Is Capitalism Failing Us?

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Is 20th-century capitalism failing 21st-century society? It’s a question economic elites debated this week in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland while attending the annual World Economic Forum. According to Time Magazine, the #1 theme at the conference is that capitalism needs an overhaul. Time‘s Jim Frederick writes:

“In 200 years, capitalism has already gone through several major iterations. But what, practically speaking, will a global capitalism retooled for the 21st century look like? More regulation? Or less? State Capitalism, like that practiced by China, Russia and many countries in the Middle East? Well, no one has quite figured that one out yet. But a surprising number of attendees (and these are the world’s most direct beneficiaries of the current system) seem to agree that something is wrong. And that in itself is remarkable.”

Protesters from the Occupy anti-capitalist movement release a banner reading ' Hey WEF! Where are the other 6.9999 billion leaders?' January 2012. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Protesters from the Occupy anti-capitalist movement release a banner on the first day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

Over the past three weeks on Moyers & Company, we’ve explored the seminal decisions over the past 30 years that led to today’s financial crisis and great economic disparities. Winner-Take-All Politics authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue that America’s vast inequality is no accident, but in fact has been politically engineered. David Stockman, Reagan’s former budget director, spoke candidly about how money dominates politics, distorting free markets and endangering democracy. And most recently on the show, former Citigroup CEO John Reed says that, given the 2008 meltdown, he’s surprised Wall Street still has so much power over Washington lawmakers.

So let’s have our own virtual Davos Discussion here on BillMoyers.com:

Do you agree with Occupy Wall Street protesters that our capitalist system needs to be completely changed, radicalized and reformed to best serve Americans? Or is there a way to work within the existing system?

Please share your thoughts and proposals in the comments below.

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  • Anonymous

    I completely agree with your statement attributed to the Occupy movement:
     ”…our capitalist system needs to be completely changed, radicalized and reformed to best serve Americans?”  Some houses can be remodeled or have an addition to accommodate a new situation, but this Capitalism we’ve always dwelt inside of has a bad roof, rotten floors, an ugly configuration and lacks many of the utilities humans need. We can build on fresh ground, then demolish the old dwelling to make a garden. A few keepsakes from the homeplace might be OK to save but we have to take care in not importing the pests and contamination. We know more now and continue to learn. Our old house is American Empire and it is deadly. 

  • hipnek

    I’m not really sure what the occupiers mean when they say that the capitalist system needs to be “radicalized”, but there certainly needs to be reform.  The too-big-to-fail banks must be broken up; that much seems obvious.  But, I believe that entrepreneurship is still the best way to create jobs. This isn’t happening because the banks favor short-term, high risk speculation over long-term investments, thus keeping our economy in recession.  For these reasons, it seems obvious that Glass-Steagall must be restored.

    I’m not sure that reform should be limited to the financial sector, however.  I believe it was James Kwak, in a Journal episode posted on this site, who spoke about how the  too-big-to-fail banks are also too big to manage.  I think this is true of our oversized federal government as well.  I’m not meaning to sound like a small government Tea Partier.  I’m not talking about smaller government, but less-centralized government.  Why, with the technology that we have today, is it necessary to limit the size of the House of Representatives to 435 people, as the Apportionment Act of 1911 has done for the last century?  This limitation diminishes the accessibility that the individual citizen has to his or her representative because that representative has 700,000 constituents.

    Also, in this day and age, why is it necessary for representatives to reside in Washington, far removed from the communities they are supposed to represent?  I would like to see congressional districts that conform to the boundaries of existing communities and neighborhoods, with the congressional offices located in their districts so individual citizens can have true access and oversight.  The business of congress, the “meetings” so to speak, can take place via a computer network, one that is open to public scrutiny and commentary.  

