April 30, 2010

Modern Times

It seems like one of the lessons of history is that capitalism is an enormously powerful, adaptive, productive and often destructive system. It can accomplish amazing things--even Karl Marx sang its praises in The Communist Manifesto--but it has the habit of melting down every so often.

One reason why the system hasn't seen a meltdown as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930s (even though it's come close) is because of various reforms and regulations that have been enacted since that time.

Yet for 30 years or so, right wing ideologues who claim to be defenders of capitalism have been busy trying to undo the regulations and safeguards that help to stabilize the system--and they had a lot of success.

Yet when you consider that the wealthy and powerful have a much greater stake in it than anyone else, it seems odd to me that many of them have pushed for measures that would place it at risk.

It's like watching people trying to saw off the branch they're sitting on. The whole Goldman Sachs thing is a case in point. As E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote in a recent column,

Marx's predictions about the inevitable collapse of capitalism have been wrong so far because the system has worked reasonably well, thanks to the rules and redistributive programs established after the Great Depression.

The lesson is that the surest way to save capitalism is to regulate it in the public interest.

WHEN SORROWS COME, they come not single spies, but in battalions. The BP oil rig disaster that killed eleven workers threatens to eclipse the Exxon Valdez as an ecological disaster. Two more miners were killed in a Kentucky accident. The AP reports that Massey Energy will offer $3 million to the families of each of the 29 miners who died earlier this month.

THE ALTERNATIVE TO HEALTH CARE REFORM? Bartering with chickens. Why didn't I think of that?

SPEAKING OF WHICH, here's something on the reform we got. And even Arnold likes it.



Anonymous said...

"Massey faces criminal probe for mine blast: sources"


Anonymous said...

"CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Massey Energy Co. is offering $3 million to each of the families of 29 men killed in an explosion at its Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, the daughter of one of the victims said Thursday.

The offer came a week earlier when Massey officials visited the family, said Michelle McKinney, daughter of Benny Ray Willingham. McKinney said other families have received the same offer.

Massey did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment....."