Sunday, May 17, 2009

Understanding the History of Capitalism

The current global recession has been viewed by some neoliberal economists as an aberration in the history of capitalism. However, when one looks at economic history, particularly in the US, it becomes apparent that downturns are part of how the system operates. In fact, economic downturns account for more than a half century of US capitalism. For the elites, this latest event continues to be an opportunity to consolidate power and wealth.1

US Recessions

Feb-Oct 1945
Nov 1948–Oct 1949
July 1953–May 1954
Aug 1957–April 1958
April 1960–Feb 1961
Dec 1969–Nov 1970
Nov. 1973– March 1975
Jan-July 1980
July 1981–Nov 1982
July 1990–March 1991
Mar-Nov 2001
Dec 2007-current

In reality, the economic downturn for many began in the 1960s. The US Gini Index (a measure of income inequality) began increasing in the US no later than 1970:

1929: 45.0
1947: 37.6
1967: 39.7
1968: 38.6
1970: 39.4
1980: 40.3
1990: 42.8
2000: 46.2
2005: 46.9
2006: 47.0
2007: 46.3


Saturday, May 9, 2009

US Senate Votes to Walk Away from Working-Class People

This week the US Senate voted to deny judges the ability to adjust home mortgages in foreclosure. The Durbin Amendment, strongly opposed by the banking industry, would have given up to 1,700,000 working-class people the chance to stay in their homes. One part of the bill that passed was a "safe harbor" provision that would reduce liability for predatory and fraudulent lenders.

As Clarence Darrow remarked, "the law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business."