Economy

"The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time." Simon Johnson, the Atlantic 5/1/2009
"What went on at Lehman and AIG, as well as the chicanery in the CDO (collateralized debt obligations) business, by an sensible standard is criminal." Yves Smith: ECONned
The threat of defaulting on government obligations is a powerful weapon, especially in a complex, interconnected world economy. Devoted partisans can use it to disrupt government, to roil ordinary politics, to undermine policies they do not like, even to seek political revenge. Section Four was placed in the Constitution to remove this weapon from ordinary politics." – Jack Balkin, Yale University
"This recession was caused by the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And, what makes people furious is that Wall Street still has not learned its lessons. Instead of investing in the job-creating productive economy providing affordable loans to small and medium-size businesses, the CEOs of the largest financial institutions in this country have created the largest gambling casino in the history of the world." Senator Bernie Sanders.
One, the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy. Two, development is about people and not about objects. Three, growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth. Four, no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services. Five, the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible. And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence for life. ––Manfred Max-Neef
“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.” ~ Cree prophecy

New Economy Working Group

Americans For Financial Reform

New Economics Institute

Levy Economics Institute

Community-Wealth

Connecticut Economy

Rebuild the Dream

Failure By Design !

Occupy Wall Street

Living Economies Forum

Fair Economy

Ecoomic Populist

Economy.com

Accountable America

A New Way Forward

Maplight.org

Baseline Scenario

Calculated Risk

Center for Balance

New Economics Foundation

Institute For New Economic Thinking

Americans For Financial Reform

Show Down In America

Bankster

Planet Money (NPR)

People Centered Development

BailOutWatch

Econospeak

American Institute for Economic Research (AIER)

National Priorities Project

Stimulus Watch

Richard D. Wolff

John Bogle

Angry Bear

Beat The Press

The Bonddad Blog

Brad DeLong

Economist's View

MaxSpeak

Ct Business Magazine

Connecticut Economy

Connecticut Innovations

Home Living Connecticut

Connecticut concierge 

Office of the State Treasurer

Chamber of Commerce Eastern Connecticut

NationalPriorities.org

NBER working papers

New Economics Foundation

CEPR

Beat the Press

BaselineScenario

ProsperityForAmerica

American Monetary Institute

Financial Times

EconomyInCrisis.org

Economic Policy Institute

Shadow Government Statistics

Economist's View

Progress Report

URPE

United for a Fair Economy

Economic Justice (AFSC)

Economy in Crisis

Parecon

Robert Reich

Democratic Socialists

Urban Institute

Post-Autistic Economics Network  (what's wrong with economics.)

Ethical Economics

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Freakonomics Blog

SocialistAlternative

War On Greed.org

Welfare State for the Rich

Naked Capitalism

Economics of Happiness

IMF (Free)

G20

OSS

The Impossibility of Growth (5/27/2014)

The Jobs Report and the Supreme Court's 'McCutcheon' Debacle (4/5/2014)

Manifesto for Economic Democracy And Ecological Sanity

This Just In: The GOP Won't Negotiate (3/15/2013)

Do Americans Still Not Get Reaganomics ? (3/2/2013)

9 Economic Facts That Will Make Your Head Spin (2/18/2013)

How to Ruin an Economy, Some Simple Ways (2/12/2014) Video

Rubio And the Zombies (2/14/2013)

Voodoo Economics Redux: Five Destructive Delusions That Just Won't Die (2/5/2013)

Climate and Poverty: the Post-crisis crisis (Joseph Stiglitz 1/7/2013)

Economic Outlook For 2013 (Robert Pollin 1/2/2013)

Just Say No to Economic Extortion (11/27/2012)

Huricane Sandy: Beware of America's Disaster Capitalists (11/7/2012)

Did Republicans Deliberately Crash the US Economy ? (6/16/2012)

On the History of the US economy in Decline (5/8/2012)

Charles Fergusen's "Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America" (5/29/2012)

Turning America Around (11/2011)

6 Big Economic Myths Debunked (10/2011)





Republicans think austerity, while the economy is weak, is a great idea when the evidence is otherwise. They think tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy (themselves)  will increase demand and somehow create jobs. They have opposed sensible bank regulation. We have become a country with exceptional inequality, we are paying a high price for it, but they don't acknowledge the problem.