    Furthermore, I think there are certain things for which a federal government is necessary, such as safeguarding the rights of citizens, and some things it isn’t well suited for, like creating and administering large social programs like universal healthcare.  That is not to say that I’m against publicly funded healthcare, but in my opinion, a one-size-fits-all centrally mandated program amounts to a vast social experiment that could have serious negative repercussions in the long term.  If, however, the federal government were simply to mandate that states, or even communities, must develop publicly funded healthcare systems, the individual states and communities could devise systems that work best for them.  This would mean that there would many different approaches to addressing the issue, sort of like test-marketing, so to speak, which would increase the likelihood of the development of workable systems, while limiting the negative impact of programs that do not work.

  • Gail

    I believe the system no longer works for 99% of us. I don’t think we should start over because the wealthy will hire lawyers to figure out how to game the system and the tax code again.    The rigging of the system can be carefully undone with a simplified tax code aimed to prevent these egregious violations, along with a reformed campaign finance system, the overturning of Citizen’s United, prosecution of Congressional insider trading, tax capital gains same as wages, and reinstatement of Glass Steagall.  We  need a mine sweeper to remove these land mines in our economy. This will begin to reverse the damage done by the wealthy who own the corporations, who launder money through SuperPACs, influence Congress to write laws that protect and advance their fortunes. The American Dream is no longer accessible to the majority of Americans. 

    Corporate greed and influence peddling has been squelching capitalism, killing job growth and stifling our economy since the hemp plant was exiled after WWII.  The current Prohibition against growing industrial hemp protected special interests like Wm Randolph Hearst and his paper production/timber fortune, and DuPont whose untold wealth came from it’s patents for making nylon, rayon, and paper from wood pulp.

     Henry Ford built a completely biodegradable car out of hemp, and it withstood impacts 10 times higher than that of steel. The plant was known as a “billion dollar product” when it was first banned in 1937.  It was no coincidence that in 1937, the  DuPont Corporation patented the process to make nylon.  Once WWII started, the USDA recruited American farmers to produce hemp for the massive textiles needed for war supplies such as tents, ropes, etc.  As useful as it was in the Allies  “Hemp for Victory” campaign , after the war the plant was  suddenly banned forever.  DuPont, Hearst and Mellon wanted hemp out of the way to reduce competition for the deluge of petrochemically-based products  they stood to profit from.  Their products fill our landfills forever, leach into groundwater, and have been proven harmful to human health.

    The free market of 2012 loves hemp, but outdated laws are still in force to protect paper, plastics, chemical, building materials and petroleum industries who feel threatened by hemp.   Canada lifted their hemp ban in 1998 and is  having huge economic benefits.    Why can’t America produce the farm jobs, nutrient dense foods, textiles, plastics, paper,
    and renewable energy given by the simple hemp plant?  The only answer is that it would cut into the profits of the Robber Barons.

    Hemp would reduce our levels of petrochemical pollution, decrease the number of trees harvested for paper-production, decrease the raw materials such as iron and molybdenum that are mined to make steel, and decrease the amount of waste products in our landfills.  We could mine fewer raw materials like iron and molybdenum to make steel, which would create less environmental impact such as water contamination, mine tailings and waste. This would conserve these resources for future generations when they are living in a hot, crowded world. 

    If corporations are people as Mitt Romney claims, then they too must die and pay taxes.    Anti-democratic, corporate domination of Congress controls every aspect of out lives including telecommunications and media,  agriculture, energy, healthcare, and insurance. 

  • Anonymous

    To ask, Is Capitalism Failing Us? is to ask the wrong question. At some point in the past 20–30 years, capitalism was re-engineered by our bankers/investment management folks to a form of online gambling.  We only infrequently still practice “capitalism” per se, and there is no, repeat no, “free market” to the extent there ever was one. We have always practiced various forms of “crony capitalism” in which people with money order the rules to be written so as to benefit their particular form of “investments”.  There is nothing inherently wrong with capitalism per se. There is much wrong with the form we practice today.  We require serious government intervention in the form of regulatory reform of the entire global financial system. Some, perhaps many people probably need to be in prison, and some, probably many forms of “investments” need to be prohibited, or stripped from the things “banks” can practice.

  • leftofcenter

    Here are some other questions you should be asking first.

