“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, September 29, 2011

our debt problem

In important ways, the D.C. drone drone drone about deficits and debt is right. Unfortunately, they have targeted the wrong debt. It isn't the government's debt that is the problem: it is the people's debt.

Unfortunately, the government could have chosen to do something radical about debt in 2009 and it didn't. No, I don't mean that we could have balanced the budget in D.C. - we could have helped balance the budget in the U.S.

Instead of loaning, at 1 percent, 16 trillion dollars to the American people, which would have effectively re-liquidated every American household, this is what the Federal Reserve - which is the government - did: it chose to loan that 16 trillion to the banks in the 2008-2010 period. What was the beneficial effect of this policy? It saved the banks. What does that mean? The government loans money to banks at 1 percent or below, so the banks can loan money to businesses, people and the government at from 2 percent to 14 percent (for you lucky credit card holders).
What does this mean? It means that the investment class was given a free ride, while the vast majority of people - for whom the economy exists - were given an elbow in the mouth.
Here is what debt politics should be about: our debts. A combination of policies to radically crush private debt while creating a large enough deficit to counter-act the private sector's collapse of demand for labor - for instance, by simply hiring every unemployed person - would have taken us out of the Great Recession by now.

As I have pointed out, will point out, and will probably mumble on my deathbed, the policies and politics of our epoch are determined by the curious fact that we have left the wealth of the wealthy out of the equation. We pretend that we can't afford to do things that we could do in the fifties or sixties, when we were much poorer. We actually can. However, to do so we would cut deeply into the wealth of the wealthiest, who are the investor class who massively benefited by the Government's welfare for banks scheme, and who would not benefit from liquidated the debt bondage in which the mass of Americans are held - quite the contrary.

Let's not end on an exasperated note. Let's end as one ends a love letter. This love letter is to the Occupy Wall Street people. You are right. Think big. Operating in the interests of the majority, you will either win now or win later, but you will win. The elites, the pluto-parties that monopolize our politics at the moment, are not so different from the horrific and racist parties that dominated the political scene in America in 1900. Don't worry that we are too senile as a nation, have filled our veins too full of shit and our heads too full of trivia, to live. That old nation will die, in fact is in its death throes, but a new one will arise.

1 comment:

JCD said...

The Occupy Wall Street people have really surprised me. When I first heard about the call, I thought it'd peter out after a couple of days. But it's still there. And spreading to other cities, apparently. I'm hoping it lasts, lasts long enough to not blip out. It's getting there.