The sequester, cuts to government spending, was a drag on the economy and did real harm to millions of people.
Vulnerable people: schoolchildren, seniors, towns and cities, and people struggling to put food on their tables – need relief more than air travelers inconvenienced by furloughs of air traffic controllers, but Republicans insist on austerity.

Republicans, since FDR, have wanted to cut Social Security and other programs for the vulnerable. Now they have cut food stamps, head start, most likely unemployment checks, and struggled to shut down Obamacare. But they favor increased funding for the world's largest military, and tax cuts for the wealthy including the flat tax. That's what they mean by smaller government. This policy, funded by wealthy individuals, is sinking the 99 percent, depressing demand, and increases income inequality.

Nobel prize economists, Krugman and Stiglitz, have made the case that austerity has proven to be damaging policy. Stop the cuts. Repeal the sequester, and confront Republicans to get serious about creating jobs.

For a completely different message, listen to a first class economist, Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz talk about his book,
"The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future".  He elaborates why trickle-down doesn't, why our laws favor the wealthy, what is wrong with high levels of inequality, and the way it corrupts our politics. See his video (about an hour.)




Is economics a religion ?

The economy is not fair, stable, or sustainable.

The way it is now, people work for the economy, but that is not how it should be. The economy should work for people. Academic economics or standard economic measures have no relevance to this concept...and that is another part of the scam.

There are two economies: one real and the other monetary. What we ought to talk about is the real economy, not the money.

* What we measure is what we get. Because money is the prevailing measure of economic performance, we are not measuring the well-being of people. Pollution, crises, wars, and weaponry are all regarded as positive additions to GNP. We should redefine our economic measures. Economics is political. Our economic indicators do not measure what matters. (9/14/2009) RFK on GDP

For a number of years I conducted surveys among business economists as to the quality of government statistics (the vast majority thought it was pretty bad), and my results led to front page stories in the New York Times and Investors Business Daily, considerable coverage in the broadcast media and a joint meeting with representatives of all the government's statistical agencies. Despite minor changes to the system, government reporting has deteriorated sharply in the last decade or so. -- John Williams, Shadow government statistics.

Time to Leave GDP behind.

* Usually corporations consolidate as much as possible, the better to dominate markets, force out competition, and multiply gains for insiders. The result is media that cannot transmit useful information, banks too big to fail, healthcare that is twice as expensive as in other developed countries, and government that is controlled by big corporate money.

Low interest rates have enabled corporations to consolidate even faster. The practical effect is to increase income inequality, increase the number of unemployed, limit competition, facilitates privatization, and allows the wealthy to game the system even more for their own benefit, and weakens democracy. Anti-trust legislation  and  wise tax  policy  might mitigate some of this, but the Republican Congress is dysfunctional.

(The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision assures that this downward spiral will continue. It is effectively a silent coup: the partisan Supreme Court has replaced government by the people with government by the corporations. aka fascism.)

* Large disparities in income, which tend to grow over time with unchecked capitalism, are not just unfair, but are the direct cause of social dysfunction, political corruption, aristocracy (rule by wealth...which we have.), and government by the oligarchs, not the people.

* Financial volatility arises from extreme inequality, and the speculative, casino-like market. When the economy spirals downward, as it regularly does, there can be considerable suffering.  Austerity is the wrong approach for dealing with a deflated economy, but because Republicans are all about the money, that's their policy.

Republicans who have made a lot of money in business, no matter what kind of business, think that somehow makes them economists.

* The monetary economy is a man-made artifact that does not serve us well. It has grown so that it's claims far exceed the real. As currently architected, it does not serve the people...it enslaves them in a plantation-like economy (see Walmart.) Debt servitude is not so different than slavery.

* the real world is rapidly being destroyed: fresh water is being used too fast, fisheries collapsing, glaciers melting, fossil fuels consumed at a rate that cannot last, species are disappearing at an alarming rate, We are facing a climate crisis and associated problems: food and water shortages, rising tides that flood shorelines, increasingly catastrophic weather events,

We should wean ourselves off fossil fuels...before we are forced to. It contributes to all of the above catastrophes. Some of those unemployed could be working on it.

