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Arts and Culture

Doug Henwood on Robert Kuttner’s ‘The Squandering of America’

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Posted on Jan 10, 2008

By Doug Henwood

Twenty years ago, in November 1987—a date that was one year ahead of a presidential election, rather like now—I reviewed Robert Kuttner’s “The Life of the Party” in The Nation. It was the first piece I wrote for that magazine, and one of the first pieces I’d published anywhere. My summary of Kuttner’s argument was: “Rather than fall all over one another in an effort to appear more ‘responsible,’ Gore, Dukakis, Gephardt, et al. should take advantage of the collapse of Reaganism to promote a resolutely progressive agenda that would lure nonvoters out of saloons and living rooms and chase the fading ghost of laissez-faire back to its nineteenth century grave.”

 

book cover

 

The Squandering of America

 

By Robert Kuttner

 

Knopf, 352 pages

 

Buy the book

All you’d have to do is change some proper nouns in that sentence and it wouldn’t be a bad summary of Kuttner’s latest, “The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity.” He’s more apocalyptic now than I remember him being in 1987, worried about a 1929-style crash and threats to democracy. But you recognize the template.

Kuttner offers an exhaustive description of the deep sickness of the U.S. economy. Incomes at the middle and lower ranks have stagnated or worse, while the extremely rich have done extremely well. Manufacturing has been ravaged—at the cost not merely of jobs, I’d argue, but to the detriment of our basic competence. To compensate for stagnant incomes, the best minds on Wall Street have figured out how Americans can borrow almost endlessly—most recently to finance a housing boom that has since taken a very bad turn. And since we have little in the way of domestic savings—despite the booming incomes of the rich, who are supposed to save a lot, the personal savings rate has gone to zero—we’ve had to fund all this borrowing abroad, leaving us massively in debt, with a debased currency, and vulnerable to a financial meltdown. Meltdown risk is deepened by the scary way that world financial markets have come, in Keynes’ famous phrase, to treat real economic activity as “a byproduct of the activities of a casino.”

Besides a sick economy, Kuttner sees a sick democracy. The GOP has corrupted elections in unprecedented ways, and the Bush administration has practically burned the Constitution. Money has come to dominate politics, “blunt[ing] the populism of the Democratic Party as the voice of the common American.” And the demands on the two-paycheck family mean no time for politics or any kind of civic engagement, not to mention group bowling. We prefer our iPods to the CNN/YouTube debates.

Before taking on the big stuff, I have to pick a fight with that claim about the lack of time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics time use surveys, the employed people with children under 6—precisely those you’d imagine most to be victims of the time crunch—have an average of three to four hours of leisure a day. Those without children have four to five hours. In both cases, half of that free time is spent watching TV. How do those two-three hours stack up against other pursuits? Parents spend just three minutes a day talking to their kids. And in this pious nation, they spend seven minutes on religious and spiritual activities, a minute less than they spend on volunteering and civic activities. Civic disengagement is more a choice than an imposition, though the structuring of that choice would require an investigation of consciousness and power of a sort that probably wouldn’t interest Kuttner.

What does interest Kuttner is what he calls the one grand theme of his writing over the years: “What does it take, politically, to render capitalism a reasonably just and secure economic system for most people?” He makes it clear he has “always approached this problem as a liberal, not a radical. I have great respect for the dynamism of markets.” He favors what he calls a “managed capitalism,” as if capitalism didn’t already have some managers.

The “dynamism” of markets is inseparable from their turbulence, as companies, industries and geographic regions rise and fall. That means lives and fortunes are regularly turned upside down. A right-winger can justify all that by chalking it all up to the inevitable and wondrous “creative destruction” of capitalism (Schumpeter really deserves a better memorial than this), but obviously Kuttner couldn’t work with that. Instead he oozes nostalgia for the Golden Age of liberal political economy, which ran from the 1930s through the mid-1970s. But these weren’t the most dynamic of decades. The first 15 years of that era were dominated first by depression and then by war; the New Deal, for all its virtues (and I don’t mean to disparage them), never did cure the Great Depression as the subsequent world war did. And the great postwar boom was one in which market dynamism took a back seat to what Baran and Sweezy called Monopoly Capital—or Galbraith called the new industrial state. Big Auto and Big Steel fixed prices and faced no international competition. With the dynamism of markets more than a little stifled, there was some stability for average workers and steady gains in pay.

