Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Reagan, Stupid!

When are the people going to point out that economic inequality, the principles that crashed the economy, and the political circus that has embroiled the last couple of years can all be traced to one strangely popular political figure?  A figure who, while running for president, was told that his economic theories were "voodoo economics"?  A figure who frequently abandoned those policies during his time in office to actually save us from his tax cuts by raising taxes?  A figure who is so adored by his disciples that they are completely ignorant of much of what his presidency entailed?

Unfortunately, most people won't bring up the specter of Ronald Reagan because the memory of him is so beatified through rosy glasses of total ignorance.  The only parts of Reaganomics that were worked were, at best, tweaks of ongoing, mainstream thinking.  Everything else, the parts about privatizations, unregulating, union-busting, and tax cutting led to no more than modest growth while simultaneously ballooning debt, and dramatically redistributing wealth to the tippity-top of the wealth pile.  The basic philosophy has been discredited by most honest economists.

And yet, this philosophy is seemingly stronger now than at any point since 1981!  I fear that this is due to two things:

  1. The Reagan Cult: The slavish, cultish devotion to Reaganomics despite the insurmountable evidence should be more shocking, but it isn't even surprising.  The cult does not begin with the real Reagan presidency, however, but with the theory that it should work because we  believe it will.  The cult then goes and rewrites history to somehow blame the Great Depression on those that dragged us out of it kicking and screaming.
  2. The Rand Cover: The other reason is that Reagan's popularity gives cover for many conservatives to espouse economic rationales that don't come from Reagan, but from Ayn Rand.  Her extreme support, not only of greed, but of super, strata-elites that would magically bestow the illusion of equality upon the world with magic pixie dust because, after all, generous people are truly evil and the selfish are morally good.

It doesn't really matter which it is, because the current economic conditions date to the excessive debt-creation that began under Reagan through tax cuts and unregulated environments that led to more corporate consolidation than to price reductions.  The two platforms of the last 30 years that were supported by Republicans and slightly modified by Democrats in the 1990s.  But the whole structure is corrupt.  The only way for us to get out of our current economic and political morass is by dealing with its source.  No matter how unpopular that prospect is.  And the source of the problem is Ronald Reagan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

If Corporations Are On Strike, Then Bust Them

“Job creators are essentially on strike."
Those words, intended to strike fear in the hearts of the country, while also delivered with a reminder that what will stabilize the country is hope and optimism, were delivered by House Speaker John Boehner in a speech today. 

Boehner named what liberals have been saying for the last two years: that businesses aren’t hiring on purpose.  Now, he is making the tired claim that it has to do with “economic uncertainty” which has always begged the question about when the mythical “economic certainty” actually occurred in the modern era.  And yet, he is still making the claim.  Boehner’s analogy is pitch perfect…for Democrats.  It’s simple: he opened the foundation for the Republican position by using labor terms.  The pieces are there:
  • Republicans have long used union-busting as an excuse for economic growth.
  • They worship President Ronald Reagan’s ghost for busting the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.
  • Boehner, perhaps unintentionally, has invoked a vision of wealthy, multinational corporations as unions.

So if corporations are on strike, then how about busting them!  Here’s how:
  1. Have the country strike competitive fear into the hearts of corporations by going toe-to-toe with the banks and energy companies with new public utilities,
  2. Hiring scores of workers, proving that corporations aren’t actually job creators,
  3. And enforce the communications laws and laws of incorporation that are on the books.

If we are to trust that multinational corporations are the only job creators, that laissez faire economics is the rule, and that open markets are the only way, then let’s actually see how they compete with the government.  Will they innovate and prove us wrong?  Great!  We’ll have jobs!  If they fail, then at least we still have jobs!  This is a win-win situation.

Otherwise, maintaining our current situation by allowing corporations to be “essentially on strike” and doing nothing about it is entirely lose-lose.  Or at least lose-lose for the 99%.  In the “economically uncertain” times of today, the 1% are raking it in.

The pieces are there: who will pick them up?

P.S.  Read the Plum Line's "Two sentences from John Boehner's speech".