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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Deepening crisis traps America's have-nots

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from The Telegraph.
Raghuram Rajan, the IMF’s former chief economist, argues that the subprime debt build-up was an attempt – “whether carefully planned or the path of least resistance” – to disguise stagnating incomes and to buy off the poor.

“The inevitable bill could be postponed into the future. Cynical as it might seem, easy credit has been used throughout history as a palliative by governments that are unable to address the deeper anxieties of the middle class directly,” he said. 
I have observed that mainstream media has managed to condition the American people to view any taxes as evil incarnate.  I came to this realization quite recently with the results of a ballot initiative in Washington State that called for an income tax on people earning over $200,000 a year. It was defeated! As a result, this state, as many others, is drastically cutting back on social, medical, educational, and other government services that mostly impact poor people.

In contrast, people have been led to believe that credit is just fine, that funding local infrastructure and services through the purchase of bonds is just fine, while signing up for onerous mortgage loans on homes was greatly encouraged and celebrated ("the ownership society'). Meanwhile the 30 year destruction of well paying jobs and the suppression of wages has continued. Do you see a pattern here? 

Well, by design or not, the end result is what we have today--Americans and a large part of the world indebted to a tiny group of capitalists. Welcome to neo-feudalism!