    100 years ago we had a Socialist Presidential candidate. Now, we have a Socialist Senator from Vermont. Why then is it practically illegal to publically say that? Is it because that’s just “the way things are done”? Or, is it something else?

    In the 1930′s, roughly 100,000 people were ready to emigrate to the Soviet Union. Lots of Mexicans and Mexican Americans were rounded up in the Southwest and deported to Mexico. Why? Because lots of unemployed whites wanted them out, and kicked them out.

    Have you ever heard any of the above on the MSM or alternative? No, and until you deal with complete history, how can you ask is capitalism failing?

  • leftofcenter

    Another question to ask. Since neoclassical economics clearly doesn’t work, why doesn’t Obama sack Bernanke and Geithner? One reason is because of the enormous power that they currently have.

    If you want to do away with the Fed, what do you do then? Go back to the gold standard? In today’s global economy, that’s impractical for lots of reasons. What do you do then? Out of all the Ron Paul people I’ve talked to, not one has been able to answer this.

  • Barry Diamond

    The problem isn’t capitalism – we don’t operate in a purely capitalistic system where big bucks are concerned. Capitalism rewards those who are willing to risk their OWN capital and punishes them as well if they fail. Our major corporations are run by people who didn’t put their own capital at risk to begin with and now live off of the benefits of other people’s (stockholder’s) capital. If capitalism had been allowed to work, we would have had new banks and banker replace the ones that screwed up – instead we rewarded the basterds.

    With over 90% of all major corporation shares in the hands of mutual funds and other institutional investors, as long as top managements can keep current earnings growing, they are left alone to dilute shareholder equity and receive outrageous compensation packages. This is not capitalism any more that Soviet Russia was communist – they are just titles to hide central control behind.

    Government’s role in a capitalistic economy should be to make sure that there is opportunity for competition and entry. Much “reform” legislation simply lays out the rules by which the top corporations can limit competition or gain some other unfair advantage.

    We have had regulators that have failed to regulate, legislators whose only skill set is getting elected, and administrations (several) that have become tools of big bucks, not the people at large.

    It is time to stop blaming capitalism and start blaming the individuals and shadow systems that corrupt both business and politics.

  • E Scherer

    This may not be the place for this topic but I don’t know where else to go. I just found your web site and watched the five year old film about Rachel Carson by Kaiulani Lee. Now we have Monsanto poisoning our farm lands and crops, creating plants that cannot make new seed, forcing farmers out of business, cornering the market of seed and spray, and doing this on a world-wide basis uncontrolled and with no prominent voice to speak up. Perhaps, as with Carson, it isn’t allowed to be published or aired. Our head of President Obama’s Agriculture Department was a top officer of Monsanto, as is a second more junior appointment. After his appointment, no further mention of the organic nature of the White House garden has been made. Perhaps at long last you can be the one to turn the spot light on this destruction of our food supply and the land that supports it.

  • Anonymous

    Contrary to my vision, but very well considered. When I see the work some caring citizens put into their posts it makes me cry, considering how little business leaders and elected officials seem to care.

  • Anonymous

    Gail, I’m impressed that you understand how hastily considered reforms could easily be derailed and taken advantage of under the present rules. Your idea about conducting corporate funerals is a good one. Hemp growing is only one method of organic  recycling and source reduction the petro-industrial complex lobbies to resist. Marijuana, akin to hemp, is certainly no worse than alcohol or tobacco which remain legal. So what’s the excuse for banning hemp? Wouldn’t I love an electric car with a hemp body! Still, I think people like you and I need to visit locales of hemp production so we can understand first hand the labor demands and ecological costs of a hemp monocrop. I have heard about some cultivation problems in northern Brazil. It would be good for us and the oceans to cut back plastics production. A synthetic always presents a bottleneck in natural cycling of materials and can’t help but be a toxic substitute. It’s hard to find natural fiber rope in the stores anymore. I can understand how China has become a toxic hellhole. I think decentralized energy production on a home scale would provide a framework for economic democracy. Conversely, a large nuclear plant is the furtherest thing from participatory democracy because of the enormous costs, the security and the resultant secrecy. Japan has learned that lesson recently. I hope we don’t have to undergo such horrors in order to embrace decentralization of both energy production and governance. I enjoyed your post and hope to be reading you again soon right here on Bill’s site.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t it better to construct a tamperproof form of political economy than to permanently intensify enforcement and enlarge the prison-industrial complex?

