Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Neoliberalism and Never-ending Disasters

Is there any direct relation between neoliberalism
and "natural" disasters?
Yes there is.
Protection, and reconstruction of the natural environment have no role in neoliberal capital accumulation programs(within the never-ending circuit of money - commodities - more money) ; they are not valued in market, and they demand extensive government intervention in the market operations. Consequently, in the absence of strong public pressures, environmental protection and reconstruction programs, or environmentally-friendly economic regulations, would all be significantly constrained. To make matter worst, for many government bureaucrats and members of parliament, their authority to make regulations, policy decisions and implementations, can all be commodified, to be sold in the market for their personal gains. Air Pollution

Air pollution is perhaps Indonesia's most severe environmental problem. According to an official at the World Bank office in Jakarta, "air pollution imposes costs of at least $400 million on the Indonesian economy every year." It also has very a serious impact on public health. For example, inflammation of the respiratory tract, which is directly linked to air quality, was the sixth leading cause of death in Indonesia (after accidents, diarrhea, cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis, and measles).
Automotive Industry
Motor vehicles are one of the chief sources of air pollution in Indonesia. Between 1995 and 2001, the number of vehicles in Indonesia grew from
12 million to almost 21 million. Many of these vehicles are motorcycles or scooters, which lack the catalytic converters required for cleaner emissions. Moreover, almost no motor vehicles in Indonesia use unleaded gasoline. Instead, the vast majority of these vehicles rely on either leaded gasoline or diesel fuel, leading to unhealthily high concentrations of airborne lead.
Despite the phasing out of leaded gasoline, Jakarta's air remains among the dirtiest in the world. The concentration of particulate matter is high, as are the levels of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. In July 2003, the Jakarta Post placed much of the blame on the fact that city authorities can only force public vehicles to comply with emissions standards. At that time, public vehicles accounted for only 315,000 of the almost 5 million vehicles in the city.
Illegal Loging
Forest fires also contribute to Indonesian air pollution. Often these fires result from illegal logging of Indonesia's rain forests. During 1997 and 1998, the fires were especially severe. Nearly 10 million hectares burned, producing a haze that impacted all of Southeast Asia. The World Bank's
Indonesia Environment Monitor, 2003 states that the costs of 1997-8 fires exceeded the combined legal liabilities assessed for the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Bhopal chemical disaster.
Industries as Polluter
Indonesia's industrial sector, which contains chemical, petroleum, coal, plastic and rubber products, and food industries, also is a significant polluter. Unfortunately, there is limited quantitative data on their overall impact. The Blue Sky Program was initiated by the Ministry of Environment in 1992 to improve air quality in Indonesia's five largest cities: Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabya, and Medan. The Blue Sky Program imposed controls on 20 industries. Source:

Deforestation and Floods

Indonesia had the world's worst deforestation in 2006

Trees have been or are being cut down at increasingly high rates. If this is not stopped many unfavorable side effects could result.

Why Trees Matter
Source: The Choice: Doomsday or Arbor Day Jocelyn Stock Andy Rochen -
To understand why deforestation is such a pressing and urgent issue, forests must first be given credit for what they bring to global ecosystems and the quality of life that all species maintain. Tropical Rainforests presently give a place to call home for 50% - 90% of all organisms, 90% of our relatives, the primates, and 50 million creatures that can live no place but the rich rainforests (World Rainforest Movement 16). Not only are other species at risk, but the human race also benefits from what the trees give. From something as minor as the spices that indulge food to life giving medicines, the rainforests amplify and save lives. According to the World Rainforest Movement, 25% of medicines come from the forests (28). This is a number that does not do justice to all the cures that have yet to be discovered or that have been destroyed. The forests give life, not only to other species, but they help to prolong the human race. The forests have global implications not just on life but on the quality of it. Trees improve the quality of the air that species breath by trapping carbon and other particles produced by pollution. Trees determine rainfall and replenish the atmosphere. As more water gets put back in the atmosphere, clouds form and provide another way to block out the sun?s heat. Trees are what cool and regulates the earth?s climate in conjunction with other such valuable services as preventing erosion, landslides, and making the most infertile soil rich with life. Mother earth has given much responsibility to trees.

Logging and Deforestation
The small farmer plays a big role, but it is modern industry that too cuts down the trees. The logging industry is fueled by the need for disposable products. 11 million acres a year are cut for commercial and property industries (Entity Mission 1). Peter Heller found that McDonald?s needs 800 square miles of trees to make the amount of paper they need for a year?s supply of packaging, Entity Mission found that British Columbia manufactures 7, 500,000 pairs of chopsticks a day, and the demand for fuel wood is so high that predictions say that there will be a shortage by the year 2000. Logging does too have its repercussions. The logging industry not only tries to accomplish all this but it even indirectly helps the "shifted cultivators" and others to do more damage. The roads that the loggers build to access the forests and generate hydroelectric power create an easy way for many people to try to manipulate the forest resources. The amount of damage that this adds to the forests can not be measured nor can that of the illegal logging. Some importers may even be buying illegally logged wood and not even have known it ("Logging is the Major Cause of Global Deforestation ? New WWF Report" 2).
Source: The Choice: Doomsday or Arbor Day Jocelyn Stock Andy Rochen -

Monday, February 25, 2008

Neoliberalism and Never-Ending Disasters

Never-ending man-made disasters
in the midst of never-ending
Money-Commodities-More Money circuit

The gas leak was the result of deliberate inaction (of a profit-seeking institution)
. . . it was not natural disaster.

On May 28, 2006, at about 10:00 p.m. hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) leaked from a gas exploration rig in Sidoarjo, operated by PT Lapindo Brantas. The gas leak sprayed 10 meters high from cracks in the ground. The gas was followed by hot mud spewing as far as the residence area nearby.