Stability of that sort can never be sustained. Analyses like Kuttner’s (and even Naomi Klein’s, in her latest) tend to overlook the seriousness of the economic problems that came to a head in the 1970s that were captured in the word stagflation. Growth was slow, profits were down, inflation was rising—and it was clear that the “dynamism” that Kuttner admires had gone out of the system. Softened by welfare states and low unemployment rates, the proles were often surly, and sometimes in open revolt. The elite response—tight money, union-busting, deregulation—was designed precisely to increase the level of insecurity and fear among workers and to restore competition to financial and product markets. It succeeded massively on its own terms. But the restoration of market dynamism required deepening the very pathologies that Kuttner laments.

And the political problem is that liberalism cannot succeed except as a palatable alternative to something more radical. The ruling order never makes concessions unless it’s forced to, and nothing forces its hand like the threat of expropriation. Ever since the bankers won the battle for New York after its mid-1970s default, there hasn’t even been the ghost of such a threat in the U.S.


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By Greg Bacon, January 19, 2008 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

<Why not just make the rebate a figure of 666 dollars?

That way, most people will finally understand just what and who we’re dealing with.

Just think of all the horror tales you’ll be able to spin to your grandchildren about the “Great Depression, Part II.”

Look at the positive side: Think of all the weight that will be lost by the obese who are relegated to selling apples on the street corners

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By boggs, January 14, 2008 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

There has always been a distinct line between the wealthy and the poor, but it didn’t used to seem like a bad thing because we all had the dream that we could also attain, maybe not wealth, but the status of “plenty”.
The politicians have destroyed the dream, as they broke the backs of the labor unions, mostly starting with that less then honorable President Reagan when he allowed the hiring of scabs to replace the striking traffic controllers.
The next big exploitation of the working classes came when Bush paid hundreds of millions of $$$‘s to the corporations in 2001 so they could move their opporations off shore. This assured that Bush would have recruits for the army he knew he would be needing. His big dream was to be a “War President.”
Bush had no dream for America but he had a dream that would give him to himself a legacy of greatness and courage.
The only legacy I can see for him at this time is one of a blathering idiot, with not the courage of a piece of straw nor the greatness of a common stone.
We must quit voting for incumbants if we want to stop the pimping of our freedoms to the corporations, and we must not elect anymore “court jestors” to preside over our highest office.

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By Paracelsus, January 14, 2008 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

In the UNESCO Courier of November 1991, Jacques Cousteau wrote: “The damage people cause to the planet is a function of demographics - it is equal to the degree of development. One American burdens the earth much more than twenty Bangladeshes ... This is a terrible thing to say. In order to stabilize world population, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it’s just as bad not to say it.”

I wonder if we will have public suicide chambers like those shown in the cartoon, “Futurama”. Be careful what you pray for.

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By Nabih Ammari, January 14, 2008 at 12:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sick economy plus sick democracy and I add sick dollar
and sick huge foreign debt and sick war profiteering
fleecing the U.S.Treasury and you have a recipe’ for
disaster.

How can anybody in his right mind think that there has
been prosperity in the country since one lonely writer
(and as I recall it was a female writer)who exposed the
existence of Homeless People to the whole world to see,
more than 30 years ago.The mere existence of Homeless
People in the U.S. is by itself an insult to me as an
American citizen.

Add to the foregoing the existence of more than 30
millions Americans who live in poverty,let alone the 47 millions who have no health insurance,and you have
a bleaker picture than you can possibly imagine.

