March 19, 2012
-- by Dave Johnson
“There was clearly something wrong with the U.S. economy long before the crash.”
Consensus. Again and again, people who examine what went wrong with our economy leading up to the great recession come to the same conclusions! Study after study, book after book, statement after statement, op-ed after op-ed, organization after organization, expert after expert, all weighing in, all coming to the same conclusions. One after another voices speak up (click through for just a sampling), voicing their understanding of what happened to the economy, what caused the crash and what we have to do to fix things. One after another they voice the same conclusions: our economy was damaged by,
- tax cuts for the rich combined with huge military budget increases (and wars) that led to budget deficits and increased inequality;
- trade deals that damaged vital industries and led to trade deficits, layoffs and wage cuts;
- deregulation of rules that protected working people, unions, vital economic sectors and the commons of public wealth;
- and cuts in crucial areas of investment in our people and our economic future, including education & job training, infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, transportation and R&D into new technologies.
All of these betrayals of the social contract were enabled by the influence of big money on our political system, including huge sums spent on an infrastructure of corporate/conservative organizations designed to propagandize the public into accepting these changes - or at least keeping the victims from rebelling.
This Time, The AFL-CIO
This time the AFL-CIO offers their analysis, Fixing What Is Wrong With Our Economy. Here are a few excerpts - but if you have been paying attention you have heard all of this again and again from all directions:
The crash was the end-result of policy changes brought in with the "Reagan Revolution:"
The crash of 2008 and the Great Recession were inevitable consequences of three decades of economic policies designed by and for Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans. At the heart of the problem was the hollowing out of American manufacturing, the growing dysfunction of our financial sector and a rapid increase in economic inequality, all of which crippled the growth engine of the U.S. economy.
Trade deals and policy choices that sent jobs, factories and industries out of the country:
[. . .] The deindustrialization of America and the substitution of speculation for productive investment were not accidents, they were not inevitable, and they were not the outcome of natural forces. They were the predictable results of mistaken policy choices made by politicians of both parties for more than a generation. These policy choices had victims with first and last names: millions of displaced workers, shuttered factories and hollowed-out communities across the country hobbled by shrinking tax bases that no longer could support vital public services.
In The Way
The corporate/conservative propaganda apparatus (and its candidates for office) continue to demand even more tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts in the things our government does for We, the People:
[. . .] The Republican candidates pretend that tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy are the answer to wage stagnation and the economic crisis, but the Bush years taught us that these obscenely wasteful tax cuts only make the problem worse. They are the equivalent of eating our seed corn, because they starve the kind of public investment in education, infrastructure and innovation that is indispensable for long-term economic growth.
Again and again experts tell us how to fix the problems we face in our economy and society: restore democracy's (the 99%'s) controls over corporations (the 1%) and especially re-regulate the financial sector, reverse the taxation policies that led to budget deficits and extreme inequality, fix the trade deals and other policies that led to trade deficits and allow the wealthy to pit working people against each other, and invest heavily in our country and people again. That's a start, anyway -- get the influence of big money and big money's propaganda machine out of our politics and maybe after a while We, the People can start addressing the rest of our problems again.
The AFL-CIO's conclusions, from a summary of the analysis:
The statement outlines several significant steps that need to be taken to build an economy that can compete with world economic powers like Germany and China and that works for all, including:
- Significant investment over the next decade in education and apprenticeship programs for young people, infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, transportation, skills training and new technologies;
- A fair share from Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans, who have benefited most from the economic policies of the past 30 years—pass a financial speculation tax, let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire and tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income;
- Tackling the problems of wage stagnation and economic inequality by reforming labor laws so that all workers who want to form a union and bargain collectively have a fair opportunity to do so, making full employment the highest priority of our economic policy, increasing and indexing the minimum wage, shrinking the trade deficit and eliminating incentives for offshoring;
- Reviving U.S. manufacturing by bringing the trade deficit under control, enhancing Buy America safeguards, aggressively enforcing trade laws and ending incentives for offshoring;
- Once again regulating Wall Street, eliminating tax advantages for leveraged buyouts and finding other ways to favor strategic investment over short-term speculation;
- And working toward a global New Deal that establishes minimum standards for the global economy, prevents a race to the bottom, creates vibrant consumer markets in the global South and creates new markets for advanced U.S. manufacturing.
The American people aren’t stupid. Majorities are also coming to the same conclusions. The American Majority in poll after poll show agreement with these conclusions.
We have to reverse the corporate/conservative, anti-government, pro-1% policies that started about 35 years ago. All the charts show the changes, when the changes happened, and how those changes have worn away at our economy and our people -- click through and see for yourself the story that the numbers tell: tax cuts, deregulation and outsourcing our jobs, factories and industries has not helped our economy or our people. Since then all the gains from the efforts of all of us have gone to fewer and fewer of us. Since then our infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. Since then our trade deficit has gotten worse and worse. Since then regular people -- the 99% -- have been falling further and further behind, democracy has eroded to the breaking point, with plutocracy -- rule of, by and for the 1% -- taking its place.
Our wealth is being extracted for the benefit of a few. We, the People must reassert control, or face further decline.
Posted by Dave Johnson at March 19, 2012 7:25 AM
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