Monday, August 29, 2011

Money Fall Upwards

Dean Baker has a new book The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. It is available from his web site at the Center for Economic and Policy Research:
Money does not fall up. Yet the United States has experienced a massive upward redistribution of income over the last three decades, leaving the bulk of the workforce with little to show from the economic growth since 1980. This upward redistribution was not the result of the natural workings of the market. Rather, it was the result of deliberate policy, most of which had the support of the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Unfortunately, the public and even experienced progressive political figures are not well informed about the key policies responsible for this upward redistribution, even though they are not exactly secrets.
The book will give you insights, it will make you more intelligent, it will make your teeth shine bright white, it will make you more handsome/pretty, it will add 4 inches to your height. You really should read this book.

Here is his indictment of the current political "debate" about the economy:
For the most part, progressives accept the right‟s framing of economic debates. They accept the notions that the right is devoted to the unfettered workings of the market and, by contrast, that liberals and progressives are the ones who want the government to intervene to protect the interests of the poor and disadvantaged.

But this view is utterly wrong as a description of the economy and competing policy approaches. And it makes for horrible politics. It creates a scenario in which progressives are portrayed as wanting to tax the winners in society in order to reward the losers. The right gets to be portrayed as the champions of hard work and innovation, while progressives are seen as the champions of the slothful and incompetent. It should not be surprising who has been winning this game.
In reality, the vast majority of the right does not give a damn about free markets; it just wants to redistribute income upward. Progressives have been useful to the right in helping it to conceal this agenda. Progressives help to ratify the actions of conservatives by accusing them of allegiance to a free-market ideology instead of attacking them for pushing the agenda of the rich.

For the last three decades the right has been busily restructuring the economy in ways that ensure that income flows upward. The rules governing markets, written by the rich and powerful, ensure that this gravity-defying outcome prevails. The right then presents the imposition of rules that it likes as the natural result of unfettered market forces.
Dean Baker is calling for the gloves to come off and for progressives to bring the debate down to the real issue: class warfare. Enough "trickle down" economics. There needs to be an economy where those who do the real work get paid real wages and get to share properly in the fruits of production and especially in increases in productivity.

Rather than speculate or philosophize about economics, Dean Baker quickly gets down to specific examples:
While the bank bailouts were big news, there is no shortage of less-visible instances in which conservatives have long been eager for the government step in to support the interests of the wealthy. We'll quickly discuss seven examples here: continued support for too-big-to-fail banks, patent and copyright protection, restrictions on organized labor, corporate liability limitations, Federal Reserve monetary controls, trade and dollar policy, and housing policy.
Let me repeat:
You really should read this book.

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