Capitalism’s Deeper Problem

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Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, in coronation robes, 1775 (Photo: Wiki Commons)
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, in coronation robes, 1775. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Recent press reports refer to troubling price increases for such assets as real estate, government bonds, companies targeted for acquisition and artwork. A New York Times front-page headline read “The Everything Boom, or Maybe the Everything Bubble.”

Western Europe, North America and Japan are stuck in a longer, deeper crisis than almost anyone expected. Millions have left the labor force. Wages, benefits and job security are declining; the so-called “middle classes” are evaporating.

Yet while asset prices soar, the production of goods and services, employment and workers’ incomes are not recovering and resuming growth. Instead, Western Europe, North America and Japan are stuck in a longer, deeper crisis than almost anyone expected. Millions have left the labor force. Wages, benefits and job security are declining; the so-called “middle classes” are evaporating. Having promised “recoveries,” desperate governments inject massive new quantities of money into their economies. What they accomplish most are fast-rising asset prices.

Given their persistent economic problems, consumers cannot borrow or spend more. Businesses neither borrow nor productively invest all the new, cheap money because they could not sell the extra output to distressed consumers. Instead, the newly injected trillions enable the speculation that drives up asset prices. The owners of those inflating assets celebrate a “recovery” that bypasses most of their fellow citizens. The Great Recession lumbers on.

Richard Wolff on Curing Capitalism
To understand this puzzling and dangerous situation requires digging deeper than most current discussions of our economic problems. The global crisis since 2007 has captivated discussion about capitalism as a system. Yet we are faced now with more than just this latest of capitalism’s endlessly recurring “downturns” (or recessions or depressions). We see combined an extremely serious downturn in most of capitalism’s old centers, extremely unequal growth in its new centers and a resurgent global speculative bubble. This points to a deeper, worldwide problem that now challenges and threatens contemporary capitalism.

From its beginnings as the emerging, dominant class structure in 18th century England, capitalism concentrated production geographically in what were or became urban areas. This persisted as capitalism spread through Western Europe, North America and Japan. Capitalist growth in urban areas not only drew food, raw materials and laborers from the surrounding countryside, it also generated deepening divisions between town and country. The workers who gathered in industrial towns eventually mobilized and fought successfully for rising wages rarely matched by rural incomes. Urban laborers became an organized, disciplined, productive and relatively well-paid working class.

Across the 19th and 20th centuries, expanding populations eventually required capitalism’s concentrated industrial centers to draw raw materials, foods and laborers from beyond their original national boundaries. Accordingly, formal and informal colonialism transformed large parts of Europe and much of Asia, Latin America and Africa. They became the “underdeveloped” global countryside for the “advanced” industrial capitalist centers.

In the 20th century, these underdeveloped areas variously mixed anti-imperialism, socialism and communism as they tried to break out of the unwanted roles imposed on them by capitalism’s world economic order. Newly independent nations charted different paths of economic development often depicted as anti- or non-capitalist. That usually meant assigning the state (rather than private citizens) a major role in owning and operating enterprises. Typically, the state would also plan the distributions of resources and products rather (or more) than relying on private market exchanges to do the job.

Ultimately, the efforts of so many nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe to sustain anti- or non-capitalist development paths failed. An inability to shake off continuing subordination — especially economic — to the old capitalist centers (western Europe, North America and Japan) played major roles in those failures.

Ultimately, the efforts of so many nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe to sustain anti- or non-capitalist development paths failed. An inability to shake off continuing subordination — especially economic — to the old capitalist centers (western Europe, North America and Japan) played major roles in those failures. For most, formal political independence merely changed the trappings more than the substance of their situations.

Formally communist and socialist nations did substitute state officials running state enterprises for private boards of directors running private enterprises. But they did not abolish decision-making boards of directors who were separate from the workers. They did not replace them with workers’ self-direction of their enterprises. Instead of democratizing their economies by bringing democracy inside enterprises, they shifted from a private to a state capitalism.

In other words, they did not change the class structure inside enterprises. The survival of such class differences inside state industrial enterprises and state farms led to tensions, conflicts and struggles often quite parallel with those in private capitalist economies. The actually existing socialist economies never managed to go beyond such state capitalisms to a genuinely non-capitalist system because they had not transformed their enterprises’ class structures.

