Myths of Capitalism: A Guide for the 99%

On July 23, 2016, we discontinued our forums. We ask our members to please join us in our new community site, The Hartmann Report. Please note that you will have to register a new account on The Hartmann Report.

20 posts / 0 new

Myths of Capitalism: A Guide for the 99% by Andrew Torre

http://mythsofcapitalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/MOCIntro_4.3.14.pdf

more at www.freembtranslations.net, www.nextnewdeal.net, www.foreffectivegov.org, www.progressive-economics.ca, www.alternativetrademandate.org, www.citizen.org, www.therealnews.com, www.themetimeradio.com and www.worklessparty.org

demandside's picture
demandside
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

Unfortunately, the long-perpetuated myths are accepted as truths regardless of how they manifest themselves in the real world.

"Ideological thinking can learn nothing new even if it is something tht has just come to pass" - Arendt.

One after another, financial capitalism is sucking nation's dry. Unemployment rates of 25%+ in some European nation's correspond pretty well with the real unemployment rate of the U.S....about 20%.

The U.S. finally made it to the World Bank's list of nations with extreme poverty. 4% of all U.S. households now live on $2 a day or less per person....$60 a month.

No doubt, it's just another natural business cycle. Prosperity is just around the corner if we just get out of the way and let financiers continue doing what they do best....pillage national treasuries, grab up infrastructure for pennies on the dollar and dismantle the economic base of one nation after another. One man's profitable factory is a financier's profitable scrap. Ask Mitt Romney.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Poly, I would rather celebrate the wheels falling off the wagons we never thought could handle the road of reality than play my prophet card, but I do appreciate the jaundice.

drc2
Joined:
Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

Excellent article, DS! Loved it.

By the way Poly, I too have heard that report about some Americans living on $2 or less per day... In this banana republic shithole, and in today's economy, those folks must reside under bridges and freeway overpasses. - AIW

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland
Joined:
Mar. 10, 2011 10:42 am

nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/may/08/thomas-piketty-new-gilded-age/

is kind of relevant.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century is, as I hope I’ve made clear, an awesome work. At a time when the concentration of wealth and income in the hands of a few has resurfaced as a central political issue, Piketty doesn’t just offer invaluable documentation of what is happening, with unmatched historical depth. He also offers what amounts to a unified field theory of inequality, one that integrates economic growth, the distribution of income between capital and labor, and the distribution of wealth and income among individuals into a single frame.
btw, the article supports my thesis of 6 degrees of Reagan for all the ills that America faces today.

Balzac/ is also referenced.

The name as pronounced, gives it more disparaging attention in conservative circles than it deserves.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quick link:

http://mythsofcapitalism.com/

In short, labor has been marginalized and captital rules like a tyrant. It's not neccessarily a result of evolution. Instead it's a planned result orchestrated by those that FDR called the "economic royalists."

Combad57's picture
Combad57
Joined:
May. 29, 2012 12:50 pm

Combad57, the answer is "yes, but." What Piketty calls for is not a glorified New Deal, however, and his French/European experience helps expand his vision beyond the lines we know over here. The modern European Welfare State is not beset with foolish dogmas about "small government" and "privatization." How the Social State is organized and what it does is far clearer there than here.

His analysis of the dynamics of capitalism are also more than what has metastisized on Wall St. His vision of a Capital Tax is about having the information necessary to have an effective Wealth Tax applied to localities and realities. The imperative is to bring wealth under democratic control. The imperative is rooted in the nature of capitalism and its inability to correct the path of divergence between wealth and mass poverty.

The "economic royalists" and "robber barons" were images of this structural inevitability in "capitalism." They have come back, of course, as the same old nonsense was rekindled by those with wealth to establish and defend. Not just "labor," but "work" has been marginalized. Not just "work," but ownership has been marginalized by the Casino and the warmonger budget of the National Security State. Mere millionaires are also pawns in the billionaire game--or maybe rooks.

drc2
Joined:
Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

@ 12:30 on +Justice+John+Paul+Stevens+Six+Amendments+How+and+Why+We+Should+Change+

salient points are brought to the topic.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sooner or later the actual producers of wealth will wise up. How the play ends, as a tragedy or as a feel good into the sunset moment is dependent upon the takers. But make no mistake, the end of this crap will come about one way or another.

