It's the Middle Class, Stupid
Or rather the lack of same. The financial pundits on both sides of the Atlantic are beginning to admit that most people aren't recovering a thing in this recovery. Given that there no longer is a recognizable economy that can support a middle class, this comes as a surprise only to those who don't actually have to work for a living. The rest of us see jobs disappearing, businesses going dark, and concerted attacks on the few remaining things that make survival possible (The DC Circuit's recent ruling on the Affordable Care Act is nothing short of criminal, the only way to save affordable healthcare is single-payer, and we need to start removing judges, starting with the Fascist Five on the SCOTUS.), and every time we turn around, those of us in business are expected to work for free (I'm not talking about paying taxes. I'm talking about doing free work for "marketing" or for "social responsibility." When our wonderful Bar Association expects me to do pro bono work to help the "image of lawyers," I have to laugh. I do pro bono constantly, along with a lot of reduced rate work, as well as holding up my end re professional image. I'd tell them to go talk to the Big Firm people, but since those are the folks who own and operate the Bar....). No, there's no recovery going on; quite the contrary.
But what are the pundits worried about? That Democrats and Labour are making noise other than Austro-Chicago orthodoxy (Horrors!). Janan Ganesh recently took issue with Ed Milliband in the Financial Times because the Labour leader is behaving, well, like a Labour leader instead of Tory Lite. Ganesh thinks Millibrand should be proposing new ideas, which would be nice, but Ganesh defines "new ideas" as the same old free market fraud his club has been pounding since Maggie installed her throne at No. 10. Earth to Janan: Your neoliberal dreack has gotten us into this mess, with a growing pool of hopelessness and no security for anyone other than the 1%.
Speaking of Tory Lite, Tony Blair keeps trying to absolve himself of the current mess in the Middle East. He continues to claim that removing Saddam Hussein did not create the current crisis. Facially that statement is true, but not in the way Blair tries to claim. What caused the crisis was putting Saddam (and all the other tin pot, self-medaled dictators around the world) in power in the first place. We made modernization look like a tool of Western control. It's no wonder the fundamentalists attracted an entire generation that was fed up to the gills with our meddling.
What else is worrying the pundits? How about the end of the USD as the world's reserve currency as a result of a conspiracy led by Russia and China and including France? Please. While it would be bad if the Yankee dollah were no longer the world's currency, news of its demise is way premature. There simply isn't anyone in a position to step up and take over. Not China, not Russia, not the Eurozone. This is just another pseudo-crisis intended to distract us from the reality of our inequitable, unproductive global economy.
Any other "crises" to distract the masses while they're being led to slaughter? Is a pig's backside pork? According to Martin Wolf, Europe will be without gas and oil unless we all march straight in the Ukraine and push Putin back to Moscow. Martin has apparently never heard the bit of wisdom about never fighting a land war in Asia, especially against the Russians on Russian soil. He might want to look into how much success others have had with that.
What other lunacy is flying about? One need look no farther than the ever-reliable Robin Harding, who has never met a Randian delusion he didn't try to have a long-term, intimate relationship with. His latest shovel-full is that house prices are artificially high because of, wait for it, zoning laws. I realize that conservatives believe that, in the words of their Blessed St. Ronnie, "Facts are stupid things, " but let us nevertheless put facts before a candid world. First, housing prices are not artificially high; they're pretty depressed here in the US, albeit over-encumbered by toxic mortgages that the likes of Harding once touted as the next great bit of free market brilliance, and while prices have risen recently in the UK, that was a product of loose money that will soon be going away, so expect a correction on that front soon. Second, housing zoning these days is focused on affordability: multi-family, townhouses, in-fill. This shift became necessary if for no other reason than that the old model created an infrastructure that was unsupportable. Suburban sprawl created too much street, too many miles of utility lines, too much area for fire and police to cover, etc. That Harding believes zoning still promotes acres of lawns and miles of picket fence has more to do with where he and his friends live than with reality. Finally, Harding, true to his creed, ignores the 409-kilo gorilla in the room: People can't buy houses regardless of the price because 1%ers he is so stridently defending have created a system in which very few of the 99% have sufficient economic security to enter into a mortgage.
It's the middle class, stupid. People who work for a living can no longer even hope for stable enough incomes for a house, a new car, and college educations for the kids. They may be making it this month, but it could all be gone next. This is what the 1% has pushed us into. This isn't a recipe for independent, economic actors; it's a recipe for serfdom.