IT’S IN STEADY DECLINE—AND, ONCE AGAIN, THERE IS LITTLE GENERAL CONCERN
I am’ constantly struck by the failure of the U.S. public to react to the most disturbing economic news—even when the underlying trends are at least as disastrous in their implications as the incident itself. Meanwhile, the media get whipped up into a frenzy over such matters as Ebola or Ferguson. Both the latter certainly deserve attention, but not to the point where they distract from matters of extraordinary significance to people’s economic health.
Let me give a contrast to help illustrate my point. If something fundamental –like the retirement age—is threatened in France (for instance), people will be out in the streets demonstrating in no time at all, and in politically significant numbers.
Somehow, adequate knowledge of the issues, concern, and outrage seem to be in short supply here. This means that the movers and shakers can do virtually anything here—like buy the election results—without there being either a reaction or consequences.
Americans seem to be politically supine to an extent which is decidedly unhealthy—at least from the point of view of democracy.
Why is this?
- The failure of the media most Americans get their news from—TV news—to do an adequate job.
- The success of a long propaganda campaign to disillusion, distract, and manipulate the American voter.
- The inadequacies of the educational system to educate people beyond their prejudices.
- The failure of the Democratic Party—in particular to evolve, and communicate, a coherent progressive message.
- The near destruction of the trade union movement.
- The systematic conversion of a significant minority of the population into a non-voting semi criminalized underclass (which largely does not vote).
- Fear of the consequences—losing one’s job (and thus so many other things) in particular.
The decline of startups means that more and more of the economy is being controlled by corporations. Thanks to a long term trend towards concentration—largely by way of mergers and acquisitions backed by financial corporations, this corporatized economy is dominated by a small number of large corporations in almost every market sector.
Large U.S. corporations, operating in a semi-monopoly environment, have a miserable track record in terms of customer value and service, treatment of their employees, customers and suppliers, concern for both community and national interests—and, above all, in terms of job creation and innovation. Recall the mass panic of the recent Great Recession which resulted in the arbitrary laying of of millions of workers—largely without either notice or compensation—and contrast it with German industry’s widespread employment of job-sharing.
But that is what we largely have already—and we are heading towards more of it in the future.
This does not augur well.
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