  • Anonymous

    Sure! It is the owners of the USA who approve what is taught as history and what is discussed in the news. They do it by rewarding cronyism and by intimidating those who question or demand change. You ask your questions in an innocuous way but your method betrays a deeper understanding of how power works. Have you ever read “Power and Powerlessness” by John Gaventa or “Power:A Radical View” by Steven Lukes in which they explain the way wealthier and connected interests remain politically dominant?  If you ever read these books or similar I would be interested in discussing these subjects with you. beretco.op@hotmail.com

  • Anonymous

    The Ron Paul people are often penny ante speculators in gold who expect an immediate appreciation when gold is called home to back currency. It’s all a scam.
    Sometimes I feel sorry that they neglect their societal financial responsibilities in order to  hoard something cold and inert they cannot eat or use. But some people have been socialized to be selfish and cold nihilists.

  • Anonymous

    Barry, Have you noticed that as capitalism escalates in scale it tends to recruit “bastards” for leadership? This suggests to me that capitalism is not natural or inevitable above community scale. You seem to have unrealistic expectations of a system that has let you down. I’d say, shake off the infatuation and seek a relationship with someone new, not necessarily a socialist, but at least a warm open-minded partner. You can easily see it is impossible for you to become rich in a system as corrupt as this no matter your merits. No one will reform this morass in time for you to compete fairly in an entrepreneurial game. The best you can do is advocate to deconstruct crony capitalism and level access to opportunity. Now is not the time for more ruthless competition. Capitalism has failed and you are frightened and in denial. You need trusted friends.

  • Anonymous

    Obama is obviously ignorant about biological hazards in industrial food production.
    He lacks advisers with with earth healing knowledge.
    I would not expect much from him on this issue.
    He and his wife emphasize the shame of overweight in a country where almost a fourth of the population is eligible for food assistance.
    The White House organic garden is probably reseeded with rye grass by now.
    When we regain participatory democracy wholesome food production will be one of our most urgent issues. Rachel Carson herself died of breast cancer that was probably environmentally induced. I was lucky enough when I lived in Washington (suburban MD) in the 80s to visit her former home and speak with neighbors who knew her. She was ridiculed and harassed by the petrochemical and agricultural corporations until her predictions were undeniable. Such is an oft repeated pattern for honest researchers. Moyers needs to provide a heading for your chosen area of interest. Michael Pollan is not enough. I consider his work too compromised. Poor food is a fatal symptom of capitalist failure. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can digest money.

  • Alex

    I think the the paradigm of thinking in terms of capitalism vs. socialism limits our ability to understand the solution.  If we think in terms of property rights, I think we can better find a system that works.  Centralized planned economies don’t work-history has proven this.  Those in control will eventually get corrupted and you end with misallocation of resources.  Even worst, this system limits freedom.  If you have PRIVATE capital, I think you should be able to invest and risk it as you please.  The thing about the banking system is that by law they are permitted to run a legalized ponzi (fractional reserve banking).  This is not necessarily a bad thing as it creates incentive to invest and promotes full utilization of resources and human capital. But it is permitted to exist by law.  If not, it would collapse as soon as the people would realize their savings were not in the bank.  But because there is a FDIC sign on the window we can all carry on pretending all our deposits are there for us to liquidate.  This in reality is functioning as a PUBLIC utility.  That is, it serves to facilitate growing the money supply but it grows in conjunction with real economic activity, that is people producing and working and creating products and services in a market system.  And it has limits on the leverage it can have- if not, it would go out of control.  That is what happened with the  new rules.  If I print money on a printer in  my house and then go spend it, I’m stealing from society as a whole-that is why it is illegal.  What these banks are permitted to do now is similar to this.  They can say they are creating investment and facilitating commerce.  Well, the guy counterfeiting money from his printer can say the same thing.  He can print his bills and put people to work for him.  We don’t need a bunch of regulation.  We just need to have rules on commercial banking as it really is-a function of a public utility.  As for the rest of the shenanigans in Wall Street, we just need to use old fashion laws against fraud.  And as far as buying an insurance for  property that is not mine, well, that is called gambling, and carries PUBLIC risk and it should be regulated.  If  someone buys insurance that says they will get paid if my car explodes, I would be scared to drive the car, specially if they made the car!  This is similar to the naked default swaps.  All these functions can be define as public or private.  We all know that a road is public and we don’t have the same freedom on it as we do in our house because our actions can violate the property of others.  