Human population has grown beyond earths sustainability. Republicans oppose reproductive rights.

As for jobs: there is always plenty of work to do. Too bad a lot of it doesn't get done because of our flawed 'market' system. As productivity improves and automation displaces more workers our standard of living should improve. (It has not.) There should be a shorter work week, generous vacation time, sick time, and family leave. Scandinavian countries can do this because they have kept their oligarchy in check.

Unemployment means product forever lost, atrphied skills, and a permanent damper on career paths. Republicans would rather cut the debt, with resulting even higher unemployment.

* Republicans repeated, self-inflicted fiscal crises signal that they are willing to crash the economy if they think it will win them an election. They don't like government and they shouldn't be in it.

* The market is not good for assessing or reacting to longer-term problems. New York should probably be planning for long term sea-level rise, but it is not clear if that is politically possible. Climate change is a looming long-term threat that we have done little to acknowledge, let alone address. Corporate media is responsible for the misinformation about this looming  crisis. Almost all of our media is corporate, politically powerful, and, not surprisingly, strongly biased toward the right-wing.

Financial regulation, progressive taxation, a solid social safety net help to smooth out the business cycle, reduce suffering, and damp down income disparities. FDR's New Deal implemented some of these self-regulating mechanisms, but they have been weakened by revocation of Glass-Steagle, and other deregulation. Republicans did not learn the lessons of the great depression and can be relied on to roll back the New Deal when given the chance.

* A well designed economy should be self-regulating, sustainable, and measured by the well-being of people. A strong social safety net, public financed education, public media, and highly progressive taxation damp down extremes of inequality, produce more fair outcomes, better information. The privatizers oppose all of these.

* Republicans are corporatists. A government run by corporations is, by definition, fascist

* Republican policy will bring the US and its empire to complete collapse. The empire is an overstretch for the economy and can only be sustained by depriving our own people of necessities.  That's why working people have experienced lost ground since Reagan. We need to abandon the empire and re-engineer the economy.

Scandinavian's policies are much better than the US and it shows in their education outcomes and better civics. They have not allowed their public sectors to wither away the way we have: Their transit systems are balanced, their media and healthcare have public options. Their wealthy are not in control. Their government actually serves their people.

Ruling on Behalf of the Super-Rich: The Financial End-Times have Arrived (11/16/2010)

A 20-Rule Manifesto For New No-Growth Economics (8/30/2011)

Analysis of Financial Terrorism in the United States

The Social And Economic Effects Of The Great Recession

Why Aren't You Protesting ? (7/22/2011)

Republicans (and their talk-radio/religious allies) are engaging in a scam that robs the poor for the benefit of the wealthy. It is the corporate agenda. (The dictionary definition of fascism...is when corporations run the government. Do we not have that ?)

 The scenario is similar in just about every industry: hedge funds like Bain consolidate smaller companies which leads to large conglomerates with heavy debt burdens, to keep up a front many engage in risky derivatives trading, they bust unions and drive down wages, send jobs to third world countries, cheapen product, plunder pension funds, pile on debt, and take fees. Conglomerates become more predatory to suppress competition. They prefer a 'moat' as Warren Buffet put it. A free market requires many competitors.

Lobbyists then pressure Congress to 'deregulate', undoing New Deal mechanisms like the Glass-Steagle Act or other sensible regulation and now the consequences are evident. The financial sector ran out of control and devoured the real economy, manufacturing migrated to repressive countries where labor is cheapest, unemployment soared, lower wages caused consumer spending to tank, and the economy collapsed. We are back to the 1930's again. We have an oligopoly.

Deregulation enabled concentration of wealth, and that, in turn, resulted in wrecking-ball style speculation. Speculation gone wild allowed the financial sector to grow like a cancer that devoured the rest of the economy. When the bubble bursts, corporations are too big to fail, but taxpayers pay the bill. Without reregulation, it will surely happen again...only worse because lobbyists have successfully fought off attempts at new controls, and the entities are even larger now than they were last time.

