“the CBO report shows that the US government’s transfer payments (social welfare supports for the poor, social security and Medicare spending, and so on) did not offset the upward redistribution of income to the richest 1%. Nor did the federal tax structure… the top 1% was the only portion of the total income-earning US population to experience a sharp rise in its share of the total US income taking into account all federal transfers and taxes.Federal spending and taxing policies were thus complicit in furthering this last generation’s sharp turn toward greater income inequality.”
Would anyone agree with this? That the government was complicit in widening the gap between the rich and the poor?
I think most of the analysis here is pretty accurate. There is one phrase I take issue with: “the current economic crisis – the second major collapse of capitalism in the last 75 years”. I don’t see a collapse here, but an inevitability in a flawed system. Capitalism does not collapse, but collapses [life] as it runs its course. To characterize a purely Western notion of economic crisis as the only ‘collapse’ worthy of notice is to withhold the mass of disasters caused worldwide by this system. I understand that this article targets a specific audience and seems to do a great job of informing that audience, but I always wish these authors could do a little more to highlight that this is a systemic failure, not just the course of luck or history, an incompetent government, or a few people’s greed. Here Wolff does connect the dots of a more elaborate argument, but still won’t stick it to capitalism. It’s a system that fundamentally denies the capability of any society to meet human needs and basic comforts in favor of a society in spiral, divided by complete excess and complete lack. ‘Capitalism’ has been so engrained in the public conscious as the only way that ‘works’ that critiques of government, economy, and society itself are commonplace, but rarely does the mainstream address the framework, the system that allows for and indeed empowers/perpetuates these failures.
Absolutely. In fact, we are looking at “The Business Cycle” right now with Classic Liberalism idea that crisis is a built-in feature of capitalism but that it is “self-correcting” as long as people keep consuming. Most economic conservatives (or classical liberals) would argue that it is politicians and their interventions with the natural cycle of the market who make recessions and depressions more severe, though they fail to address how we are supposed to deal with the human suffering that crisis brings about.
People do seem to have that idea, though. They are disconcerted with “the excessive government spending” in difficult times and honestly think that cutting taxes could bring prosperity out of crisis. Another feature of false consciousness?
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