Behind The Numbers


Dorothea Lange FSA Photograph. Mississippi, 1934. LOC.

Around the world, pockets and circles mark poverty–it’s structural many say, others blame corporations and workers (greed and laziness); or national leaders in dictatorships and new democracies (crony thief). But big wheels keep turning out the oil and currency that creates winners and losers–and growth and no growth. What makes this recession different (its political economy!) is that the winners have aligned with non-growth! They prefer to concentrate wealth rather than increase it. They consume more of the global pie rather than make more pies; they prefer to drain rather than feed.

Paul has demonstrated this behavior in numbers, as basic principles, as a conservative and European pattern, and its effects on growth and wages (slow or non-existent!), Yet profits and wealth are increasing at the same time as economies and wages are stagnant; new wealth is being extracted from working wages and family net worth!

Beginning when businesses cut expenses to improve profits, increase by decrease became widely applied during and after the recession through government austerity, corporate cuts and wage tightening and unemployment. The strategy is in oil, as dropping prices run off competition and allow major players a larger share.

Political economy looks at the behavior that drives the numbers, looking for the widest cause, going beyond policy. The answer? It’s still greed. Otherwise, we would be doing fine.

The Not-So-Bad Economy – The New York Times

(reply) The essence of this is spot on, but the left ought to stop anthropomorphizing the corporation as is reflected in the Citizen’s United decision. As corporations are NOT people, there is no such thing as “corporate greed.” This is not a Christmas Carol. “Corporate greed” is a lazy characterization of the evolution of an institution through modifying law and absence of enforcement of safeguards that increasingly transfers wealth to a very elite segment of society. Corporations then act within the confines of that legal framework and compete in a fashion that is sanctioned and natural within it. Calling a corporation “greedy” in that context is akin to saying that a wolf has no manners. Let’s focus on re-establishing the corporate structure that fits within the framework of democracy rather than corporate “greed.” The disposition of the corporation will accordingly follow, and take on less the form of the wolf.



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