Over the two centuries before the 1970s and 1980s, the former hinterland territories of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe developed a huge population used to very low wages. Slowly in some of these areas – but quickly in Soviet-style economies – those low-wage workers acquired more advanced degrees of skill, education and modern industrial work discipline. Nonetheless, the difficulties of monitoring and controlling far distant worksites kept almost all of these workers outside the hiring orbits of employers in the old capitalist centers in Western Europe, North America and Japan. Cold War tensions and the anti-imperialist, nationalist commitments of so many in Asia, Africa and Latin America likewise kept most old-center employers away.

Then in the 1970s, these circumstances profoundly changed. The rapid spread of jet air travel and global telecommunications enabled old-center capitalists to consider relocating their production facilities to lower wage areas (since monitoring and control could be accomplished at a distance). At the same time, mounting economic problems, crises and implosions of many state capitalist and poor nations undercut their efforts at independent paths of economic development. Their leaders were looking for a changed strategy of development.

Old-center capitalists seeking to relocate to the former colonial territories encountered there local partners eager to make and profit from deals with them. Hundreds of millions of new, much cheaper workers thereby became available to old-center capitalist employers. Globalization meant above all a sudden increase in the global supply of labor power, yielding an historically unprecedented buyers’ market for labor.

Globalization meant above all a sudden increase in the global supply of labor power, yielding an historically unprecedented buyers’ market for labor. By relocating production facilities out of their old centers, capitalists drastically cut labor costs.

By relocating production facilities out of their old centers, capitalists drastically cut labor costs. They could escape the higher real wages and welfare state services won by generations of old-center workers. The profit possibilities were stupendous. Competition from those who first successfully relocated then forced even reluctant old-center capitalists to follow.

Many of the firms formed in, nurtured (and variously subsidized) by the old capitalist centers abandoned them. Detroit, Cleveland and so many other capitalist centers – in the US but also in Europe and Japan – have thus been declining, often for decades, with tragic human as well as economic costs. Loss of jobs, incomes, benefits and public services shaped ever more individuals’ lives. Capitalism’s globalization produced more enemies as the gaps between its beneficiaries and victims widened. Growing skepticism and then rejection confronted the euphemisms used to obscure globalization’s goals and effects  (“deindustrialization,” “post-industrialism,” “outsourcing,” “world-class competition,” “free-trade associations,” “declining middle class,” and “austerity,” among others).

Wealth and income distributions consequently polarized in the old capitalist centers. Capitalists’ profits grew sharply as they relocated production to lower waged workers in what became the new centers of capitalist growth (especially China, India, Brazil and so on). At the same time, such shifting of production provoked unemployment in the old centers, loss of higher-paying jobs that moved abroad and increasingly, the descent of workers into lower-paid, largely service-sector jobs. Old-center economies thus exhibited stagnant or falling real wages alongside soaring profits. The gap between rich and poor – between those whose incomes depend chiefly on profits and those who depend chiefly on wage work – starkly widened.

At the same time, wealth rose rapidly for the new-center partners of the old-center capitalists. Those partners who enabled old-center capital to flow into their societies and those who most successfully sold the resulting outputs back into old-center markets became wildly wealthy. Yet the mass of their fellow citizens remained mired in the poverty of their long-term economic underdevelopment. While new-center wages sometimes rose, their absolute levels remained low.

Sharply rising income and wealth inequalities thus characterized the new centers of capitalism as well as the old. Globalization distributed capitalism’s deepening inequality throughout the world. It likewise spread the usual effects of such inequality: speculation, real-estate bubbles, gross conspicuous consumption by the rich, political corruption and so on.

Globalization distributed capitalism’s deepening inequality throughout the world. It likewise spread the usual effects of such inequality: speculation, real-estate bubbles, gross conspicuous consumption by the rich, political corruption and so on.

A remarkable historical parallel to this latest stage of capitalism suggests where it is leading us. After the 16th century, the contradictions of European feudalism led it to transform a centuries-old localized, decentralized manor system. Force served as midwife in amalgamating many feudal manors and gave birth to a few nation-states organized around highly centralized, absolute feudal monarchies (such as Britain, France, Spain and Prussia). That centralization process gave feudalism more decades of life. But it also generated those extremes of wealth and poverty exemplified by the palace at Versailles versus the abject slums of pre-revolutionary Paris.

Everywhere, those extremes provoked revolutions against feudalism that eventually yielded that system’s demise. Today’s extremes produced by a globalizing capitalism  — Detroit versus San Francisco, Manhattan versus the Bronx, Germany versus Greece, China’s new billionaires versus many millions of poor workers and peasants —  where might they be leading us?