"Supply side" economics (formerly called "voodoo economics" by poppy Bush) never was accepted at any university. Republican pandering to Corporations made people victims (Banks think that a cap on interest rates at over 30 percent is unreasonable and they got the Congress to vote it down.) 

We again have come to a "gilded age", where a few have accumulated most of the wealth, a growing segment of the population is in poverty

Republican policy will put most people in debt servitude.

The Truth About the Economy (a video about 2 minutes by Robert Reich)  (6/13/2011) 

See Frontline: the Warning (view it on line from PBS)

Capitalism Hits the Fan Film Screening and Q&A with Professor Richard Wolff

 


David C. Korten's book, Agenda For A New Economy, has excellent analysis and solutions for some of our economic problems.

David Korten: Let Wall Street Fail (Now on PBS 1/30/2009)

 
 

Looking Backward: Economics and the Cult of Yesterday

Senator Kaufman Was Right – Our Financial System Has Become Dangerous (5/2010)

White House Should Stop Pandering to Wall Street (5/8/2010)

Unfree Markets: The Last Gasp of a (Literally) Bankrupt Ideology (4/28/2010)

20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover

Shorting the Middle Class: The Real Wall Street Crime. Arianna Huffington (4/19/2010)

World Bank sees risk of recovery losing steam (1/21/2010)

Wall Street's 10 Greatest Lies of 2009

The Real Size of the Bailout.

The True Cost of "Cheap Goods"

Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Blowback Effect, 2020

Is the Market the Enemy ?

BOOK LAUNCH: The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century

 

How Goldman Secretly Bet on the U.S. Housing Crash  

How Goldman Secretly Bet on the U.S. Housing Crash

Only later did investors in $40 billion in securities discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk. more »

 

Robert Reich: structural changes (12/3/2009)

White House Treatment of Stiglitz Reveals Lack of Respect for 'Progressive-Economist Wing' (7/20/2009)

Common Sense 2009

Our Free Market Makes Economic Collapse Inevitable (11/2/2009)

Sold Out: Who is responsible for the Financial Meltdown: Executive Summary

Sold Out: Full Report

How to Fix The Economy (Prof Michael Hudson) 3/15/2009

Needed: A Fiscal Framework: Jeffrey Sachs (Scientific American: April 2009)

Video of Paul Krugman (about 6 minutes)

Video of Paul Krugman on the financial crisis 2/17/2009 (choppy)

Treasury is Spreading the Fire, not putting it out (3/16/2009)

Bush's real problem with Eliot Spitzer (from Project Censored)

The Real Scandal of AIG (3/15/2009)

Russia Wants New International Reserve Currency (3/16/2009)

Capitalism's Self-Inflicted Apocalypse

"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both."     - Louis Brandeis
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -- John Kenneth Galbraith

A dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows, or at least should. The vast majority of economists and budget analysts agree: The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it. David M. Walker the comptroller general of the United States. See www.gao.gov for details.

Time is long overdue to engage the conversation about how to move from a permanent war economy to a permanent peace economy.  Seymour Melman’s 2003 article “In the Grip of a Permanent War Economy” clarifies this reality. From a letter from Mary Beth Sullivan which is more fully quoted on the war page.

Questions for Republicans:

Did you really believe that you could live, in the long term, on borrowed money ?

Who actually claimed that such a large nation doesn't need an industrial base ?

Where are the men and women who made us believe that a negative balance of trade is a sign of strength ?

Why did no one sound the alarm bell when the U.S. dollar became eroded and lost value for such a prolonged period ?

Is it possible that no one noticed a country that was once the biggest lender selling off its assets to others ?

How could the entrenchment of economic inequality in a democratic nation have been tolerated for so long ?

What happened to the upward mobility that was once this country's trademark ?

And, last but not least: why did democracy, which is supposed to react more quickly to malfunctions than other forms of government, fail so miserably ?

(from 'The War for Wealth' by Gabor Steingart...highly recommended).

25 People at the Heart of the Meltdown

Looting

Is the dollar a paper tiger ?

