Sunday, July 20, 2008

McCain's Economic Vacuum

The exit of Phil Gramm isn 't responsible for the economic vacuum at the McCain campaign, and neither is McCain's ignorance. Frank Rich in a NYT Op-Ed lays out the stupidities of McCain's policies, Bush tax cuts, balancing the budget, whiners, mortgage bailouts, Social Security, oil drilling, and psychology; but he stops short by talking about VP picks for McCain.

The Phil Gramm problem wasn't one of somebody going off the reservation, what he said is perfectly accurate from a certain viewpoint, the one Republicans consider of real import. The large capital interests are either doing well or within reach of government bailouts. This has been the Republican recipe for economic growth and success, these people do well and the results dribble back down to the majority of the country's population. The words trickle down haven't been used recently but they are the operative philosophy. Since the St Ronnie days that hasn't happened, what has happened is that money is put to the use of that money. It has gone to off-shore jobs, illegal hiring, paper empires, virtually anyplace other than the economic interests of the majority of the populace. There has been a virtual complete historical amnesia on the part of the voters who supported this nonsense - it doesn't happen - the philosophy of greed only serves the interests of the top. Every time this philosophy has been in operation the only method of prying the greedy fingers loose has involved social chaos, here in the US.

There is a long history of robber barons using force to prevent the reallocation of wealth, and those re-allocations only involved pittances. Labor has been ferociously resisted by the philosophical brothers of McCain. The only reverses of wealth accumulation at the top have come at the cost of beatings, shootings, killings, and cities on the verge of chaos. That vast wealth didn't trickle down, it served its own interests until forced to do otherwise. This is historical fact not leftism. The Republicans aren't ignorant of this history, it is covered lightly in High School history and their own Party has taken beatings over it. They serve those interests and hope things won't go so badly for voters that they'll get tossed. The complicity of media in this process is not new, the Hearst empire was synonymous with plutocracy. Wild eyed bomb-throwers were the specters of fear featured on their pages. Economic gurus have shaken their paper fists at the air warning of the catastrophes coming if the left ever had its way.

The funny thing is that every time the country has aligned left of the interests of the plutocracies the economy has roared until those interests re-arose. Two quick examples, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. These re-assertions of power accelerate across generational spans, we are today reaping the rewards of Reaganism. The power of capital has reached the point where they are subsidiaries of the government, the government is operated by capital - directly. Tax dollars are paid directly to capital to run the functions of government and sold as business being more responsible with taxpayer dollars - in the face of the government having no profit motive.

Under the system of capitalism, by its very definition, wealth will do well. That is a given, no matter whose rhetoric is used. This country has used a managed model of capitalism throughout its history, the term Free Market is a complete misnomer - it does not exist, has not existed, and never will exist in a democratically elected government. It is a fiction of the plutocracy and one that has gained credence only through repetition. There is absolutely no historical evidence of its existence. The market operates within series of artificial constraints from labor laws to tariffs to subsidies to capital market banking systems and usury laws. There have been times when more naked force has been used, from warfare to labor suppression. Hamilton and Jefferson clashed violently in Washington's administration over the structural constraints - that is the very beginning. Somehow, over the generation from Reagan the idea that such a fiction exists has gained sufficient credence that a Democratic President like Bill Clinton operated within that matrix and only managed to slightly mitigate its effects - to popular acclaim. To grasp the strength of this fiction you have to understand that Clinton only slowed the slide of over half the economic scale versus the plutocracy and is credited with a great economy. Utter nonsense.

As McCain talks to voters he faces the outcomes of his actual constituency's policies. His challenge is to reinforce the fiction - in the face of its outcomes. He does not dare address the structural faults, they are the guts of his party and still held by great numbers of those suffering from them. Phil Gramm isn't gone, no matter if he were to drop dead, he'll still be there. His viewpoint is what defines the Republican Party. God, Gays, and Guns aren't the Republican Party, they are the sops thrown to the masses in service of their actual deity - plutocracy. John McCain is not ignorant of economics, that is a pose that covers his inability to deal with the bankruptcy of his myths in relation to the average voter. Will this election cycle result in an economic re-alignment? I'm doubtful, voters still have not gotten a grip on just exactly how badly this economic model treats them. The historical levels of wealth dislocation in this country are not the daily news; something meaningless to your economic survival is.

John McCain will struggle with economic issues, there is little he can do to avoid it. He will pander and flip flop and generally be foolish looking and try very hard to win on something else. Barak Obama can't make a direct attack on the Reagan myth, the Republicans would out-and-out label him a socialist. There is essentially no will in Congress to address this in any systemic manner, at this point any real roll backs would be seen as draconian and confiscatory by large numbers of deluded voters. What is open to question is whether the slide will be arrested or not. Do not expect to do any better economically without huge shifts that are already ruled out by concluded Primaries. So - you're screwed for the foreseeable future.

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