Thursday, November 25, 2010

reforms to humanise capitalism

I find myself taking issue with the statement that “Chossudovsky demonstrates, that “world agriculture has for the first time in history the capacity to satisfy the food requirements of the entire planet, yet the very nature of the global market system prevents this from occurring…Famines in the age of globalization are the result of policy” [ http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/10/our-holocaustic-global-empire-wars-famines-slavery/ ]

The fact is that for several decades the world’s capacity to produce food has far exceeded the entire human population’s need for nourishment has been well known and documented . The problem has been much more fundamental than Chossuduvsky tries to present it. It is to do with the whole basis of capitalism. If you’ve got no money, or not enough money, you’re not part of the market. Food and farming policy has very little to do with meeting human needs, guaranteeing food security, providing high and consistent levels of nutrition and food safety. It’s all about profit: squeezing the maximum financial yield out of every link in the food chain to benefit a tiny number.This is no defence of the financial speculators but reminding ourselves that it is the system of buying and selling that results in food shortages. The poor simply do not constitute a market — there is no profit to be made out of selling food to the destitute, or from growing food for them. If the one dollar a day will not stretch to buying food, then too bad. Countries supposedly in the grip of famine hardly ever have an absolute food shortage, it’s just that the food available is sold to those who can afford to buy it or exported for consumption elsewhere.

The answer to the problems that global capitalism has engendered is not another policy that would still leave intact the basic structures and mechanisms of capitalism. Capitalism operates according to the rules of “no profit, no production” and “can’t pay, can’t have” and, as the world market system, is what is responsible for the desperate plight of most of the world’s population. Before anything lasting and constructive can be done about this, capitalism has to go. It is something much more far-reaching that is required , a rapid and radical change in the basis of world society that will make the Earth’s resources the common heritage of all humanity.

Too many try to control capitalism for the benefit of humanity, to humanise it. Like all reformers, they limit themselves to attacking features which they do not like and fail to realise that those features are integral to capitalism. What they are for is a more regulated capitalism. They merely want governments to intervene to try to control capitalism, to suppress its worst excesses.

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Wage Slavery

Workers sell their labour power to capitalist enterprises for a wage as stated above in earlier post . As a commodity, labour power has an exchange value and a use value, like all other commodities. Its exchange value is equal to the sum total of the exchange values of all those commodities necessary to produce and reproduce the labour power of the worker and his or her family. The use value of labour power is its value creating capacity which capitalist enterprises buy and put to work as labour. However, labour power is unlike other commodities in that it creates value. During a given period it can produce more than is needed to maintain the worker during the same period. The surplus value produced is the difference between the exchange value of labour power and the use value of the labour extracted by the capitalists. In capitalism, however,the wage-worker is a “free” agent. No master holds him as a chattel, nor feudal lord as serf. This modern worker is free and independent: he has choices. He can dispose of his services to this or that capitalist owner, or he can withhold them. But this freedom is ephemeral. He must sell his working ability to some one or other employer or face starvation. In a capitalist society workers have the option of finding a job or facing abject poverty and/or starvation. Little wonder, then, that people “voluntarily” sell their labour and “consent” to authoritarian structures! They have little option to do otherwise. So, within the labour market workers can and do seek out the best working conditions possible, but that does not mean that the final contract agreed is “freely” accepted and not due to the force of circumstances, that both parties have equal bargaining power when drawing up the contract or that the freedom of both parties is ensured. His slavery is cloaked under the guise of wage-labour.

When the worker has found an employer he receives in return for his labour a price known as wages which represents on the average what is necessary for his sustenance so that he can reproduce the energy to go on working, and also produce progeny to replace him when his working days are over. During the working-day the worker produces wealth equivalent to that for which he is paid wages, but this does not require all the time of the working day. In providing for his own keep he has also produced a surplus and this surplus belongs to the employer. This may eventually be split into profit to the manufacturer, rent to the landlord, and interest on capital invested by a financier. As capitalism develops the time in which the worker produces his own keep decreases while the surplus accruing to the capitalist increases. During this development the productivity of labor increases at an accelerating tempo: The worker continually produces more with less.

So when a man sells his labour power a number of hours for a certain wage, the amount of necessaries to produce his wages is always smaller than the amount of labour which the employer receives from him, the difference between what the worker receives as wages and what his labour power produces during his working time, constitutes the sole source of unearned income, i.e., capitalist profits. So profits exist because the worker sells themselves to the capitalist, who then owns their activity and, therefore, tries to control them like a machine.

