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I do not typically find modern liberals particularly useful or engaging but I have to admit, Professor Paul Krugman may be an exception. His social and political analysis is always lucid (rare among academics) and his credentials - a feature oh so important to the establishment - are beyond reproach. So having Nobel-Laurette Princeton Economics Professor Paul Krugman PhD make similar critiques, or really just reveal the same set of facts, as the 99% Movement and Occupy Wall Street is both poignant and empowering. You don't even have to be a Keynesian to enjoy it (though I imagine it helps).


From Plutocracy, Paralysis, Perplexity:

Did the rise of the 1 percent (or, better yet, the 0.01 percent) cause the Lesser Depression we’re now living through? It probably contributed. But the more important point is that inequality is a major reason the economy is still so depressed and unemployment so high. For we have responded to crisis with a mix of paralysis and confusion — both of which have a lot to do with the distorting effects of great wealth on our society...

Today, Washington is marked by a combination of bitter partisanship and intellectual confusion — and both are, I would argue, largely the result of extreme income inequality...

Specifically, money buys power, and the increasing wealth of a tiny minority has effectively bought the allegiance of one of our two major political parties, in the process destroying any prospect for cooperation...

No, the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority. And the key to economic recovery lies in finding a way to get past that minority’s malign influence.

Of course, there is one obvious critique to Krugman's essay, not of the analysis but of an omission. While it is rather clear the heart and soul of the Republican Party are moneyed interests who use the organization to promote plutocratic interests, finding coalitions with any group that will drive turnout and not challenge Neo-feudalism (Gods, Guns, Gay-haters) - there is something Krugman is omitting.

The Democratic Party has been captured as well. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the decline of unions. Politics is an ugly game, so say what you will about the pathologies of Big Labor but they weren't afraid to take on Big Business and had the strength, tenacity, and viciousness necessary to do it and win. To be fair, unions helped destroy themselves with AFL-CIO President George Meaney and Teamster President Frank Fitzsimmons endorsing Nixon in 1972. How sorry can you feel for people who slit their own throat?

In the Teamsters instance the endorsement was part of a corrupt deal hatched by Nixon apparatchik Charles Colson and Fitzsimmons, namely that in exchange for Jimmy Hoffa getting out of prison the Teamsters would endorse Nixon. Oh, and Hoffa would be banned from labor activity until 1980. That last amendment was apparently requested by Fitzsimmons, securing his presidency of the Teamsters Union. When Hoffa found out he threatened to retaliate by exposing Fitzsimmons and others' illegal activities and then Hoffa... disappeared. In the AFL-CIO instance President Meany stated he believed the Democratic candidate George McGovern was "an apologist for the Communist world." The wrecking of the New Deal Coalition and a more malignant Chamber of Commerce diluted labor even further. Needless to say, Reagan's Neoliberalism found a more receptive environment than it should have in 1980 (Reagan also received Teamster endorsements in both 1980 and 1984).

So with labor on the ropes who would pick up the slack and fight for the working class and poor within the Democratic Party? Nobody.


The plutocrats got free reign while progressives made progress on other issues like civil rights, women's rights, and gay equality. And the Democratic Party become a second front for corporate interests culminating in the creation of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) which promotes Big Business within the party itself. They even helped promote a corporatist party leader, President Clinton; who deregulated Wall Street, shredded welfare benefits, and helped jam through NAFTA and other trade agreements aiding Corporate America in its endless quest to ship jobs abroad and dodge taxes for greater profits. Big Business would have two political parties, one pro-life, one pro-choice.

This system, with all the electoral kabuki theater of two candidates pretending to actually disagree with each other vis a vis plutocracy (I'm a pragmatic liberal! I'm a compassionate conservative!), would have continued except allowing the 1% to do whatever they want with no check on their power and influence lead to the outcome it always does - a crash.

And not surprisingly the minute rich people got into trouble both parties scrambled to find ways to help them. By the end, the establishment ran out of ideas and simply handed Wall Street everything they wanted - endless loans from the Fed and hundreds of billions in bailout money to make private debts become public debts. Because both parties were constructed or should I say reconstructed to serve the interests of the 1%.

But here is the problem, most people in America (and the world if anyone cares) are not in the 1%. In fact, they will never be in the 1%. So they are getting royally screwed under this system, as Krugman notes rather clearly. The 99% have no reason to believe in this system and they don't. Confidence in institutions and belief in a better future has been shattered. The noose of debt slavery and poverty is tightening around the middle class, what's left of it.

Are we on the verge of a revolution? Probably not. At least not yet. Right now people are just fed up but it seems most are still hoping for some kind of miracle that will shift the country in the direction, as many were in 2008. They aren't going to get one. So what happens the next time Wall Street shits the bed?

