A wake-up call

Ranting about money and media; musical musings; and notes from the road
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  January 27, 2010

Some months back, Judge Richard Posner, a prolific author and longtime leading figure in the laissez-faire-oriented Chicago school of economics published his latest tome, a little bit of conservative heresy titled A Failure of Capitalism. Arguing that the current economic slump was largely the result of a far-too-casual attitude towards monetary policy and too much deregulation of the financial industry, Posner wrote of the need for government involvement.

Subsequently he wrote in a magazine essay that John Maynard Keynes's 1936 classic, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, was far more realistic and valuable in dealing with the economy than, say, the conservative Milton Friedman's theories. Boy, did the laissez-faire cheerleaders go berserk!

Your superior correspondents, on the other hand, were deeply impressed that Judge Posner would have the courage and humility to admit that he'd been wrong. We suspect that those right-wingers who are, in general, possessed of much smaller brains than Posner's and not an iota of humility (exhibit A: Dick Armey), would never admit such a thing, despite ever-mounting evidence.

As we've listened to Tea Party ignorance and blather for some time now, let P+J explain a few tenets of what we know and believe. While President Obama has gotten a lot of things wrong, his understanding of Keynesian economic principles and attempts to reorder things more along those lines — moving away from the thoroughly destructive path of the "magic of the marketplace" Milton Friedman/Ronald Reagan sycophant circus — is a step in the right direction.

One thing we've noticed is that bending over for the wealthiest individuals and entities is not exactly a formula for success. You'd have to come up with some actual data to prove to us that when wealthy people make more money they create jobs. Why should we believe this when it is just as easy to believe that, when the economic "winners" make more money, they buy a bigger yacht or another McMansion? We also suspect that whatever jobs are being created by the wealthiest, they're being created in some other part of the world where they can easily get away with paying people 75 cents per day.

Since so much is riding on the assumption that rich guys create jobs, you'd think there'd be tons of data to support this contention and that the wealthy and their butt-boys (who are legion) would be pushing it out there. One can only assume that the evidence doesn't exist, except in the minds of laissez-faire enthusiasts.

We also wonder why the marketplace monkeys seem to believe that the ever-widening gap between rich and poor is "no problemo." Well, we shouldn't say "ever-widening" as this particular trend really started moving into high gear when (surprise!) Ronald Reagan was president. And the gap keeps widening. Because so many believe in the marvel of the "free market," it is about where it was during the Robber Baron era of the late 19th century.


Our second issue is the alarming state of affairs in the American media, most notably for daily newspapers but also in the news reporting aspects of television, radio and other media outlets. All are in crisis.

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