Monday, August 22, 2011

Republi-CON Want to Crucify the Middle Class 'Upon a Cross of Gold', Part of the Republi-CON War on the Middle Class

UPDATE: Until recently, a "bargain — which emerged in stages between the 1890s and 1930s — established an institutional framework to balance the needs of the American people with the vast inequalities of wealth and power wrought by the triumph of industrial capitalism. It originated in the widespread apprehension that the rapidly growing power of robber barons, national corporations and banks (like J.P. Morgan’s) was undermining fundamental American values and threatening democracy. . .

The terms were straightforward if not systematically articulated. Capitalism would endure, as would almost all large corporations. Huge railroads, banks and other enterprises — with a few exceptions — would cease to be threatened with nationalization or breakup. Moreover, the state would service and promote private business.

In exchange, the federal government adopted a series of far-reaching reforms to shield and empower citizens, safeguarding society’s democratic character. First came the regulation of business and banking to protect consumers, limit the power of individual corporations and prevent anti-competitive practices. . .

The second prong of reform was guaranteeing workers’ right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. The core premise of the 1914 Clayton Act and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 — born of decades of experience — was that individual workers lacked the power to protect their interests when dealing with large employers. For the most poorly paid, the federal government mandated a minimum wage and maximum hours.

The third ingredient was social insurance. Unemployment insurance (1935), Social Security (1935), and, later, Medicaid and Medicare (1965) were grounded in the recognition that citizens could not always be self-sufficient and that it was the role of government to aid those unable to fend for themselves. The unemployment-insurance program left unrestrained employers’ ability to lay off workers but recognized that those who were jobless through no fault of their own (a common occurrence in a market economy) ought to receive public support.

Read the Washington Post, The real grand bargain, coming undone.

"Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said earlier this week, referring to Mr. Bernanke: 'If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — er, treasonous, in my opinion.'

In the 19th century the agricultural sector, particularly in the West, favored higher prices and effectively looser monetary policy. This was the background for William Jennings Bryan’s famous 'Cross of Gold' speech in 1896; the 'gold' to which he referred was the gold standard, the bastion of hard money — and tendency toward deflation — favored by the East Coast financial establishment." [Cross of Gold link changed.]

Read The New York Times, A Second Great Depression, or Worse?

All part of the Republi-CON war on the middle class!

As I stated before, the Naive-ocrats have been too stupid to call the bluff -- give the public what it claims it wants until they don't want it anymore.

'The Great Stagnation' and Our Broken Political System

UPDATE: "Today’s crisis was completely avoidable. You can blame it directly on the fools who brought our country to the brink of defaulting on its debts in the name of saving us from . . . I’m not sure what.

Yes, the tea party types bear primary responsibility — but they couldn’t have done it without the cowardice and incompetence of the Obama administration, which let things get way out of hand. This whole fiasco just enrages me. And it ought to enrage anyone who wants the United States to act like a real country rather than some third-rate failed state run by fanatical factions that hate one another."

Read the Washington Post, This time, the economic crisis is no one’s fault but the government’s.

As society tries to adjusts to a new economic reality, "the most debated nonfiction book so far this year," "The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History,Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better," offers a frank evaluation of the situation, and hope for the future:

"America is in disarray and our economy is failing us. We have been through the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and talk of a double-dip recession persists. Americans are not pulling the world economy out of its sluggish state -- if anything we are looking to Asia to drive a recovery. Median wages have risen only slowly since the 1970s, and this multi-decade stagnation is not yet over. By contrast, the living standards of earlier generations would double every few decades. The Democratic Party seeks to expand government spending even when the middle class feels squeezed, the public sector doesn’t always perform well, and we have no good plan for paying for forthcoming entitlement spending. To the extent Republicans have a consistent platform, it consists of unrealistic claims about how tax cuts will raise revenue and stimulate economic growth. The Republicans, when they hold power, are often a bigger fiscal disaster than the Democrats. How did we get into this mess?Imagine a tropical island where the citrus and bananas hang from the trees. Low-hanging literal fruit -- you don’t even have to cook the stuff. In a figurative sense, the American economy has enjoyed lots of low-hanging fruit since at least the seventeenth century: free land; immigrant labor; and powerful new technologies. Yet during the last forty years, that low-hanging fruit started disappearing and we started pretending it was still there. We have failed to recognize that we are at a technological plateau and the trees are barer than we would like to think. That’s it. That is what has gone wrong. The problem won’t be solved overnight, but there are reasons to be optimistic. We simply have to recognize the underlying causes of our past prosperity—low hanging fruit—and how we will come upon more of it."

Also read several articles about the book, including:

The Washington Post, 'The Great Stagnation', which notes:

“The political system -- and even the economics profession -- tends to be most comfortable talking about the things it knows how to talk about. Immigration, education, health-care costs, tax policy, labor density and so on. The major contribution of Cowen's book is to focus our attention on an explanation for our economic woes -- or at least some of them -- that's not currently central to the debate, and that's somewhat difficult to talk about. I don't think the book has enough data to say definitively how central the declining pace of innovation is to our economy. But there's more than enough to suggest it's a real factor, and one we need to do a better job thinking about and discussing:

1. How do you accelerate the pace of innovation? . .

2. How do we make developing countries into advanced countries? . .

3. How do we get more value out of our health care and education dollars? . .

4. How do we improve our political system?”

And The New York Times, The Experience Economy, which asks

"What happens when wealth and living standards diverge?"

The book may also be relevant to the health care debate. Read the Washington Post, How penicillin fooled us, which states:

"The problem with medicine is that it's very hard to say no, and that means we often end up paying a lot for treatments that do us very little good, and that squeezes the resources available to sectors that could do us a lot of good but are easier to say no to."