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, so long as we have a “representative democracy” there will never be such a thing as a “tamper-proof” political economy. Congresspersons, much like ordinary folks, are always for sale to the highest bidder. After Republicans and their banker/investment management friends brought down the entire world economy in the 1930s, we erected safeguards and were assured ever since that such a thing could never happen again. Those safeguards were eliminated by greedy people and their government lackeys.
    So, yes, erecting safeguards is always a good and prudent thing, but one can never let one’s guard down. That’s why the people who want to rid the world of regulations to make capitalism safe from interference are simply wrong-headed, or ignorant, or both. The world can never operate successfully on autopilot. Balance is everything and we always need to be vigilant and guard against excesses at either end of the political spectrum. Neither the right nor the left are answers–always the middle is our safe ground, and the middle requires thoughtful people using thoughtful approaches, something notably lacking today.
    And, the prison thing??? Sometimes one needs to employ a 2 x 4 applied to the forehead . . . just to see if people are paying attention.

    Richard Schmidt

    http://www.artfulnotes.blogspot.com
    (cranky old man blog)

    http://www.observedart.blogspot.com
    (artsy blog)

    http://www.quiltingforkids.wordpress.com
    (Carol’s blog)

  • SparkyJP

    I believe that the system is broken and there is no way to work within the existing system. Our leaders have proven that they cannot be trusted; and the people should have more oversight of our government. Personally, I prefer a Direct Democracy as described here:
    http://osixs.org/Rev2_menu_commonsense.aspx

    When the representative body have lost the
    confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their
    most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the
    people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office
    becomes dangerous to the State, and calls for an exercise of the power of
    dissolution.

         ~Thomas Jefferson~

  • Anonymous

    You’re entitled to your opinion but not entitled to have your scheme reimplemented after it has repeatedly failed and hurt so many decent families. Fixation on money and money values is a limitation of both capitalism and socialism. I hope you have a very expensive laser printer with a rapid output and endless cartridges because the black hole of global debt is rapidly growing stronger. Don’t print too many billion dollar bills because even Walmart can’t make the change.

  • Anonymous

    A tamper proof political economy would be closer if we capped wealth and income.

  • Anonymous

    Using the 2×2 would get you in prison, Richard, or permanently ostracized from civilization. 

  • Anonymous

    Ahhh, but were we to cap wealth and income how would the 1% survive to become the next class of American royalty. Sarah and the Newt would not be happy . . .
    Richard

    http://www.artfulnotes.blogspot.com (cranky old man blog)

    http://www.observedart.blogspot.com (artsy blog)

    http://www.quiltingforkids.wordpress.com (Carol’s blog)

  • Sniper4point0

    The saddest note to add to the entire financial melt-down is the fact that thousands of people were removed from being able to participate in the “re-build”.  The collateral damage of bankruptcies – not from mismanagement, but from the evaporation of descretionary money that was used to pay for services from small service type businesses of 20 employees and less.  The owners and families of many of those businesses are now broke.  The employees are broke.  The businesses will not be able to be re-started by the same people that started them in the first place.  So many of those businesses had been “family owned” for several generations.  When they disolved, their creditors took a hit as well.  The dominos just kept falling.  The banks stopped lending….  the “10 years” of bad credit reporting to come will prohibit the previous owners from being able to participate in the recovery, if there is one.  I’ve yet to hear any reporter address this problem.  Small communities are suffering the most.  After listening to Mr. Moyers and John Reed speaking on this financial debacle, I was astounded at Mr. Reed’s almost shoulder shrug when talking about what happened and how he, Sandy Wheil along with many in Congress and other financial heavy weights orchestrated the demise of the laws protecting the consumers, then following by saying in effect, “Oops!  Our bad!”  Their “bad” has destroyed countless lives in our America, and, yet, they remain free to roam about with the money that they basically stole.  Come to the country, boys.  We have a little something prepared just for you.  Hope you can swim.

