Rich has been providing us with several links over the last few weeks which help us make sense of the causes and subsequent devestation. He has offered the following links (among others):
- George Soros agrees the sky is falling: http://www.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSTRE51K0A920090221?feedType=RSS&feedName=businessNews&rpc=23&sp=true
- The auto bailout/UAW sellout amounts to what looks to be the coming end of auto-worker health benefits http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articleAID=/20090223/AUTO01/902230395
- The large existing organizations that claim to defend working people and students, like the unions, are absolutely unprepared and unfit to meet this crisis. The UAW agreed to the 47,000 layoffs (having already lost a million members) and more concessions still--when concessions never save jobs, other than bosses' jobs. http://www.freep.com/article/20090217/BUSINESS01/90217064/GM+seeks+$30+billion+in+total+aid++plans+to+cut+47+000+jobs+this+year
- White recession, black depression: http://www.counterpunch.org/muhammad02162009.html
- Calvin and Hobbes : http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_djgssszshgM/SYXCzpR0MbI/AAAAAAAAAyY/VYle3udsueo/s1600-h/CalvinHobbs.BMP
- Marx: "The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself": http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch15.htm
I would like to add to this list some of my own reading over the last few months (Rich probably sent some of these, too), which include:
"Financial Implosion and Stagnation" from John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff (this is the final chapter from The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences): http://monthlyreview.org/081201foster-magdoff.php.
In this chapter, Foster and Magdoff lay out a compelling case of how we got to where we are and what we may need to get out of it. Quoting a few passages from the chapter, there argument is: "both the financial explosion in recent decades and the financial implosion now taking place are to be explained mainly in reference to stagnation tendencies within the underlying economy."
Illustrating via some fairly frightening graphs, they claim, "Over the years 1950 to 1970, for each additional dollar made by those in the bottom 90 percent of income earners, those in the top 0.01 percent received an additional $162. In contrast, from 1990 to 2002, for each added dollar made by those in the bottom 90 percent, those in the uppermost 0.01 percent (today around 14,000 households) made an additional $18,000. In the United States the top 1 percent of wealth holders in 2001 together owned more than twice as much as the bottom 80 percent of the population. If this were measured simply in terms of financial wealth, i.e., excluding equity in owner-occupied housing, the top 1 percent owned more than four times the bottom 80 percent. Between 1983 and 2001, the top 1 percent grabbed 28 percent of the rise in national income, 33 percent of the total gain in net worth, and 52 percent of the overall growth in financial worth."
Regarding our economics colleagues, they argue, "Having lost any meaningful roots in society, orthodox neoclassical economics, which presented itself as a single paradigm, became a discipline dominated by largely meaningless abstractions, mechanical models, formal methodologies, and mathematical language, divorced from historical developments. It was anything but a science of the real world; rather its chief importance lay in its role as a self-confirming ideology."
Pointing toward our response, they offer, "There is no doubt that the present growing economic bankruptcy and political outrage have produced a fundamental break in the continuity of the historical process. How should progressive forces approach this crisis? First of all, it is important to discount any attempts to present the serious economic problems that now face us as a kind of “natural disaster.” They have a cause, and it lies in the system itself. And although those at the top of the economy certainly did not welcome the crisis, they nonetheless have been the main beneficiaries of the system, shamelessly enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of the population, and should be held responsible for the main burdens now imposed on society. It is the well-to-do who should foot the bill—not only for reasons of elementary justice, but also because they collectively and their system constitute the reason that things are as bad as they are; and because the best way to help both the economy and those at the bottom is to address the needs of the latter directly. There should be no golden parachutes for the capitalist class paid for at taxpayer expense. But capitalism takes advantage of social inertia, using its power to rob outright when it can’t simply rely on “normal” exploitation. Without a revolt from below the burden will simply be imposed on those at the bottom. All of this requires a mass social and economic upsurge, such as in the latter half of the 1930s, including the revival of unions and mass social movements of all kinds—using the power for change granted to the people in the Constitution; even going so far as to threaten the current duopoly of the two-party system."
And, finally, " Still, there can be no doubt that change should be directed first and foremost to meeting the basic needs of people for food, housing, employment, health, education, a sustainable environment, etc. Will the government assume the responsibility for providing useful work to all those who desire and need it? Will housing be made available (free from crushing mortgages) to everyone, extending as well to the homeless and the poorly housed? Will a single-payer national health system be introduced to cover the needs of the entire population, replacing the worst and most expensive health care system in the advanced capitalist world? Will military spending be cut back drastically, dispensing with global imperial domination? Will the rich be heavily taxed and income and wealth be redistributed? Will the environment, both global and local, be protected? Will the right to organize be made a reality?"
"Stimulus is for Suckers" by James K. Galbraith at http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/12/stimulus-suckers.
In this short essay, Galbraith suggests five ways to fix the economy: (1) fix housing, (2) backstop state and local governments with federal funds, (3) support the incomes of the elderly, (4) cut taxes on working Americans, and (5) change how we produce energy, how we consume it, and how much greenhouse gas we emit.
"Why the US has really gone broke" by Chalmers Johnson at http://mondediplo.com/2008/02/05military, which brings to bear our military spending.
"Capitalist Fools" by Joseph Stiglitz at http://www.truthout.org/121008R
Here, Stiglitz chronicles 5 critical decisions that have led to the current crisis: (1) Firing Paul Volcker as chairman of the Fed in 1987; (2) Deregulation; (3) Bush tax cuts; (4) Faking the numbers; (5) The bailout package of 10/3/2008.
"Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse? Will an Obama Administration Reverse the Tide?" by Michel Chossudovsky at http://www.creative-i.info/?p=2059.
"Financial Meltdown and the Madness of Imperialism" by Raymond Lotta at http://www.revcom.us/a/143online/Excerpts_Meltdown-en.html.
And, "Inside the Meltdown" at www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meltdown/view.
What other good pieces exist out there on the meltdown? (Did This American Life just run another show with the guys that did a pretty good job outlining the bursting housing bubble?) Where has your analysis taken you? What other proposed solutions have you seen? How can we stand in solidarity?
Would love to carry this conversation into the RF Conference in May (Ypsilanti--5/14-5/17: http://www.rougeforumconference.org/)