Recovery.gov

The Anti-Stimulus Republicans

Perspective on the Giveaway (12/20/2008 video)

Of Markets and Morality (12/4/2008)

Republican Government Bashers Line Up for Federal Aid (9/24/2008)

US has lost control over finance and the economy. (8/11/08)

Good Reasons to throw out the Republicans (8/14/2008) Joe Stiglitz

Economic Free Fall: William Greider (7/30/2008)

The Financial Tsunami

RBS Issues Global Stock and Credit Crash Alert By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard The Telegraph, London Wednesday, June 17, 2008 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/06/18/cnrbs118.xml

Preventing a Financial Tsunami (9/4/08) Bill Gross

The Conservative Nanny State

Growth

"Society must cease to look upon "progress" as something desirable. `Eternal Progress’ is a nonsensical myth. What must be implemented is not a `steadily expanding economy,’ but a zero growth economy, a stable economy. Economic growth is not only unnecessary but ruinous." Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn

Republicans often say that 'growth' can solve many of our economic problems. This is nonsense. Growth can cause further environmental degradation, unlimited devastation. If you doubt this see this video: The greatest shortcoming of the human race is the inability to understand the exponential function. Albert A. Bartlett, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Colorado.

Growthism
 

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is the inability to understand the exponential function.

Albert A. Bartlett, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Colorado.

"...we live in a world where economic growth is generally seen as both beneficent and necessary _ the more, the better; where past growth has brought us to a perilous state environmentally; where we are poised for unprecedented increments in growth; where this growth is proceeding with wildly wrong market signals, including prices that do not incorporate environmental costs or reflect the needs of future generations; where a failed politics has not meaningfully corrected the routinely deploying technology that was created in an environmentally unaware era; where there is no hidden hand or inherent mechanism adequate to correct the destructive tendencies. So, right now, one can only conclude that growth is the enemy of environment. Economy and environment remain in collision." The Bridge at the End of the World: Gus Speth (2008)

Speth also lists the kinds of pathological growth that can occur. (from the UNDP Human Development Report 1996)

See The Bridge at the End of the World: Gus Speth (2008)

The End of Growth: Richard Heinberg


"Trickle-down economics, which holds that so long as the economy as a whole grows everyone benefits, has been repeatedly shown to be wrong." Joseph Stiglitz, Making Globalization Work. Pg 23.

When You're in Jackson Hole, Stop Digging (8/18/2008) Dean Baker

Congress bailing out bankers...no help for homeowners (6/30/2008) Dean Baker

Dean Baker writes: "There are many other ways in which the government structures the market to redistribute income upward. Read my non-copyright protected book, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer to get more of the picture."

Central Bank Body warns of Great Depression (6/9/2008)

Total Value of Derivatives exceeds one quadrillion (6/11/2008)

Is this the big one ? From the Nation, April 14, 2008 issue.

The Mother of all Bubbles.

Living Standards under Stress

Is Cheney Betting on Economic Collapse?

Sorting through the rubble in post bubble America (March 9, 2008)

It's so much worse than you think.

Soros: Dollar will no longer be the world's reserve currency.

Ron Paul on competing currencies

Stimulus is another scam (01/28/2008)

Fed releases crisis preparedness video. (3/3/2008)

Time to dump the Federal Reserve ? (02/21/2008)

The derivative time bomb, a 516 trillion dollar bubble (3/10/2008)

The hypocrisy of free market fundamentalism.

Free-market fundamentalism—just as dangerous as the religious fundamentalisms of our day—trivializes the concern for public interest. The overwhelming power and influence of plutocrats and oligarchs in the economy put fear and insecurity in the hearts of anxiety-ridden workers and render money-driven, poll-obsessed elected officials deferential to corporate goals of profit, often at the cost of the common good. This illicit marriage of corporate and political elites—so blatant and flagrant in our time—not only undermines the trust of informed citizens in those who rule over them. It also promotes the pervasive sleepwalking of the populace, who see that the false prophets are handsomely rewarded with money, status, and access to more power. This profit-driven vision is sucking the democratic life out of American society.