Workers of the world unite!

For those of you too young to know what that motto is/means; the Wiki write up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Workers_of_the_World

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

rs allen, the Wobblies were and always will be dear to my heart. I was introduced to them, along with Debbs in Labor Economics class at U.C.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Funny. The "99%" theme itself is a myth. We're divided into three parts, and these are subdivided. What the rich are now doing to the middle class is what the middle class already did to the poor -- interestingly, often using the same "justifications"! The middle class of this generation demanded, "No crumbs for the poor!" Is it any surprise that the poor don't "stand in solidarity" to protect the privileges of the middle class? The rich have the means to control the country, and the middle class enables the rich.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski
Joined:
May. 30, 2012 7:28 pm

Yes, and when the end of the rainbow reveals it's self to be a myth things will change in a hurry.

We're all in this together.

Understand?

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm
Quote douglaslee:

rs allen, the Wobblies were and always will be dear to my heart. I was introduced to them, along with Debbs in Labor Economics class at U.C.

Never studied economics Doug. Duh! lol

My lifes' arc never followed that kind of academic curve. But down here in the threnches there's writing on the walls for any who cares to read the message. The longer the message is ignored the worse the out come will be.

Now you got me trying to remember exactly when I fell in with the Wobblies Doug. It was a long time ago........

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

I have a wise friend who puts it simply, "America is where everyone gets to be better than someone else." As long as we have someone we can step on to push our way up the ladder, we are better than they are, below us.

The obvious problem with this picture is that when the game is a ladder to safety and the odds are declining and pitch of the slope increasing, you will not be able to grab the ankles of those above you to be pulled to safety with them. Nope, much more likely they will kick at your hands rather than reach down to help. And if they do, when does the weight of all those holding on together break the grips of those on the ladder?

The much better image is that of a pyramid and ladder where those who get up the ladder build a base beneath them, and should the ladder break or a gate be put up, they will be able to support each other--and find a much better safety than in Masada or Versailles. In case of disaster, go to a place where people know something about survival and find a friend on the rez. But, seriously, those who live at the bottom of this society do know a lot about how to get by without much from it. They are also far more likely to recognize a fellow human being than in the gated communities.

For its mythic power, I give the 99 and 1% meme thumbs up! The fact of real Elite Control is much smaller than 1%, but slogans should be clear and message driven, not detail and nuance. And, it busts the myth that the 98% are really in the same boats as their bosses and patrons. Nope, when the helicopters show up to rescue them, you will be on that same boat without them, going down.

I think this matters. The magic of Neocon ideology is how everyone gets to be part of the Big American Story of Conquest and Getting Rich. We get to blame the poor and those who would waste all that money on social programs as we congratulate ourselves for being such stalwart folks of enterprise and service. And that Exceptionalism Pill really gave a great high that lasts and lasts. We don't have to face any real lessons of history and can tune into the Hitler Channel to recapitulate the latest in foreign policy expertise.

We keep asking why the workers don't vote in their interest, and if the Dems had not had a Black Face do we think they would have gotten the non-White vote by anything other than default? We are all struggling to get by and avoid being the next victim of bad luck or bad advice or not watching when we should have. That one disaster from homeless anxiety is not good for financial planning. It is also not attracted to incremental reform when "the greatest story ever sold" is right there for them.

Poor people are not organized and are not as "exploited" in some ways as are those with enough money to attract the predators. The Shit Out of Luck are more aware of what they need to do than are those afraid of becoming one of them. Those who cast their human lot with "the least of these," make a very strong bet. If they have some assets to pool, they have people who appreciate value. They have a social glue of love and gratitude that can stand a lot of tests from the "principalities and powers of this world."

I don't know if I can persuade any of the dynastic elite to invest in those below them. I am afraid they think these people are beneath them. And so they indict themselves as inhuman and above redemption. They will fall and hit the ground in a Humpty Dumpty splat, instead of having any help or finding a soft landing. They think their Cayman Stash is going to save them when the Shit Hits the Fan, but that is because they look up for their salvation instead of down into the heart of the earth where the real light is shining.

The judgment of the poor on the crumby twits of self-satisfaction is backed by the Almighty Reality, and it really kicks.