Wage levels will vary with “the respective power of the combatants” as Marx puts it and in the long run this will determine the value of labour-power and the necessaries of life. From the point of view of wage-labour , wage levels and the value of labour-power depends on the balance of class forces, on what workers can actually get from their employers. As wages are also regulated by the relation of supply and demand, a surplus of labour power (the unemployed) is necessary to prevent wages swallowing up all profit. Therefore the unemployed army is a vital necessity to capitalist production, and there can be no solution under capitalism.

It would be wrong to confuse exploitation with low wages. It does not matter if real wages do go up or not. The absolute level of those wages is irrelevant to the creation and appropriation of value and surplus-value. Labour is exploited because labour produces the whole of the value created in any process of production but gets only part of it back. On average workers sell their labour-power at a “fair” market price and still exploitation occurs. As sellers of a commodity (labour-power) they do not receive its full worth i.e. what they actually produce. Nor do they have a say in how the surplus value produced by their labour gets used.

Capitalism is a market economy, but not a simple market economy. A key difference of course is that under capitalism production is not carried out by self-employed producers but wage and salary workers employed by business enterprises. In other words, by profits we mean income that flows to the owner of a workplace or land who hires others to do the work. In other words, under capitalism, the producers have become separated from the means of production. This makes all the difference.
Marx explained the difference when he said that what happens in a simple market economy is that the producers brought to market a product of a certain value which they sell for money in order to buy another product or products of equal value. The economic circuit is commodity-money-commodity (C-M-C), the aim being to end up with a basket of useful things. Under capitalism the economic circuit is different. A capitalist sets out with a sum of money which they use to buy commodities (factory buildings, raw materials, working skills) that can be used to produce other commodities with the aim of ending up, after these other commodities have been sold, with more money than they started off with. So the circuit is now money-commodities-more money (M-C-M+).

But the picture of capitalism is still not complete.

Capitalist investors want to end up with more money than they started out with, but why? Is it just to live in luxury and consume? It is possible to envisage such an economy on paper. Marx did, and called it “simple reproduction”, but only as a stage in the development of his argument. By “simple reproduction” he meant that the stock of means of production was simply reproduced from year to year at its previously existing level; all of the profits (all of M+ less M) would be used to maintain a privileged, exploiting class in luxury . As a result the M in M-C-M+ would always remain the same and the circuit keep on repeating itself unchanged. This of course is not how capitalism operates. Profits are capitalised, i.e. reinvested in production, so that production, the stock of means of production, and the amount of capital, all tend to increase over time . The economic circuit is thus money-commodities-more money-more commodities, even more money (M-C-M+-C+-M++). In order to make more money, money must be transformed into capital.

This is not the conscious choice of the capitalists. It is something that is imposed on them as a condition for not losing their original investment. Competition with other capitalists forces them to reinvest as much of their profits as they can afford to in keeping their means and methods of production up to date. They cannot act contrary to the inner nature of capitalism which requires the constant accumulation of capital and the opening of new markets throughout the world. And it cannot avoid that increasing productivity of labor which means more production for less expenditure of labour.

The worker goes into the labour market as an article of merchandise, and his wages, that is, his price, is determined like that of any other article of merchandise, by the cost of production (i.e. the social labour necessary), and this in the case of the worker is represented by the cost of subsistence. The price of labour power fluctuates by the operation of supply and demand. There are generally more workers in the market than are actually required by the employers, and this fact serves to keep wages from rising for any length of time above the cost of subsistence. Moreover, machinery and scientific applications are ever tending to render labourers superfluous, with a consequent overstocking of the labour market, decrease of wages, and an increase in the number of the unemployed. Under these conditions reelative poverty is necessarily the lot of the working-class.

We have the worker entirely dispossessed of the means of getting a living except by selling himself as an article of merchandise to the owners of the means of living. This is wage-slavery. While capitalists are as a class against the workers as regards the ownership of the wealth produced by the working-class, they, the capitalists, are also antagonistic to one another in the endeavour to get the larger share of the markets. It wasn’t just Marx but also Fourier who pointed long ago that this competition could only end in monopoly, and we do see concentration going on in every branch of industry.

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Profits

Profit at its most basic is the difference between the money a business obtains from the sale of its products and the money it has to spend on producing them.

