Big ideas

Jared Bernstein points out something interesting about economic theories:

Deregulated markets, “rational market” theories, eroded labor standards, the retreat of unions, regressive taxation, financial engineering, global arbitrage, low rates of job growth, growth that eluded the middle-class and the poor… all have contributed to almost unprecedented levels of wealth concentration.

Such dynamics are self-reinforcing. The narrow slice of winners, enriched beyond imagination by these forces, use their wealth to insulate themselves from new ideas that threaten their position by purchasing not just political power but even “ideas,” through bogus think tanks and media operations.

They and their representatives ensured that when history provided a unique, crystallized moment of clarity as to their fundamentally corrupt paradigm, too few would see it clearly and when those who did sounded the alarm, no one would listen.

And now we’re arguing about debt ceilings, budget cuts, and super-committees, not to mention whether evolution and climate change are real or conspiratorial notions of the left.

I know this is a dark vision of reality but before you get too deeply bummed out by it, let me say that I’m by no means alone in this analysis of the problem, and I’ve begun to see some hints that more and more of us are getting the picture. And that has the potential to create a welcoming climate for new ideas that challenge this paradigm, ideas that have been sorely missing for too long.

4 thoughts on “Big ideas

  1. One big thinker said this in 1848, “It (capitalism) has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.” Anyone know the name of that prophet?

  2. Bernstein makes a great point — that our missed “moment of clarity” perhaps had more to do with the fact that our politicians, think tanks and media are controlled by the wealthy than it does with regular people being numbed by an overload of useless information. But I think he underestimates the extent to which people enjoy feeling comfortably numb. Some may finally be “getting the picture” but it will take an extremely rude shock to the system before the country wakes up to good ideas.

  3. It’s too late now – we missed any opportunity to get the financial system straightened out when Obama went to the Dark Side on us and continued Bush’s policies regarding financial regulation, the wars we can’t afford (as well as most of the military budget at the expense of us all), and especially climate change legislation. His failure is going to cause humanity to suffer greatly in the coming years. He’s not the only one to blame, of course, since it’s been going on for decades, but his administration was the final chance to “get it right” before really damaging repercussions ensue. Now we have the fact that most of the countries of the world are insolvent, our climate on the planet is out of control (and it’s going to get much worse), and life as we’ve known it is pretty much over. Collapse can lead to extinction.

  4. Tom –
    Bernstein was part of the admnistration when that was going down. On the VP’s staff, but there, nonetheless.

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