, and culture.

I, the market, beg
for forgiveness for having committed so many sins
and for shifting
to you the burden of penitence. I know that I am
cynical, perverse,
avaricious. I can only beg the State to take pity
on me.

I dare not ask for forgiveness from God, whose place I attempted to
take. I expect that, right now, He is looking down upon me with the
same ironical smile with which he watched the fall of the Tower of

Frei Betto, a writer, is the author of 'Letters from
Prison' (Agir
Publishers), among other books.


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