In short, the dangerous dogma of free-market fundamentalism turns our attention away from schools to prisons, from workers’ conditions to profit margins, from health clinics to high-tech facial surgeries, from civic associations to pornographic Internet sites, and from children’s care to strip clubs. The fundamentalism of the market puts a premium on the activities of buying and selling, consuming and taking, promoting and advertising, and devalues community, compassionate charity, and improvement of the general quality of life. How ironic that in America we’ve moved so quickly from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Let Freedom Ring!” to “Bling! Bling!”—as if freedom were reducible to simply having material toys, as dictated by free-market fundamentalism. Cornel West: Democracy Matters

 

Many Republicans think that the 'free' market is a beneficial way of determining our social direction or that it is somehow associated with democracy. It is not. Lack of planning, short-term profits, downsizing of R&D, starving infrastructure, plain old-fashioned corruption, and other mistakes (more below) also factored into the current economic collapse.

Capitalism works very well in Communist China, it does well under tyrannical dictatorships  (see Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine"), and world-wide it weakens democracy. Since wages have been declining for a number of years, observe that investors and corporations have been winners at the expense of citizens. Robert Reich's book Supercapitalism explains this very well. 

As consumers we can shop at Wal-Mart and still know that their employees are poorly paid, ununionized, and lack benefits. We know their  products, formerly made in good paying factories in this country,  are now made in third-world sweatshops. As a consumer you may shop Wal-Mart thinking you are getting a good deal at those low prices, as an investor you may be pleased that the stock is doing well. As a citizen, you know it's a bad deal. Many of their employees require public assistance.

Bush the First once called 'supply-side' economics, voodoo economics. That lower taxes would produce more Federal revenue was never true. Tax cuts were not only contrary to common sense, they ignored the costs of Bush's war adventures, and, contrary to Christian values, they rewarded the already wealthy at the expense of the poor. They converted the fundamentalist churches into a propaganda conduit for the Republican party. The war cost was put on the tab.

People no longer believe that their government serves them. Big money buys Congress and legislation keeps people in check. Union busting is accepted, citizens groups are out shouted by conglomerate media,  the public loses influence, and democracy dies. That's how we come to be on a path to fascism.

To bestow the benefits of the Bill of Rights on Corporations, the Supreme Court ruled that Corporations are persons and they now have the full benefits of the Bill of Rights.  The Bill of Rights for actual people is being shredded. Check out this.

In the interest of multinational corporations, we now have the largest military in the world.

After years of Republican nonsense, the US is broke, the economy is collapsing. There is no guarantee that the latest stimulus will bring it back.

See Free-Market Conservatives Are Just Wrong

Privatization

Privatization removes activity from public accountability. You do not have to look far to see that US corporate governance needs reform. We should have a policy that considers fairness and basic humanity. Compensation, for example, has displayed neither quality.

Republican's think privatization is good policy. What it actually does is remove functions from public accountability, so it is anti-democratic. Result: Blackwater, Enron, prison-industrial complex, financial instability, consumer exploitation, or, worst of all is privatized vote counting. There is now considerable doubt about election integrity.

Privatization outcome: Jailing Kids for Cash. (2/18/2009)

Karl Marx was wrong when he predicted in an ideal world that the state would wither away. Republicans share this idea. The most successful economies are mixed. Government has functions that it must do, and the private sector has a domain in which it functions better. We need a discussion about just what is the correct mixture.

This may be an area best defined not only by economists, but other stakeholders as well: The market functions best when there are a lot of participants who are free to compete and quality information is available to consumers. A small number of corporations that dominate an industry do not necessarily make for a efficient market  These are, for example, not the conditions for healthcare. You do not know which doctor has the best performance record, you cannot know what their charges will be, and you may get different assessments for the treatment that is right for you. Insurance contracts for health care are generally not transparent and they can change without notice.

Other developed countries have universal health care and that is one of the reasons why the global market is not a flat playing field.

Especially when their are few competitors, Government regulation is needed to assure that the market is orderly.

Why it is a bad idea to privatize government programs ?

Social Security Privatization is still a Republican dream. See this note.

 

Deregulation

Market fundamentalism has led to massive deregulation and now you can see the consequences: financial meltdown, bank failures, bad food, market scams, deceitful advertising, commercial lying, predatory lending, absurd CEO salaries, and a widening gap between rich and poor. Make no mistake though: deregulation can kill. as you can verify in lax workplace safety enforcement, unlabelled and unchecked food products, toxic toys, downer cows,  or environmental degradation.