I read several foreign newspapers and I must tell you
that the international standing of the dollar is really scary.

As far as I am concerned,the greatness of a nation
is not in its military might but in its caring for the poor and more importantly the poorest of the poor.

If you believe in prayers and miracles,you better
start praying for one,every day.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By cyrena, January 13, 2008 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

Expat,

Thanks for the link. I’d managed to catch it at Truthout as well.

And yes, it’s more than chilling, especially for those teachers and students living it. Makes ya just kind of look around and say WTF is HAPPENING?! Has everyone lost their minds?

And, so it would seem. Very scary…it’s been on-going here at my own campus for a while now, just barely under the surface, but there none-the-less, and more noticeable with each passing day.

But yep, we ARE rebelling, if only because there’s no other choice. When the access to freedom of thought is shut down, and intellectual pursuit is subjected to the use of force, we might as well shut down the entire society. (which is of course what the plan has been for years now).

Very scary…but we’ll make it. At least it keeps the students from being lazy, eh? Not exactly the idllyic times from “Happy Days” but maybe that’s how this was allowed to happen in the first place. No doubt we ALL need to pay more attention.

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By Counselor1, January 13, 2008 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

“Squandering” is a mild word for what’s going on: try “National Suicide.”
  There’s no free lunch, free war or free trade. The difference between “tax and spend” liberals and “tax and borrow” conservatives is that “liberals” want to make you pay as you go, while “conservatives” like Bush want to make your kids pay in higher interest costs on the national debt. Both, having sponsored “free trade,” are making everybody pay in lost jobs, lowered wages, increased resource consumption and thus climate change adjustment expenses.
  Free trade is industrializing and so empowering the next world empires, China and India, to surpass us. Industrializing governments over a billion people each, all wanting more products, can’t resist the pressure of that many people to act in an aggressive nationalist manner rather than for an international wealthy class. They will expand either until the US and European Union give up a lot of control of resources or until there is/will be world war(s) that will be much worse than WW1 and WW2. Free trade for us is national suicide.
  Progressives, Libertarians and Greens remain irrelevant because we criticize each other’s theories and values, e.g., being a “bleeding heart,” or “racist.” Meanwhile the actual harm done by governing Republicans and Democrats by free trade and aggressive war so exceeds any harm from differences of theory and values that Libertarians and Greens should set aside their differences and jointly demand a return to economic nationalism, whether to stop tearing our country down and empowering others, or to slow global resource use and environmental damage. But it won’t help unless these powerless minorities cooperate and leverage masses of voters to crash the Republican and Democrat parties by de- registering from them, registering Independent and opening the political system to competition.

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By Expat, January 13, 2008 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

The link below comes from tomdispatch.com and is possibly the most frightening thing I’ve read since 1984.  Orwell surely saw the future.  It can only happen to a democratic society and we are that happening, here and now.  This article is a must read because our most precious resource is now our most vulnerable resource.  The last throws of a free society are its Universities, teachers, and students.  Without them we have no place to go but down.  These students are our hope for the future and without them there is no future worth living.  If this doesn’t chill you to your bones, you’re already dead.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174879/gould_wartofsky_seven_steps_to_a_homeland_security_campus

Rebel!

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 13, 2008 at 5:10 am Link to this comment

The second greatest heist of all time

By Expat, January 13: “American manufacturing was exported along with living wage jobs so the corporatists could expand their wealth…”

First Deming went to Japan (not appreciated in USA).....
The manufacturers voted with their feet, went to China…..
Now you must pay for essentials, but no jobs, uhh.
Then a recession, lower wages still, manufacturing comes back as new investment…...
More exploitation at a lower cost to them because costs have risen in China!
Either way, you pay - would you like to try competing with India too???

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By Expat, January 13, 2008 at 4:59 am Link to this comment

Sorry about the repetition, I have no idea.