In the revenue scam being pulled off by the rich to avoid paying what they should, it is the relatively rich that take a big hit followed by the more populous. The real wealth escalator begins above the casino where the millionaires play. They get to do things wage slaves cannot dream of doing, but not the dynastic establishment reserved for the top royals. The rest get to scuffle at various levels in "work" where being a Nobel Laureate in Economics might give you a nice Middle Class life, but not a ticket to ride.

Kids who cannot afford to go to college resent the White Collar managers who don't know shit and cannot admit it. Free college education and more, and we don't have that sense of being shut out of opportunity. We also don't get that I have the badge credentialism that never works. The only credential is competence. If you can do it, you don't have to protect your "turf" or "authority." You just become a teacher.

Sure, we are divided, and the conquering has been deft in the video/propaganda age. But, when we take off the funny glasses and look at what is, there is so much in common over here on the 99%, and so much that nobody wants to be part of in the 1%. I think we need to scare the shit out of a lot of people in the Faustline, warning them that the Big One is coming!

Or, maybe it is enough to help the 60% realize that they have a lot more in common with those beneath them than with those above them, and that if they are going to ride this one out, it would be better to build a sound foundation than pursue castles in the air.

drc2
Joined:
Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

From the NYBooks review of Piketty:

At times, Piketty almost seems to offer a deterministic view of history, in which everything flows from the rates of population growth and technological progress. In reality, however, Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes it clear that public policy can make an enormous difference, that even if the underlying economic conditions point toward extreme inequality, what Piketty calls “a drift toward oligarchy” can be halted and even reversed if the body politic so chooses.

The key point is that when we make the crucial comparison between the rate of return on wealth and the rate of economic growth, what matters is the after-tax return on wealth. So progressive taxation—in particular taxation of wealth and inheritance—can be a powerful force limiting inequality. Indeed, Piketty concludes his masterwork with a plea for just such a form of taxation. Unfortunately, the history covered in his own book does not encourage optimism.

Heirs will inherit, as the Kochs, Waltons, and Trump did, and Romneys are [you can't get a 125 million in an IRA with a 2000 annual max contribution cap, but Trig or Track did] Along with the automatic hedgefund set up to manage. Who needs skill when hedgefunds with carried trade are around. The royal elites in the old country went nuts from incestuous inbreeding, the clowns in the gop seem to support that occurring today.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

cont'd:

Why didn’t the universally enfranchised citizens of France vote in politicians who would take on the rentier class? Well, then as now great wealth purchased great influence—not just over policies, but over public discourse. Upton Sinclair famously declared that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Piketty, looking at his own nation’s history, arrives at a similar observation: “The experience of France in the Belle Époque proves, if proof were needed, that no hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest.”

The same phenomenon is visible today. In fact, a curious aspect of the American scene is that the politics of inequality seem if anything to be running ahead of the reality. As we’ve seen, at this point the US economic elite owes its status mainly to wages rather than capital income. Nonetheless, conservative economic rhetoric already emphasizes and celebrates capital rather than labor—“job creators,” not workers.

In 2012 Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, chose to mark Labor Day—Labor Day!—with a tweet honoring business owners:

Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.

Perhaps chastened by the reaction, he reportedly felt the need to remind his colleagues at a subsequent GOP retreat that most people don’t own their own businesses—but this in itself shows how thoroughly the party identifies itself with capital to the virtual exclusion of labor.

Nor is this orientation toward capital just rhetorical. Tax burdens on high-income Americans have fallen across the board since the 1970s, but the biggest reductions have come on capital income—including a sharp fall in corporate taxes, which indirectly benefits stockholders—and inheritance. Sometimes it seems as if a substantial part of our political class is actively working to restore Piketty’s patrimonial capitalism. And if you look at the sources of political donations, many of which come from wealthy families, this possibility is a lot less outlandish than it might seem.