Deregulation has again led to out of control markets, bubbles, scams, corruption and ultimately to recession.

Bank deregulation led to reckless use of derivatives, predatory lending, and the subprime mess. Is it coincidental that Bush I had to bail out the Savings and Loan industry on his watch too ? The Glass-Steagle Act should be fully restored.

The visible results of the unregulated market include unsafe products, huge disparities in income that lead to walled communities, and could produce a new aristocracy and along with it a new feudalism.

Republicans have made regulatory agencies (like the FCC, FDA, EPA, SEC, etc) captives of the industries they are supposed to regulate. This allows corporations to serve their own interest instead of the public interest, it makes government dysfunctional and it assures continuation of our race for the bottom. 

 
The Villains of the Housing Crisis Are Denying All Responsibility  

The Villains of the Housing Crisis Are Denying All Responsibility

The housing crisis is a result of reckless deregulation by specific individuals. Read more »

       

Mortgage Meltdown

CNBC Coverage of Bear Stearns Bailout


Run on the Dollar

 

New Data on Inflation (January 16, 2008)

Bernanke's warning (January 13, 2008)

Impending Destruction of the US economy ( Paul Craig Roberts 11/28/2007)

Economic Democracy and the 2008 Presidential election

Banks Gone Wild (Paul Krugman 11/23/2007)

Dollar could plunge by 90 percent (UPI 11/2007)

Fears of Dollar Collapse

Double Digit inflation is here. (12/16/2007)

Central Banks fail to calm money markets.

China Threatens 'nuclear option' of dollar sales.

Dollar Drop

Dollar Collapse will cripple European economy (Paul Craig Roberts)

How is Bush Doing ?

Rising Tide Economics

Guns Beat Greens

Campaign for America's Future

How the Markets really work.

Republicans think that the market is a really good decision-making tool. Even better than democratically elected government. When making this argument they generally do not notice that an unfettered market will gladly sell drugs to your children, put workers in sweatshops, run prisons for profit, pollute the environment, deindustrialize the US, and more. Capitalism works very well in totalitarian contexts as is plainly evident from the many capitalist paradise dictatorships.

Extreme Inequality

Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows

Brad Delong's blog

Beat the Press: Dean Baker's commentary on economic reporting

Fast Food, Fast Capitalism, Fast Politics

The Conservative Nanny State

Risk of another Depression

International Society for Ecological Economics

Daily Reckoning

Return of the Robber Barrons. (Paul Craig Roberts)

Laissez-unfair economics

Senator Sanders vs Bush Nominee (video)

Richard Wolff, Ph.d Economics professor at the University of Massachusetts (video)

Democratic Socialists

Shadow Stats reports on manipulated government reporting.

Andre' Gorz

 
"What is a capitalist state? It is a state in which the principal means of production, such as farmland, real estate in the cities, the supply of water, gas, and electricity, public transportation, as well as the larger industrial plants are owned by a minority of the citizenry. Productivity is geared toward making a profit for the owners rather than providing the population with a uniform distribution of essential goods. This propertied minority dominates the rest of the population by dictating working conditions and controlling jobs in accordance with its interests. It dominates public opinion through its influence on schools, the press, government, and legislation. The harshness of this situation is sometimes tempered or at least disguised by a democratic form of government in which all citizens are guaranteed formal equality." Einstein around July 1945. From Einstein on Politics, Rowe and Schulmann

When Bush took office there were surpluses in the federal budget as far as the eye could see. How quickly that changed. 

Job growth has not kept up with population growth as Corporations consolidate, downsize, and claim rights of personhood that were originally intended to protect poor minorities. Corporate media has become useless in providing adequate information to carry on a democracy. Wages have fallen as Corporations have moved to low wage countries, busted unions, cut benefits, and often have abandoned pensions.

Our poor children will pay with interest for Bush's folly. Already they are having to accept lower wage jobs with shrinking benefits. Pensions are disappearing, health expense is being shifted to them, tuition is skyrocketing, they are paying unprecedented rates for heavy credit card debt and income inequality is increasing fast. They have not yet lost Social Security but Republicans are working on it. They will have to fight the endless war that Bush provoked. In spite of clear warnings about climate change, there is little chance that greenhouse gas emissions will be mitigated any time soon. 

