We talk a lot about privatizations and we think of the telephone companies, the railways, I dunno’ the gas company… OK those are operational privatizations. But the real privatization of the last 30 to 40 years is the privatization of power. And this is where public opinion gets confused. Because we think, and rightly so, that public institutions, government institutions, are there to promote the common good, or at least they should be there… However, if we have a private world government which is run by private institutions as we will set in a moment, there we have a problem, because private institutions really don’t have an obligation, a legitimate obligation to work for the common good. Private organizations, legitimately so, work for their own good. So there we have one of the keys to the problem. We have a world government, but it is mostly private, and the private institutions running the world government are not geared or focused on the common good. So what we have nowadays is private power. And private power is the power running the world government. Can we see it? Not easy. Is it a conspiracy? No way. And I’m going to tell you why. Because the organizations running this, until now private world government, have names, addresses, websites, emails… They issue documents. They publish books. They have logos. They make reports. It’s all out there. All you need to do is, like a jigsaw puzzle, put the pieces together. - Adrian Salbuchi, Will It Be World Government? – The New World Order Is Not A Conspiracy
April 13, 2011
In July 1944, 730 delegates from 44 nations met at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, NH for a UN Monetary and Financial Conference. Its purpose was to establish a post-war international monetary system of convertible currencies, fixed exchange rates, free trade, the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency linked to gold, and those of other nations fixed to the dollar.
It also designed an institutional framework for market-based capital accumulation to assure newly liberated colonies would pursue capitalist economic development beneficial to victorious allies, mainly America.
In addition, the IMF and World Bank were established to integrate developing nations into the Global North-dominated world economy, using debt entrapment as the way to transfer their wealth to powerful Western bankers.
The scheme to this day obligates indebted nations to take new loans to service old ones, assuring rising indebtedness and structural adjustment harshness, including:
- privatization of state enterprises;
- mass layoffs;
- deep social spending cuts;
- wage freezes or cuts;
- unrestricted free market access for western corporations;
- corporate-friendly tax cuts;
- crackdowns on or elimination of trade unionism; and
- harsh repression against those opposing a system incompatible with social democracy.
As a result, since WW II, public wealth shifted to powerful private hands, widening the gap between super-rich elitists and working households, a process more intense than ever now, including the amounts.
In 1971, the system unraveled when Nixon closed the gold window, ending the last link between gold, the dollar, and sound money. Thereafter, currencies floated, competing with each other in a casino-like environment, manipulated by powerful insiders like Soros, hedge funds, giant international banks, or governments at times cooperatively with others in their own mutual self-interest.
Bretton Woods established a post-war international monetary system, including the IMF and World Bank’s original missions:
- the former to establish stable exchange rates linked to the dollar and bridge temporary payment imbalances; and
- the latter to provide credit to war-torn developing countries.
Both bodies, in fact, proved hugely exploitive, their purpose to this day.
In his book “Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire” and other writings, Michael Hudson explained how the dollar glut finances US imperialism and corporate interests by:
- circulating surplus dollars globally to further financial speculation and corporate takeovers;
- global central banks “recyl(ing) these dollar inflows (into) US Treasury bonds to finance the federal US budget deficit; and
- most important, the military character of the US payments deficit and the domestic federal budget deficit.”
In other words, dollars finance US corporate takeovers, speculative excesses creating bubbles and global economic crises, as well as America’s reckless spending, militarism, imperial wars, hundreds of bases worldwide, and overall belligerence and exploitation at the expense of democratic values and social justice.
Sooner or later, however, excesses erode confidence and produce change, especially today with the Federal Reserve sacrificing dollar strength to bail out Wall Street at the expense of productive economic growth and stability. The greater the dollar erosion, the less likely foreign investors will tolerate buying bad assets, giving America a free lunch to finance counterproductive policy.
As a result, Hudson sees international tensions growing for the next generation because of America’s reckless monetarism, perpetual wars, and extreme wealth gap between super-rich elitists and ordinary workers.