One of Marx’s crucial discoveries in the field of political economy was that the working class of wage and salary earners gets paid less than the value of the goods it creates, the difference being a surplus value which accrues to the owning class in the form of ground rent, interest and profit. Capitalism turned human labour power into a commodity – something bought and sold. When capitalists buy a worker’s labour they buy the worker’s capacity to work for a full day. Wages are set, however, like every other commodity, by the value of labour-power needed to reproduce them, which in the case of labour is the value of food, clothing, etc. needed to keep the worker in a fit condition to work. But the value of ‘labour power’ is different from the value created by the worker’s labour and this difference, called surplus value, belongs to the capitalist. The working day under capitalism therefore divides into two parts; ‘necessary labour’ when the workers actually earns what they are paid in wages, and ‘surplus labour’ which is the time spent producing ‘surplus value’ for the capitalist employer. The aim of capitalist production is the production of surplus value.The new value added by labour in the process of production to the previously existing value of the raw and other materials is divided into wages and surplus value, which goes to the capitalist employer and is the source of profit. Profits are made in the sphere of production but only “realised” in the market. What is so vital about profit that makes this necessary? It is the source of the capitalist’s capital. The more capital they can accumulate out of the profits accruing to them the more effectively can they compete–by investing in more productive technologies to undercut their competitors–and thus claim a larger share of the market for themselves. If they did not do this then their competitors would, and could knock them out of business. Economic competition between enterprises fuels the drive towards capital accumulation. This in turn necessitates profit maximisation which expresses itself as a continuous downward pressure on wages (reinforced by competition between workers on the labour market.)

We’re the ones who build things, make things, provide services, make things work, provide the ideas. But though we build the world around us, it does not belong to us. Everything that has been built around us is the result of our work and yet we don’t work for ourselves. We produce not for ourselves, but at the behest’s and whims of others. The worker is compelled to labour for the purpose of producing something to satisfy the wants of others who, holding the things necessary for his life, thereby control him. He is, therefore, still a slave.We are the ones who are told what to produce, how to produce it, how much, and how fast.We are the ones who receive a paycheque, be it high or low, not for selling what we produce but for selling our power to work. With that paycheque we try to buy back what we make. The source of someone else’s profits comes from our work.

Speculation is the use of money-capital, not to invest in the production of new wealth and new surplus value, but unproductively to try and swindle other capitalists’ out of their past profits. It’s a zero-sum game in which the total amount of profits remains the same but merely gets redistributed differently amongst capitalists depending on their speculative skills.

Individualists or Libertarians attack socialism because you fear the whole of the wealth of society shall be owned by a number of persons incorporated into a State or a bureaucracy, instead of being, as at present, owned by private individuals. They maintain that the right of the individual is supreme, and condemns any action on the part of a State or collection of individuals, that interferes with your desires. But socialists are not statists, that if the working class was compelled to work for a State instead of for individual employers then wage-slavery is not abolished, but is intensified. The worker to-day, while compelled to work for an employer, still has some sort of a choice among those masters, but with the State as the only employer he is compelled to work for that employer and under all of that employer’s conditions, or take the only other alternative – starvation. State-capitalism ( or as some like to call it State-Socialism) would intensify slavery, but state- capitalism is not socialism.

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Greedy Bankers Or Capitialism

Recessions are inherent in the boom bust cycle of capital. "Greedy bankers" are a scapegoat distracting from the fact that this will happen again and again and again. Blaming them implies you could have a nicer capitalism with good bankers. Pinning the blame on greedy bankers lets the real culprits off the hook. This is not just a financial crisis, but a crisis of the whole capitalist economy in which the whole business and political class are fully implicated.

If a few get rich while millions lose out big style, then this is capitalism working as it only can work. If there is recession followed by boom followed by recession, then capitalism is working healthily. Capitalism is working perfectly well. It works the only way it can work - in an anarchic and chaotic manner, negligent and oblivious to the misery and suffering it creates. As usual it is the working class that suffers the cutbacks, the reduced standard of living, and the vicious and right-wing reform programmes that every such crisis engenders.