  • Kyledr

    Wow, is it really that bad? Go spend a year in China and then tell me our system is that bad. I’m sorry but the Occupy movement has lost touch with reality if that is the change they are calling for. I had hopes for it too. You are now officially a minority left wing group of extremists. Practically insignificant. Capitalism is the freedom to spend your money how you want to. The problems are the age old human flaws like greed. The LOVE of money is the problem, not the money itself. There will never be a perfect system because human beings are not perfect. That’s why you can come one here and write about how bad capitalism is but you have no ideas for a better system. I think if people get their priorities straight and focus on specific reforms we can build a better system but if all you do is complain about the one we have and how it needs to be done away with you will continue to be an insignificant extremist that no one takes seriously. 

  • Kyledr

    I don’t think it helps much that the news on TV is owned by huge corporations trying to make profits. They have turned news into reality TV. It’s more about arguing and bashing people because that is what sells. And the politicians want to get rid of public radio. I think it is very scary that so many people get their opinions from cable news and talk radio. There is so much misinformation and bias and lack of real reporting about real issues. The solution? I have no friggin idea! Better education maybe? Teach our kids no to believe the b.s. I mean free speech is free speech and now money is speech so it’s a tough one. 

  • Dturkon

    I don’t like the question because it focuses on how to serve Americans.  The Bretton Woods institutions make capitalism, crony corporate capitalism that is, a global problem and that is the only way to address the question.

  • Atticgal

    Thanks to those of you who have posted in the discussion. However, I am surprised and disappointed that only 25 folks have commented on the question of whether our capitalistic system needs to be addressed, and how to improve/change it. This is a location I come to for information. So, who will step up and become invoved in this discussion in order that concerned people, like me, can read and listen and evaluate the options?

  • Alex

    Interesting to note that all radio and cable channels are broadcast through public space.  Radio and satellite use the airwaves and space.  And cable has to run its cables under public property- that is roads, sidewalks etc.  We the people have decided that what better serves the public good is what serves the interest of the multinational corporations regardless of the external costs to ourselves.

  • Gregory Gull

    Occupy Wall Street is bringing to most everyone’s attention that we, the 99%, are not mere cogs in the economic machinery and those in the executive suite are not our overlords.  I applaud the courage and commitment of those standing up for the rights of citizens.However as long as our society practices capitalistic democracy, the overlords of industry will have us be governed according to their self-serving interests—overly influencing the democratic process from elections to directing both policy and law/regulation—whereby the common and collective voice and interests of the citizenry matters not.  So the demand for change must go to the root of the problem.So what is the solution? As explained in It’s the Econome, Stupid (http://forprogressnotgrowth.com/econome/ ), the engine of self-interest driving business and economic activity is destined to destroy the very system it created and depends on—it is a system that is nothing but suicidal! You see, the pursuit of unlimited growth and wealth accumulation is not a self-regulating process, but rather self-reinforcing toward self- destruction.A little greed manifests as unfairness and a lot of greed as fraud—neither are acceptable in the governance of society.  So the demand for change must go to the root of the problem. We must first change what we believe about humankind–what we’ve learned since Adam Smith put forth his economic theory–and then change the system accordingly, not merely seek to regulate greed. 

  • leftofcenter

    I just got back home from running some errands. I drove roughly five miles. In that time I saw at least 5 homless people and at least 15 others (not sure what their situation is).  Some would ask, are they really homeless? Or, are they running a scam?