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By Expat, January 13, 2008 at 4:54 am Link to this comment

By Douglas Chalmers, January 11 at 12:37 pm #
(1760 comments total)

This article would be better
This article would be better called the marginalization of America…..

#By Expat, January 11: “Mediocrity has become our standard across the board; most importantly we have exceeded our wildest non-expectation in our choice of leaders.  Not only do we not excel…”

By Douglas Chalmers, January 11 at 12:37 pm #
(1760 comments total)

This article would be better
This article would be better called the marginalization of America…..

#By Expat, January 11: “Mediocrity has become our standard across the board; most importantly we have exceeded our wildest non-expectation in our choice of leaders.  Not only do we not excel…”

Yes, I found it particularly ironic that Deming was “rediscovered” in the early 90’s and was briefly, before his death, the darling of American manufacturing.  With NAFTA and GAT; American manufacturing was exported along with living wage jobs so the corporatists could expand their wealth without sharing it with the people who made it all possible; possibly the greatest heist of all time.

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By Expat, January 12, 2008 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

That’s probably a given.

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By CJ, January 12, 2008 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Three quotes I picked out from the person I think the finest economist to come down the pike since Keynes. (And this is the best piece Truthdig has ever published, in this reader’s opinion).

Writes Henwood: “Civic disengagement is more a choice than an imposition, though the structuring of that choice would require an investigation of consciousness and power of a sort that probably wouldn’t interest Kuttner.”

Indeed. I learned this from thinkers like Henwood via LBO and his other writings, as well as from Marx, et al. And yes, an investigation of “consciousness and power” is what is most needed, which is to say, of ideology that attends capitalism. And the topic doesn’t seem to interest most any of our most brilliant minds, hardly even Chomsky, maybe the best positioned–as linguist–to undertake serious investigation. Habermas has tried, as did past members of the Frankfurt School, now just about forgotten. In particular, Herbert Marcuse, who’s, “One-Dimensional Man,” remains as pertinent today as then, maybe more so than then.

Then, writes Henwood: “And like many liberal analysts, he [Cuttner, who I heard Ian Masters interview, and whose thoughts caused me too to harbor serious qualms, despite a not-bad characterization of circumstances] underestimates the appeal of laissez-faire economic policies to many white Protestants, who view the market as an admirable and tireless system of punishment and reward, perfect for a fallen humanity given to shirking and freeloading.”

Indeed once again. Especially that last part, as though “shirking and freeloading” were at the root of all that ails and not the contradictions that plague capitalism, assuming that is an interest in social justice. But in Reagan-like fashion, “shirking and freeloading” continue to be the message conveyed in media and only slightly more subtly on the part of liberals than on the part of cons—neo or otherwise—like, say, Rudy Giuliani, who I heard today calling for more tax cuts so that the free market might be yet more “free” to work its magic. Blah, blah…though Rudy’s less subtle message appeals very much to aforementioned consciousness.

Third quote: “The name of Engels can make certain people squirm, and the language sounds a little antique—but how much of that description would you have to change today?”

Names of both Engels and Marx have long made lots squirm—happily enough, since that fact I’ve always taken as indication the two were onto something pretty damn straight. I’d change none of Engel’s description, however antique it sounds, while oft-heard and oft-read claim that capitalism has at long last triumphed over history might be just a tad premature.

Thanks to Doug Henwood and Truthdig for this bit of get-down-to-it truth!

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By Paracelsus, January 12, 2008 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

You first, greenie.

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By weather, January 12, 2008 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Its our willfullness and self-centered fear. A fear that is so fortified w/hubris and denial that keeps us sick.

We’ve infected the elegance of this Planet. So while glass remains somewhat half-full, its harder to see through it.

We made fun of Cousteau and then Carter wearing his sweater in the White House - I guess we really showed them.