Richard D. Wolff is a professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and visiting professor at the New School graduate program in International Affairs in New York. He has written extensively and published many books, including Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism and Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It, which was also made into a DVD.
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  • Anonymous

    Our economic system can only survive if worker wages rise to track productivity. This was the case from 1945 to 1972 and the unions were a big part of everyone’s success by ensuring this. Since 1972 wages have flattened while productivity has continued to rise which has imposed a four-decade tightening of an economic vise on the working class. Today corporate earnings are at historic highs and payrolls at historic lows as a percentage of GDP. We are bound to quickly encounter economic/political collapse unless we reverse this. Unions are one way, tax and redistribute another. Personally I far prefer federal limits on a corporation’s earnings to wages ratio based on their prior history.

  • Anonymous

    Capitalism was not designed or adopted based on its effectiveness at serving society. It may now be framed as such, claimed to be “the best system ever tried”, but the fact is, capitalism is destroying itself, and probably humanity in the process. Not only does it depend on inequality, which is socially unsustainable, it also depends on the exploitation of resources, which is ecologically unsustainable.

    Capitalism is outstanding at making products available, and most of the rebuttals to anti-capitalist arguments basically center around this idea–that because we (the richer countries among the rest of the world) have more products than we did 100 years ago, everything is just fine and life will continue, business as usual. Supposedly, capitalism is great because we are all rational, self-maximizing, greedy individuals and the system is able to harness that rational self-maximizing greedy individualism, and turn it into rational community-maximizing efficient communitarianism using the invisible wizard hand. However, capitalism is clearly just an upgrade to feudalism, a way to justify existing hierarchies and strengthen them.

    There is no reformist solution to this problem. We can’t just redistribute wealth or create a better welfare state. The situation we are in now, or one which is basically the same, will always happen. The capitalist class will always put themselves far above the working class, whether the capitalist class is composed of private organizations, state organizations, or what have you. Private ownership, individualism, quid pro quo exchange, and all other basic elements of the trade-based paradigm are the real problem. Until we rid ourselves of trade and egoist self-interest, we are forever going to be a society of Bill Murrays, caught in this same loop, wondering why it’s happening.

  • Anonymous

    Some signs of imminent collapse are:
    The rising and large percentage of hungry people
    The complete lack of congressional action to address this (the last Farm Bill gave tens of billion in subsidies to the private agricultural monopolies while cutting four billion in food stamps)
    Inequality rising to levels which have historically always led to revolution
    The rise of demagogues and increased tribalism and fragmentation of our society.
    The unequal application of the law to incarcerate minorities at the highest rate on the planet (we have 4% of population and 25% of prisoners).
    The rise of a class of super-rich who control our government and look upon workers as inferior subhumans
    The unchecked corporatism which continues to maximize profits at the expense of workers when their wages are the fuel that drives our economy
    The rise of financial behemoths who are picking over the bones of worker assets and future income

  • slowneasy

    The republic should survive, but capitalism must fail for equality for all!

  • kuji fukijawa

    “Across the 19th and 20th centuries, expanding populations eventually required capitalism’s concentrated industrial centers to draw raw materials, foods and laborers from beyond their original national boundaries. Accordingly, formal and informal colonialism transformed large parts of Europe and much of Asia, Latin America and Africa. They became the “underdeveloped” global countryside for the “advanced” industrial capitalist centers.”

    “[E]xpanding populations eventually required….colonialism” ?

    Wasn’t it ever-expanding capital accumulation that is at the heart of capitalism which “required” colonialist exploitation of the periphery? If the populations in the old centers had not expanded, wouldn’t the periphery still have been exploited by capitalists for raw materials, land and labor? Isn’t that the dynamic of the accumulation of capital — expansion where ever possible regardless of anything else?

    As Dr. Wolff points out further down in the essay, even reluctant old-center capitalists in the late 20th century flocked to the periphery to profit from the exploitation of ‘cheap’ labor. So was not the exploitative colonialism of the early 19th and 20th centuries similarly about expanding capital accumulation and not something that was determined by population expansion? Just wondering.

  • Cathy Miller Carroll

    That ‘sea of tranquility’ only exists because of the turmoil of the sixties. Although it is far from tranquil.

  • Eleusis

    Great comment. Well said.

  • JonThomas

    Capitalism has already failed. It was bailed out by the wealth of 3 generations of innocent victims.

