We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Sunday, August 2, 2015
This is What We’ve Been Waiting for, the True Recovery of the American Economy
After reading Richter's online biography, it seems to me that after a stint in small-to-medium sized businesses he experienced some sort of mid-life crisis and/or that he became dis-enamored with the way the business world functioned. Thus he traveled the world to escape it and find meaning. However, his world travels didn't seem to make a dint in his commitment to capitalism.
He now lives in an expensive neighborhood in San Francisco and is the CEO of Wolf Corporation which seems to be engaged in some kind of service to investors or companies. His life experience has only made him become more cynical about business-as-usual in the US. He also apparently believes like many other critics of this business-as-usual that he can through his blog make people wise-up enough to make the system work. Thus, he seems to be admonishing people or banks or somebody that they shouldn't be building the economy on debt. Well, of course, he's right--but that is the way advanced capitalism has to function!
It is the inevitable evolution of capitalism to place ever greater concentrations of wealth (and power) in fewer hands through capitalists' "ownership" and control of automation, robotization, artificial intelligence technology, and all the new events associated with neoliberalism (example: outsourcing jobs to cheap labor countries). Advanced capitalist countries like the US have to rely increasingly on debt to keep the economy going.
Regarding this use of debt, I was startled by an epiphany one day about ten years ago when reading articles about credit scores. Everyone seemed to have them and it was important to know what one's score was. Then in the post-economic collapse after the economy crashed in 2008, the main engine of recovery was to create fiat money in hopes of fueling spending. As I understand it, this creation of money is enabled by the rich and their corporations through the purchase of government securities which places taxpayers, mostly workers, in debt to these purchasers. (Last time I looked, our national debt was about $18 trillion which will be paid off by us through our taxes and at the sacrifice of Social Security, public services, welfare, etc.)
And the rich are from everywhere in the world and regardless of the source of the money (drug trafficking, dictators who stole wealth from their countries via loans from the IMF, etc) because they see the US, or banks and governments in NATO countries, with their huge military establishments as the most secure place to store their wealth. The workers of Greece are the latest victims of this process.
So people like Wolf Richter who have been so thoroughly steeped in capitalist ideology and practice are having some doubts about the way the system is functioning or not, but they can't see any alternative because, I think, they are so completely hooked (addicted to) on the benefits of the system. Still, because of the intimate knowledge of how the system works, the Richters of the world can often aid us in understanding how the system works--or doesn't.