    I’ve been homless twice because of a serious health problem that I couldn’t get treatment for. Many of the top 1% think this is entirely my fault. I’ve literally had some of these people say to my face, don’t blame me. It’s your responsibility. You fix it.

    Now, how do you respond to that? I like pain and humiliation? I like sleeping on the street and wondering where my next meal is coming from?

    If you go somewhere and see some homeless person, do you look at them? Or, do you turn away and pretend they don’t exist? I’m not trying to blame anyone who’s reading this. I’m just asking a legitimate question.

    The truth is the current system needs to be replaced. However, the Powers that Be won’t allow that. Instead, the homeless and others who are fighting to survive as used as political soundbites to get votes. If any of the Presidential candidates decided to spend one night on the street disguised as a homeless person, first, where would you hide the Secret Service people? Second, would this be educational for the candidate and the public at large? Or, would it be manipulated by their campaign handlers, the MSM and insulting to real homeless people everywhere?

  • JLB

    Mr. Reed had the stones to admit on national television that he screwed up.  I think we ought to cut him a break.

  • JLB

    Why don’t we stop blaming anybody and start coming up with viable solutions that have a chance of making it through the political process.  The people who are running this country –  and the people who elect them – need to spend more time finding solutions and less time pointing fingers at each other.

  • JLB

    As long as big money is financing elections, there is no way our economic system will be “changed, radicalized and reformed.”  The election season should be shortened, super PACs outlawed, and the whole election process should be reformed, starting with the elimination of the Electoral College.  Then, when we have elected people who are interested in coming up with some real solutions to our current problems, we can talk about the viability of capitalism. 

  • http://twitter.com/williammaurer William Maurer

    Shame on  us for letting this happen. Time for Americans to get more involved and educated about how this crony capitalist elite club works and take it apart. If you grew up in the sixties, you know it can be accomplished. Nixon looks like a choir boy compared to these guys. Its quite simply sociopathic behavior. Our prisons are full of less dangerous individuals than this new dominant breed criminals, masquerading as financial geniuses. They are predators without conscience. It’s obscene.

  • George Demarse

    Yes. Global capitalism is failing the middle class. Economic data clearly point to vastly increased income inequality over the last 40 years–less social mobility across class lines, consistent high unemployment levels and lack of meaningful job creation. This has created a clear ideological division between the entrenched successful capitalists and their media elites and the losers in global capitalism, namely, the middle and working classes. This clear division is a relatively new phenomenon, as the middle class slowly realizes they are losing wealth and opportunity.

    It’s clear that Wall Street refuses any meaningful regulation on its shenanigans–calling any common sense regulation “interference.” Yes it is interference, interference of a “gambling casino” mentality with other peoples’ wealth. The Republicans, who represent the entrenched  wealth, simply argue that if you are not successful under capitalism, it’s your fault, you are “lazy.”  Further, there is no problem that  more supply side economics can’t solve–as if another Reagan era is the answer to getting the economy “moving again.”   I guess there is one problem, “Obama’s policies” –we don’t know which policies those are exactly that are causing all these problems–but more wealth skewed to the top will cure them.

    The Democrats aren’t much better. They talk about a “slow recovery.”  “recovery is on the way,” etc., and once it is here, everything will be back to normal. Not true–capitalism has increasing structural problems that are here to stay. Until we have national politicans admit that global capitalism is indeed failing the middle class, and have a clear vision of what a new economic/social system would look like in the 21st century that promises to distribute wealth and opportunity more evenly, we will continue to get what the current politicians dish out–ideological unreality.

    George DeMarse
    The Sage of Wake Forest

     

  • George Demarse

    Excellent stuff JLB. I agree. I have come up with the idea of foregoing representative democracy altogether, since the outcomes are dysfunctional at best. We need a professional civil service (which we have, what is left of it) to run the major functions of government, foreign policy, defense, domestic policy) on a stable course dictated by events, not ideological politicians. This group of employees would be unelected–they would function simply as a professional core of employees responding to problems and implementing common sense solutions. They would be hired and fired by agency managers (unelected) and civil service rules based on job standards and performance,  not elections.

