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View Full Version : Democrats & Republicans agree: Capitalism is untouchable


Blart
10-28-2013, 03:48 PM
Great editorial from the Guardian. Both parties have the same goal, but they bicker about how it's done: Capitalism Lite or Capitalism Genuine Draft. But by all means, keep the power structure intact.

As an aside, does anyone know if our government is still banning the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/28/us-army-blocks-guardian-website-access) from the military?

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http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/9/19/1316408137418/Barack-Obama-and-John-Boe-007.jpg

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/22/republicans-democrats-bipartisan-consensus-capitalism


The economic aim of both major US political parties is, in the end, the same: to protect and reinforce the capitalist system.

The Republican party does so chiefly by means of a systematic, unremitting demonization of the government. They blame it for whatever ails the capitalist economy. If unemployment grows, they point to government policies and actions, and attack particular politicians for what they did or did not do to stimulate the economy, directing criticism away from the employers who actually deprive workers of their jobs.

Republican solutions for capitalism's ills always involve reducing the government's demands on private capitalists – lower their taxes, deregulate their activities, and privatize government production of goods and services. Their program for the future is always: free the private capitalist system from government intervention, and you will get "prosperity" and growth.

The Democrats protect and reproduce the system by assigning to the government the task of minimizing the problems that beset capitalism. So, for example, they want the business cycles that are an inherent affliction of capitalism to be foreseen, planned for, minimized and overcome by government intervention. This is the underlying purpose of Keynesian economics and the monetary and fiscal policies it generates.

Beyond cycles, capitalism's more long-term problems, such as tendencies to produce great inequalities of income and accumulated wealth, lead Democrats to propose very modest government redistribution programs. Minimum wages, progressive tax structures, food, housing and other subsidies, and freely-distributed public services exemplify Democrats' Bandaids meant to protect capitalism from its own potentially self-destructive tendencies.

From the GOP, you will hear denials that such self-destructive tendencies even exist. Economic problems always reduce to pesky and unwarranted government tampering in the free market. The few Republicans who will admit that capitalism is responsible for its own ailments also see capitalism as a fully self-healing system. The best solution for capitalism's problems, they insist, is to let the system function and correct them. Anything else will just make matters worse.

Most Democrats will paint Republicans as slavish servants of short-sighted corporations and the few whom they make rich. These, say Democrats, threaten capitalism's survival by failing to utilize government solutions to problems that consequently become worse and increasingly dangerous, putting the whole global economy – and capitalism's reproduction – at systemic risk.

Republicans will disregard Democratic economic policy as steps toward what they call "socialism": socialism defined as government ownership and operation of what should be private enterprises.

Neither party, though, has figured out how to prevent capitalism's business cycles. Both consistently fail to make sure that cycles they failed to prevent would be shallow and short. So, today, Republicans blame the crisis since 2007 on government over-regulation and interventions in the housing and finance markets (and they blame Democrats for championing those policies). Democrats blame the crisis on too little regulation of those markets and insufficient redistribution (and – you guessed it – they blame Republicans for opposing those government policies). In short, crises, like everything else, are just opportunities to be explained and exploited politically to advance each party's characteristic policies and their electoral strategies.

In what were "normal times", US capitalism would reproduce itself with nice, calm oscillations between Republican and Democratic presidencies and congresses. For the minority of Americans who legitimately cared about which party was in or out, their interests focused on issues usually disconnected from any structural debate about the capitalist economic system. These included local and regional issues, foreign policy, social issues like sexuality, access to guns, flag-burning, draft protests, and so on. Capitalism rolled along, in part, because both parties functioned as alternative cheerleaders for it, treating it as beyond criticism.

Recent political gridlock, shutdowns, etc suggest a "new normal" has arrived. Political combat between the parties has become more intense and intractable, because capitalism has changed since the 1970s. By then, the post second world war boom in western Europe, north America and Japan – and also anxieties about the USSR, China, and their allies – had lofted real wages and government-funded social services far above their levels in capitalism's global hinterland, especially Asia, Africa and Latin America. Capitalists in western Europe, North America, and Japan were therefore eager to evade both the high wages and the taxes they faced.

Major technical breakthroughs at the time made evasion possible. The ubiquitous availability of jet travel made movement around the globe much easier, cheaper, and faster. Computer and telecommunications advances enabled enterprise headquarters to monitor, command and control production facilities anywhere on the planet. It suddenly became practical to move production and distribution sites from locations of high wages and taxes, to locations of poverty and weak government. Sharp competitors led the way as, first, manufacturing and then, service jobs were increasingly "exported" or "outsourced". Laggards suffered and so learned the importance of following their more nimble competitors.

Most Republicans and Democrats facilitated the process by endlessly promoting "free trade" and arguing that any constraints on free enterprises' relocations were unthinkable, inefficient and other synonyms for "really bad". As more and more jobs left the US, and formerly prosperous cities and states entered long-term declines, the two parties blamed their favorite targets: one another.

The idea that capitalism and capitalists were the problem was something neither Democrats or Republicans allow into their debates and talking-points. Yet, it was precisely capitalists' profit-driven, self-interested decisions to move that have caused our economic problems. And so they remain.

