Posts tagged ‘inequality’

December 23, 2010

A Moderate Proposal: Too Small to Succeed

by nkwilczy

First things first, if you’re reading this Jack Black, then you should know that we are all disappointed in you and the times require a much more… accurate… portrayal of the biting wit of Swift’s poetic philosophy than your cartoonish 3 dimensional parody could possibly offer.

“It [capitalism] has drowned the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconciousable freedom – free trade. In one word, for exploitation veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”
-generally attributed to an obscure and thoroughly discredited German Economist

There has been, since the Obama election in America, a triumph of moderation. People will dismiss this, and judging from the hype their dismissal isn’t totally unfounded. At the time of the election I thought I was voting for an African Muslim Socialist and at the time was excited about the possibility that he could win. But after evaluating the policies that have been adopted by this administration I have little recourse but to dub them moderate. They have neither closed Guantanamo or ended the war in Afghanistan, they offered healthcare reform that fit entirely within existing free market constructs and which caters to influential lobbies in that industry, and an attempt at net neutrality that leaves corporations with control of bandwidth access. These things are either the erratic policies of a disjointed administration that lacks integrity, or, and this is more frightening, the signs of a moderate.

In the spirit of this bipartisanship, from the Bush Tax cuts to the spending freeze, that I propose a truly moderate, free market policy that politicians of any stripe can get behind, or at least slander on cable. Considering the state of the American economy, with banks already flush with liquidity without reliable investment opportunities, privatizing social security is not the attractive option that it may have seemed only a few years ago, in fact since the modern federal structure is more or less dependent on the payroll taxes that it would eliminate, this would not represent the sort of spending cut to fix the deficit. We instead have to address the root source of the problem.

You see, by eliminating Social Security we are taking benefits from those most used to receiving them. The generation that currently receives those payments has always had government support throughout their lives, and is accustomed to it. To solve the long-term problem we must prepare a new generation for a world where the Federal government is not looking out for them, and the only way to do that is to eliminate the department of education.

Things have gotten so bad in our freeloading society that these children eat lunch, on a daily basis, on the taxpayer’s dime, and we pay huge sums of money in an attempt to convince them that they will be able to obtain jobs once they receive their certifications. If we eliminated this entire tedious process then the people who grow up in the new, more market oriented model, will most likely not even seek gainful employ in a manner that would register with existing unemployment statistics, thus reducing those numbers.

Let’s face it, these people will not be able to afford a government of any sort by the time they reach maturity, taxes will be cut, our credit rating will decline. The only option is for this coming generation to learn fast and hard that there are no easy breaks in this life, and that nobody intends to protect them. With all of the sincerity to be found in this post I ask each of my readers to find a child, any child, and to firmly inform them that the free ride is over. By the time they grow up, it will be. It is the responsibility of the children to prepare themselves for this brave new world that many of us may not join them in. Through the power of innovation and the hand of the free market I trust that some will utilize their free time to learn important trapping and literacy skills, those who do not spend this new free time educating and preparing themselves for a harsh post-apocalyptic hell scape were simply too small to succeed anyway and would only, under the present system, have contributed to unemployment numbers and upsetting reports about the state of consumer spending.

By eliminating education we can cut the deficit, and also better prepare our children for a future without government handouts, but the advantages don’t stop there. In the present system we seek to retain our best talent by offering them advantages, but what does that mean when any child without political connections or start up capital can get the same education that the children of high GDP and political campaign contributors can. You can argue that the present system already accounts for this, with private schools receiving better funding and poaching the best teachers and with school systems in districts that have generated less GDP they receive the disadvantage of poorly administered and funded systems, and that this in itself serves to reward the best talent. Of course the obvious flaw to this argument is simple, if the education being given at those schools is so much less adequate than the well funded alternative then why pay for them at all? By eliminating even the possibility of opportunity to economically stagnant school districts where it is underutilized we will only increase the relative value of the reward that our top GDP producers receive!