That capitalism is chaotic is evident. Its frequent booms and slumps— its unavoidable features— become global. The disasters get bigger, and nastier. Those who pointed to the relatively rapid rate of capital accumulation to deny the socialist contention that world capitalism has been in a depressive state since the end of the post-war boom in the early 1970s have had their come-uppance. Marx was right. They were wrong. There can be no such thing as a permanent boom. Marx, the first person to provide a convincing analysis of how the capitalist economic system worked.Capital accumulation proceeds by fits and starts, periods of relatively rapid growth being followed by periods of contraction and stagnation. The graph of long-term growth under capitalism is not a straight line moving up from left to right but a jagged line with peaks and troughs, with each peak normally higher than the previous one. Marx argued that this cyclical pattern of growth was not just accidental but was inevitable under capitalism-it was the way capitalism functioned and developed, its "law of motion" as he put it-with each period of rapid growth ending in a slump and each slump preparing the conditions for the next round of growth.Capitalism is driven, not by consumer demand, but by the drive to make and accumulate profits as further capital and that this is by no means a smooth process.

In order to maintain or increase their share of the market and realise the surplus value embodied in their products, capitalist firms are compelled by competition to reduce their costs by improving their productivity, in particular by the introduction of more productive machines. This leads to an increase in overall productive capacity. During the period of recovery that follows a slump this poses no problem as the market is beginning to recover and expand again. However, as the competitive pressures to increase productive capacity continue, the point is eventually reached when productive capacity in a key industry or group of industries comes to outstrip the market demand for its products. At this point a crisis of overproduction breaks out. As profits fall, production is cut back, workers are laid off and, through the knock-on effect on other industries, the market shrinks, so inaugurating the period of slump. During the slump, the least productive machines are taken out of production and capital is depreciated or simply written off. This purge of under-productive machinery and over-valued capital eventually creates the conditions which allow capitalist growth to recommence, so beginning the boom-slump cycle again. This is how capitalism has developed and continues to develop.

A key factor in this is that capitalism's financial apparatus is largely built on confidence that transactions will be smooth and payments will be met. When this confidence in the efficiency of trade and commerce starts to ebb then things can take spectacular and serious turns for the worse. The erosion of financial confidence is one of the ways in which a downturn in one sector or country can spread to others.

The financial crisis is a reflection of the fact that stock exchange and foreign currency gamblers have realised that countries have expanded their productive capacities beyond market demand. One consequence of this period of slow growth was that significant amounts of profits were not being reinvested in production but, instead, being held in liquid form and invested in financial assets with the aim of making as large a short-term profit in as short a time as possible. All the multinational corporations had treasury departments engaged in financial speculation of one form or another whether on the stock exchange, the bond market, currency transactions, commodity markets or dodgy hedges such as derivatives.

This extra demand for financial assets, deriving from non-reinvested profits, has driven up their price, so creating the anomalous situation of a stock exchange boom in what is essentially a depressed economy. Most of the financial transactions that took place were not investments of productive capital- not used to set up factories or to buy machinery, equipment or raw materials-but are to buy and sell shares or bonds or foreign currencies or commodity futures or property or failing companies to asset strip them. Such purely financial transactions are utterly unproductive, even from a capitalist point of view. Not only do they not result in the production of a single extra item of wealth but they don't even increase the amount of surplus value available for sharing amongst the various sections of the capitalist class. It's a zero-sum game. As socialists have always maintained, stock exchanges are places where capitalists gamble and try to cheat each other with a view to acquiring as large a mass as possible of the surplus value that has already been produced by and robbed from the workforce.

The bankers are not wicked finance capitalists against whom the anger of workers should particularly be directed, just capitalists with their capital invested in a particular line of business, no more nor less reprehensible than the rest of the blood sucking parasitic capitalist class.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

death business

The World Health Organisation says that tobacco kills more people than Aids, legal drugs, illegal drugs, road accidents, murder and suicide combined. It estimates that of the more than six billion people alive today, half a billion will eventually be killed by tobacco.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The British case for torture

