Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It’s the distribution, stupid

Infrastructure investment is what we need, let the Treasury print greenbacks to pay for it, or borrow, it doesn’t matter, that’s what we need… yada yada yada.  Gimme that old infrastructure investment.

The problem is, as I pointed out many years ago, the distribution is broken.  As the estimable Emmanuel Saez has shown, 93 percent of the total personal income gain as reported by tax returns in 2010 went to the top 1 percent of the income distribution.  Much of the gain presumably came from the Obama stimulus packages (see here for timeline).

So, the power of capital to dominate labor in capitalism (aptly named) from time to time produces concentrations of wealth and hence (rentier-style, both in terms of property and social advantage) of income generating ability.  The signature of an economy in or going into depression is a huge debt to income ratio and extreme concentration of wealth and income.  And we might add, today, a record high share of national income going to profits.

I am not a socialist, in that I don’t favor the state’s owning of the means of production.  But I am a redistributionist, in that any country, especially any rich country, that abuses its poor, is doomed to collapse.  It’s called a “failure of effective demand.”  When most people don’t have enough money, the economy collapses.

Call it judgment, if you will. 

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