And past that, when these children grow up, they will not expect Medicare or Social Security, the political will to preserve them will disappear in the face of a sea of unemployed uneducated poverty statistics that will resolve all taxation into direct class warfare. Despite all appearances this is surely an idea that everyone can get behind Republicans can get behind this plan for the deficit and government size reduction, and Democrats are known to rally enthusiastically to participate in capitulations. Oh Beautiful, for spacious skies without even a drop of pity in them. In the Land of the Free you’ve got to teach them young, no handouts.

November 29, 2010

Economic Dialectic and You

by nkwilczy

If there’s one thing I’ve found out in my years on this earth it is that people, and specifically Americans, do not much care for economic dialectic. Well, tough shit, this world is very economic and if I learned anything from the financial crisis it was that those who do not understand economics are getting boned. The easiest way for me to conceptualize and try to explain economics is in the dialectical format. When I was originally interested in this dialectic, in high school, to understand it I read three types of books, Ayn Rand’s pro-capitalist propaganda that was kind of light on economic substance, books like the Gulag Archipelago that were also light on economic substance, and also Marx’s manifesto, which is primarily a introduction to economics with the intent of enraging the audience. So I understand the economic angle as a Marxist dialectic rather than in the manner of Friedman, Von hayek, or Keynes.   This is how I understand it:

To some extent, the problem with communism as it has been practiced on Earth is that the theoretical communist tradition that most are based on, Marx’s work, is not a nationalistic philosophy. It is not intended to be a workable system except as a total world system, what I mean to say is that there is no such practical thing as military communism, the external threats pose too much of a distraction from the work of the proletariat for nationally based communist organizations to succeed. Mao and Stalin both retrofit much of the ideology regarding economics into a nationalistic philosophy that did not seize existing means of productions so much as create and administer new ones. In this way the similarities between communism and capitalism are even more pronounced, if you compare Wealth of Nations and the Communist Manifesto you can see that they posses much of the same message, the nature of the world is economic and the way to gain power and succeed at one’s goals is to dominate the means of production. The primary difference between these two books is the target audience. What this means for Marx’s predictions is that his philosophy has not become so much the post capitalist model as an alternative model to capitalism for establishing industrial development within a country. This industrial development is fundamentally unequal, regardless of the ideological structure that contributes to it’s growth there will be low skill labor contributing to production with the use of various means of production that are managed externally, even if that external management is a ward of the proletariat. Like any manager for stockholders the communist officials have to seek the maximum return on investment, even if it means devaluing the contributions of individual “stockholder/citizens.” This runs counter to our instincts about the nature of communism, but so far as communism ever worked to preserve economic equality it always served to limit civic equality between party members and non members, rural and urban citizens. To some extent in China the system has undergone a transition, with the state extending some civil liberties, such as internal migration rights, in exchange for avoiding some of their formal obligations that previously supported property equality.

It might seem silly, internal migration rights are something that we take for granted in America, but it points to a strength in the communist model. If communism is not so much an inevitable result of capitalism but an alternative method to achieve industrial society and an internal national economy then they both have at their heart the same goal and the same destination, of creating a nation with a robust economy where the population’s demand for food and shelter are met and productive sustaining effort is invested into the means of generating wealth and exchange value. Since this sort of a system is the product of effective synergy between the organization of the state and private actors I consider it best to visualize their final shared goal as lukewarm water, some would probably say tepid but I am an optimist and would prefer to put positive spin on these ideal operational economies. Such things will consist of government regulations to protect consumers, government support for the most integral supporting industries, such as commercial, and I emphasize commercial, banking. But this working economy will also require a large number of private actors to contribute their own effort willingly, and this motivation can most effectively be secured by monetizing self improvement. This lukewarm system will incorporate both philosophies about the means of production into a productive internal synergy for a state, much as it did in the United States throughout the Twentieth Century with large subsidies for the agriculture sector and federal deposit insurance, Interstate Highway programs, Social Security, the FDA, all working hand in hand with private distributors of goods and services who operate without direction from Washington in the name of profit motive, with labor that has a stake in the means of production. Both systems have different capacities to regress and become less stable, with communism because the wards of the proletariat are always so few there are clear and obvious problems of top down corruption, and personal goals preventing positive progress for the citizens. Within capitalism there is the urge to decentralize everything and to avoid central administration in any case, even in those cases where it has previously proven effective at solving obvious problems.

