With the Dow Jones industrial average flirting with a record high, the split between American workers and the companies that employ them is widening and could worsen in the next few months as federal budget cuts take hold.
We are finally seeing that Karl Marx was correct. History does repeat itself. First as tragedy and then as farce.
He was writing about the rise of a fascist government in France. Perhaps we are now living in a similar drama, one more in parallel with an earlier French government.
An earlier government where the ruling elite were woefully out of touch. Where a financial crisis, brought on by the debt load from fighting two wars, left millions of people unable to work or support their family. Where the ruing elite refused to allow revenue increases
While Marie Antoinette very likely never said “Let them eat cake”, it did reflect the view of the population for the disinterest of the ruling elite.
The parallels with the current austerity push, by both parties, well fits Marx’ description. This farce already is well populated by comical characters supposedly representing our leaders but more accurately representing the needs of their monied masters.
Well, we now have our Marie Antoinette – Savita Subramanian, head of United States equity and quantitative strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. When asked about the effect of the sequester on Wall Street she replied “It’s minimal” and that “the market wants more austerity.” Instead of a monarch stating the obvious view of the ruling elite, we have an executive at a major bank. We know who our rulers are and they are not even being circumspect about it anymore.
And if the market wants it, we must give it to them. All this while we wend our way to 1 million fewer jobs this year.
If you give out-of-work people no hope, no jobs, if they lose the ability to feed themselves, what do the ruling elite of either political persuasion think will happen? If you allow the criminals running the financial system, who caused the financial crash int he first place, to get off scot-free while forcing families into bankruptcy, what do the ruling elite of either political persuasion think will happen?
We once were able to fight this, to change the tragedy into victory. Now we are creating more bathos than pathos.
During the Depression, in the first 100 days of the New Deal, it was almost all about jobs, about getting people back into the economy. Relief and recovery were the words. Finding ways to get a wage to people so they could feed themselves and keep a roof over their head.
During the Depression, the banking elite were actually tried and convicted. Richard Whitney, who had been the head of the NYSE, was prosecuted by a Republican and sent to Sing Sing for 10 years. The Pecora Commission revealed the atrocities that many of the elite had committed. The public was shocked to hear that JP Morgan had not paid any income tax. The result was sweeping legislation to bring them under control. Glass-Steagell was a result.
Its repeal, by both Democrats and Republicans, is the proximate cause for the collapse we have seen. Without that repeal, we might be doing much, much better. All of us.
In the 30s, many Republicans and Democrats were focussed on helping people find work and getting justice from those who caused the panic.
We hear none of that now by any major politician. All we hear about are policies destined to make the rich richer, give more power to corporations and reduce income for others. Take a look at htis graph, examining the percentage of GDP from corporate profits and from citizens.
Businesses and the rich are doing better than ever. The Dow is at an all time high. Personal income is at a forty year low, with millions of people out of work.
Why is this not a major point of discussion? Why are we working to give the rich even more power?
Or this graph, showing how tremendous the last 30 years have been for the top 1% and how awful for the rest of us, all while productivity continues to increase.
We once had leaders, of many different political stripes. Now we simply have buffoons.
Now we have few politicians of either party who care about the hardships of the millions out of work. Austerity must be fed.
Now we have few politicians of either party who care about the hardship of those who are retired. Austerity must be fed.
Now we have few politicians of either party who want to control the corporations or exact justice from those who wronged. Austerity must be fed.
Now all we hear from both parties is more money for the rich and businesses, and less for Americans. Even though we know that austerity does not work to help an economy. It only works to help the rich elite.
Why must austerity be fed? Who really benefits from cuts to Social Security, cuts to Medicare, cuts for food stamps, cuts to the military, cuts to education, cuts to space, cuts to transportation? Not the American people.
Just those who do not need Social Security because they have enough money. Those who do not need Medicare because they can afford the best insurance. Those who will never need food stamps, who will never serve in the military, who will send their children to private schools and who can fly their own jets anywhere
We hear about too big to fail. We hear about unlimited spending by super PACs. We hear about corrupt politicians leaving to get ludicrously high paying jobs as lobbyists for the very industries they oversaw.
Farce, bathos, buffoons. That is America today. That is the downward path we are now being led by our leaders. I would not expect them to lead us for much longer.
If we look at history for similar times, chaos usually erupts being filled by an autocrat. That is how other democracies fell: the Roman Republic and the First French Republic. We were afraid of the chaos before and corrected the problem in the 30s, taking us off that path.
I figure if we continue to fall along this path, if the citizens of the US continue to let the elite destroy our system, then we could very well be a third example. I will be happy if people on both sides rise up against austerity and demand fair jobs for themselves, if they rise up and demand firm control of banks and corporations, if they rise up and shame the politicians of both parties.
If we don’t, then Karl Marx will truly be correct.