  • Themon the Bard

    A still deeper problem is the very idea of economic growth, which is typically a fiction based on turning something “worthless” into something “valuable” by fiat. Bubbles are an overt example. More subtle are the false economies created by bad accounting, such as what happens when profits are privatized and costs are socialized, giving the appearance of “wealth creation” in what is actually a zero-sum game. Or the cases described in these articles, where value is simply moved from where it was, to where it can be guarded as private property. In both these cases, “wealth creation” is really just theft.

    Viewed globally over long spans of time, sustained economic growth — particularly exponential growth, which is what x-percent annual growth means — is physically impossible. Wealth destruction must, in the end, exactly equal wealth creation. Any apparent exceptions to that are at root some form of bad accounting. We get away with bad accounting when the only things to complain about the forest you are cutting down and turning into cardboard boxes are spotted owls and worms. Complaints arise when the logger shows up in my back yard to cut down MY trees. When the cutting reaches a scale where it impacts the carbon cycle of the global atmosphere, which affects even the wealthiest capitalists’ ability to breathe, the neglected “externalities” in the economic equations become overwhelming, and give lie to the fiction of “wealth creation.”

  • JonThomas

    Good point, but don’t fall for that ‘Post hoc ergo propter hoc’ fallacy. That person’s comment is completely irrational. I can only surmise that that person purposely arranged the comment in such a deceiving manner. Otherwise… well…

    To link the economic conditions of a time period to civil rights is to say… “don’t allow those uppity blanks to prosper! If they do, they’ll start demanding rights, and you can be sure our society will suffer for it…”

    If those unrelated conclusions were strung together purposefully, then in effect, that person is engaging in a sophisticated and deceitful form of bigotry.

  • Dakota Erikson

    I deduced this 10 years ago and predicted that “heads will be carried on poles through the streets” a la the French Revolution. I volunteered to lead the revolution.

  • Martin Johnson

    If capitalism is to work it needs consumers and if American jobs are moved to Asian sweatshops, then who are going to be the consumers? Long term this seems to be irrational. Henry Ford paid his workers enough to be able to afford to buy the cars they were building.

  • IamMark

    An economy that has slaves and serves only white men could never properly be called “just fine”.

    The rest of your comment is thereby rendered drivel.

  • Themon the Bard

    If I remember correctly from Charles Mann’s book 1493, Europe in the late 1400’s was approaching a Malthusian limit, owing to population increase (after the Black Death), exhausted soils, and the beginning stages of the climate change known as “The Little Ice Age.” If true, it’s reasonable to say that expanding population caused the sixteenth-century European colonialism. Though you may be right, that the principle impetus was avarice.

    You make a good point that the flight to the periphery now is not caused by population pressures. Minus immigration, most of those old centers of capital accumulation have slow or even negative population growth.

  • Anonymous

    It does not matter what economic system humans employ (feudalism, communism, or capitalism) if our basic class structure is not deconstructed: administrators, workers. This absolute class structure is the source of inequality for each economic system utilized throughout human history. Here we see the effects of dominance and submission inherent in our biology: alpha and beta. While it is true some folk are good at leading and some at supporting, this should not translate into hierarchies of value: leaders are better than supporters, thus should receive larger benefits of mutual enterprise AND their wills should be incontrovertible on pain of death (social, economic, physical). Because we have done this in all economic structures throughout time, we have created the inequality that has dogged and doomed all human civilizations. Are we finally ready to see this and move beyond this destructive dynamic?

  • Dan

    At the root is our political system and to fix the economic system first we must fix the former,. In other words if money can buy our elected officials we will never experience democracy at work because the influence will stop any reform of the banking system that is at the root of this problem because they control the economy and the laws that govern them. The banks have to be regulated back to what they were under Glass Steagall, or suffer another collapse. . Unfortunate we will have the collapse before anything is done because the government is being systematically neutered by the people who are benefiting from lack of oversight. People who want democracy are now called anti capitalists or big government supporters. .

  • Ben Robinson

    Things that begin, must have an end, maintaining dis-equilibrium is unnatural. Inequity can only be tolerated until it becomes unbearable. What developes from becoming balanced can be better all. All that are still living.

  • Themon the Bard

    I’ve been playing with the idea that, at root, the problem is the binary of “private” versus “collective” ownership.