For decades, US companies had a competitive advantage from Washington Consensus rules and Bretton Woods institutions it controls, including the IMF and World Bank, affording America a free lunch to rule by forcing other countries into debt bondage, threatening to bring down the global monetary system if enough of them balk. And, of course, waging imperial wars when financial ones don’t work.
So far it has because Europe and Asia lack the political will to establish a new international economic order, so nations producing economic gains can keep them, not let America usurp them to reinforce its “new kind of centralized global planning” – one based on financialization and a US Treasury securities standard, not industrial mechanisms.
In WTO terms, it transfers foreign trade gains from other economies to America, drains their resources overall, promotes dependency, not self-sufficiency, and backs it with hardline militarism and threats of systemic monetary collapse.
Eventually, exploited countries balk about “taxation without representation,” a “quid without quo,” a free lunch from “the world’s payments-surplus nations.” The longer America demands it by glutting world economies with dollars, the more likely disadvantaged nations will object, by threatening to withdraw from the IMF, World Bank and WTO.
It’s a possibility globalists like George Soros aim to exploit, among other ways through Bretton Woods 2.0 to develop ideas and policies for a new financial world order, elitists like himself control.
George Soros – Billionaire Predatory Investor
His rogue investing is notorious. For example, in 1992, he made a billion dollars sabotaging European monetary policy by attacking the European Rate Mechanism (ERM) through a highly leveraged speculative assault on the British pound, forcing its devaluation and ERM breakup.
In June 2003, Neil Clark wrote a New Statesman article, explaining his machinations as a rogue predator. As a result, he “made billions out of the Eastern currency crash of 1997,” and was fined in 2002 “for insider trading by a court in France.” When asked about the turmoil his speculation caused, he dismissively said:
“As a market participant, I don’t need to be concerned with the consequences of my actions.”
Earning billions from them, they’ve caused havoc for millions globally. More still by his International Crisis Group and Open Society (open meaning for him to plunder) collaboration with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Al Gore, General Wesley Clark, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and many other notorious scoundrels and organizations.
For decades, Soros operated roguishly for a buck. For example, in 1998, he wrote an outrageous letter to Bill Clinton, calling for a “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime” for reasons the Bush administration implemented.
He’s also connected to the Carlyle Group, profiting on militarism and wars from defense contracts. There his partners and associates include Bush I, James Baker, Colin Powell, former UK Prime Minister John Major, Frank Carlucci, Richard Darman, at one time members of bin Laden family, and many other well-connected figures.
Clark explained that Soros “may not, as sometimes suggested, be a fully paid-up CIA agent. But that his corporations and NGOs are closely wrapped up in US expansionism cannot seriously be doubted.”
He turned on Bush II over tactics, not ideology, for committing the cardinal sin of giving away the game through overzealously endorsing belligerence. In fact, Soros strongly supports financial and military warfare for greater profits globally, to gain control over money, resources and markets, but wants it done skillfully with little notice – his way.
As a result, he uses his wealth and influence to oust “bad for business” regimes. For example, Clark said he was instrumental in the Soviet collapse by:
“distribut(ing) $3 million a year to dissidents including Poland’s solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union. In 1984, he founded his first Open Society Institute in Hungary and pumped millions of dollars into opposition movements and independent media. Ostensibly aimed at building up a ‘civil society,’ these initiatives were designed to weaken the existing political structures and pave the way for eastern Europe’s eventual exploitation by global capital.”
Soros now takes credit for “Americaniz(ing) eastern Europe” by exploiting its wealth and people for profit. In Yugoslavia, Clark said:
“The Yugoslavs remained stubbornly resistant and repeatedly returned Slobodan Milosevic’s reformed Socialist Party to government. Soros was equal to the challenge. From 1991, his Open Society Institute channeled more than $100 million to” anti-Milosevic elements, “funding political parties, publishing houses and ‘independent’ media” like Radio B92,” using it against Milosevic.
When Washington ousted him in 2000, “all that was left was to cart (him) to the Hague tribunal, co-financed by Soros” and other so-called human rights custodians, corporate ones wanting their share of the booty. Today, Yugoslavia is balkanized, its people exploited, and Kosovars governed by Hashim Thaci’s Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a rogue organization connected to the CIA and organized crime.
