From Pine View Farm

The Dispossessed 1

At Asia Times, Steve Fraser analyzes the banksters’ looting of America:

And yet the pit exists. It goes by the name of “austerity”. However, it didn’t just appear in time for the last election season or the lame-duck session of congress to follow. It was dug more than a generation ago, and has been getting wider and deeper ever since. Millions of people have long made it their home. “Debtpocalypse” is merely the latest installment in a tragic, 40-year-old story of the dispossession of American working people.

Think of it as the archeology of decline, or a tale of two worlds. As a long generation of austerity politics hollowed out the heartland, the quants and traders and financial wizards of Wall Street gobbled up ever more of the nation’s resources. It was another Great Migration – instead of people, though, trillions of dollars were being sucked out of industrial America and turned into “financial instruments” and new, exotic forms of wealth. If blue-collar Americans were the particular victims here, then high finance is what consumed them. Now, it promises to consume the rest of us.


1 comment

  1. George Smith

    December 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Paradoxically, I’ve just be reading Paul Krugman’s “The Age of Diminished Expectations,” written well before he was famous ca. ’90. And he goes on in great detail about the institution of monetarism by Paul Volcker, during the Reagan administration, to get inflation under control. As a result, tight money put the economy into a recession. I was at Lehigh earning a Ph.D. at the time and this was in the heart of Bethlehem, -the- steel town. Monetarism, it’s tight money and the result that the Japanese could cheaply sell their steel into America as a result of these policies, destroyed the middle class in the Lehigh Valley, which was built on the union work at Bethlehem Steel and support blue-collar industries. It was a slow death by strangulation and it turned Allentown into a slum. When I graduated in ’85 I couldn’t find work, the country was strangled, so I went to waste time post-docking at the Penn State School of Medicine in Hershey.
    Anyway, even at the time I noticed the people were voting for the politicians who were killing them. Buz Bissinger notes in Friday Night Lights, about Permian high football in Texas. The town was killed by the policies of Ronald Reagan yet they went nuts for him and the elder Bush when he subsequently ran for President.
    But back to Krugman. This early book talks about Japan — which was then the bogeyman of choice. It seems very quaint because that country arrived in the same wastebasket economy we’re in a decade earlier than we have. At the time Krugman talks about stalled productivity and inequality, which was rising starkly even then. Well, productivity was remedied, much of it by union concessions, the technology revolution and hard work but none of the gains were not shared by society, they were all taken by the very top. That trend was starting then and is so noted in his book as is the rise of the industry of financialization. Krugman is dubious about it, pointing out that the alleged gains to the economy aren’t really gains, they are re-apportionments of an existing pie, not additions, the larger sections going to those parts of American that were not producing anything for society. As I’ve indicated, it’s an interesting book because it was written before Krugman was who he is now and it is easy to understand why he developed into an economic voice for reason and restoration.
    However, I’m not optimistic. This election hasn’t changed anything yet. We have a debtocracy, where the actual debt is shoved onto the average person. It’s going to take decades of an anti-corporate animus and de-brainwashing to take hold to even have a chance to make changes. I’m convinced nothing can be done with talking to business leaders. They’re cast in cement. All that can be done is to continue working to turn people against them, to exact a cost for being as they have become. Ramming through an increased national living wage would be a start. That would be a cause worth taking up.