Economy – visionary thinking

Who’s Not Sorry Now? Editorial, New York Times, April 11, 2010 …The latest public hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, held last week, made headlines for eliciting more apologies from financiers who presided over the market collapse… he [Charles Prince, CEO Citigroup) could have and should have seen it coming….the financial crisis was not an accident and they were not powerless. The crisis was the result of irresponsibility and misjudgments by many people,…The purpose of the inquiry is not catharsis. It is to determine the causes of the crisis and present the truth. A successful inquiry would compel the government to take appropriate corrective action….Congress’s efforts at financial reform appear to be weakened daily by politicians who are more concerned with campaign donations than regulating the financial system.

Reclaiming Our Imaginations from ‘There Is No Alternative? by Andrea Brower, January 25, 2013 by Common Dreams We live in a time of heavy fog. A time when, though many of us dissent and resist, humanity seems committed to a course of collective suicide in the name of preserving an economic system that generates scarcity no matter how much is actually produced. To demand that all have enough to eat on a planet that grows enough food, that absurd numbers of people do not die from preventable disease, that utter human deprivation amongst plenty is not tolerated, or that we put the natural laws of the biosphere above socially constructed economic “laws” — is presented as unrealistic, as the fantasy of idealists or those who are naive to the “complexity” of the world’s problems. If we create and recreate the world every day, then how has it become so supposedly absurd to believe we might actually create a world that is honestly making the possibilities of egalitarianism, justice and democracy? Capitalism — the logic of subordinating every aspect of life to the accumulation of profit (i.e. the “rules of the market”) — has become today’s “common sense.” It has become almost unthinkable to imagine coherent alternatives to this logic, even when considering the most basic of human needs — food, water, healthcare, education. Though many have an understanding of capitalism’s failings, there is a resignation towards its inevitability…What sustains the tragic myth that There Is No Alternative? Those committed to building a more just future must begin re-thinking and revealing the taken-for-granted assumptions that make capitalism “common sense,” and bring these into the realm of mainstream public debate in order to widen horizons of possibility…

Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity by Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed , July 11, 2011 …Any society that allows the market to constitute the axis and framing mechanisms for all social interactions has not just lost its sense of morality and responsibility; it is given up its claim on any vestige of a democratic future. Market fundamentalism along with its structure of extreme inequality and machinery of cruelty has proven to be a death sentence on democracy. The time has come…to rethink what a real democracy might look like and to consider what it will take to actually organize collectively to make it happen.

What Money Can’t Buy and why eco­nom­ics needs to be seen not as a sci­ence but a moral phi­los­o­phy by Michael Sandel, polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor - excerpt from a book review by Decca Aitken­head,, May 27, 2012
…We need to rea­son about how to value our bod­ies, human dig­nity, teach­ing and learning…

The Evils of Unregulated Capitalism by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Al Jazeera, July 10, 2011
Just a few years ago, a powerful ideology – the belief in free and unfettered markets – brought the world to the brink of ruin. Even in its hey-day, from the early 1980s until 2007, US-style deregulated capitalism brought greater material well-being only to the very richest in the richest country of the world.
Indeed, over the course of this ideology’s 30-year ascendance, most Americans saw their incomes decline or stagnate year after year.
Moreover, output growth in the United States was not economically sustainable. With so much of US national income going to so few, growth could continue only through consumption financed by a mounting pile of debt.
I was among those who hoped that, somehow, the financial crisis would teach Americans (and others) a lesson about the need for greater equality, stronger regulation, and a better balance between the market and government.
Alas, that has not been the case.
On the contrary, a resurgence of right-wing economics, driven, as always, by ideology and special interests, once again threatens the global economy…

Rather than carefully balancing the benefits of each government expenditure program with the costs of raising taxes to finance those benefits, the right seeks to use a sledgehammer – not allowing the national debt to increase forces expenditures to be limited to taxes…
A decade ago, in the midst of an economic boom, the US faced a surplus so large that it threatened to eliminate the national debt.
So what happened?
Unaffordable tax cuts and wars, a major recession, and soaring health-care costs – fueled in part by the commitment of George W Bush’s administration to giving drug companies free rein in setting prices, even with government money at stake – quickly transformed a huge surplus into record peacetime deficits…
Regrettably, the financial markets and right-wing economists have gotten the problem exactly backwards: they believe that austerity produces confidence, and that confidence will produce growth. But austerity undermines growth, worsening the government’s fiscal position, or at least yielding less improvement than austerity’s advocates promise. On both counts, confidence is undermined, and a downward spiral is set in motion…

The Implosion of Capitalism by Chris Hedges – When civilizations start to die they go insane…When the most basic elements that sustain life are reduced to a cash product, life has no intrinsic value,,, as we race toward the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem we must restore this older vision of life if we are to survive.

Reconstructing America’s Economic System Is Within Reach by Gar Alperovitz,, April 3, 2012 – Book Excerpt “America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy” - an “evolutionary reconstruction” of the system is not only necessary but well within the range of long run possibility….a diverse, decentralized and more democratized economic and political vision than has been central to progressive thought for much of the last century.

Vision: As the American Capitalist Economy Craters, Promising Alternatives Emerge, By Gar Alperovitz, The Nation, May 26, 2011 – …As the threat of a global climate crisis grows increasingly dire and the nation sinks deeper into an economic slump for which conventional wisdom offers no adequate remedies, more and more Americans are coming to realize that it is time to begin defining, demanding and organizing to build a new-economy movement…the movement seeks an economy that is increasingly green and socially responsible, and one that is based on rethinking the nature of ownership and the growth paradigm that guides conventional policies. This, in turn, leads to an emphasis on institutions whose priorities are broader than those that typically flow from the corporate emphasis on the bottom line… Several initiatives have begun to deal systematically with fundamental problems of vision, theory and longer-term strategy. …what is needed is transformative change in the system itself… For all the difficulties and despite the challenges facing progressive politics, there are reasons to think that new-economy efforts have the capacity to gather momentum as time goes on…new-economy advocates are beginning to tap into sources of moral concern similar to those of the early environmental movement. As the economy continues to falter, the possibility that these advocates—along with many other Americans who share their broader concerns—will help define a viable path toward long-term systemic change is not to be easily dismissed. In fact, it would be in keeping with many earlier chapters of this nation’s history.

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