Soros, however, profited hugely. He’s done it, in fact, in each country he targeted at the expense of freedom, democratic values, and public welfare.
“In Kosovo, for example, he invested $50 million in an attempt to gain control of the Trepca mine complex, where there are vast reserves of gold, silver, lead and other minerals estimated to be worth (about) $5 billion. He thus copied a pattern he (used) to great effect over the whole of eastern Europe (through) ‘shock therapy’ and ‘economic reform,’ then swooping in with his associates to buy valuable state assets at knock-down prices.”
In fact, his Pax Americana strategy differs only from Bush II in subtlety. “But it is just as ambitious and just as deadly,” whether by military or financial warfare for maximum profits.
Soros’ Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) Bretton Woods Conference
From April 8 – 11, INET’s second annual conference addressed global economic crisis aftershocks, as part of a wide-ranging effort to “engage the larger European Union, as well as the emerging economies of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia” to accept Soros’ New World Order ideas.
Aiming to “inspir(e) and provok(e) new economic thinking,” over 200 academics, business and government leaders (many with direct ties to him) attended, including INET’s Soros and Robert Johnson, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Paul Volker, Larry Summers, Joseph Stiglitz, Kenneth Rogoff, Jeffrey Sachs (whose shock therapy poison helped wreck post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe), Carmen Reinhart from the (Pete) Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Bank of England’s Andy Haldane, Henry Kaufman, and other New World Order elitists, plotting new ways for global financial control and profits.
Topics discussed included:
- The emerging economic and political order: what lies ahead?
- Bretton Woods: what can we learn from the past in designing the future?
- Getting back on track: macroeconomic management after a financial crisis.
- Sovereignty and institutional design in the global age: the global market and the nation states.
- Can sovereignty and effective international supervision be reconciled: the challenge of large complex financial institutions.
- Exploring complexity in economic theory.
- The political economy of structural adjustment: understanding the obstacles to cooperation.
- The market or the state: can market forces deliver innovation, education, and infrastructure?
- Sustainable economic.
- Optimal currency areas and governance: the challenge of Europe.
- The architecture of Asia: financial structure and an emerging economic system, and
- Rising to the challenge: equity, adjustment and balance in the world economy.
A Final Comment
Globalist Soros believes “America should be replaced by a world government with a global currency under UN rule.”
In other words, he wants national sovereignty replaced by centralized control over money, populations, resources and markets – an undemocratic ruler-serf society unfit to live in except for rulers and profiteers.
On January 25, 2010, New York Times writer Andrew Sorkin headlined, “Still Needed: A Sheriff of Finance,” quoting Soros saying:
“We need a global sheriff” ahead of the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Perhaps he has himself in mind.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.The phenomenon of sweeping privatization as a ‘strategic instrument of globalization of capital’ has been conceived by design, not by chance and haphazard events. Its implementation has been pursued purposely, deliberately and vigorously around the world to accomplish the objectives of the globalization of capital. This has been happening despite evidence of extremely successful experiences with public enterprise management and government-owned enterprises worldwide. - Privatization and Globalization: A Critical Analysis with Implications for Public Management Education and Training, School of Public Administration, Florida Atlantic University, USA
Don’t think that federal jobs are safe from the same forces that shipped America’s good factory jobs overseas. For the last decade there has been a push to “privatize” federal jobs; that is, to make federal workers compete for their jobs with contractors. On its face, that competition might strike you as fair when, in practice, it is anything but fair and those private companies looking to take over federal jobs quickly learned how to “play” the system. Only the owners of the companies who take over federal jobs get rich—and the owners of these companies come from the same 5% of the population that owns 80% of the wealth of our country! They blanket Capitol Hill with lobbyists and buy our political system right out from under the working people of this country. - Are Federal Jobs the Factory Jobs of the Future?, TMG Books
By Ron Stouffer, Pushing Hamburger
Appearing in September at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. cited Mussolini’s famous definition of fascism as the merger of government and corporations and warned against it. I have seen fascism/corporatism developing for years, pushed mostly by Republicans, but Democrats, unfortunately, are often complicit.