    George DeMarse
    U.S. Office of Personnel Management (Ret)  

  • George Demarse

    To Atticgal. Read “Winner Take All Politics” by Hacker and Pierson and “The Case for Big Government” by Hedrick. Those are two good books to get you started.

    George DeMarse
    The Sage of Wake Forest 

  • George Demarse

    That’s because the Ron Paul people are nabobs of negativity–relying on dead Austrian economist principles that even the Austrians can’t use. Their basic belief is “the markets will automatically correct themselves to optimum in the long run.” The problem, as Keynes pointed out many years ago, is we are all dead in the long run. 

    George DeMarse
    The Sage of Wake Forest

  • George Demarse

    Correction. The author of “The Case for Big Government” is Jeff Madrick. Not Hedrick.

    Thanks.
    George DeMarse

  • George DeMarse

    Good question. As you point out, there are no “main stream” socialists/Marxists in the U.S. that should be part of the political conversation. It must boil down to several points: 1) The U.S. does not produce any viable socialists 2) main stream media denies access to socialists 3) political discourse denies access to socialists 4) recent U.S. political history has shut out socialist discourse (the fall of the Soviet Union, etc.  5) Americans have shown no interest in socialism until very recently. It must be a comination of these factors that keeps meaningful socialism at bay–but hopefully that is coming to an end as global capitalism fails the middle class, and known scholars and commentators are pointing that out with facts.    

  • Guest

    With the incoming of automation and robotics in Manufacturing capitalism is surely going to fail unless there is a balance with socialism 

  • Xt4sdad

    Capitalism gives everyone the power to choose.

  • Michael Hulsey

    I’ve always believed in capitalism and free markets. I’ve witnessed how much more efficient and cost effective private enterprise is when addressing problems as opposed to the government interfering. Capitalism has created choice and wealth. But now I have my doubts. The middle class is dying. Yes, some of that is because many took it for granted that the world would always be as it was in some golden age and they didn’t prepare themselves for the new economy, but a lot of it can’t be blamed on middle class apathy. So wherein lies the problem? I don’t mean the quick, easy, catchy bumper-sticker blame-it-on-whatever-political-ideology-you-oppose answer, but the real cause of such systemic structural failures in the capitalist system. It is just beginning to look to me like this “global” approach gives to much incentive to exploit and drain until there’s nothing left and then move on and do it all over again somewhere else. The problem is, it IS consolidating the wealth among a small group of people, and the rest of us will soon no longer be able to buy what they are selling. Then what happens? A few who are willing to be slaves survive so that the resources of the elite can be cultivated to sustain only them? I whole-heartedly reject that any form of socialism is the answer – but what really is going to save us?

  • George DeMarse

    Not really.
    Capitalism is the old mantra “vote with your dollars.” If capitalism does not produce good paying jobs and benefits, which it is not, you have “no dollars” to vote with. The rich have the dollars and the votes–the can survive the volatility of capitalism. 
    In order to balance the game away from the 1%, the “rules” of capitalism must be changed. This can only be done through “collective” action–political power.

    The Sage of Wake Forest 

  • joe smith

    Until 1970 laborers had some leverage against the selfish Capitalist; that is, he was needed to do the work and he was aided by powerful unions in his pursuit of a fair wage.  Increasingly after 1970 American productivity became so efficient, mechanized,  computerized and sent offshore that the number of workers needed shrank while the population grew. 
     
    Reagan dealt the death blow to the unions with the Air Traffic controllers  destruction.  Reagan then deregulated banks allowing them to concentrate wealth in their hands, thus giving them the means to buy up the Congress and have tax law favor the formation of a plutocracy.  Clinton and Bush 2 continued  the process. 

     But the underlying problem is we have too many people and no jobs.  There is plenty of  money, food and shelter: it has just concentrated in the hands of the clever class.  The gullible class blames it on Obama who becomes a scapegoat for the super wealthy.  This will probably give the rich another 4-8 years of fruitful plundering.  By then they will be so entrenched only a revolution will be able to unseat them.