1. We didn’t do it! (always worth a try).
2. We know you think we did it but we aren’t admitting anything.
3. Actually, maybe we did do something but not what we are accused of doing.
4. Ok, we did it but it wasn’t that bad (“waterboarding isn’t really torture, you know”).
5. Well, maybe it was pretty bad but it was justified or necessary. (We only torture terrorists, or suspected terrorists, or people who might know a terrorist…)
6. What we did was really quite restrained, when you consider how powerful we really are. I mean, we could have done something even worse.
7. Besides, what we did was technically legal under some interpretations of international law (or at least as our lawyers interpret the law as it applies to us.)
8. Don’t forget: the other side is much worse. In fact, they’re evil. Really.
9. Plus, they started it.
10. And remember: We are the good guys. We are not morally equivalent to the bad guys no matter what we did. Only morally obtuse, misguided critics could fail to see this fundamental distinction between Them and Us.
11. The results may have been imperfect, but our intentions were noble. (Invading Iraq may have resulted in tens of thousands of dead and wounded and millions of refugees, but we meant well.)
12. We have to do things like this to maintain our credibility. You don’t want to encourage those bad guys, do you?
13. Especially because the only language the other side understands is force.
14. In fact, it was imperative to teach them a lesson. For the Nth time.
15. If we hadn’t done this to them they would undoubtedly have done something even worse to us. Well, maybe not. But who could take that chance?
16. In fact, no responsible government could have acted otherwise in the face of such provocation.
17. Plus, we had no choice. What we did may have been awful, but all other policy options had failed and/or nothing else would have worked.
18. It’s a tough world out there and serious people understand that sometimes you have to do these things. Only ignorant idealists, terrorist sympathizers, craven appeasers and/or treasonous liberals would question our actions.
19. In fact, whatever we did will be worth it eventually, and someday the rest of the world will thank us.
20. We are the victims of a double-standard. Other states do the same things (or worse) and nobody complains about them. What we did was therefore permissible.

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obama and war

"I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank." -Presidential candidate Barack Obama.

When President Bush failed to pull out of Iraq, Senator Obama in 2007 said that Congress should overrule the president and end the war in order to represent the American people.

Later, candidate Obama explained he would begin a withdrawal in his first month in office, pull out one to two brigades per month and be done in 16 months. That would have been back in May 2010. Seventeen months after President Barack Obama pledged to withdraw all combat brigades from Iraq by Sep. 1, 2010, he quietly abandoned that pledge Monday, admitting implicitly that such combat brigades would remain until the end of 2011.

Secretary of Defence Robert Gates in an appearance on Meet the Press Mar. 1, 2009, said the "transition force" remaining after Aug. 31, 2010 would have "a very different kind of mission", and that the units remaining in Iraq "will be characterised differently...They will be called advisory and assistance brigades," said Gates. "They won't be called combat brigades." But "advisory and assistance brigades" were configured with the same combat capabilities as the "combat brigade teams"
Gen. Odierno was asked by Washington Post correspondent Tom Ricks "what the U.S. military presence would look like around 2014 or 2015". Odierno said he "would like to see a …force probably around 30,000 or so, 35,000, which would still be carrying out combat operations..."

The Obama administration and the Pentagon are trying to trick a war-weary American public into believing that the 50,000 US troops that will be more or less permanently garrisoned in the rather permanent-looking bases that the US has constructed around Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq will be just like the US troops lodged more or less permanently in Germany, Japan and Korea and in other countries around the world. But those troops aren't doing any fighting. That will not be the case for the soldiers based in Iraq, however, which is a country still torn by internecine conflicts created or unleashed by the US invasion, and which also has many armed fighters who are committed to ousting the US entirely from their occupied country. And indeed, that 50,000-troop army is actually an army of occupation. Its role in training an Iraqi army and police force, as in Afghanistan, is to create a puppet military that will do its bidding. This is fundamentally different from the role of garrisons in South Korea, Japan,or Germany.

Ah , politicians and real politik

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

indian farmers

Over the period of 12 years from 1997 to 2008, as many as 199,132 farmers committed suicide in India. This works out to an average of 16,594 farmer suicides per year during this period, or 45 farmers every day – one every half-hour. Furthermore, this number increased almost steadily from year to year. In 1997, 13,622 farmers committed suicide, in itself not an inconsiderable figure; but by 2008, the latest year for which data is available, the number had increased to 16,196 – a jump of nearly 19 percent from less than a decade earlier.(The latest figures available on farmer suicides are from 2008. If anything, this underestimates the actual magnitude of the problem for the simple reason that the definition of a farmer in these records is far too narrow, since only someone who owns and operates land is considered a farmer. Thus, a poor tenant who owns no land, operating only on leased land, would not be considered a farmer by this definition.)