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By Expat, January 12, 2008 at 4:29 am Link to this comment

Actually I like Lovelace’s Gia Hypothesis, so my fervent hope is that Gia will deal with us humans in a decisive way.  In my saner moments, I realize we are never really in control, especially if we venture outside the realms of true being.  It’s the striving for power that leads us astray and to our eventual doom/demise.  So take heart; Gia will be okay, minus a few species most likely including us:  But that’s okay with me; the Earth must live.

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By Enemy of State, January 11, 2008 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment

I’m not convinced if it was just short term Kark Rovism (do anything to make the economy look good for the next election), or just plain letting ideology become the sole controller of (economic) policy. In any case the Bushites found it oh so convienent to just cheerlead the housing bubble, and the financial shenanegans that inflated it. Now it appears we have a real crunch coming.

  Never fear, for any problem we have the ready-made cure “more tax cuts for the rich”! All will be well. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

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By Expat, January 11, 2008 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

During the Carter administration I think it was Paul Volcker who was the Chairman of the Fed:  He was heavily criticized for allowing the economy to crash because of 20% interest rates and out of control inflation.  In fact, by not interfering, Volcker allowed the markets to find their real level.
Today we have the Chairman doing a delicate balancing act that is actually out of control but just hasn’t collapsed yet.  We are the leading proponent of the worst form of capitalism extant.  Capitalism as practiced by the U.S. and now the rest of the world is a criminal violation of human rights.  It is an out of control beast that will devour all of our natural resources and leave us with a dead orb circling the Sun.  When I look at a picture of our earth taken from space, I see a profoundly beautiful planet still unique in all of the known universe.  I then have to deal with the sickening reality of beasts that are ravaging and destroying it for……………….what?  Humans are fatally flawed.

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By cyrena, January 11, 2008 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

I love the title P.T. I’ll have to remember this. The rooster causing the sun to rise. Very good. wink

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By Spike, January 11, 2008 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Who will polish the rich man’s cars if the economy crashes? Who has the most to lose?  Will hundreds of hungry people go looking in each other’s backyards for Victory Gardens to raid; or, will they go into the Richman’s yard for a food raid?

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 11, 2008 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

By P. T., January 11: “Did FDR get elected and get his New Deal programs passed because the elite feared those who were even farther to the left…”

Most likely simply because the wheels had fallen off the era of the Big Wheel. Just like today, uhh…..
http://www.mises.org/story/2844

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By P. T., January 11, 2008 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

Did FDR get elected and get his New Deal programs passed because the elite feared those who were even farther to the left?  Or was it bacause, the elite aside, he simply had the votes?

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By P. T., January 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

World War II ended the Great Depression because the war was the New Deal on steroids—that is, economic stimulus from massive government spending.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

This article would be better called the marginalization of America…..

#By Expat, January 11: “Mediocrity has become our standard across the board; most importantly we have exceeded our wildest non-expectation in our choice of leaders.  Not only do we not excel…”

Great that you mentioned William Edwards Deming in remembrance of his work, Expat. The Japanese recognized the value of what he was offering and went far with it.

Deming is widely credited with improving production in the United States during World War II, although he is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the last through global markets), through various methods including the application of statistical methods such as analysis of variance and hypothesis testing. Deming made a significant contribution to Japan’s later renown for innovative high-quality products and its economic power…. http://www.lii.net/deming.html

Its a pity that the USA has forgotten its own best people and has now chosen a lesser path. That is the result of the conceit and arrogance of an empire which dictates that it alone has the right to kill other humans at its pleasure anywhere in the world.

Thus knowledge and reason are usurped by imperatives, whether economic or political. And the shallow political gains to be made in US domestic politics dictate what happens around the world. Perhaps no longer…..


#By ocjim, January 11: “Doug… As I read your review, I was waiting for some good words but if they were there, I missed them….”

I presume you were addressing Doug Henwood, ‘ocjim’, as I don’t do unpaid reviews, uhh. I blog as I see it, as I please….. I do agree with what you have said, though, little as it is.

