We are on the threshold of a drastic change in the structure of American democracy — a tipping point in economics and politics. If we reject the demands of the corporate elite, they fail, we suffer for a time, then recover and democracy may survive. If, as now appears to be happening, the corporate elite are rewarded for their attacks upon the well-being of the People, then the current decline, the "L" as some are terming it, will likely be permanent. We will see a future where much higher unemployment is permanent (masked as it has been by a careful management of the figures), the majority of those employed will see a lower but still acceptable standard of living (contentment), and real control will far more clearly reside in the hands of the American oligarchs.GM and Chrysler are back with their hands out for more of Our money. As I write this, before markets open on Monday, 23 February, futures are up on the hope that the Obama administration will give more of Our money to Citigroup and Bank of America. Cerberus Capital Management, 80% owner of Chrysler has said that it has no intention of pumping any of its $24 billion into its car maker. No point sending good money after bad, they guess. But We the People, having little or no say in our 'democratically elected' government will stand and watch as Obama, Geithner, Bernanke and company piss more away down the drain of corporate incompetence and corruption.
All of this is, after just six months or so, old hat to the average American. But here's a question: How many among Us believe that the Obama Administration is actually acting on our behalf? How many believe that Obama & Co. actually desire our well-being, that our lot be improved after all the bailouts and stimuli are done?
Here's a hypothetical question. Let us suppose that leading government figures believed that they had a choice between two incompatible outcomes:
(1) A stimulus and bailout package that would aid the average American at the expense of the banks and corporations, andLet us suppose further that the a failure of American economic power would lead to a failure of American dominance around the world, a dominance already shaken by years (more than just the Bush years) of unjustified, violent actions abroad, one-sided approaches to international conflicts, and indifference to global concerns (like environmental ones) in the service of short-term American profit.
(2) An alternative package that would aid the banks and corporations at our expense.
Might the government then choose to mortgage the next three or four generations of Americans' livelihoods in order to preserve the global position of the executives and companies from whose ranks have come very nearly all of Obama's cabinet officers and advisers?
A conspiracy theory, you say? No. Just the logic of interest satisfaction. The trickle-down theory expressly endorsed by Reaganites, Greenspaners, Chicago and Harvard scholars is really just a narrow restatement of the top-down economic logic that has dominated the United States for decades. For the overwhelming majority of us to live well, the highest echelons of decision makers in corporate America must live well first. That is, if We the People are living well, then it must be the case that corporate America is doing well and its decision makers are living likewise.
The opposite need not hold. Corporate executives and even their corporations can do very well without We the People doing well at all. Indeed, as events of the past year have proven, corporate executives can do very well while even their own corporations do poorly. The logic of interest satisfaction is a one-way street.
The hullabaloo about 'globalization' was certainly not about the benefits to All of Us. It was rather about the wonders of IBM or Microsoft or Pfizer or whomever doing very well by outsourcing labor to other countries. Taken to its extreme, it would be entirely possible for a corporation owned and headquartered in the US to outsource most or even all of its 'work' overseas. The corporation would do perfectly well without employing any Americans beyond the executives and their support staff.
It is no wonder that the very same advocates of 'globalization' of capital have for the most part opposed globalization of or free trade in labor. While Citigroup may outsource its customer support to India, We the People are largely barred from going here or there to find work. Why? If We the People started leaving en masse (as Europeans did from 150 to 80 years ago so so) the US might suffer a real drain, and we are still (for the time being) needed as a sink — as the consumption engin, buying up goods manufactured by so much outsourced labor. (And, by the way, labor has been outsourced since long before the removal of programming or customer service to India or Russia or where ever. Sweat shops in China or elsewhere are the outsourcing of blue collar labor, an outsourcing ignored because it was far removed from the eyes of American journalists and powerbrokers.)
We the People are dependent on the corporate structure for our commonweal. But there is no parallel dependency of the corporate hierarchy on us. So, in the near term, we can be dispensed with. If We the People see fifteen or twenty percent unemployment, so what? (And real unemployment, as measured before all Reagan and post-Reagan fudging kicked in, is already up around 18%.) The Dow is performing just fine, American Idol is still up in the ratings, and the remaining 80% of the population is buying enough to sustain executive bonuses.
Bread and circuses. Keep a threshold percentage of the population contented, or diverted, and the rest can go to hell. Moreover, if the carrot of contentment is insufficient, the suffering of that 20% will make up the difference as a stick.
We are on the threshold of a drastic change in the structure of American democracy — a tipping point in economics and politics. If we reject the demands of the corporate elite, they fail, we suffer for a time, then recover and democracy may survive. If, as now appears to be happening, the corporate elite are rewarded for their attacks upon the well-being of the People, then the current decline, the "L" as some are terming it, will likely be permanent. We will see a future where much higher unemployment is permanent (masked as it has been by a careful management of the figures), the majority of those employed will see a lower but still acceptable standard of living, and real control will far more clearly reside in the hands of the American oligarchs.