As large corporations intensify their efforts to take over America by seeking to privatize all things public — Social Security, turnpikes, school cafeterias, libraries, pensions, Medicare, parks, police forces, prisons, the military, public nursing homes, water, sewer systems, and public education (through the Trojan horse No Child Left Behind) — we need to heed RFK Jr.’s warning.
Each time a public enterprise, asset, or function is outsourced or sold off to privatizers, we move closer to fascism. Private wealth increases its stranglehold on local, state, and national government. Recommended reading on this topic is The Fox in the Henhouse - How Privatization Threatens Democracy by Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich.
Here are just a few examples:
- Conservatives blamed government for the gruesome conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Actually, a private company (funded by your tax dollars) ran Walter Reed, according to Paul Krugman, New York Times. Krugman reported that the government could have done the job more cheaply, but I guess few campaign contributions come from government workers as opposed to private contractors.
- Conservatives blamed government for the poor response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, Wayne O’Leary reports in The Progressive Populist (11-1-07, p.16,”Needed: A Public Sector”), “…recovery was largely turned over to corporate interests operating with marketplace priorities…”
- The college loan program, a government program formerly known as Sallie Mae, was fully privatized in 2004, O’Leary reported in the same article. The program is now plagued by problems and scandals.
- The dangers inherent in privatizing/leasing the PA Turnpike are too numerous to mention here.
- Large corporations with friendly, local-sounding names control some local water systems. Pennsylvania American Water Company is one example.
- America’s health care crisis is really a subset of the corporate takeover. Health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations are heavily invested in preventing a much more economical single-payer public insurance program with superior benefits from becoming a reality. Those corporations are also hard at work privatizing Medicare.
- Sustainable agriculture is threatened by the corporate factory farm model which is harmful to the environment and to our health.
It seems the Reagan-Bush legacy and the conservative movement were not about conservatism. Their real legacy was corporatism/fascism and the centralization and expansion of corporate government and corporate welfare. The result is the steady erosion of democracy and the diminishing power of the people. A fundamental question is whether the 1886 Supreme Court decision (Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad) which declared corporations to be “persons” needs to be overturned. See The Hidden History of Corporations at www.ReclaimDemocracy.org as well as Model Brief on Eliminating Corporate Rights at www.celdf.org .
For more on the Democracy Movement’s fight against the Privatization Movement, check out resources available at www.poclad.org (Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy) as well as Dorothy Reilly’s article on fascism, ” Sound Like America To You?”, in the November 2007 issue of CommonSense2.com.
May 3, 2011
While talk of a North American Union may seem sudden, Canada was duly warned more than 20 years ago by “political prophet” John Turner.
In 1988, just after Brian Mulroney scribbled his signature on NAFTA, the Right Honourable John Turner declared Mulroney had “sold out” the country to the USA.
In an interview ten years later, Turner expanded on his views of the agreement:
“By selling out, I meant, that once you yield the economic levers of sovereignty you eventually lose the political levers,” he explained to Policy Options (June, 1999). “My view of the deal is that it is not, nor was it ever, a free trade agreement, because the United States Congress did not yield its jurisdiction over trade. I’ve always believed that Canada does better negotiating multilaterally than we ever would in negotiating bilaterally with the United States.”Unfortunately, current Prime Minister Steven Harper recently scribbled away even more of Canada’s freedom to trade multilaterally in light of supposed “Security and Prosperity.” He was backed by Quebec’s own Gilles Duceppe.
In the words of author G.W. F. Hegel,
“Little wonder that Harper allied with Duceppe — a effective quasi-Republican and a separatist. Both prefer a foreign country’s system of government over our Canadian system. The American leadership wants Canada’s natural resources at a cheap price. The road Harper and Duceppe are on will make Canada a third-rate trading partner with the USA."When asked to lend his perspective on this issue, Mr. Duceppe refused to comment. Ironically, the Bloc leader has built his entire campaign upon the aspirations of a separate Quebec: Yet when his country’s sovereignty is threatened, he refuses to comment? Does he realize that the smudging — and eventual eradication — of Canadian and Mexican borders would actually widen the gap between Quebec and its cultural foundations?
