13 August 2014

What's So Bad About Late Capitalism?

When a well-respected, French economist publishes a heavily-researched, closely-argued book showing the accelerating trajectory of income disparity across the major democracies, he's dismissed as a radical and a Marxist (and, in America, we are nagged, ad nauseam, with a childish, hysterical insistence that Marxism is nothing less than the most unpatriotic, preposterous, yet seductively treacherous Evil since the invention of Satan), but when research economists working for the S & P--the godlike index of that stupid, misunderstood, overesteemed, high-stakes casino game called the stock market, in whose thrall we have remained far too long--release a study exploring the intuitively-correct notion that increasing economic (and by extension, if you have a brain, political) inequality between the infinitesimally small few and every-fucking-body else, is demonstrably bad for the economy, the 99.9%, and the aforementioned, heroic celebrities--the protagonists--of Late Capitalism, suddenly it becomes possible for the mainstream and, much more deliciously, the super-rich, to fathom that the runaway train being driven/not-driven by our wealthiest citizens and corporations--they who are the true constituency of "our," at best, surreally-representative government--that the runaway train we are all riding on, whether we want to or not, is headed directly for a cliff; a cliff which, perhaps, once featured the extended metaphor of an indispensable, infrastructural bridge, a neglected bridge, long-forgotten in the fanatical, ecstatic, free-market pursuit of a bottom-line profit-margin that benefits almost no one, a bridge now-collapsed; a no-bridge, a cliff, an abyss. 

What would be hilarious, if it weren't so tragically, mind-numbingly, willfully, embarrassingly stupid, is that the condition and direction of our economy--whose unregulated, pathetically-mismanaged fate is now so dangerously and inextricably submerged within, subsumed by, symbiotically enmeshed with a global market economy, gloriously stripped of inconvenient-yet-beneficial buffers, boundaries, and brakes guaranteeing that where falls America falls the world--was portended by that paradoxical boogeyman, the disdainfully dismissible, disproven, and ineffectual, yet superstitiously warded-off, Herr Marx, over a century ago. 

The New York Times:
Economists at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services are the authors of the straightforwardly titled “How Increasing Inequality is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, and Possible Ways to Change the Tide.” The fact that S.&P., an apolitical organization that aims to produce reliable research for bond investors and others, is raising alarms about the risks that emerge from income inequality is a small but important sign of how a debate that has been largely confined to the academic world and left-of-center political circles is becoming more mainstream.
Yes, a specter is haunting the world--it has never ceased haunting us, even if we believed, or wanted to believe, we had forgotten it. Insubstantial and unreal; both absent and present; here, not-here, and everywhere; a phantasm, an irrationality, an illogic; a naive ghost-tale ghost, suitable only for frightening anxious children and the weak-minded, and which the wise "adults"--to their own, condescending amusement--explain away to me, you, and themselves, as only an absurd misapprehension, a night-terror, a trick of the light, a trick of the night, a trick of the fog, nothing but the old pine tree looming indistinctly in the corner of the yard; unscientific, an illusion, a derangement, a disease, a deviation; a heresy; a dangerous dream; this uncanny thing we sometimes almost catch out of the corner of our eyes, only seems to murmur hair-raising, disturbing, fantastic threats and predictions, which we can only try to forget to remember. It is the specter of Capitalism.

Read the whole NYT piece here.

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