Michael Lind’s “Can liberalism save capitalism from conservatism?” is a must read. It’s so spot on it made me want to give Lind a standing ovation as I read it.
And it also sorta kinda goes with the last post, which points out that guys like Rand Paul, who thump their chests and declare they are going to take an axe to the federal budget, often have no clue what government does. In addition, in Paul’s case, he has no personal experience working within a large organization to provide a product or service, yet he deems himself qualified to go to Washington and decide which civil service jobs are necessary and which are not.
Lind’s point is that movement conservatives and libertarians fancy themselves to be friends of business and tough-minded economists just because they are conservatives and libertarians. It’s like the rightie bloggers who believe they must have an inherent understanding of war and the military just because they are conservative and not liberals, who of course are born with their “understanding war” gene missing.
But in fact, right-wing ideas about business and the economy combine anachronistic models from the 19th century with crackpot ideology. They have no clue, in other words, what the economy and business really need to grow and thrive in the 21st century.
But our national mythology informs everyone that conservatives are pro-business and liberals are anti-business, and this myth runs so deeply that business owners reflexively believe conservatives are their friends even when conservative policies are choking their businesses to death. “It is as though a shopkeeper shaken down by a gangster were persuaded by the gangster’s argument: ‘We private sector businessmen must stick together against those meddling cops,'” Lind writes.
And Lind brings out one of my own long-time arguments, which is that the corporatists’ favored policies of driving down wages to save cost also drives down demand for their products because the wage-starved consumer cannot afford them.
Every business may want to pay workers the lowest possible wages. But workers are also consumers. What is more, the non-rich spend more of their income than the rich (in Keynesian terms, they have a higher â€œpropensity to consume.â€) This means that driving down the wages of workers, however it may benefit particular employers in particular industries in the short term, ultimately starves the economy of demand in the long run.
The economies most likely to sustain themselves and survive as democracies into the 22nd century are those with strong unions and a commitment to providing a strong safety net, including national taxpayer-funded health care, unemployment benefits, education benefits that are not loans, etc. In other words, the United States is unlikely to make that cut.
The road the U.S. is on now will either lead to utter chaos or a fascist-style takeover by corporatists and the mega-wealthy. And, ironically, this is being made possible by people marching around pretending to be liberty-loving patriots who want to save the constitution.