The past few weeks I have noticed a significant shift in sentiment - a number of people, have explicitly written they have lost hope. Like here, here, here, and here. I think the real economy nosedived late last year - after all, there were a number of huge hits. 1) Sequester. 2) Government shutdown. 3) End of long-term unemployment supports. 4) Cut in food stamps. My guess is that the bottom simply fell out for five to ten percent of our fellow citizens. There simply is no way of empathizing with that level of economic despair, unless you've been there yourself. Or understanding the undirected rage it creates.
One of the things that really scares me now is that our economy has collapsed to a point where income inequality skews national economic statistics so badly, that we no longer have any real sense of how bad things are for the bottom half or more of our fellow citizens. This is Citigroups's plutonomy in full, ugly bloom.
If the richest 100 people in America had $500 billion more in income last year, while the remaining 313.9 million lost $300 billion in income, national economic statistics right now would show that the economy "improved" by $200 billion. I think that's the situation we're in now.
What makes the pain and rage even worse is that many supposedly liberal and progressive Democrats are as clueless about this situation, as Republicans are bigoted and vindictive.
Ian Welsh described the problem perfectly yesterday:
Political decisions are important: in 1929 Hoover, the Fed, and later FDR did not bail out the rich. They were allowed to lose their money, and thus much of their power. That was a decision: another decision could have been made, and in 2008 it was made: the rich were bailed out. It was made differently in 2008 because the rich have spent the last 80 odd years obsessing over what went wrong in 1929 that allowed FDR, the New Deal and everything which flowed from it. Ben Bernanke’s entire career was “how do we make sure the rich don’t lose their money so that FDR doesn’t happen.” He was chosen to be the Fed Chairman precisely to ensure that the next Great Crash, which everyone who wasn’t an idiot knew was coming, wouldn’t wipe out the rich.
I talked with Stirling Newberry by phone a few days ago, and he observed that Obama's recent speeches indicate a significant change in the President's thinking. Stirling's observation was in response to my noting I have argued since 2007 that the major problem with Obama is he believes in economic neo-liberalism. Stirling said that Obama now realizes that all the accepted economic experts and their neo-liberalism nostrums are wrong. But Obama does not really know what to fill the vacuum with. There is no vision of alternative economic policies anywhere to be found within the government, or even the hierarchy of the Democratic Party.
It is up to us to put forward a vision. And, identity politics is not the answer. Look, we have $100 trillion of work that needs to be done to transform our $15 trillion national economy into an economy that is clean and sustainable, not based on burning fossil fuels. And there are around $50 trillion in offshore bank accounts belonging to the rich, who can't find anything worth investing in. That's because they want too high a return. They have gotten used to making 10, 20, 30 percent or more each year in their speculative financial casinos: the bond markets, the forex markets, the derivative markets, and the smallest of them, the stock markets. Forex trading alone now amounts to over $5 trillion a day. A day. That's supposed to be supported by a $15 trillion annual GDP. Not. There simply is not that kind of profit to be made rebuilding our industries, transportation networks, and energy grids we need to stop our slide toward environmental suicide.
If the rich won't use their money for what's needed, we have to take it from them, and use it for what needs to be done.
Alternatively, we can create our own money and credit, rather than letting banks and Wall Street create them. Then, money and credit can be used for the common good, instead of private gain. But, one of the key parts of the TPP is designed to stop the creation of public banks. So, the rich want it both ways.
A week ago, JimP left a comment that points to how feckless and inept the leadership of the Democratic Party is at this point. In one of those hand-wringing diaries expressing dismay that the Republican Party actually has hopes of gaining contol of the Senate this November, JimP wrote:
How hard is this: WE WILL CREATE A MAJOR FEDERAL JOBS PROGRAM TO GET AMERICA BACK TO WORK!
Boom! I just won the fucking election. Most of them from State up through Federal.
Instead Dems are telling us someday, someday, when we can compete with slave-, child-, prison-, and $9-a-day-labor in their precious 'global marketplace' then jobs will come back.
The Dems don't want voters. Not if it comes at the price of offending the filthy rich or hurting their interests.
There's our problem.
Let me repeat a line from my first quote of Welsh: "...the rich have spent the last 80 odd years obsessing over what went wrong in 1929 that allowed FDR, the New Deal and everything which flowed from it. " Two weeks ago, Welsh wrote,
What has been chosen, can be changed. If we want an economy which works for everyone, we can have it.Diaries such as the ones I linked to at the beginning, expressing the loss of hope, simply reflect the reality of these casualties. This is class war, plain and simple. The only question remaining for us is whether we can find a way to end it on our terms without violence. A stark choice, but that's the terms we have to be thinking in.
But we have to choose it, and we have to convince or crush those who would chose otherwise. And for those who wince at the word crush, remember, inequality means death and illness for many people. The crushing has already happened, the class war occurred, and the rich won. And the casualties are piling up.