    The reality is that all ownership is shared to a greater or lesser extent. I may have the primary claim on my well, for water, but if I start drawing water fast enough — say, for fracking — to locally lower the water table and deplete my neighbors’ wells, their ownership interest in my well grows. At some point, my abuse of “my” property may have such dire effects that others’ ownership interest exceeds my own, and by rights, I should lose the right to continue.

    Collectivism is just as bad as sovereign ownership, because if I’m not abusing my well, it is far more useful to me than to my neighbors, and certainly more useful to me than to some bureaucrat in Denver, or Washington. Their ownership interest is very small except under extreme circumstances.

    I think about the “democracy of dry feet” in the Netherlands as one model.

  • kuji fukijawa

    That’s interesting. I’ll have to take a look at Mann’s book.

    Don’t you think that it is fair to say that the exhausted soils in Britain in the 19th century were a result of capitalism as well as population increase? The depletion of the soils by agriculture as it was practiced, where urban wastes from humans and transport horses were dumped into rivers and streams and not returned to the fields from which the originating foods and fodder came, was in part due to population increase, but population increase in an industrial capitalist context. The guano colonialism and proxy wars in South America in the 19th century, which was about replenishing these depleted old-center soils, was a capitalist non-solution to a capitalist problem where population load was a factor but not — in my limited view — the (over)determining factor.

  • Cynthia Davis

    A very well thought out historical perspective. Speculating on what comes next – 2 choices. Either 1 – voluntary narrowing of the growing economic disparities – or 2 – FORCED narrowing of the growing economic inequalities.

    The genie is out of the bottle and KNOWLEDGE of what is happening will be a driving factor.

    The chasm cannot be widened without communications and communications opens the potential for change as more people learn about this.

    Ultimately I suspect that there will be effort to SUPPRESS REAL knowledge and divert attention from the disparities – like the Roman Coliseum – those “games” are being played out on “reality TV” .
    BUT Poverty leads people to drop the unnecessary and entertainment access is one of those that things that are income based.

    In the very long run the disparity is unsustainable. The question then is will it smooth out earlier by cooperation and good stewardship – or will it smooth out later by chaos and disaster?

  • Cynthia Davis

    Odd you mentioned how “well” things were during several times of great economic disparity that were LESS wide in inequality than now. Then you justified turmoil CAUSING disparity by mentioning the very turmoil that those “good times” brought and the fact humans were still alive after the death and destruction it caused as a reason to repeat the same illogical path. The definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing and expect a different result.

  • ElC

    You may like the current state of inequality, and you may believe the ‘republic’ will survive it, which it may (but only as a repressive government exploiting and abusing the vast majority of its citizens, which is what it is now), but the fact that it’s bad for democracy is totally beyond debate

  • Anonymous

    Implementation of a limit on a company’s earnings to wages ratio would use their W2 and earnings filings history. Lying on either of these is already a federal crime. Here are a few additional ideas to make this workable:

    Avoid execs increasing their own pay to stay within thee earnings-to-payroll limit by considering only the first $250,000 of compensation as part of payroll for this purpose. Use imputed gross earnings for sales of imported goods and those of private or international corporations.

    Only US payrolls would be considered in determining earnings limitation.

    Any earnings in excess of limit would undergo a fine of 100%

  • Franklin Bacon

    Corporate balances derived from speculation are not real. They are simply a gamble with no promise of any return. What Wall St. has not taken into consideration is the fact that foreign markets have not seen the kind of growth which would be equivalent to those markets abandoned in the U.S. Because so many good-paying jobs were lost in the U.S., that market has collapsed.

    What we are about to witness is a stock market crash. That depression may last until a new market has developed in the areas which benefited most from moving production overseas. It could take an entire generation to develop new buying habits.

  • Themon the Bard

    According to Mann, as I recall, the soils were already giving out by the 15th century, and the first stop-gaps against European starvation were maize and the potato, particularly the potato. The guano imports came along much later.

    I don’t know how much effect cities had on 14th century soil fertility. Paris, the largest city in Europe in the late 1300’s, had a total population of a little over 100,000 — today, that barely counts as a “town,” and I find it hard to believe it had all that much direct impact on the farmland. More problematic were the farming methods themselves, parceling of the land into too-small plots, leading to over-production in an attempt just to pay taxes and stay alive, and (of course) the constant rampaging of the entitled class in ransom wars and the like. Some of the knights even turned to pillaging their own lands.

  • Franklin Bacon

    Those in the underclass created by the system do not have the resources to see it. However the system being as natural as it can be, will dissolve of its own weight. “Upon pain of death” will prove so true to the upper classes that they will succumb without even realizing it, when it is too late to save themselves.

