Monday, March 8, 2010

Enough Already: Venting Over Four Decades of Right-Wing Activism

Today, Richard Nixon would be considered a flaming liberal. In Nixon's day, Barack Obama would have passed as a typical conservative; except, if you remove considerations of civil rights from consideration, he might even be a fairly hard line conservative.

The Bill of Rights is pretty well shredded. Freedom of speech is fast becoming the special privilege of corporations. Economic pressures, fueled by greedy shareholders, have eviscerated the press, leaving freedom the press virtually meaningless.

The most important part of the Fifth Amendment is probably the takings clause, which is interpreted to restrict the right of the government to regulate property.

Perhaps, the Second Amendment is the most important amendment, giving people the right to arm themselves with anything short of a nuclear weapon.

All this right-wing nonsense might be somewhat understandable if it were necessary to provide for a good life; however, the economy is becoming as dysfunctional as the ridiculous political system.

Watching people rebel politically or in the streets in Iceland and Greece, while people in the United States express their frustrations with the tea party, makes me noxious. My problem with the tea party movement is one of political jealousy. Many of the participants share my frustration at the class bias of the system, but they seem confused, mistaking late capitalism or socialism. Sure, the tax system is rigged against ordinary people, but it works in favor of the same people who are running the tea party movement.

Unfortunately, the left (if there is such a thing) seems unable to articulate a strong call to action. Instead, our anger bubbles up periodically -- today, over the evisceration of education; tomorrow, over an escalation or extension of the war; or maybe even the promotion of a protest candidate, but a systematic program is nowhere to be found in the public dialogue.

What is to be done (but vent)? I hope not.


TheTrucker said...

I think the heterodox economists need to join forces in the way that I am recommending that the left join forces. In my political jacking I see the very real class war that is emerging and the crying need for New Coalitions

I keep looking at the supposed theories on money and for the life of me cannot understand how endogenous money theorists can escape the realities of fiat money in the way they are attempting to do. At the same time I can't see how the chartalists can claim that bank money nets to zero.

vimothy said...

Trucker, it's quite simple. Banks create money by making loans. A loan is an asset of the bank and a liability of the borrower. The difference between the two is obviously zero, because its the same transaction viewed from different sides. A $10 asset (loan from the bank) minus a $10 liability (debt to the bank) is zero. So banks can create "money", but for every credit money asset there is an equal offsetting liability.

It's not a Chartalist claim per se (as I see it anyway), it's financial accounting/double entry bookkeeping.

Anonymous said...

This post does well to touch on an important topic. It reminded me of a post I recently read on the Yglesias site. An author named Jonathan Rauch had written:
"Wallace was a right-wing populist, not a conservative. The rise of his brand of pseudo-conservatism in Republican circles should alarm anyone who cares about the genuine article."
And Mr. Yglesias argued:
"This seems pretty strained to me. White supremacist southerners, often with some “populist” leanings, have always been recognized as integral elements of the midcentury conservative coalition. Strom Thurmond got the 1962 “Freedom Award” from Young Americans for Freedom. It’s true that modern-day conservatives don’t seem especially interested in reducing government outlays, but that’s always been the case. The idea that “small government” is the goal of conservative politics seems to me like a piety that’s never had much grounding in reality. The idea is to represent the interests of economic elites and the prejudices of the sociocultural majority and modern-day conservatives do this very well."

But of course Wallace was a 'Dixiecrat' and a staunch advocate of 'States Rights' so ultimately neither side of that argument is accurate. Both Rauch and Yglesias are failing to recognize the relationship between the Democratic Party and Organized Labor during the 1960s. And Yglesias lacks any historical understanding of the animosity between those advocating State's Rights and the "economic elite"(Yankee Bankers). Arguing that George Wallace believed that: "The idea is to represent the interests of economic elites...", is indicative of just how confused our national debate has become.

~ray l love

TheTrucker said...

The bank loans $10k and you are correct at square one in that the bank has an asset (the note signed by the borrower) worth $10k and as you say a balancing liability to pay out the $10k as the borrower pays himself and others to, lets say, create irrigation canals.

But as the money is paid out (taken from the checking account of the entrepreneur/borrower), the recipients of the money (the ditch diggers) put the money (wages) in the bank in their checking accounts. So at the end of a year when all the work is done you imagine that you have the note from the borrower balanced against the liability for all those checking accounts of the ditch diggers. So as that loan is repaid there is no adjustment to any offsetting liability because the bank has no offsetting liability. The bank has the $10k back in the vault to be used to address the liability created by the deposits of the ditch diggers yet the bank is still owed the original $10k.

The point is that the money never really leaves the banking system (we will disregard leakage to China), yet we have this "note" for $10k. And that note represents the new money that must exist as the loan is repaid. The bank may not have created money, but the process has created a need for money to account for an asset called an irrigation system that will allow the production of, say, twice as many apples per year than could have otherwise been produced.

The original deposit from which the loan was supposedly made never needed to have existed. If you insist on looking at is though the original depositor is owed the $10k by the borrower and those books balance then how do you account for the deposits of the ditch diggers? The banking system has created money.

TheTrucker said...

Back to the idea of NEW coalitions: It serves the middle class and labor very well at this pint to support states rights BECAUSE that is a bastion of defense/power against the financial elite. The Supremes have made this very clear. The Senate cannot be subjected to popular elections because populism will be controlled buy whosoever controls the mass media and that WILL BE THE FINANCIAL ELITE.

It would be good to pay the state legislators a very good salary for their service so as to make that job extremely desirable. In the smaller constituencies of legislative districts there will be people who want that job very much and who will constantly try to "catch" the current office holder doing something slimy. The integrity of the representative is assured by competition for the position while the desire for the office is increased by better remuneration. And in much smaller electoral districts familiarity and ground game will overcome mass media.

The state legislators, in the interest of the state and the people thereof should appoint the senators that represent the state. It is much more difficult to purchase the entire legislature than it is to "swift boat" a good candidate for the Senate. The people must compel their state legislators to call an article 5 convention to repeal the 17th amendment and thus re-empower the state legislatures. The 17th amendment is the most egregious display of progressive foot shooting in history.

Eleanor said...

I'm interested in the college and university protests, especially in California. College kids have a lot of energy, and their futures are being blocked. I'm also interested in a campaign in Maine to get local governments to pass resolutions asking the federal government to bring American money home from war and spend it in the US. I plan to ask my city councilperson for a similar resolution here. I'm also interested in online organizations such as MoveOn. I get a zillion action alerts and sign a zillion petitions and write a zillion letters to my congresspeople. Do these matter? A bit, I suspect. A combination of efforts -- demonstrations. resolutions, letters, selective support of candidates -- may make a difference. Then keep looking around for other things to do, which do not involve waving tea bags and wearing 18th century costumes. Maybe space cadet costumes and mentos in coke. And I write. Writing does matter. Analysis is needed.