Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Capitalists Really Want

In the battle of the sexes, everybody loves to chime in with their view on "what women really want".

Well... in the battle for a civil society, everybody should be chiming in on what capitalists really want. Here is a bit from a post by Daniel Gross on Slate magazine that sheds some light on the crocodile tears that business is shedding about the "socialist" Obama and the tough love he is showing business after the love-fest years of George Bush:
On July 12, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the National Federation of Independent Business held a "Jobs for America" summit. While President Obama met with CEOs at the White House, the summiteers called for—wait for it!—cutting taxes for companies, extending tax cuts for the wealthy, and opening up federal areas for resource exploration.

The notion of these guys holding a jobs summit is a little like BP holding a deepwater-drilling safety summit. Between 2001 and 2009, corporate America designed the playing field to its specifications—easy money from the Federal Reserve; lower taxes on capital gains, dividends, and income; an administration that let industry essentially write its own regulations. But the players proceeded to put up goose eggs. In January 2001, there were 111.6 million private-sector payroll jobs in the United States. In January 2009, when Bush left office, there were 110.9 million. The stock market is basically where it was a decade ago. The lost decade ended with the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
I marked in bold the place where everyone is supposed to chuckle. Yep, the chutzpah of these golden boys complaining that they aren't getting the "love" they need from Obama. It is like your local mugger complaining that you aren't coming around his corner as frequently as you did in the past, so his children are going hungry! The audacity!

The Rich in the US have had a pretty good run since 1980 when Reagan came in and destroyed the unions and put the working and middle class on notice that the government would tilt the playing field to favour the rich. This was the wonderful new world of "trickle down economics". This was a lot like the "trickle-down table" of the feudal lord. He and his cronies feasted while the kitchen staff stole enough to live on, but the poor serfs who produced the goods only got to watch from the palace gate. They starved in an economic system in which the lash was used to move goods up to the lord and only crumbs fell off the table to feed the workers in the fields.

Go read the full Daniel Gross article to appreciate the irony of the concluding statement:
The leaders of our largest corporations receive extraordinary assistance from the government and continually clamor for more. They gripe about regulations and rules yet constantly fight to tailor those rules and regulations to benefit their particular businesses. And they're the ones who are angry?
In short, there is a class war that is on-going. The Rich have prevailed for 30 years by promising that giving them political power would lead society to the "promised land", the land of milk and honey. It hasn't. It has led to a volatile economy, the gutting of middle class and working class jobs, the destruction of a generation through the Great Recession, and a stock market that has been stagnant for over a decade.

The election of Obama was premised on "change you can believe in", i.e. a turning of the tables on the Rich. A re-establishment of social norms pre-Reagan era. But Obama has done a bait-and-switch. Instead of delivering social justice, he has tried to act as an arbiter between the progressives and the Republican antediluvians. Instead of throwing his shoulder to the wheel to reverse the devestation that the Wall Street housing CDO scam has created, he has worked on the edges at alleviating some problems (healthcare) while ignoring the sink-or-swim, in over their heads distress for most people. He fought for a milquetoast stimulus bill that was large enough to stop the economic free fall, but not large enough to kick start a recovery.

The joke is that the hundreds of billions that US taxpayers poured into the coffers of big business was quickly turned around and used to bribe Congress to demand a new set of sweetheart deals for business. The Rich are out in full cry demanding more tax cuts, more deregulation, more of the Bush policies that created the mess for the middle and working classes. And the supreme irony is that this full frontal assault is working because the media trumpets the false claims and sells the idea to a stupified public. Sad!

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