Archive for January 25th, 2011

It’s The Power, Stupid

Kevin Drum explains it all to you:

The problem is that a system that generates enormous income inequality also generates enormous power inequality — and if corporations and the rich are allowed to amass huge amounts of economic power, they’ll always use that power to keep their own tax rates low. It’s nearly impossible to create a high-tax/high-service state if your starting point is a near oligarchy where the rich control the levers of political power.

I am, fundamentally, old fashioned about this stuff: I think of the world as largely a set of competing power centers. Economics matters, but power matters at least as much, and I think that students of political economy these days spend way too much time on the economy and way too little time on the political. This explains, for example, why I regret the demise of private sector labor unions. It’s not because I don’t recognize their many pathologies, or even the fact that sometimes they stand in the way of economic efficiency. I’m all in favor of trying to regulate the worst aspects of this. But large corporations have their pathologies too, and those pathologies are far worse because there’s no longer any effective countervailing power to fight them. Unions used to provide that power. Today nobody does.

My biggest quibble is that Drum seriously underestimates the importance of power.  We are at a point where solutions don’t matter, what’s best for the country doesn’t matter – the only thing that matters is what corporations that rule us will allow.  And as long as that is true, any kind of meaningful progress or reform is impossible.

January 25th, 2011 at 11:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Politics

Defining Victory Down

How pitiful is it that we’ve reached a point where a Democratic president agreeing not to explicitly call for Social Security cuts in the State Of The Union address is considered some kind of great progressive victory?  It’s not even like he’s against them, either:

While Obama plans to stress the need to reduce record budget deficits in his State of the Union address, he is not expected to get into the details and will instead call for members of both parties to work together to tackle the problem, according to congressional and administration sources.


Administration officials cautioned that Obama is not necessarily taking benefit cuts off the table. They said his vision for deficit reduction will become clearer with the release of his 2012 budget request in mid-February and in the months beyond, as both parties test the limits for compromise.

“This is a president who, in last year’s budget, instituted some tough measures. . . . You’ve seen proposals already this year to freeze civilian pay for government employees,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday. “And the president, again, will spend some time, not just tomorrow night and not just at the introduction of the budget, but throughout the year, talking about what we have to do, again, to make progress on our spending.”

So really all we’ve won so far is that Obama has agreed not to publicly admit that he’s in favor of Social Security cuts.  Kinda like how he never publicly admitted that he was opposed to the public option.  I hope progressives aren’t satisfied with this, because I sure am not.

January 25th, 2011 at 07:14am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama,Politics,Social Security,Wankers

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