Nothing good and nothing peaceful. Then you might see that revolution.

That's why this is the time for the Democratic Party to reform itself, cast out the 1% apologists, and provide voters a real alternative to 1% based politics. That's not Obama, not even close. So vote him back in, but realize that's not going to solve the problem. Because Presidents like Clinton and Obama come from a party that, since the wrecking of unions, is not dedicated to advancing the interests of the 99%. It is at best, plutocrat light. As Krugman notes the plutocracy has lead to paralysis - and paralysis in the face of a crisis is disastrous.

Reform now, before it is too late.

Originally posted to DSWright on Fri May 04, 2012 at 01:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, Income Inequality Kos, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

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Comment Preferences

  •  they do seem somehow to act (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RockyMtnLib, DSWright, little lion

    upon the political/economic system in a way that is akin to what a black hole does to space time. Or  what a voracious cow with diarrhea does to a fresh bale of hay.

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

    by HugoDog on Fri May 04, 2012 at 01:30:02 PM PDT

  •  Good If Only for Showing Only 20% is Middle Class (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, little lion, lostinamerica

    The Democratic Party has been a 2nd conservative party since shortly after LBJ, although it includes progressives. A few today, more back then.

    With that in mind it's crazy to make demands such as that the Democratic Party "reform itself."

    What we have to do is grow the progressive and liberal movement and begin feeding better candidates and issues into it. If you don't like liberals I don't know who's available other than other flavors of conservatives.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri May 04, 2012 at 01:35:56 PM PDT

  •  Coud be that reform alone won't work. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSWright, cotterperson

    The whole means and methods by which we live are unsustainable.  This revelation may, in fact, be the driver of the unprecedented greed and wealth disparity we are seeing.

    "A Republic, if you can keep it."

    by Publius2008 on Fri May 04, 2012 at 02:18:44 PM PDT

    •  Could be. But it's worth another shot. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      To paraphrase Bismarck - I prefer better laws, revolutions have uncertain outcomes.

      •  They got rid of Bismarck... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...and had their war.

        Resistance Is Fertile - Occupy

        by Sean X on Fri May 04, 2012 at 07:12:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And how right Old Otto was... (0+ / 0-)

          about the horrors of unintended consequences.

          •  I think Publius has a point however. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joe wobblie, DSWright

            When you look at how much is broken: no justice, never ending wars, attacks on reproductive rights, never ending partisan attacks with very little fact but a lot of fury coming from the right responded by the left with muted tissue paper strength, and no financial regulations where everybody is at the mercy of the big fat cats and we are all mice, then I think there is no patch in the world that will reform this mess.

            True, if we taxed the robber barons to the extent of 90 percent on all their holdings over 10 million, then we might go a long way to righting the fiscal house, but that wont stop the MIC, the big pharma, big insurance, big banks from eating us. AND it will not give us justice. Torture, wiretapping, the total information of all of our emails, texts, phone calls saved for 5 years or more, criminal fraud in mortgages still go on. No bandaid will reform this wound to our national psyche.

            So reform isn't the answer imo. I think we need to rebuild from the ground up. And people are not there as yet, even as they are not out in the streets as yet. And we may never get to that point. But we damn sure oughta be thinking about it. We tend to create what we focus on, and right now we are focusing on the problems. We need to have the future that we want firmly in our minds and broadcast that daily hourly until others want it as well and are also focusing on it.

            Congress is at 9% approval rating - within the +/- of making herpes more popular than congress! - Webranding

            by glitterscale on Sat May 05, 2012 at 12:29:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Reform vs. Revolution... (0+ / 0-)

              Is always a difficult choice. I'm merely pointing out that the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly worthless and untrusted (and why).

              So if the party doesn't reform itself it will likely be wiped away because the public at large don't trust it or believe in it and will be desperate to change the system. Also revolutions often lead to revolutionary violence and that's what the people will have as an only recourse should Wall Street crash again if things remain as they are because the party won't be seen as a real alternative to Republicans - which presently it is not vis a vis Wall Street and Corporate America.

              If the Democratic Party reforms itself and offers voters a real choice then people will have an alternative (one most people will find preferable to the volatility and instability revolutions bring). Otherwise people will have no choice but to openly revolt and in an economic crisis - unlike say a social or political one - everyone becomes involved quickly because everyone is affected and has something at stake.

              Obama is not at all like FDR, but America does need something like a New Deal or all bets are off. Another crash at this point will wipe out what's left of the middle and working classes - they will have nothing. And when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

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