To sustain their lifestyle, consumers have gone into heavy debt. Creative real estate financing their homes so that they can consume more now.

Since the Bush election campaign was funded by Corporate elite, it is not surprising that his regressive program was really about benefiting the already very comfortable. "Eighteen of America's wealthiest families, including the Timkens of Canton, are bankrolling efforts to permanently repeal estate taxes that would save their families a total of $71.6 billion, according to a report released by public interest groups".

Democracy, freedom, and the unregulated market are not compatible. As wealth is concentrated, only the powerful have voices in the media, money driven elections produce results for the oligopoly, gated communities with private security forces keep order for the wealthy, the legislative process slowly removes accountability from corporations, deregulation removes corporations further from democratic control. As privatization proceeds, more and more public concerns are removed from public accountability.

A stunning blow to democracy occurred when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have personhood. Shareholders do not have real voting rights in the current US corporatocracy. Workers are not represented and they are experiencing relentless downward pressure on their wages, benefits, and organizations. 

Only when there are many competitors is there a free market. When a single company or a very small number of companies dominate a market, they can act in ways that do not serve the public. There are markets where privatization is dangerous, such as the one that delivers mercenarys. A large private army is a danger to our form of government. A small number of companies control US media and they are a danger to our information streams and, since they are all radically right wing, are undermining our democracy. 

The US now has one of the most skewed income distributions. Expect more economic volatility since there are tsunami amounts amounts of speculative derivatives that can cause severe economic upset if the investment community is spooked at all. As one example, rising interest rates are already causing a cooling of the real estate market and a resulting loss of many jobs. Republicans have tightened bankruptcy laws. The Economy is in Crisis.

One of the symptoms of a banana republic is an elite class that rewards itself from massive debt. It is only an apparent prosperity. So it is that CEOs have continued to increase their pay by double digit percentages, that most of the benefits of tax cuts go to the topmost 1 %,  war profiteering and loosely accounted public money are going to a select few corporations (which are tightly connected to senior Bush officials). Other regressive Bush policies include tax cuts, cuts in health care, welfare, Veterans Benefits, social security, labor, worker safety, environment, globalization. All of these reductions, along with systematic union busting, are at the expense of the US workers. 

Many countries are diversifying their currency holdings away from the US dollar since it is visibly losing value and also from ill will. The consequence of hiding war expense have historically been associated with currency collapse. China, alone, holds more than $950 Billion in dollars...but it is diversifying.

While Bush partisans proclaim that the economy is healthy, most economists will tell you that such profligate deficit spending is not sustainable and will ultimately cause currency devaluation. It is not a matter of if...just when.  Since Bush took office the economy lost 3,000,000 manufacturing jobs.

It is expensive to build an empire, and it is clear that healthcare and education are unaffordable as long as we have these global 'responsibilities'.  When you think about it, it is healthcare and education that allow continued prosperity.

Our children will pay for the military buildup, misadventures, and ill will that Bush brought on us from the rest of the world. They will need to fight his endless war, they will inherit deep debt, ballooning tuition, interest expense, shredded social safety net,  degraded environment, a reduced standard of living, corrupt government, an unchecked President, and sharply reduced civil liberties. They are not safer.

In history all empires share the same fate... only the amount of destruction has accelerated over the centuries. Is Iran next ?

"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."  Einstein on Politics, Rowe and Schulmann. Monthly Review, May 1949.

Shock Doctrine: the Republican agenda

Naomi Klein If you think that the 'free market' and democracy are compatible try "Shock Doctrine", Naomi Klein's recent book.

"There's a very committed effort to convert the US into something resembling a Third World society, where a few people have enormous wealth and a lot of others have no security." Noam Chomsky Videos

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class (Lecture Video 57 minutes.)

Archived

 

VideoTop 10 Films that Explain Why Occupy Wall Street Exists

Zeitgeist: Addendum

Plunder: The Crime of Our Time (A documentary by Danny Schechter.)

Michael Albert (78 minutes) Remembering Tomorrow

Bibliography

Download Doug Henwood's free Book "Wall Street"

Dollars and Sense Magazine

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