Volatility

August 3, 2009

Where’s the Omelette?

Back during the Cold War fellow-travelers often would defend the Soviet Union with the saying, “you have to break eggs to make an omelette”. The anti-communist reply was, “OK – where’s the omelette?”
 
Today we must ask the same question of big capitalism. For so long we’ve been regaled with promises about the bounty which would flow from the invisible hand, from free markets and free trade. If we only cut taxes and deregulated and repealed bothersome laws and tolerated massive wealth inequality, the machine of capitalism would generate massive wealth which would trickle down to everyone. The rising tide would lift all boats. We’d have an ownership society.
 
Sure, some eggs had to be broken along the way, but the omelette would be so thick and rich and delectable, everyone would happily gorge to his heart’s content.
 
So where’s the omelette? Trickle-down has had decades, the invisible hand has had centuries. If this was ever going to benefit all, where’s the benefits?
 
The fact is, capitalism and the rich have abdicated. They create nothing, they innovate nothing, they add nothing of value.
 
Does capitalism better organize the workers for more efficient production? The answer to that depends upon the value of what’s being produced. We can see that in decades there have been no real improvements in any real goods or services.
 
Instead the “innovation” has gone not to making people’s lives better but to destroying lives by destroying jobs. Globalist capitalism and technology have focused above all on assaulting the worker and the people as a whole. Their imperative has been to downsize, deskill, outsource, offshore, to break unions and drive down wages. So by their own premise, that capitalism is the best system for the people, they have abdicated completely.
 
(Their shibboleth of “freedom” is simply a gutter lie. In modern civilization there can be no freedom without broad socioeconomic freedom for the people, which is precisely what corporatism seeks to destroy. They mean only freedom for the rich and for big corporations. That’s the only debased measure of freedom which enters into our discussions here.)
 
A few more points on the globalization scam:
 
1. “Comparative advantage”, a dubious boon even if it ever had really existed or been meant to exist, was always a lie. It was an ideological fig leaf under which Western corporatism sought absolute advantage. Backed by the force of the reserve currency, bullying one-way protectionism, and the guns of the military, Western multinationals turned the rest of the world into a new colonial plantation, whose only “advantage” was its endless slave-wage labor and its cheaply extracted national resources. This onslaught continues at full fury today.
 
2. Even if any part of the “free trade” ideology were true, still isn’t the point of a country to look out for its own people? If there’s such a thing as a national economy, and a national economic policy, and if business benefits from the existence of a national government, then isn’t the number one point of all of these to do well by the nation’s own workers? And in turn, not allowing corporate treason vs. your own country, you therefore also don’t empower corporate rapacity around the world?
 
But the whole point of globalism was always to crush the nation and any sense of national morality or international benevolence or even neutrality. It was from the start the ideology of lucrative treason and global economic aggression. 
 
3. It’s ironic: the right-wingers say they’re opposed to One World government. But by this they only mean the feckless UN.
 
On the contrary, they cherish and worship the only true one-world government. This is the system of the GATT, the World Bank, the IMF and WTO, with all its implementations: NAFTA, CAFTA, the SPP, FTAA, and on and on toward complete corporate totalitarianism.
 
So much for globalization. What about America’s domestic sectors?
 
Banking: What is their measure of innovation (by their own proclaimed invisible hand/trickle-down premise)? They claim to move capital about such that the economy “grows”, ever larger, ever more robust, ever more bountiful for all Americans. Good jobs and prosperous incomes for all, steady wages, stable asset and consumer prices, an economically healthy society. All this the banks promised us.
 
And what have the banks wrought instead? We have oppressive wealth concentration and inequality, massive layoffs everywhere, prices wildly volatile within a general trend of inflation outrunning nominal wages (and real wages always downward), a new economic norm of wild booms and busts, binges and purges, each flow further concentrating wealth, each ebb wiping out an ever greater swath of the people, and encompassing all of it instability, tension, fear as the true leading indicators of social illness.
 
And now amid the disaster the banks can act only as rampaging disaster capitalists, obsessed with mergers and acquisitions (in their own sector as well as facilitating them in every other sector) and with squeezing the same consumers (for example mortgage and credit card holders) whose tax dollars are the only thing propping these banks up.
 
Let’s sample two other critical social sectors.
 
Health care: The measure of innovation is clear. Quality of life, lifespan, infant mortality all improve, while care becomes less expensive and equitably distributed.
 
What do we have instead? By most health indicators America is an also-ran among industrialized countries. The care gets worse, more expensive, more bureaucratically complicated, more tenuous, with ever more uninsured, whose only access to care is the emergency room. The result is ever greater fear and suffering, physical, mental, moral.
 
Agriculture: The measure of innovation is that food becomes more healthy (of higher quality and safer), less expensive, better distributed, with better working conditions and wages for food workers, and greater economic security for independent farmers, who are the backbone of any healthy, resilient food system.
 
Instead, under the reign of industrial agriculture, we have ever greater “food insecurity” (hunger). Diets become ever less healthy. Obesity skyrockets. The diet is loaded with toxins, filth, additives, and empty calories. The factory farm system is set up as a vast network of unregulated bioweapons laboratories which are proving grounds for every kind of livestock-borne disease. Animal cruelty is institutionalized. Regulation is legislatively and administratively defanged and starved of funds. Prices are ever more volatile and generally increasing. The whole thing is an environmental disaster.
 
