'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Upcoming Election 

No doubt those of you who frequent this blog has noticed that I have said very little about the upcoming election, with the exception of this post on September 8th. Ideologically, this should not be surprising, as I have gravitated away from the bedrock principle of liberal democracy, namely, that people can be effectively represented by others within a constitutional system of governance. Indeed, I have posted a series about its defects, labeled Vote or Die, a label ironically derived from what I considered to be a hysterical assertion that we faced the choice of either voting or dying in the 2008 election.

Yet again, we are faced with a desultory choice between the lesser of two evils. But, in this instance, the choice is especially disturbing, given how the candidates of both major parties appear divorced from the struggles of day to day life. With an economy in free fall, and millions of Americans still unemployed and millions of others facing foreclosure, there is no sense of urgency. President Obama, despite the insistence of many economists, has indicated that austerity, not job creation, is the emerging priority, as planned reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits move forward. Of course, the financial sector remains the great exception as investors have already concluded that the Federal Reserve will initiate another round of quantatitive easing of the money supply right after the election.

In other words, there will be another jolt of stimulus for the banks, while the rest of us, (with the predictable exception of those who live in Manhattan), suffer from either stagnant wages or continued unemployment. We are living through the remorseless implementation of the neoliberal doctrine that exhalts the decisions of market participants over those who participate in political processes. Hence, while there has been some stimulus directed towards government programs and assistance, most of it has been for the benefit of those people and institutions dependent upon the financial markets. Now, they will get even more, while just about every other kind of government expenditure for the general welfare, such as funding for education, health care, child care and the environment, faces the prospect of significant reductions.

Naturally, it goes without saying that the military-industrial complex will continue to receive substantial funding for its wars around the globe, although, interestingly, even the Pentagon and its concentric circles of private contractors may find their funding needs subordinated to those of financial institutions. The shocking thing here is how rapidly elected officials have relinquished the power of the federal government to spend, thus transferring almost complete control over the economy to an appointed, elite group of bankers. As the beneficiaries of federal action narrows even more, the operation of the economy grows more and more undemocratic as well. As Martin Wolf has concluded: A lost decade seems quite likely. That would be a calamity for the US – and the world. Will it be a lost decade for the left as well?

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