Monday, March 31, 2008

"Recession? If you say so. Things are exactly the same down here."
- William Gillis

I think he's spot on here, except that to call privileged workers "upper class" is a severe semiotic error, IMO. As far as I'm concerned the "upper class" are the people that are behind the croupier's stick, not the ones at the gaming table, no matter how well they have the odds stacked for them.

Your average "suit and tie" person is not upper class, though they may be a useful dupe of the upper class. What IS good is that these people will begin to wake up to the fact that there is a much larger game at work, and that they haven't necessarily "made it" at all.

For many of us, living on the periphery of "the economy", a financial collapse will only help us in terms of relative purchasing power. Productive Labor must receive a wage high enough to reproduce itself, no matter how it's denominated. This fact is actually a cause for much of the concern of the ruling class. They've squeezed and squeezed and there's not that much "maneuvering room" left for them. They can crush the "upper middle class" now, and wring some profit away, but then what? Not to mention the political instability that will cause, when the "silent majority" starts to identify with the rest of us. Their only hope will be to cause enough cultural division and conflict to keep us at each others' throats a little bit longer.

And so they shall try. Expect to see more "identity politics" and pseudo-christian "culture war" issues in the media soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Some people say that China is an experiment. Is it possible to have a USA-style booming economy when you:

* deny people freedom of speech
* deny people the right to communicate freely
* deny people the illusion that they have the right to choose their leaders by voting

I suspect the answer is "You can't have a booming economy lacking all the above." The bad guys are hoping that China will prove the answer is "You can have a booming economy lacking the above", and use China as the model for the future US economy. Currently, the booming Chinese economy is really US companies relocating their factories to China, using production techniques developed in the USA. China won't reach the level of innovation present in the US or Japan, unless they allow their citizens the ability to think independently. Currently, a lot of factories are being developed in China, but you don't hear of many new technologies being invented in China. Contrast that with Japan, which contributes many inventions in the area of electronics and software."

I tend to be sympathetic to this view. I suspect that the USSR was also a failed experiment. There is historical evidence in the gaps to suggest that it was. (for instance, the secret funnelling of money from Wall Street to Lenin in the 20s, or the findings of the congressional commission studying the Ford and Rockefeller foundations in the 50s... )

On a similar geopolitical note, I think the thing that messes up peoples heads when they compare Europe and the US is the belief that Europe has a less free market than the US. I think the opposite. It's just that the kind of interventions that are used more in Western Europe tend to be the kind of things that conservatives bitch about - i.e. the "crutches" provided to the people who have had their socio-economic legs broken by the kind of controls that conservatives never talk much about but are very prevalent in the US economy.
(licensing laws, zoning laws, construction permits, copyrights, property acquisition laws, laws protecting people from their own choices - all very subtle but devastating to the poor and lower middle class)