So we see from just three pivotal sectors how corporatist capitalism has produced, according to its own premises and promises, a world-historical failure.
 
Then we have the general behavior of the greedy rich. Their lifestyle inflation drives up prices for everyone. They doom the non-rich to the rat race. They force the middle class into the mortgage bubble, since the root of extreme housing prices is monopoly behavior by the rich, with their multiple McMansions and cornpone villas, which gives Big Developers the incentive to institute the McMansion model as the American baseline. This drives the non-rich into desperate debt as they are deluded into believing they must keep up in this class war arms race. And so it goes, all the way down to the subprime borrowers.
 
This is just one example of the sociopathy which fuels and in turn is exacerbated by extreme wealth inequality. Where wealth is so unevenly distributed it becomes a weapon used to more aggressively steal social property in the form of privatized profit while externalizing and socializing private cost, risk, and waste.
 
The big corporations and the rich innovate nothing, create nothing, produce nothing of value, do no worthwhile work, serve no social function whatsoever. They add nothing but cost, complexity, instability, volatility, pollution, social tension, uncreative destruction, violence, and ugliness. Their worthlessness and malevolence as parasites is complete. 
 
There is the noble proposition, “The law exists for man, not man for the law.” And now we must ask, are the banks there for man, or man for the banks? For example, should bailed-out banks be facilitating job-destroying mergers in a time when jobs are hemorrhaging? Or, should banks be refusing mortgage modifications if these are not profitable for them?
 
Or on the contrary does this nullify the very reason we allow them to exist?
 
Does the profit motive serve man (as the capitalists claim it does), or is man there to be mined by profiteers (the way it now always turns out in practice)?
 
If the profiteering of a few no longer helps us as a whole, if the wealth of a few is now useless to us; if these things are not only useless but aggressively harmful; then we cannot and must not any longer tolerate their existence.
 
Where’s the omelette? If there ever was one, it was only cooked up to be eaten by a handful of criminals, who left us nothing to eat and the trashed kitchen to clean up.
 
We now must clean up a much larger mess. No doubt it’ll require a ferocious disinfectant. But it’s the only way we’ll cleanse ourselves.    

6 Comments

  1. Russ – in my take of history, the excessively rich have always been around ruining it for everyone else, only once, they were kings and lords who enslaved the masses as peasants (or exterminated them if the religion was wrong, as England’s rulers did to Ireland’s peasants.)

    What we had starting with the American revolution was a sense that the power was better when placed in the hands of more people.

    Not perfect, of course, back in those days – Thomas Jefferson owned a passel of slaves – and fathered nearly a half dozen of them.

    But we continued to work toward equality.

    Which took us to the great labor strife of the late 19th century – and we had someone like TR in power who worked hard to bust up the trusts – he knew that such concentration of power and wealth into such few hands was exceptionally dangerous.

    We also worked to extend rights to women and minorities. Which took us to the cataclysmic decade of the 1960s. At a time when the most powerful democracy was divvying up the world with the most powerful communist state into a geographic game board (remember the domino theory?) people like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were agitating for civil rights back in America.

    Then came Reagan – and what we are seeing today, I believe is the fruition of his “fuzzy math” and his “trickle down” theory and his powerful belief that if you let the rich be richer, we will all benefit.

    You’ve done a great job pointing out the value of such a political philosophy for the rest of us – no value at all, really.

    We don’t yet have a Martin Luther King or a Jefferson advocating on our behalf. But we do have the internet and I think that some of these blogs we read will be as effective in rallying around public opinion as the Federalist Papers were way back in the day.

    The eggs are definitely scrambled. But we can use them, hopefully, to create a magnificent breakfast for the rest of us…. someday.

    Comment by Anne from Chicago — August 4, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  2. Hi Anne,
    I often wonder what kind of role these blogs will end up playing. Certainly the MSM seems beyond redemption. I used to be sympathetic to the argument that the blogs are killing professional journalism, but no more.

    What good is it to have pro “journalism” if we have to put it in quotation marks like that? If it now just carries water for power?

    Although I’m not an expert on the subject, my impression is that the 18th century didn’t even have the pretense of “objective” journalism, but rather everything was argumentative (and the Federalist just being among the more cerebral participants in the fray).

    It seems like we’re headed back toward that now. Facts may or may not just float around, while everyone digs in more and more ideologically.

    I can’t say I lament this. It seems like that’s all that’s left now that responsible, truth-to-power journalism has abdicated.

    Comment by Russ — August 4, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

  3. Tender thanks you championing details. It helped me in my mission

    Comment by Evilliody — November 25, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

  4. New here, from Toronto, Canada

    Just a quick hello from as I’m new to the board. I’ve seen some interesting posts so far.

    To be honest I’m new to forums and computers in general 🙂

    Mike

    Comment by Mikeharvey — May 13, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  5. Hi All!

    I’ve just signed up here and wanted to say hi all!

    Cheers!

    Comment by moomsJapsaG — June 24, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  6. “The invisible hand has had centuries”

    Don’t compare now to centuries ago, it makes you look bad!

    Comment by jo — June 9, 2012 @ 11:41 pm


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