There is a crisis in capitalism. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that slogan from some Marxist posturing with no clue why. We can be pretty sure we know what the problem is now. It’s about debt rising about 4% faster than GDP since the 1960’s and a service burden of debt in our economies of above 12% – this is all worse than in previous depressions. This has been happening whatever shade of government we’ve had, across all OECD nations. France may be an exception, but I’m looking into that.
What we have been resisting is letting crooked banks and speculators take the hits and forming a democratic alternative to casino capitalism. Strangely, the very system we once thought could save us from the road to serfdom is trying to force us down it now. The rich have accumulated nearly all the money and now want to buy up our public sectors on the cheap in fire-sales as economies crash. In trying to do this, they have replaced the Politburo as public enemy number one, though we are too dumb to see this yet.
What we should do is let the banks fail and start over with a new system of economics and a new world currency replacing the USD. This would be a big change and bring about the end of American military supremacy, so it would require some thinking through. The most obvious thing we need is to promote a more innovative economy and stop believing that is all about vast riches and super-brains. It’s really much more ordinary.
My own belief is the crisis is ideological in the sense we can cure it if we change our thinking. We can grow food, find new energy sources, find ways to stop bandits and mad, religious people doing terrorism, build decent housing and get on with fairly idle lives and stop ourselves breeding too much. Only ignorance prevents us now. So how can we get round to believing this? You don’t need much brainpower to work it out.
What many of us have not worked out has little to do with advanced economics theories. It’s to do with how little work has to be done to provide the things many of us struggled to “achieve” – a roof over our head, food, clean water and a family. I’m guessing, but I’m pretty convinced 10 -20% of the work we do between 20 and 50 is needed to provide that for all in the absence of corruption. It’s amazing we don’t know this, assuming it is true.
My contention is first that we don’t know. I’ve asked a lot of people and no one can tell me just how much work would provide a good basic standard for all. On reflection most people can tell me that much of the time they have spent at work has not been very productive. We do not develop facts on these matters, let alone teach them. Agriculture, which is basically what we live on is 4% of world GDP. What we soak up is ideology.
We are told hard work leads to rewards and somewhere down the line this turns to justification of sports star wages and bankster bonuses as an inevitable part of meritocracy. It’s more likely they are part of the widespread prevention of democracies that can turn capital on where it is needed.
We have been lied to wholesale. Much of the rhetoric continues – the need to get highly skilled as a worker in the new knowledge economy sounds convincing, but we have poured money into education only for students not to do science and maths and “qualify” in equine management. The education industry burgeoned yet employers sound the same now as they did 30 years ago when moaning about the skills kids leaving schools and universities don’t have.
I would still recruit for management on the basis of fairly simple maths and English tests rather than on ‘graduate status’ and the size of that pool has not increased because intelligence hasn’t. Many people need to be in work to learn, not classrooms – and in education we gave up on non-bookish teaching because it was too expensive in our business model and many teachers and lecturers couldn’t hack other methods. People we teach after work experience are way ahead of most leaving school – because work and growing up has taught them. They may well find people teaching them from books that make no sense after work experience, full of drivel written 60 years ago on personal development, excellence, kwality and human resource management that all failed in practice. They have all been written in new colours, but smell exactly the same. These lecturers completely discount mature students’ experience and often don’t know the ‘excellence’ they teach was discounted 30 years ago, within 6 months of the publication of ‘In Search of Excellence’.
Courses are now organised to provide as little class contact as possible and assessments are entirely dubious. An HNC from 20 years back is probably worth more than a degree now. We have a serious problem because so many of our organisations are now run by hierarchies that learned to lie about what was going on. The model is widespread and based on false-accounting that gives CEOs fat salaries and bonuses throughout the system. Often the false-accounting provides well-paid work for armies of bureaucrats from the ratings agencies grading junk at AAA+, through the performance management teams creating beacon councils, drops in crime, increases in schooling excellence, favourable audits of Enrons and banks hiding massive losses and the rest.
All this is the ‘reason’ we have no money to create the jobs that people need to grow as far as they can as workers. It’s so endemic I doubt we can get to a cure unless there is public disorder. The people who need to listen to the real arguments are the ones with the interests in not admitting what has been going on. These are the ‘Screwtape bureaucrats’ in an England gone to the Devil.
The answer is political and therefore impossible in England. It’s to go ‘New Deal’ on money by cancelling debt, returning to primitive banking and bringing in modern National-International Service across the EU funded by a transaction tax and new taxes across society with an understanding we are building a new social contract.
This won’t happen, so my guess is this is a good time to re-brand yourself if you are a cop or invest in protective gear if your force won’t and prepare for overtime and more riots. The good news is that European peasantry has more often been quiescent than revolutionary, but the bad is that it is more aware on the Continent of what has been happening to it than here – this news may start to spread.
We grew up not wanting to be consumed by the Sino-Soviet experiments and it’s weird that capitalism is what has sold us down a river not far from that. The Chinese have been very astute in the deals that took our money into its enterprise zones, gave it manufacturing capacity and techniques, and leaves us with austerity and an underclass. The debt is not of money we took and pissed up the wall, but of a speculative system that allowed big time looting. That we have not set our criminal justice system into punishing these looters may seep through to our ‘lower orders’ and make them restless again. Would that they march on Parliament instead of JD Sports!
Leftbanker’s alternative to the current economic clowning is:
A collective agreement by global governments on a debt default programme that minimises the damage done to the financial and economic system; Rather than own the banks but not control them and give them vast amounts of money to cover losses and lend to speculators (quantitative easing), take control of them and make direct investment through them to finance huge social projects that would benefit the public and private sectors creating jobs;Taxing the world’s wealthy who have seen a huge transfer of wealth to them over the last 30 years from the bottom 50% of society; and Collectively as society provide for people’s retirement instated of letting public pension funds and individuals bear the risk and cost of failing stock markets. This is the rationale alternative to the boom, bust, crash and burn that currently lies in store for all of us.
I think we have to do more on the behavioural side too and find ways to be more transparent in our organisational dealings. Our Screwtapes are as bad as the nomenclatura in the Warsaw Pact countries and we need to do something to undo the damage they have caused and will continue to inflict. We somehow need to leave them behind. It’s not for nothing that Bratton insisted on getting rid of the whole NYPD hierarchy when he took over.
We hear much on Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal – but in terms of overall debt Japan and the UK are first and second at more than 460% of GDP. Russia is very low in comparison at 71%. Sleep tight!