Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Corporate-Controlled Media

Today’s New York Times article, “Full of Doubts, U.S. Shoppers Cut Spending,” for me, pretty much confirms that the mainstream media are unwittingly in the pocket of big business. In stating in the first sentence that citizens’ decisions to save money since the market crash will kill any chances of market recovery without giving any alternative perspectives on goals in responses to the crash, they make it very difficult for a reader to question the assumption that keeping the rate of increase of the GDP high is an unqualified positive.

Well, guess what! I’ve got another perspective; it’s not. Increasing equity and reducing affluence is going to require a smaller market. Environmental sustainability is going to require a smaller market. Most importantly this is okay.

The American middle classes are among the wealthiest people in the world, materially. They don’t need all that stuff. Americans in general work crazy long hours. If they bought less stuff, they wouldn’t need to work as much.

The top-down model of prosperity is bullshit. It doesn’t work. Check out the widening gap between rich and poor in America during this era of increasing GDP. Check out the spectacular failures of the World Bank’s structural adjustment programs. We need to disenfranchise the world’s billionaires and start respecting everyone’s right to shelter, food, and health.

If the American middle classes were working less, they’d be better able to form strong relationships (check out Take Back Your Time edited by de Graaf, if you don’t believe me). With those relationships in place, they’d be able to count on others for help. They’d be able to share stuff and skills. They’d be happier with the shorter work hours and the less stuff because relationships are more important.

Let’s start making the minimum wage $20 per hour. Let’s shorten the work-week (that will create jobs because less work will be done per individual). Let’s start making only high quality stuff that will last (that will create jobs because individual workers will produce fewer units per hour). Then, the poor would finally have just enough and finally be healthy.

To reiterate, health, sustainability, and happiness do not depend on an ever-rising GDP. Under the current conditions of capitalism, wealth does not trickle down nearly as much as it accumulates in one place. We need to end affluence and end poverty. These are equally important goals. The huge GDP is mostly making affluence and not ending poverty because the wealth is being hoarded. This is made possible by high corporate power over politicians.

AAAAA! I’m angry about the bail-out. I’m angry about poverty and affluence. I’m angry about greed. I’m angry about neoliberal and neoclassical economics. I’m angry about scientific capitalism. If you look at history and what’s actually going on in the world, it becomes obvious that market liberalization is not a good thing. The buy-out will protect a lot more affluence than it will save jobs. Saving jobs can be done in ways that actually reduce the gap between rich and poor. AAAAA!

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