"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What Is To Be Done?

A common device now being utilized wherever the subject of the economy is discussed in the mainstream media these days is to treat any solution that does not first preference the needs of corporations as unserious and in need of no further pursuit. The most effective methodology is deletion of alternatives by omission--they just... don't enter into the discussion. Therefore, advocates for alternative solutions are, unsurprisingly, absent from this debate on mainstream platforms. So don't look for Michael Hudson, Dean Baker, or Richard D. Wolff on CNN, MSNBC, Faux News, or Meet the Press. Conventional wisdom has it that the solution to the financial crisis caused by Wall Street greed and malfeasance and a thirty year adherence to neoliberal policies that de-industrialized the nation and financialized the economy to the primary benefit the top 1% of "earners" is to introduce austerity measures to the population at large.

The aforementioned Dr. Wolff has illuminated an alternative strategy in his latest essay wherein he challenges the currently received wisdom that only the financial oligarchs can lead us out of the crises:

More and more we hear that nothing can be done to tax major corporations because of the threat of how they would respond. Likewise, we cannot stop their price gouging or even the government subsidies and tax loopholes they enjoy. For example, as the oil majors reap stunning profits from high oil and gas prices, we are told it is impossible to tax their windfall profits or stop the billions they get in government subsidies and tax loopholes. There appears to be no way for the government to secure lower energy prices or seriously impose and enforce environmental protection laws. Likewise, despite high and fast rising drug and medicine prices, we are told that it is impossible to raise taxes on pharmaceutical companies or have the government secure lower pharmaceutical prices. And so on.

Such steps by "our" government are said to be impossible or inadvisable. The reason: corporations would then relocate production abroad or reduce their activities in the US or both. And that would deprive the US of taxes and jobs. In plain English, major corporations are threatening us. We are to knuckle under and cut social programs that benefit millions of people (college loan programs, Medicaid, Medicare, social security, nutrition programs, and so on). We are not to demand higher taxes or lower subsidies or fewer tax loopholes for corporations. We are not to demand government action to lower their soaring prices. And if we do, corporations will punish us...

The rest...

*The art that accompanies this post comes from the pen of political cartoonist Mike Flugennok whose work pulls no punches. The rest of his work can be seen at his web site Sinkers.org. Give him a visit.


Anonymous said...

That article hits the mark. Unfortunately many of our colleagues like Rue-y, still swallow the lift-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps Kool-Aid pushed by the GOP and the rich.

I fear they shall never come over to the side of the workers.


Coldtype said...

Their options are few Lefty. They can stand and fight or resign themselves to debt penury and serfdom. If they believe that the financial oligarchy will exempt them from the coming austerity measures, up to and including the reduction of their pensions and benefits, then they are the only fools in the room. Everyone not among the top 1% of income earners--the owners of our alleged democratic republic--is on the menu. Believe it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear leftisbest & Coldtype:

You are not our "colleagues". Don't ever kid yourselves of this fallacy. You are communists - our enemy. Sure you might hold the job of, and wear the uniform of a police officer, but you're not one. Not by a long shot.

Not that I really care, but in the interest of amusing myself I have a question. How did you come to hold such invalid beliefs? Parents didn't give you enough attention? Picked on in school? Because when I was a kid growing up in the 1980s every kid on my block watched Red Dawn 1000 times. Yea, we really loved kicking those commie's asses.

So what's your excuse for hating America?

"side of the workers" - another fallacy, lol. workers aren't on a "side", it isn't a battle nor a war. Stop with the false class warfare nonsense. It's invalid, nonsensical and trite. Really, give it a rest it makes you look retarded. But then someone waving the Hammer & Sickle isn't really concerned about looking like retards i suppose, are they?

Coldtype said...

"Because when I was a kid growing up in the 1980s every kid on my block watched Red Dawn 1000 times. Yea, we really loved kicking those commie's asses."-Anon

This passage is telling I think. A movie you watched as a kid "1000 times" has apparently formed the foundation of your world view. Presumably you've reached adulthood and yet you retain the credulous impressionability of a child. Furthermore, your comments betray a complete ignorance of socialism.

Despite what you may have learned in Red Dawn, "socialism" is nothing more than a way in which people organize their society and institutions to meet social needs. All else you've heard on the subject is largely propaganda employed to obscure this simple fact.

I'll let you in on a secret. As members of the Chicago Police department you, Lefty, and myself are part of a... brace yourself... SOCIALIST ORGANIZATION! That's right comrade. You see, a police and fire department is collectively financed (via taxes) and organized to serve the public unlike say a corporation which is organized to return a profit for shareholders above all other concerns. Do you understand the difference here? In theory some organizations (CPD/CFD) serve the public interest and are paid for by the public expressly for that purpose alone (socialism), whereas other organizations have but one true motivation for their existence which of course we know to be capital accumulation (corporations).