With regard to the farmer suicides there were attempts to dismiss press reports as the product of fevered imaginations. These denials were short-lived, however, because the data brought out by the government’s own agencies soon clearly established the magnitude of the crisis. Once the volume of farmer suicides could no longer be denied, another set of denials cropped up. The reason why farmers commit suicide, it was claimed, has nothing to do with the agrarian crisis; in fact, it was suggested, most would have committed suicide anyway, due to problems with alcoholism, conspicuous spending on marriages or mental depression.Yet as long as a century ago, the well-known sociologist Emile Durkheim, in his classic study on suicides, demolished such single-cause explanations for suicide.
If there are farmer suicides, they are not due to an agrarian crisis; and if there is an agrarian crisis, it is not due to neoliberal reforms. However , all evidence though points to the strong relationship between this phenomenon and the farm crisis, which in turn is the product of neoliberal policies implemented by India starting in 1991.India’s severe agrarian crisis has largely been a consequence of a number of neoliberal policy measures.Sharp reductions in public investments in rural areas, for instance, led to stagnation in agriculture; the withdrawal of various support systems – in subsidised credit and inputs, in remunerative prices, etc – increased the cost of production and rendered the sector completely unviable for large sections of farmers. On top of this, prices received by farmers, particularly by those growing cash crops, collapsed due to trade liberalisation. Together, reductions in public expenditure in rural areas and stagnation in agricultural production resulted in a loss of gainful employment for large sections of poor farmers. In turn, the space that was vacated by the state in credit, trade, extension services and supply of inputs was taken up by commercial, often predatory, private interests which led to increased exploitation of farmers. A combination of all these factors resulted in the agrarian crisis that has debilitated a large section of farmers in India.

Things seem to be especially bad in the heartland states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where 122,822 farmer suicides took place between 1997 and 2008, thus accounting for 62 percent of the country’s total farmer suicides .This desperately poor, vulnerable part of the country has been called the farmers’ graveyard.It is due to a combination of factors: the region is highly vulnerable due to poor soil quality, high water stress, distress-induced and forced commercialisation and diversification of crops, etc. Due to its high vulnerability, the impact of economic reforms was particularly sharp; moreover, being a very poor, backward area, there was an almost complete absence of alternative livelihoods.

India has had an enviable tradition of farmer movements, with large-scale mobilisations taking place even as late as the 1980s. But today such movements seem to have dried up: large numbers of farmers seem to be taking their lives, rather than taking to the streets. And suicide is a cry of desperation, rather than a form of social protest. It is this aspect that is as disturbing as the epidemic of farmer suicides that is taking place today
http://www.himalmag.com/Neoliberal-deaths_nw4746.html

the mid terms

Jacob Hacker of Yale and Paul Pierson of the University of California, Berkeley, argue “Over the last generation more and more of the rewards of growth have gone to the rich and supperrich. The rest of America, from the poor through the upper middle class, has fallen further and further behind.” Hacker and Pierson note in their book that investors and executives at the nation’s 38 largest companies earned a stunning total of $140 billion — a record. The investment firm Goldman Sachs paid bonuses to its employees that averaged nearly $600,000 per person, its best year since it was founded in 1869.

It was revealed last week by David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for The New York Times, that the incomes of the very highest earners in the United States, a small group of individuals hauling in more than $50 million annually (sometimes much more), increased fivefold from 2008 to 2009, even as the nation was being rocked by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Hacker and Pierson explain the economic struggles of the middle and working classes in the U.S. since the late-1970s were not primarily the result of globalization and technological changes but rather a long series of policy changes in government that overwhelmingly favored the very rich and were the result of increasingly sophisticated, well-financed and well-organized efforts by the corporate and financial sectors to tilt government policies in their favor, and thus in favor of the very wealthy. From tax laws to deregulation to corporate governance to safety net issues, government action was deliberately shaped to allow those who were already very wealthy to amass an ever increasing share of the nation’s economic benefits.It’s a form of warfare.

“It’s a contest,” said Professor Pierson, “between those who are organized, who can really monitor what government is doing in a very complicated world and bring pressure effectively to bear on politicians. Voters in that kind of system are at a disadvantage when there aren’t reliable, organized groups representing them that have clout and can effectively communicate to them what is going on.”

An “organizational revolution” that took place over the past three decades in which big business mobilized on an enormous scale to become much more active in Washington, cultivating politicians in both parties and fighting fiercely to achieve shared political goals. This occurred at the same time that organized labor, the most effective force fighting on behalf of the middle class and other working Americans, was caught in a devastating spiral of decline. Thus, the counterweight of labor to the ever-increasing political clout of big business was effectively lost.
" [globalization and technological change] aren’t by any means a sufficient explanation for this massive change in the distribution of wealth and income in the U.S. Much more important are the ways in which government has shaped the economy over this period through deregulation, through changes in industrial relations policies affecting labor unions, through corporate governance policies that have allowed C.E.O.’s to basically set their own pay, and so on.”

“The only thing we learn from new elections is we learned nothing from the old.” – Proverb