The Democrats must save capitalism, again.
What happens when you let a bunch
of kids into a candy store, unsupervised by any grown-ups? Of
course, you end up with some unhappy youngsters with full-blown
belly-aches. Then it's past time to bring back the adults and plenty
Analogously, in the novel “Lord of the Flies,” William Golding
described what happens when a rabble of young undisciplined egoists
are tossed together. Also Thomas Hobbes in his classical treatise, The
It’s called, “the state of nature,” wherein life, according to
Hobbes, is “solitary, poor, nasty brutish and short.”
In economics, it's called “market
wealth flows from the producers of wealth (the workers and the
middle class, i.e., the “whiners”) and from the social and physical
infrastructure, to the owners and controllers of wealth until, with
the economic foundation in ruins, the system collapses.
Unconstrained capitalism, like communism, contains within itself,
the seeds of its own destruction. As Nobel economist Joseph
Stiglitz puts it: "The fall of Wall Street is for market
fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for communism --
it tells the world that this way of economic organization turns out
not to be sustainable."
It happened to the Soviet Union in 1991. Now it’s our turn.
The remedy? Government and the rule of law, or as the late
biologist, Garrett Hardin put it, “mutual coercion mutually agreed
upon.” (Hobbes’ solution was a dictatorship, but his successors,
Locke and Jefferson, devised a more benign solution: rule of law and
government by consent of the governed).
The last major economic belly-ache took place some eighty years ago,
and was called “The Great Depression.” The people of the United
States responded by throwing the perps out of office, and bringing
in the reformers: FDR and the Democrats, of course.
So our question to the hypothetical tycoon: Who is best suited to
get you (and us) out of this mess that you’ve created? The folks who
gave you the keys to the candy store, or the grown-ups that came to
your rescue with remedies that proved effective in the past?
Sarah Palin and the Revenge of the
The traditional Republican poobahs
are facing a revolt of their proletariat, and it ain’t pretty.
Our hypothetical corporate oligarchs are not, by and large, Jesus
freaks. Many are non-Christians (Jews, agnostics, or unaffiliated),
or if Christian, of traditional denominations such as Catholics,
Episcopalians, Methodists, etc. The oligarchs tend to be graduates
of prestigious universities, and scientifically literate. In fact,
many corporate executives are trained scientists and engineers, and,
in any case, the success of their enterprises depends directly on
the application of leading-edge scientific research and development
– notably, the computer, chemical, energy and pharmaceutical
However, these corporate executive and scientific elites do not
comprise a politically significant number of voters. So they have
cleverly enlisted “the religious right” as foot-soldiers in their
political campaigns by promising to outlaw abortion and gay marriage
and to put God and creationism in the public schools.
But now the oligarchic political generals, after failing over the
past decade to deliver these goods, have been overthrown by the
“soldiers” who have taken over the Party, and have, in effect,
ordered the GOP presidential candidate to put one of their own on
And just how extreme is Sarah Palin? A Wasilla neighbor, Phil
Munger, is not reassuring:
"She wanted to get people who
believed in creationism on the [Wasilla school] board. I bumped
into her after my band played at a graduation ceremony at the
Assembly of God [a church]. I said, 'Sarah, how can you believe
in creationism - your father's a science teacher.' And she said,
'We don't have to agree on everything.' I pushed her on the
earth's creation, whether it was really less than 7,000 years
old and whether dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the
same time. And she said yes, she'd seen images somewhere of
dinosaur fossils with human footprints in them."
Mr. Munger also asked Mrs. Palin if she believed in the End of
Days, the doomsday scenario when the Messiah will return. "She
looked in my eyes and said, 'Yes, I think I will see Jesus come
back to earth in my lifetime'."
The consequences of the successful
revolt of the fundamentalist “foot soldiers” in the GOP must be
chilling to the deposed “generals.”
If, either by succession or eventual election, the Chistianists’
darlin’, Sarah Palin, becomes President, we can kiss goodbye any
expectation that the U.S. can or will deal with the global climate
crisis or lead the world into the post-petroleum economy. Scientific
education, research and development will surely languish in the
United States, while the cutting edge of science and technology will
inevitably move to Europe, Russia and the Pacific Rim, all of which
successfully departed from the Dark Ages a half-millennium ago.