"So what's your excuse for hating America?"-Anon

This question is incoherent to me. I am an American as are my wife, children, parents, siblings, and every friend I have. Are you suggesting that I hate myself and those whom I love? Of course not. What you've done is committed the common fallacy of confusing the officials of the US government (POTUS, Congress, etc) and their decisions (staggering war crimes in Iraq, Af/Pak, etc) in serving their true constituency (US based multinational corporations, Wall Street) with the flesh and blood American PEOPLE. It's a common misunderstanding and is greatly encouraged in US popular culture so don't beat yourself up about it. I’ll quote Noam Chomsky at length on that very subject:

“The concept "anti-American" is an interesting one. The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships, something I wrote about many years ago (see my book Letters from Lexington). Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as "anti-Soviet." That's a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt. Suppose someone in Italy who criticizes Italian state policy were condemned as "anti-Italian." It would be regarded as too ridiculous even to merit laughter. Maybe under Mussolini, but surely not otherwise.
Actually the concept has earlier origins. It was used in the Bible by King Ahab, the epitome of evil, to condemn those who sought justice as "anti-Israel" ("ocher Yisrael," in the original Hebrew, roughly "hater of Israel," or "disturber of Israel"). His specific target was Elijah.
It's interesting to see the tradition in which the people you refer to choose to place themselves. The idea of leaving America because one opposes state policy is another reflection of deep totalitarian commitments. Solzhenitsyn, for example, was forced to leave Russia, against his will, by people with beliefs very much like those you are quoting”

Coldtype said...

In closing I’d like to address your comment regarding class war in the US. You are sadly deluded if you believe we are not in the midst of massive class war with the oligarchy holding the high ground. The decimation of private sector unions and subsequent off-shoring of living wage manufacturing jobs to Asia and elsewhere is class warfare. The attacks on public sector workers as the scapegoat for an economy crippled by Wall Street greed and malfeasance is class warfare. The attacks on the social security system, the most solvent, efficient, and successful program in US history (currently with a 2.7 trillion dollar surplus and without any adjustments whatsoever can pay out all of its obligations through 2037) is the most egregious example of class warfare there is in this country. Think about that for a moment. Social security contributes not one cent to the deficit, in fact by law it cannot borrow, and is completely self-financed yet the corporate-owned shills in the media have sizable numbers of Americans believing this system is on the verge of collapse and will “bankrupt” the country. The plutocrats are suggesting that millions of American workers who have paid 15% of their earnings into the social security trust for the entirety of their working lives be forced to accept reduced benefits to better allow the Wall Street hustlers more of the loot to which they have become accustomed and yet you fail to see any element of class warfare in this development. In any event the merest glance at the wealth disparity in the US should disabuse you of any further misconceptions you may have regarding the American class structure and the implications of the top 20% owning 85% of the wealth of the nation with nearly 40% of the total in the hands of the top 1% alone.

I’ll repeat to you my statement up-thread: recognize on what side of the class divide you reside and act accordingly.

Sgt. HULKa! said...

Angry post # 4 has a frustrated "Roo-ey" feel to it... Hope I'm wrong... that damned 025 breeds so much hatred, for that I pity the Po-po toiling at the 5-Fives, ie not-so-Grand-Central-Station (right across the "prairie" where my Polish "Busia" helped bring me & famiglia polska up at 2123 N. Long Avenue (in the "better" days out West... +~> STAY SAFE, ALL of MEIN KEVLAR SOCK PUPPETZ... We ARE BRETHREN in BLUE (no matter the colors of our respective ideological undies, dammit!@#$%^^&*! ;=)~ydahS ;->~~~~~

Coldtype said...

Solidarity may be THE most difficult idea to get across to members of our culture, all of whom have been marinated in an atomized, "all against all" environment from birth. This more than anything may explain the genuinely confused response from my angry interrogator above.

Anonymous said...

To 4:01 a.m.:

So many questions, so little space.

I had great parents, hard-working dad and stay-at-mom. My political philosophy came not from them but from my own look at American society.

While in college I came to realize the working class, which made this country, was controlled by the rich. So while you were watching "Red Dawn" I perferred films like "Blue Collar". And no I am not a fan of the Michael Moore films.

I also turned to the left because of religious training. I saw folks who called themselves good Christians (or Jews) at their place of worship yet saw them think less of the unfortunate.

My comrade (and we are) if you think there is not a class warfare in this country then you have drank the GOP Kool Aid, hook line and sinker.

My hatred of America? I perfer to think of it as a hatred of a "free market system" that ain't free, except for the rich. I perfer a "fair market system" which means a little less for the rich and more for the poor.