My point about the strength of the communist path in seeking the eventual shared lukewarm goal is that communism, it seems to me, takes the approach of heating the water as much as possible first and then letting it gradually cool to lukewarm, where capitalist democracies work to increase the heat from cold water in order to reach that goal. The difference is that within capitalist democracies every regulation, tax, provision and program, things that might very well be necessary for the economic growth of the country requires a great deal of expended effort in order to enact, popular support has to be found, you have to convince the media, you have to sell it to party whips and combat the influence of moneyed interests. On the other hand it is significantly easier to liberalize a highly controlled society. China, for instance, has to only make minor strides to decriminalize internal migration, and because of the context, the strictly regulated society, they are able to cash in on this liberalization because their citizens will happily forfeit their rations and subsidies and work as migrant labor to increase the Gross Domestic Product. In fact because of the currency manipulation they have little choice but to do so and as of the nineties there were estimates that the migrant labor force was totaling over a hundred million, although no official count exists.

Most proponents of globalization would defend it based on it’s stated goals. Much like the communist and capitalist economic models that preceded the globally integrated model, the stated goal of lowering inequality is a noble one, and to the proponents of globalization those intentions are more than good enough to pave with. But when evaluated in a historical context the question should no longer be one of “why are these systems not creating equality,” because none of these systems exist to create economic or political equality, they have all stubbornly refused to do so every chance they got. The goal of capitalism, communism and globalization is instead something much simpler, these systems exist to create and perpetuate industrial production and to unevenly distribute economic growth, to whom and how are usually the particulars most specific to the system. The people who benefit from the development of globalization as a system to promote global inequality as opposed to those who traditionally benefited from the previous systems, not to discount the presence of former acolytes of both in the globalization camp, are disparate, and those benefits are distributed in ways that are broad and often taken for granted. In fact this is another shared purpose of both systems. Communism engages in their policies, to create and utilize industrial production and agriculture frequently at the expense of individual contributors for the benefit of a broad and disparate base, when capitalist measures are the ones that enact individual cost for broader benefit those intentions are again invoked in order to preserve the moral basis for the system. For that reason I do not believe that capitalism, communism, or globalization are engineered by specific individuals, the so called “haves,” in order to promote the inequality that they benefit from and that each system promotes, I do not believe that it is a scam or scheme or that the wool has really been pulled over everyone’s eyes as it may seem when evaluating the practical implications of my thesis: that globalization exists to perpetuate and promote internal inequality for states. What I believe instead is that these systems of economic management are a product of widespread and multifaceted gradual social development on the part of the entire sum of the human race. These unequal societies have been the basis for successful human societies to date. Jesus said that we would always have the poor, and in the context of both capitalist and communist societies you can clearly see that despite the bounty of this world and our obligation to care for our fellow man we have, one human being at a time through the hourglass of history, decided regardless of the ideology we were given that economic strife and scarcity are the most effective motivations to perpetuate a society of any sort. Theoretically it motivates both the have-nots to seek a higher economic status through the various established perceived paths, party loyalty or capital utilization and investment, and it also motivates the haves to continue behaving in a successful and innovative manner in order to avoid losing that status. These things were less obvious under previous systems, it was easy to blame either industrialists or party officials who benefited most obviously from the systems but with the advent of global integration and the demand side, reduced cost focus of successful retailers such as Wal Mart it is clear that the people who benefit most from these systems are so diverse and disparate that it cannot be understood except as a large scale social development for the purposes of providing food and shelter to anybody who can figure out how to play the game right.

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