Sometimes you have a great notion. Today I’m having one about how we think about things. It’s that almost every issue in the modern discourse is a wedge issue, or can profitably be used as one. That “profitably” is a hint as to the exception, by the way. And then if you can link issues in voters’ minds, you can create a web of divisive issues.
Let’s start with “economics.” Every school of economics is bullshit being used by some interest group to further their own advantage.
How about “freedom”? Same thing. I’m rich, I want to be free.
How about “socialism”? We already have socialism for Wall Street. The government redistributes the money from hard working folks to Wall Street when their big derivative bets don’t pay off the way they hoped. The government rewrites rules and regulations that even people like me with a Ph.D. in economics have trouble understanding, but which rewrites almost universally have the effect of letting the financial institutions skim a heftier slice out of our hides.
How about “capitalism”? Sure, we got capitalism, crony capitalism. See the last point.
I’m not going to belabor the point. I could dredge up more buzzwords (“abortion,” “family values,” “gun rights,” “welfare,” and so on) but I won’t. I won’t even touch “democracy,” which has gotten to be a big joke.
The one issue that really matters now is the distribution of wealth, and derivatively, the distribution of income. America is still a rich country but the rich always seem to have an excuse for letting the poor get poorer. “You can’t fix that because [raising taxes is linked to being pro-abortion] [raising taxes is not freedom] [that’s socialism]!”
We may not have free markets—they are horribly concentrated and monopolistic in too many cases—but we do have enough capitalism that those who own stuff (or act as if they did by manipulating the stock price to their own advantage—I’m referring to our non-owner, stock option loaded American management gangsta class) largely get to call the shots for those who don’t own the means of production or get to act as if they did, i.e., labor, working folks.
Until this imbalance is righted the situation is not going to get better. The greatest danger lying ahead is a global neofeudalism.
Will “socialism” destroy us? Hardly. I have pointed to the Scandinavian countries as working models of how a greater degree of social justice can produce a more prosperous nation. And anyway, it’s not socialism because the state doesn’t own the means of production.
So long as Americans are so easily divided the raw economics of the ownership class’s interests and its power over the politicians will determine our course.
The first tiny step toward equity is a more progressive tax system.
So if Obama has any backbone he will let us go over the fiscal cliff, and then cut taxes for the 98 percent.
If not, if he compromises without effecting any significant increase in the progressivity of the tax system, then will in truth be a Manchurian candidate, a total sycophant, good little Barry whose mother worked for the Foundation and knew how to be nice around rich people.
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
but even in death the righteous have a refuge.
Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
and even among fools she lets herself be known.
Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Reference: Michael Hudson, Obama Wins for whom?
A couple of recent article from Der Spiegel about how Germans see America now (the Germans, having some history of their own to deal with, don’t mince words):
P.S. Mish has declared that California will fail because they’ve enacted tax reform. I’ll take the other side of that bet. California is a very dynamic state; and being a state, and not a country with the ability to print money, they have to balance their budget over the long term. Is it an accident that so much technological innovation has come out of California, with its (formerly?) great educational system?
I still expect the global fiat money debt dilemma to be “resolved” in some sort of monetary catastrophe, with possibly multiple “bang points,” including deflation and (possibly hyper-) inflation.