Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Timing Our Race to the Bottom

Richard Sennett's "The Culture of the New Capitalism" (Yale University Press) presents some key terms and ideas about the new global economy that validates the experiences of the rightfully fearful American working-class:

Impatient Capital: Cutthroat investors seek "short-term rather than long-term results." The results: American pension funds, for example, held stocks on average from 46 months in 1965 to less than 4 months by 2000. Temp workers with few benefits are ubiquitous. Impatient capital results in companies and workers who have little loyalty for each other.

Skills Extinction: Skills are non-durable, and must be replaced, often several times over a lifetime. Failure to adapt invokes "the specter of uselessness."

Ressentiment: "A cluster of emotions, principally the belief that ordinary people who have played by the rules have not been dealt with fairly."

Gold-plating: Political parties engage in trivial differences instead of profound structural issues. Sennett states that the selling of politicians is similar to selling soap.

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