No prospect could be more dreadful to the corporate executives and
investors, who have traditionally supported the Republican Party.
The solution? Throw the barbarians out of the palace. And the most
immediate, effective and certain way for the Republicans to
accomplish this is to relinquish the government to the Democrats,
who are refreshingly free of fundamentalist hocus-pocus.
Then, after a season out of power, the Republican Party, free of the
crazies, can reconstitute itself into a responsible, moderate, and
secular institution: kind of like it was under Dwight Eisenhower.
Meanwhile, as a minority partner in the Obama administration, the
Republicans can work with the Democrats to restore America’s former
leadership in science, technology and industry by investing in
education, physical infrastructure, and basic scientific research.
Facing the Decline of American Global
Influence and Leadership.
As all too many regressive market
absolutists have too readily forgotten, a functioning and
flourishing market is, at its foundation, a moral order. It
presupposes obedience to mutually accepted rules and regulations,
and it is based upon trust and confidence: above all confidence that
published statistical data (on employment, investment, profit and
loss, etc.) is accurate.
With the Bush Administration’s abrogation of international treaties
and agreements, its reckless deficit financing of an illegal war,
and now the disclosure of deceptive and even illegal behavior among
the leading financial institutions, that essential trust in the
American financial structure and in American good faith negotiation
has been severely eroded.
To put the matter bluntly: the United States of America is no longer
a trusted partner in the global financial community.
If this loss of trust is not restored immediately and decisively,
that global community might decide to exclude the U.S. from the
“playing table.” The U.S. dollar could be replaced by the Euro as
the international standard currency, and the value of the dollar
could collapse. The multi-trillion dollar U.S. debts could be called
in, and no further loans could be granted to the U.S. Treasury. And
that would be the end of the United States as a major global power.
The United States, with its astronomically huge foreign debts, its
enormous trade deficits, its loss of manufacturing base, and its
dependence upon foreign resources (especially petroleum) is no
longer in a position to claim leadership in the global economy, or
even to make rules in that economy.
In fact, should the rest of the world (notably Europe, Russia,
Japan, India and China) finally decide it has had enough of American
bullying and empire-building, the world community can, if it so
decides, demolish the U.S. economy, the might of the American
military notwithstanding. (See myThe
So we ask our hypothetical
stalwart Republican tycoon: Who is best qualified to avoid such a
catastrophe, and to restore the trust, prestige, and leadership of
the United States in the world community? A self-confessed economic
ignoramus, whose one-note diplomatic repertory is “bomb, bomb,
bomb”? Or a trained lawyer, skilled in community development, and
of significant legislation regarding
arms-control, nuclear proliferation and climate change
Moreover, imagine if you will, the impact upon the international
community, and in particular the Islamic nations, of the election of
a black American President with the name of “Barack Obama.” This
would announce to the world that the United States has at last put
aside its historical racism, and is now prepared to deal with its
global partners with respect and without bias.
The rational and financially self-interested course of action for
the corporate executive and investor is to throw out the cowboys and
the buccaneers, and replace them with responsible and honorable
players in international finance. It is a solution that has the
distinct advantage of being radical, sudden and unequivocal. And it
can be accomplished on November 4.
What the Oligarchs Must Do Before November
Suppose our hypothetic tycoons are
persuaded (a) that capitalism must once again be saved from itself
by the restoration of government oversight and regulation, (b) that
a theocracy is anathema to the functioning of a modern, industrial
economy and to a solution of global environmental crises, and (c)
that the Democratic candidates offer a vastly superior opportunity
to restore America’s stature in the global community.
Suppose, in short, that they have decided to renounce their
allegiance to the Republican Party (at least for this next
election), and to cast their lot with the Obama/Biden ticket.
What, then, are they to do?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. First, and most obviously, they can announce their endorsement of
the Democratic candidates.
2. They can direct financial support to the Democratic campaign.
3. If they have influence or significant investments in the
corporate media, they can “unleash” that media, and direct them to
practice authentic journalism.
4. They can publicize the vulnerabilities of paperless touch-screen
voting machines, put pressure on law enforcement, and put the
election industry on notice that hanky-panky in this election will
have severe consequences.
In sum, out of simple enlightened self-interest, the corporate
elites must look to the Democrats to rescue them from the morass
into which the GOP has led them.
If they are smart, that’s what they will do.
But don’t count on it.