Sadly, Mr. Duceppe’s eyes are locked on the same target as Harper and Bush’s: the pockets of large corporations, or the ’shadow government.’ According to a translation of Duceppe’s El Universal article, he does not object to the idea of the ‘Amero’ — a common North American currency. After all, money is money right? His people’s identity may be up for sale, but perhaps money can ease the pain. Boldness for bucks: It’s a soul-swap. A trade the Big Business elites are stocking all of their assets in.
Nevertheless, in a cross-section of various Canadian political parties, most agree that Canada’s sovereignty matters more than silver or gold.
Back in June 2005, a report by the nine Federal Cabinet Ministers entitled “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America” was signed and implemented by companion ministers from Canada, the USA and Mexico; one of these ministers was David Emerson. When the Conservatives took over, Emerson was re-elected. His retort about moving over to the Conservatives was,
“I do not know why people are so upset. I am just continuing the work I was doing before.” [Namely, the implementation of the NAU agenda]In Connie Fogal’s words,
“The NAU has been the agenda of the North American corporate elite for over 20 years, since the FTA. The SPP is the final push for the NAU — with an ultimate goal of a union of the Americas, South and North into a global power block.” The intended method for unionizing all three countries is by privatizing everything. “There is to be no mixed economy anymore as was Canada’s tradition that worked so well. They know they cannot just take everything away too fast or there will be rebellion. ‘Kill the people slowly’ is the modus operandi, ‘and maybe they will never know what hit them.’ ”Blair Longley, leader of the Marijuana Party of Canada, seconds Ms. Fogal’s strong sentiments.
“Not only is there a growing gap between the rich and the poor; there is also an alarming erosion of economic security. All of these trade deals and security arrangements are about making that happen. There will be more and more social polarization, which means that wealth in Canada will become distributed more like in the rest of the world. We are on the path towards the privatization of the planet, with a tiny minority ending up owning almost everything. These trade deals are the triumphs of lies and coercion, which will have their own natural long-term corrections.”Paul Martin’s Liberals originally colluded with then U.S. President George Bush back in 2005. Michael Ignatieff continues to collude with Mr. Harper, in the collective cover-up of the SPP-NAU agenda.
NDP International Trade Critic Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, had joined forces with Teresa Healy, spokesperson for the Canadian Labour Congress, and Jean-Yves Lefort, spokesperson for Common Frontiers. Together they had declared that they will be making every effort to stop the ’stealth takeover of Canada’ by the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) and to reveal the truth of the matter to the public’s attention.
“This is the giving away of Canada’s command to the U.S. Republican administration and to North America’s largest corporations,” stated Julian. “We are seeing this with the Softwood Lumber Agreement and with the Canadian Wheat Board, as well as in a variety of other sectors. Stephen Harper is following the legacy of Paul Martin and the Liberal Party and is willing to give anything away in pursuit of so-called good Canada-U.S. relations.”The NDPs are fighting on behalf of the Canadian people to get full disclosure of any agreements the Harper government is entering into, and promise to ensure that Canadians are made aware of what’s at stake.
“What this means for Canada is lower standards and quality of life in many areas, such as food security, air safety, environmental norms, health care and labour rights. It’s a recipe for lowering standards in our country. This is unacceptable to most Canadians.”
Sadly, theSPPis not about enhancing trade between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. It’s a matter of not being able to trust our trade partners. According to the NDP, CAP and PC Party, it’s only a matter of time before our identity as a country becomes swallowed up by the power-hungry United States.
Are we willing to sacrifice everything that makes Canada unique: our health-care system, our military, our agriculture, and our environment? With the NAU would come two-tier medicine, an increase in militarization (which, as Peter Julianpoints out, is already happening with our adopting the same stance as the U.S. on the ‘war on terror’), and a finishing off small farmers in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
“Genetically moderated foods will thrive contrary to the interest of humans,” claims Ms. Fogal, “again — all in the interest of corporate profit, not the health of humans.”Are we willing to jeopardize all of this for promises of ’security and prosperity’ — promises made by a partner we cannot even trust?
