This link has been sitting in my “Saved Posts” folder waiting for me to write something about it since Sunday. Someone else posted it, so I’ll just reblog, ‘cause I’m lazy. And everyone should read Mike Konczal’s blog.
really interesting analysis.
First, we removed the possibility of creating real, binding contracts by allowing employers to bust the unions that had been entering into these agreements for millions of people. Second, we allowed those same employers to cancel existing contracts, virtually at will, by transferring liability from one corporate shell to another, or letting a subsidiary go into Chapter 11 and then moving to “cancel” the contract rights, including lifetime health benefits and pensions. As one company after another “reorganized” in Chapter 11 to shed contract rights, working people learned that it was not rational to count on those rights and guarantees, or even to think in these future-oriented ways. No wonder people in our country began to live for the moment and take out loans and start running up debts.
And then we dismantled the most ancient of human laws, the law against usury, which had existed in some form in every civilization from the time of the Babylonian Empire to the end of Jimmy Carter’s term, and which had been so taken for granted that no one ever even mentioned it to us in law school. That’s when we found out what happens when an advanced industrial economy tries to function with no cap at all on interest rates.
Here’s what happens: the financial sector bloats up. With no law capping interest, the evil is not only that banks prey on the poor (they have always done so) but that capital gushes out of manufacturing and into banking. When banks get 25 percent to 30 percent on credit cards, and 500 or more percent on payday loans, capital flees from honest pursuits, like auto manufacturing. Sure, GM is awful. Sure, it doesn’t innovate. But the people who could have saved GM and Ford went off to work at AIG, or Merrill Lynch, or even Goldman Sachs. All of this used to be so obvious as not to merit comment. What is history, really, but a turf war between manufacturing, labor, and the banks? In the United States, we shrank manufacturing. We got rid of labor. Now it’s just the banks.
David Graeber again, in an interview with Ezra Klein of the Washington Post about what the Occupy Wall Street protesters are trying to do. This is somewhat opposed to the Doug Henwood article I linked to a couple days ago. So, a couple different perspectives on the need for specific demands.
Oh, and midnight passed since the last one, so I feel justified in tagging this one “Link Of The Day” as well.
Doug Henwood argues that the Occupy Wall Street protesters need to come up with an actual purpose soon. This is his idea for something that they (and really most of the rest of us) can use as a rallying call. In any event, it’s worth checking out his reasons for it, as he’s actually a real leftist that loves this sort of thing, and not a moderate center-left neoliberal that tsk-tsk’s about those radicals, which seems to be the furthest left you can go in the mainstream media.
In any event, I’ve been ignoring this whole protest, and shouldn’t be. I’ve finally got some links to write up along these lines, hopefully.