News, culture, and politics. Not necessarily in that order.

Ocelopotamus header image 2

Jerome a Paris on the Politics of the Market Crash

August 22nd, 2007 · 1 Comment · Activism, Blogs, Fair Trade, Infrastructure, Media, News, Politics, The Economy, Stupid, Trade

moneybagI’ve been meaning to point out this excellent diary Jerome a Paris posted on Daily Kos last Friday, entitled “Politics of the Market Crash.” Jerome is one of my favorite posters at DKos (and at the European Tribune), and when he’s on, he’s really on.

So even though I’m nearly a week late mentioning this, I didn’t want to just cram it into my next roundup.

Jerome starts out by making the point that what’s happening economically is a teachable moment (we’re having so many of those lately! They fall from the heavens like rain!)

The current financial crisis literally begs for the left to reclaim the political initiative and say out loud some hard truths about the devastating economic policies of the past 25 years inflicted upon the world by Reagan and Thatcher with the support of the neo-libs and the rightwing noise machine.

Here are a few of the destructive philosophies Jerome identifies as root causes of our current crisis:

• the ideology of greed (this is the core of the conservative talking point: the idea that being selfish is somehow good for others as it creates more wealth, and thus that unregulated markets are good for society);
• the idea that only financial valuations give worth to anything (again, the cult of the dollar, and the underlying notion that trying to get rich is a good thing for society);
• the notion that wage inflation is bad but not asset price inflation (money going to the poor is bad, money going to the rich is good);
• the shockingly lax monetary policy of the past decade (when markets go up, fuelled by what is essentially easy public money, it’s capitalism at work; when markets go down, because of poor investments by the rich, it’s a systemic crisis and the rich need to be bailed out or else);

… among others.

He also suggests a few positive messages we can use to counter the toxic ones above, including:

• Wealth is not defined by how the richest fare, and should not be counted via how much they accumulate, but only by how the poorest amongst us are doing.
• Society is not doing well when the rich get richer, but when communities care for their members, leave no one behind, and do not focus exclusively on how much money one has to rank and judge members. Richer does not mean better. Together is better.
• Things built to last are the most valuable, even if they create no profit today. Infrastructure, education, careful nurturing of rare resources are investments that pay for all in the long run and can be handed over to future generations. Many government tasks are investments, not costs.

There’s more, and I do recommend reading the whole darn thing.


One Comment so far ↓

  • Aaron

    Jerome is absolutely right on all counts. Sadly, the greediest among us are also the most plentiful, and the most eager for instant gratification. Hence the desire for “quick fixes” like the bail-outs and the disdain for long-term investments in education and health care–that takes too long for people whose patience is measured not in years or decades, but in episodes of “Big Brother” and “American Idol.” Fast is the only good way.

    We’re tree-hugging hippie radicals to suggest otherwise. The right has been very effective at spreading their message. We have NOT been good at spreading ours.