“It is a question of the people in three nations having the right and the power to make rules about their own lives according to their own needs and desires,” concludes Fogal; “in effect, to exercise democracy.”
May 13, 2011
As 2010 drew to a close, the mayor of Newark, N.J., was staring into a budget abyss so deep that he sold 16 city buildings to pay the bills. They included the architecturally significant Newark Symphony Hall and the police and fire headquarters.
In New York, the transit authority may sell its Madison Avenue headquarters, complete with an underground tunnel connected to Grand Central Terminal and air rights to build a skyscraper on top.
And soon, if state legislators have their way, private investors will be able to buy plenty of other municipal treasures: power plants in Wisconsin, prisons in Louisiana and Ohio and municipal buildings in Boston.
The Great Government Tag Sale is on. As states and cities struggle with billions of dollars in shortfalls, elected officials are increasingly selling public assets to cover their costs. Sometimes municipalities sell the buildings to pocket a one-time pile of cash and then lease them back so they can continue to use them.
To proponents, selling government property is an efficient way to plug budget holes. That's one reason the Obama administration has looked at unloading office towers, courthouses, warehouses and shacks. Private owners who develop the properties can inject vibrancy into municipal dead zones, the thinking goes. Buildings that were once exempt from property taxes are put back on the rolls.
But to critics, these sales are as misguided as pulling money out of your house to pay your bills. They point out that the government is letting go of a long-term, valuable asset in exchange for a one-time payment. When the asset is a building, a municipality then has to spend more money on leasing it back or renting another facility.
"This is tantamount to selling the family china only to have to rent it back in order to eat dinner," says economist Yves Smith, author of the top-rated business blog Naked Capitalism.
The Desperate States of America, yes. But in some cases, politics is influencing policy. Selling state assets has long been a part of the conservative playbook, which calls for moving some of the traditional functions of government to the private sector. And in other instances, the deals are shaded by accusations of corruption.
In Wisconsin, the center of the state budget battles, legislators lobbied for the budget repair bill to allow politicians to sell any state-owned heating, cooling or power plant to anyone for any price at any time — without public approval or a call for bids.
Critics of Republican Gov. Scott Walker charged that Koch Industries, an energy conglomerate that made a $43,000 donation to his campaign, the biggest from any corporation, might stand to benefit. Koch's head of government affairs, Philip Ellender, says the company was never interested in buying a state-owned power plant.
The provision was removed from the budget bill just before it passed. But it is expected to be taken up again later this year.
In many ways, it's the perfect time to market these deals as do-or-die propositions. Elected officials across the country say the ravages of the Great Recession have given them no choice, as evidenced by the escalating conflict between governments and the unions representing their employees.
Local and state governments made promises about their retirement benefits but often failed to set aside the money to make good on those promises. Now those governments say they simply can't afford them. Illinois' pension fund, for example, is only 45 percent paid for. Actuaries recommend 80 percent.
Years of wishful budgeting and fiscal gimmickry have finally caught up. The states' "ridiculous" budget and pension accounting would "make Enron blush," as Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently put it. For fiscal 2012, states face a $125 billion shortfall, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Elected leaders have already raided road-repair budgets and borrowed from emergency-service coffers. They've nabbed citizens' unclaimed checking account cash and sold future proceeds from lotteries. Detroit and Omaha just reduced the pensions of the police.Now that other options have been exhausted, officials say that to avoid mammoth tax hikes — or any tax hikes, in some cases — they have no choice but to sell municipal assets.
May 2, 2011
In 1987, as a freshman in college, I walked into the university library and took down a tome entitled the House of Rothschild. The book told a story of a humble Jewish family from Frankfurt that began as money lenders to the German aristocracy and expanded its wealth exponentially and geographically until its interests extended into the ruling houses of Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The Austrian branch was endowed with titles and lands by the Hapsburg emperor and the British branch was similarly ennobled by Queen Victoria.