The cause of the gas leak
The crack in the gas well was not caused by the May 27 earthquake. The statement was one of the results of East Java Police investigation (expert witnesses from the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency). (Source ANTV, June 8, 2006)
The leak was a result of deliberate inaction of PT Lapindo Brantas. This was the greatest disaster in East Java this year. (quote from East Java Walhi’s executive director, Ridho Saiful Ashadi, published on Surabaya Pagi, June 7, 2006).
The gas leak was caused by a technical error while drilling the well. The drill was stalled when mechanics tried to pull it off. The gas couldn’t flow through the supposed fire pit channel, instead it flowed up through the swamp (Syahdun, a mechanic of PT. Tiga Musim Jaya Mas, the drilling contractor, quoted as saying by Kompas, June 8, 2006).
The leak was not a natural disaster but rather because of a bad luck factor. Allegedly, when the well was drilled, the hole had not yet covered by concrete. (Dr. Adi Susilo, Head of Geoscience Lab, Universitas Brawijaya Malang, on Kompas, June 8, 2006

Environmental Recklessness Blamed for Jakarta Floods
JAKARTA, Indonesia, February 12, 2007 (ENS) - About 60 percent of the Indonesian capital Jakarta is flooded following days of torrential rains, which caused several rivers to overflow. Authorities say 50 people have died and 512,170 have been made homeless in the worst floods to hit Jakarta and surrounding areas in five years. Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said the main reason for the flooding of Jakarta was the elimination of water catchment areas following the construction of large numbers of buildings. "There are too many malls in the capital city," the minister said of the shopping centers that have sprung up across Jakarta. There are too many malls in the capital city," the minister said of the shopping centers that have sprung up across Jakarta. The minister told the Antara news agency that many developers have not paid enough attention to the ecological impact of their projects and have contructed buildings "recklessly" in water catchment areas.
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Friday, February 22, 2008


When your life gets boring
Risk It !!!
( at your own risk )

Jakarta by Night
Blacken out to fulfil your adventurous mind

Jammed yet colorful
and tell your children: you're survive streets full of
carbon monocide

Venetia van Java
gone are the days of Parijs van Java
we are now offer various city-wide swimming pools across the country
(picture by vivy virgiyanti)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lies, Damned Lies, and Political Campaign

I would say, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and political campaign promises.
Approaching 2009, the season of bubble and promises is already on the air again. This is the season when any aspiring Presidential candidate declares an uphill battle against the mother of all evils and the worst of crimes: poverty. Look around, you are already in the middle of a familiar symbolic environment, full of competing bubbles, lies, or half true messages about eradicating poverty.

The season of bubble and lies is on the air
But watch, anyone who win the competition, would in no time develop a tendency to make peace with those market fundamentalists. The moment the winner disappears into the palace, that exactly the time for us to prepare for the post-honeymoon nonstop watch.
Here is (part of) a watchlist, just in case you have the business to know who the new President of our country really is:
1. How His/Her Excellency Mr(s) President reacts to critical issues such as economic liberalization, deregulation, privatization, and globalization?. How far does he or she tend to leave things up to the market? or does he have sufficient political will (or guts) to find alternatives to neoliberal prescriptions?
2. How the new President manage health care and public education? A neoliberal would limit or rule out investment on health care, public education since that would directly interfere with the operation of markets. In the eye of market fundamentalists, the same is also applies for issues involving public broadcast, state enterprises, or social investments.
3. Are there any workable plan and act to protect the viability of small-scale farming?. A market fundamentalist would ignore such a plan because it would require subsidies to the farmers, and restriction on imports of farm products -- both are againsts neoliberalism principle of capital and commodities freedom to move. Likewise, restrictions on multinational companies, such as Care Fuor, which is aimed at protecting traditional markets, would run contrary to market fundamentalism’s prescription of minimal role for government in economic affairs.
4. Is there any efforts to extend the rights of labor? Or he or she prefers to create a more condusive investment climate through respressive policies on industrial relations?
5. Is there any policy priority directed at reducing the unequal distribution of income through, e.g. public works programs, greater budget allocation for public education and small scale business?. As Schumpeter (1954) sum s up a central argument of classical (neoliberal) economists:
· A higher rate of savings allows a higher rate of investment;
· a higher rate of investment allows a higher productive capital;
· a higher level of productive capital allows more output;
and so a higher rate of saving allows a higher rate of economic growth. Because, it is the rich who save . . . the poor spend their income. It follows that, a more unequal distribution of income, leads to a higher rate of growth . . . by raising the share of income going to the wealthy, the inequality raises the saving rate”.
Accordingly, neoliberals intrinsically poses a tendency to limit and rule out programs directed at improving income distribution.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Don's Legacy

Don Soeharto's worst legacy :
Indonesia's Killing Fields "
Suharto ran Indonesia like a mafia don," said Jeffrey Winters, professor of political economy at Northwestern University, Chicago. "Everything turned on the don, all business went through the don, the don was the source of security, and he destroyed everything, parliament, the rule of law, the intellectual community, and turned the police and military into his personal instruments." Evenr, it's virtually impossibel to write the history of post-Sukarno politics without mentioning Suharto. In seceral crucial issues and events , it would be wrong to analize the country without relating it to Suharto's psychological traits. Nonetheless, despite his undisputed power to write the history of our country during a particular historical juncture, he is now no longer posses the power to write his own history. He is now at the mercy of our media, of younger generations og those who were the vistims of his power.
Suharto's iron-fisted rule bought economic growth but also ushered in nepotism and corruption. And Suharto's legacy of corruption and shady business dealings go back a long way.( to be continued )

Let today embrace the past with remembrance
For the struggle of society against the evil of power

is a struggle of memory against forgetting

( to be continued )