Piketty ends Capital in the Twenty-First Century with a call to arms—a call, in particular, for wealth taxes, global if possible, to restrain the growing power of inherited wealth. It’s easy to be cynical about the prospects for anything of the kind. But surely Piketty’s masterly diagnosis of where we are and where we’re heading makes such a thing considerably more likely. So Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an extremely important book on all fronts. Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we’ll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

drc2, Piketty does offer at least hints of how capitalism has evolved. In this tome, Jeremy Rifkin posits how this evolution might develop in the future.

http://thezeromarginalcostsociety.com/

This prognistication is truly arcane and many would say even fanciful, but capitalism cannot survive as is in society without a mass revolution. In Rifkin's vision, ownership becomes marginalized and access takes its place. Community sharing becomes paramount. Sounds a bit like a modern day Marxist? Many will demagogue it that way, yet his position is pretty compelling. What our domestic right wing wackos decry as "European socialism" is simply a precursor to what will happen here in an evolutionary way. It evolved in Europe due to the fact that they long ago conquered and inhabited all the new frontiers available to them. We have now done the same, having run into borders on all sides of our nation.

The book is laborious to get through, but a thoughtful and worthwhile read.

Combad57's picture
Combad57
Joined:
May. 29, 2012 12:50 pm

.bostonreview.net/forum/paul-bloom-against-empathy has a Rifkin reference and this could post on the morality capitalism thread next to this one.

It is easy to see, then, how empathy can be a moral good, and it has many champions. Obama talks frequently about empathy; witness his recent claim, after his first meeting with Pope Francis, that “it’s the lack of empathy that makes it very easy for us to plunge into wars. It’s the lack of empathy that allows us to ignore the homeless on the streets.” In The Empathetic Civilization (2009) Jeremy Rifkin argues that the only way our species will survive war, environmental degradation, and economic collapse is through the enhancement of “global empathy.” This past June, Bill and Melinda Gates concluded their Stanford commencement address by asking students to nurture and expand their empathetic powers, essential for a better world.
douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Darwin identified compassion as our survival asset, as we were obviously not the strongest, baddest or hardest to kill out there in evolutionland. Empathy is part of the deal, and is more than just "feeling your pain." That is just slumming in empathy reality. Empathy is where you identify with the humanity of the other and are not just doing the preacher's glad hand and benedictions.

Just as Compassion is far from Pity, Empathy is about the size and shape or your own Humanity or Soul, if you prefer. We can have empathy for more than other human beings as we identify with the web of nature and how our biochemistry is part of a world of rocks and trees and the electricity in the air and how oxygen mixes with what we need to breathe and how our water based organism is part of a world of water.

I understand Bill and Melinda's good intentions in wishing Stanford students to "nurture and expand their empathetic powers," but I am afraid it is too "actionary" in that it makes the expansion of powers an act of will and determination rather than grace. Saving the world through empathetic mastery will have to meet a lot of zen masters and buddhas on the road.

Rifkin is, of course, correct. Someone I heard recently made the point that the old space view of our planet and our being in the same boat does not ground us in what it takes to be more than sympathetic about that world down there and to have a wistful hope that somehow we might learn to sing corny songs of peace and unity without ignoring what is really going on. I am all for empathy, and take it very seriously indeed. I just connect it to grace more than to being kind, more to the identification of the humanity of "the least of these" than to charity toward the poor.

How we invite a Free Will culture of personal responsibility and decision/will to be "saved" to appreciate the amazing grace they think they know already? Empathy is a stretch for people who think they are here to help others rather than to meet Jesus in that stranger who smells.

drc2
Joined:
Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

Pope Frankie seems to have a handle on empathy, whether it's his or the enitity he seeks others to adopt, he walks the walk. The author that is against empathy because it is limiting misses the point, a common fail in binary perspectives because either/or is constrained from the outset.

There always has been poverty, always will be poverty, can't get rid of it, why try?

Gun control wouldn't have stopped the nut so it doesn't work, why try?

Dirt poor Americans using govt assistance vote against that assistance when they vote for gop but will never understand it, why try to explain it?

The first 2 examples are still worth trying, the last is not. They will always insist 2+2=5, Rush says so.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Social Media Has Created the "Hive Mind" & Let It Loose Into America

Thom plus logo America has always been a racist country, but until recently (in the modern era) we didn't discuss it in "polite" company. Now, social media has created a "hive mind" among us, so the racism that was always there is clear and obvious. And Trump knows it, and is using it to connect with others in his part of the hive.
Powered by Pressflow, an open source content management system