Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What this election is about.

I've been reading Polyani's "The Great Transformation" lately. Thanks to Jesse at the Cafe Americain'.

I sent a submission to the local paper today.

Here is the text:

Which path do we choose?

There is a national election coming up. You may have heard. The debate over the next president is a debate over the state of the economy. We heard years ago the phrase, "it's the economy, stupid!" And then the idea that people "vote their pocketbooks". As I review history I am struck by the fact that these debates we are having today are the same debates people have been having for centuries.
In the 17th century at the start of this thing we call capitalism the control of the economy rested with the kings and squires that controlled their own small pieces of the world. Merchants were beholden to the royalty as much as the peasants. With the passage of time the power of the merchants rose, and their whispering into the ears of the rulers had some influence. Often good influence as it was not in the interest of exporters to have major wars ruin their businesses. In those years the wars tended to be smaller. But the control of the the social situation resided with the royalty and those commissions that made the laws. Capitalism and economic theories were new then and were referred to as liberal ideas. The power of the churches was still strong and they were charged with administering the social welfare. They took care of the poor. The rich contributed to the churches not only to save their souls but to prevent a revolution by the hungry peasants.

The ideas of a free market gained traction in the industrial revolution and gradually the ideas of "laizzez faire" gained traction. However as this occurred there came a large increase in the number of the starving and destitute. A backlash in the late years of the 18th century coincided with the American and the French revolutions. These were rebellions caused by economic conditions. The debt of a speculative bubble in the middle 1700's was the major factor in the public unrest that led people to take up arms for liberty and equality.

The pedulum kept swinging as people and generations forgot the lessons of their parents. Laizzez faire gained traction again. After the Civil war in the U.S. there was a period of rapid industrial expansion. This period was characterized by a cycle of booms and busts. Particulary in the stock markets. The banking panic of 1907 was particulary severe. There came more political revolution in the early 20th century. This resulted in the spread of Communism as people searched for shelter from the harsh effects of capitalism unleashed. The result was the totalitarianism of Russia and then later China. In this country the move was toward a socialism that combined the good of the capitalist system with the safety nets of socialism. A balanced solution that worked magnificently for 60 years. And then we forgot lessons learned again. The Reagan revolution happened and the pendulum swung to the side of capitalism again. Over the next 30 years the share of wealth flowed to the rich. The wage earners lost purchasing power and went into debt. The number of the poor increased as the gap between rich and poor widened.

So here we are again. We are voting for a president in whom we hope will be a deciding influence on the type of society that we have. On the one hand we have a pure capitalist. A man who spent his professional life taking advantage of the power of money. On the other side we have a man who made a career out of helping the disadvantaged to organize in order to obtain greater political power. The man elected president will have thousands of decisions to make over the next four years. How he votes on any one issue or question wil be dependent on the conditions at the time the decision needs to be made. Neither can make any hard promises nor should we expect any. The decision we as voters need to make is about the charactor of the man who is president. What direction will he tend to take us. I advocate for revolution at the ballot box and a revolution in the hearts of the people of this country. I advocate for a departure from the path of believing in the all knowing and all powerful market. A true revolution would be to re-elect a president who's instinct is for the common man. I will vote for progress. It is where history shows we will go anyway, even if we have to make all the wrong choices first!

Thank you,

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are appreciated as it will give me a chance to adjust my content to any real people who may be out there. Thank you. gh