  • AnnaFrieda

    I tend to agree that a stock market crash is right around the corner. I never understood how wealth can evaporate into thin air like we have seen in 2008-09. If it can vanish into thin air, than it wasn’t real to begin with. Now you have the real economy with real wealth that is hurting, yet the finance sector with gains apparently pulled out of thin air is booming. How can you sustain an economy on phantom wealth? It all doesn’t make sense to me, needless to say I don’t have any money in the stock market.

  • timr07

    of social change lie many forces. Climate, natural resources,
    agriculture and manufactures all serve to set in operation influences
    that tend to change a people’s life. It is the part of good
    administration to adjust these forces in such fashion that changes are
    balanced and national experience is not left at the mercy of varying
    conditions. But the economic life of a people is so complicated
    that complete adjustment is beyond human power. Poverty in itself is
    seldom the cause of revolution. It is the sense of inequality in the
    distribution of wealth that breeds discontent. When wealth increases and
    at the same time tends to become monopolized in some class or group,
    this discontent is always keen. And, above all, when the rich are
    indifferent to the inequalities which economic change increases, and
    when the burdens of the economic life are not lifted from those least
    able to bear them, the consciousness of inequality grows into enmity.”

    THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 1789-1815 Shailer Mathews, 1923, pg.12

    Sound familiar?

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  • Cathy Miller Carroll

    They think we are not aware of their code words.

  • Ben Andrews

    The system is really one enormous Ponzi scheme!

  • Rico

    Mr, Johnson, you might check out a recent book, Willing Slaves of Capital: SPinoza and Marx on Desire. Ford’s pattern did indeed change the world.

  • Rico

    Check out the Post carbon Institute. Post growth active philosophy.

  • John Stewart

    Who will be waving the hammmer and sickle over the ruins of Manhattan’s Upper West Side?

  • Anonymous

    A sickle won’t be enough. For what has to be done, one needs a full-sized scythe.

  • JC

    It seems that the rich, with all their influence, accumulations, political clout, and control seem to get to a point where situational myopia takes over. They get this aura of entitlement and “untouchableness” to them to where no one or no thing can influence them or what they want. The Middle Class is eroding in this country and the Global Economy seems to be the order of the day. Only problem is, if we don’t have a Middle Class in this country then we don’t have a country at all….just a bunch of oligarchs running around saying that they are in control and “we’re too big to fail” (as in big money and big banks). This is where the myopia comes in to play. Least we forget history, this was the same thing the rich were saying in the 1920’s in this country before the Great Depression. Now we have the 13 banks and the Federal Reserve to protect against such an occurrence….or do they? We should try to built up the Middle Class because they are the backbone of this economy and, they help to keep the big corporations afloat…who buys the stock (in the majority) that keeps these guys afloat?…The Middle Class.
    So, to those politician and big wigs who think they are beyond falling out of their respective well-off thrones, I say beware and take note….your rise may have been easy or hard, but your fall can be very quick and devastating. You need to invest in the backbone of society that keeps you afloat. Off-shoring profits isn’t the way to do it.

  • Anonymous

    I am going to have to politely disagree with some of your points…especially on “Capitalism requires growth”. First, I would say that capitalism works and works well if it is regulated and the rules manipulated to assure it keeps working FOR ALL. But predatory capitalism does not…and eventually devours itself…especially if you are the last of the business to bail out and move onto either another endeavor or another region. As for growth…Wall Street dictates the rule of the game for public companies and indirectly for privately held companies. Companies must assure a good rate of return to their investors for many reasons: One is to attract the capital it needs by giving good rates of return. In order to assure this rate of return it must 1) cut costs to increase net income; 2) expand operations to take advantage of “economies of scale”: and 3) where growth is unlikely then it must rely on “obsolescence” to guarantee sales to an established market. And the latter can only be done to a point without driving customers to a competitor. That is if there are competitors. It is in the business interest of the capitalist to have monopolies–either regional or by laws protecting patents and copyrights– and in the public interest they do not exist. There in lies one of the problems with regulation and enforcement especially by our weak politicians who need their campaign donations. Citizen’s United legislation now has assured the monopolies will continue extracting

  • Anonymous

    I like Wolfe so when do we start. Does one think that ALEC or the AEI would allow politicians to use public money? Cooperative Business Initiatives is a way to go.