"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.