Monday, July 21, 2008

Collapsing Economy

Reactions to the collapse of the US economy range from "It's not happening. It's just that Americans have bad attitudes" to "The bankers are deliberately destroying our economy because they hate us and want us to die", with multiple other theories in between.

The ruling class likes to blame the whole thing on those greedy Americans who wanted a house of their own, and so signed a contract without reading the fine print on page 48. The billion bailout of the mortgage companies by Congress includes a few million dollars to give lessons in money management to the newly homeless. Chutzpah doesn't seem a strong enough word to cover the absolute disgrace of Congress, already responsible for borrowing trillions of dollars to pay for tax cuts for the rich and their dirty little war, voting to bailout out bankers by BORROWING more money that future generations will have to pay back, and then lecturing ordinary Americans about fiscal responsibility!

At least Americans who put themselves into debt intended to pay it off themselves, deluded though that may have been. They didn't sell their children into indentured servitude to benefit themselves. No. That's what Congress did, with our children.

Face it. This economy would have collapsed years ago, if some Americans hadn't been persuaded to spend beyond their means, and the Congress hadn't spent beyond our means. Common sense tells you that if we had all only spent what we made, it would have stopped years ago. And it's only rational behavior, if you accept the limits of the system. Everyone wants to live well as long as possible. If you were in a submerged car that was filling up with water, wouldn't you breathe the air left as long as you could? Even knowing that the end is in sight? That's why the ruling class kept it going as long as it could, not to kill us all, but to have the luxurious life as long as they could. But it had to crash. That's what capitalism does. Call it a panic, a crash, a depression, a recession, a downturn, a correction - it doesn't matter. It's always done it. Then, after years of misery for the poor, and reorganization among the rich, things pick up again.

The thing is, if capitalism is able to supply goods and services as long as there's money, no matter if it's fake money or credit, why does it stop when the money does? In other words, if we are capable of producing food and consumer goods in some years, why not others? Why can't we just keep providing for ourselves and others?

Why? Because if there's no profit in it, the capitalists put a stop to it. If you don't have money for food, you starve, even if there's plenty of food for all. Factories that can't sell washers or stoves to people with no money shut down, leaving their workers unable to buy washers or stoves. Or food. The whole thing collapses, artificially, because there are still people willing to work, there are still factories and fields capable of producing and there are still people in need. But if the middleman can't make a profit, tough luck for everyone else.

This is a crazy system. And tinkering with it by creating more money, or starting wars to destroy excess products and loot other people, or allowing the whole thing to take it's natural course and create widespread misery, is wrong.

We need to produce for use, not profit. Let's decide what we need to live decent, sustainable lives and produce it, using all available labor. If everyone that could work, did work, we would all have shorter workweeks and decent lives. (See the quote at the side of my blog. People had this figured out 2 centuries ago!)

This system, to quote William Greider, is like a machine that's out of control. "As it goes, the machine throws off enormous mows of wealth and bounty while it leaves behind great furrows of wreckage".

There is no reason to keep a system so destructive of Earth and its people. Let's change to a sustainable, responsible way of life that brings enough food, a modest house and a way of life that brings joy to all, because we will live in peace and harmony with Earth and our fellow humans, instead of exploiting them for personal gain.

2 comments:

Nader Enthusiast said...

Congressmen don't read the bills they vote for, so we shouldn't fault people for not reading contracts that some devious lawyer wrote.

I once took a course in economic geography and the only thing I remember about it was that a vibrant economy needs two sectors to exist. It needs something to produce wealth (farming, logging, and mining) and it needs something to process that wealth into what we can use (manufacturing). All the rest feeds off these two (professions, retail etc.) Thanks to our corporations, USA is red white and blue screwed.

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