|A dogma can be a very powerful thing. When dogma is sufficiently powerful, the people in its grip can lose sight of who they are, where they have come from, and how they got from the place where they started to the place they now occupy. Americans during the past few decades have been in the grip of an especially strong dogma, the dogma of Market Fundamentalism.
Falling in with the preachers and zealots of this charismatic sect, they have convinced themselves that their once lofty economic place in the world was primarily due to an American preference for minuscule government coupled with the visionary leadership of free-wheeling entrepreneurial heroes, latter-day secular saints who were able to set the economic agenda and pursue it unencumbered by regulatory ties. For some Americans, this mythic free enterprise utopia, bestridden by business titans, represents the very essence of American freedom. And so the free market faithful have pursued a neoliberal political agenda in order to see to it that the tablets of this magnificent ancestral wisdom are carried down unbroken into the present all-too-errant age.
But the creed is bunk. It is a fictive concoction filled with tales of an imagined past that never existed. And yet, the more enthusiastically the apostles of Market Fundamentalism have attempted to put the spurious creed into practice, the further they have taken us away from historical truth and the real-world sources of our actual prosperity. We need to drop the totemic legends and look that real history squarely in the face, so we can remember who we really are.
Here is a graph of annual real gross domestic product for the United States during the period starting in 1929 and ending in 1959:
The most noteworthy portion of the graph is the highlighted period running from 1939 to 1944, and closely lining up with the years of the Second World War. We see that during that short time period, the US economy roughlydoubled in size. The economic performance of Americans during those years was truly extraordinary. Emerging from a decade during which the country experienced a severe depression that slashed the size of the economy by one quarter, followed by a period of recovery that accomplished no more than returning the economy to its previous size before stalling out once again, Americans worked together during the war years to engineer a vast industrial machine and make a staggering economic surge forward.
Following the war, we then see a sharp one-year drop as the country partially demobilized, followed by a three-year period of stagnation. But then followed a decade of steady economic progress during which time the economy grew by another 50%. And although it is not shown on this graph, the 60s were a similarly strong period as the US economy increased in size by about another 1/3rd from 1959 to 1969. So altogether, the US economy roughly quadrupled in size during the 30-year period lasting from Great Britain’s entry into WWII until Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. This period in US history constitutes a modern economic miracle.
What drove that growth? Solidarity and organized national purpose. Americans worked together as a team during the war, and that solidarity contined into the postwar decades, behind an engaged and economically pro-active government. […]
the kinds of progress we need are so far-reaching that we cannot expect them to emerge haphazardly from the scatter-shot entrepreneurial hubbub. We are going to need new infrastructures for social living and transportation; new education systems; new forms of energy technology, health technology, financial technology and information technology; and all must be executed and organized thoughtfully and in optimally efficient and rational ways.
This is going to take an enormous amount of work and intelligent strategic planning, as well as a lot of discussion, debate and experimentation. It is thus also going to require innovative new forms of democratic participation, deliberation and consensus building. And it is vital that as new infrastructure is created, the public retains ownership of the key systemic elements of that infrastructure instead of letting them fall into the hands of monopolists and oligopolists. Dismantling the plutocracy is itself part of the generational challenge.
Young people living today—the people with the most energy, tenacity, creativity and optimism—are desperately ready to engage in this project, and need to be liberated from the gloomy, dystopian pessimism and unimaginative indolence of our current crop of leaders and elders. But instead they are being crushed under unemployment and debt, and held prisoner by a generation that seems to have talked itself into a cowardly worldview of pre-fated decline and failure.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006—The "Intervention" That Never Was:
|The entire theme of the past week or so that the White House has been "rethinking" its failed Iraq stategy is pure fiction.
Time and time again, this White House has demonstrated that it seeks not change, but merely the illusion of change. We saw this White House tactic in full force earlier this year with the so-called "staff shake-up". The media touted the appointment of Josh Bolten as chief of staff as a signal that the White House was ready for "fresh ideas and energy." Months later, the same stale and stubborn White House remains.
Indeed, "stubborn" describes the President's attitude towards this "Iraq policy review" perfectly.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin on the much-Tweeted poll saying GOP House control's a bad thing. Plus, a reminder on ACA website problems. Blind squirrel alert: "Tea Party needs to recognize that it's playing with live ammo." Random notes: Max Blumenthal's Tweet on observations about early-career Obama, and; the Star-Ledger's incoherent Chris Christie endorsement, alongside question about his politicization of the judicial system. Finally, the budget conference included in the shutdown deal. How does voting in conference work? And why have a conference at all? Is there a Grand Bargain threat?