Rohirrim
10-28-2013, 04:48 PM
I think this was inevitable once corporations were allowed to become ultra-national. Over the last few decades we've watched them morph from the feudal lords of national communities (like GM and Ford in Detroit, or US Steel in Pittsburgh) to free floating international entities that bank in one place, build in another, keep corporate offices on offshore islands (for tax purposes) and sell everywhere. Many are larger and more powerful than the countries where they do business. This is why many of our very intelligent predecessors were so anti-corporate and wanted strict control of such entities. TR saw it a hundred years ago when he said, "The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being." Now, those commercial forces are destroying our country.

Thirty years ago, two new mantras entered the American lexicon. One was created by art, but a reflection of reality, "Greed is good." The other was the new motto of American CEOs, "My job is to do what's best for the shareholders." The subtext here is, national fidelity is no longer a primary interest. There is no nation. There is the corporation and there are the shareholders. Labor is labor. No longer our countrymen. Simply part of our overhead - a cost of doing business that we must reduce to benefit our shareholders. We owe nothing to any community, because we exist outside the community. If they want us and our jobs, let them bribe us with tax breaks and land deals.

Of course, until we ditch Citizens United and publicly take over campaign finance, there's not much we can do about it. Corporations buy politicians. It's a form of political lockjaw. The tyrant is no longer government.

Blart
10-28-2013, 05:06 PM
Good call. And it wasn't just Roosevelt who warned us,

"I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

Arkie
10-28-2013, 06:32 PM
Corporations originally existed to serve the public. That was part of the bargain for insulating investors from responsibility.The legal system gradually created the modern corporate monster over time.

Corporations and the Public Interest (http://www.context.org/iclib/ic41/rowe/)
A look at how the original purpose behind corporate charters has been lost

The corporation is the institutionalized form of this shirking of responsibility. The primary purpose of the corporate form is to insulate a certain class of people from responsibility for actions taken on their behalf.

The important point is that the free incorporation laws tore up the original bargain that was the basis of the corporate form. Corporations no longer had to serve the public. They could do anything they wanted. But they still enjoyed the extraordinary exemption from individual responsibility that they had obtained historically only because they would serve the public.

Then, the Supreme Court decision had the truly ironic effect of turning all human citizens, white as well as black, into second class citizens. Corporations enjoy all the Constitutional protections of human beings, plus exemptions from responsibility that humans donít enjoy. Plus, of course, they can live forever, which humans canít do either.


And as Roh mentioned, the new motto of American CEOs, "My job is to do what's best for the shareholders."
Individual entrepreneurs, including the owners of small and family-held corporations, can express their conscience through their enterprise. They can choose to make less money for the sake of a larger good.

The publicly-held corporation, by contrast, generally cannot. Officers are subject to shareholder suits if they do not put shareholders Ė i.e. profits Ė first. The corporation becomes a greed machine, an engine of acquisition that is not subject to the urgings of individual conscience and responsibility.

Itís time to rethink the bargain. If individual responsibility is to be the guiding principle of social policy, a first priority needs to be to do away with this built-in exemption for the most powerful "persons."

Rohirrim
10-28-2013, 09:39 PM
That's a great essay. Wish everybody on the Right would try and grasp it. It is the core reason that their dogma of the free market is a joke. A cobbler is not the same as Exxon Mobil.

This section particularly struck me:

Thus US Steel and Standard Oil and the like were born on a wave of what might be called today "liberal permissiveness." Several decades later, the Supreme Court completed the coup by declaring, with little basis in law or history, that the Fourteenth Amendment applied equally to corporations, making them legal "persons" with all the Constitutional rights and privileges of human beings.

The important point is that the free incorporation laws tore up the original bargain that was the basis of the corporate form. Corporations no longer had to serve the public. They could do anything they wanted. But they still enjoyed the extraordinary exemption from individual responsibility that they had obtained historically only because they would serve the public.

Then, the Supreme Court decision had the truly ironic effect of turning all human citizens, white as well as black, into second class citizens. Corporations enjoy all the Constitutional protections of human beings, plus exemptions from responsibility that humans don’t enjoy. Plus, of course, they can live forever, which humans can’t do either.

We took a very wrong turn. Now, because of blind ideologues with power like Scalia, we continue further and further away from citizen controlled government.

orinjkrush
10-29-2013, 07:42 AM
outstanding thread! thanks!

cutthemdown
10-29-2013, 07:50 AM
Typical liberal BS. I get it though you have been in charge for 13 out of the last 21 yrs and because things are so bad you have to just blame the system you feel conservatives screwed up. Go ahead keep printing and giving away money, raising taxes, and consolidating federal power, see where it gets us.

Rohirrim
10-29-2013, 09:12 AM
Typical liberal BS. I get it though you have been in charge for 13 out of the last 21 yrs and because things are so bad you have to just blame the system you feel conservatives screwed up. Go ahead keep printing and giving away money, raising taxes, and consolidating federal power, see where it gets us.

Translation: Have dogma. Don't read.

Fedaykin
10-29-2013, 11:52 AM
Typical liberal BS. I get it though you have been in charge for 13 out of the last 21 yrs and because things are so bad you have to just blame the system you feel conservatives screwed up. Go ahead keep printing and giving away money, raising taxes, and consolidating federal power, see where it gets us.

Oh, let's pick a specific branch of government and time period -- both suited to support your narrative.

Cutlet: still dumb and dishonest as ever.