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By John Borowski, January 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Folks, we would have a much better society if all classes put their shoulders to the wheel together instead of trying to screw the classes below them. In the present political system we have the upper class screwing the classes below them. The middle classes screwing the poor class. The poor class (The poor bastards screwing nobody).

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By GW=MCHammered, January 11, 2008 at 10:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s face it, stealing from workers’ pay does not make one a captain of capitalism. It’s petty theft.

For me, the gov’t/economy question boils down to this: Team America or Me Amerika?

The first demands higher brain function than the latter. The latter is de-evolutionary. It won’t survive those team playing. Not in the long run. So much for enduring posterity.

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By larry brandes, January 11, 2008 at 9:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When someone tries to explain middle income debt and money flow why is it that know one seems to remember how the entire financial system was stolen when the power bankers stole our economy and forced the Fed system on the country.  By manipulating stocks the Bilderburgers took control of almost everything else as well.  When left wing writers have the balls to focus on the real powerplayers, the Trilateral Commission, The Counsel ON Foreign Relations, Fed Banks, Bilderburgs, and anyone who attends Bohemian Grove they will not be getting anywhere near the truth.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, January 11, 2008 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

Like frenzied lemmings following each other off the cliff, the US runs headlong into a man-made economic disaster.  But such is the stuff of a free market, laissez-faire economy where industry rules the roost.  I like to call it aggressive capitalism which is the true basic philosophy of the Republican party.  It just new to us because George Bush is the first true Republican president since Coolidge.  It can also be called social Darwinism, where the objective is to separate the common man (woman) from their money and survival is that of the richest.  Purveyors of such philosophy are not stupid and know the dangers of a disgruntled underclass.  So you do two things you provide a trickle down effect so some money is returned to the base and you have a strong law enforcement capability.  High unemployment is a large concern cause it hampers cash flow and creates a disconcert with the masses.  Fortunately in the US we still have, for the most part, free elections, though a close election can be stolen.

The US is heading towards a recession not so much the fault of industry, but more from world situation.  A serious recession will undo aggressive capitalism as the old guard is voted out.  This happened in 1932, during the Depression, when Hoover was replaced with Roosevelt and a social programs policy became a necessity.  We’ll see the same thing in 2008 when Bush is replaced with a Democrat who will create a social program in the form of national health insurance with other minor programs.  However, I believe that industry is so entrench in the US government that they will be hard to dislodge and aggressive capitalism will continue albeit at a lesser pace.  Like Eisenhower said, “Beware the military-industrial complex.”

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By DivaJean, January 11, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics time use surveys, the employed people with children under 6—precisely those you’d imagine most to be victims of the time crunch—have an average of three to four hours of leisure a day. “

As a working mom of 4 (ages 8, 5, 2, and 7 months), I can tell you the 3-4 hours of leisure I get for the day is the 3-4 hours of sleep I get each night. There is no leisure- time at work to earn the bacon; time at home to serve it up and parent my kids- and little else.

There is no “getting ahead.”

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By jackpine savage, January 11, 2008 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

What if the light at the end of the tunnel is a reflection of hell?

(Those aren’t my words, but i cannot remember the attribution off the top of my head.)

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By ocjim, January 11, 2008 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

Doug, is it that you don’t like Kuttner or is his book that bad. As I read your review, I was waiting for some good words but if they were there, I missed them.

You must admit that our economy and our country is in trouble. Is it relevant that we’ve been in trouble before. I think the difference now is that our troubles involve a potentially cataclysmic potential: destruction of the dollar as a reserve currency, the destruction of our planet, the growing absence of any kind of industrial base, etc. I think that tops problems of the past.

The times are quite different and the risks are much higher. Kuttner is also reacting to an administration that has sucked hope out of our attitudes, akin to sucked oxygen out of our air. This administration is so bad, the opposition so wimpish, and the people so narcissistic, it has got to get better.

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By Joe R., January 11, 2008 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is a minimum wage law that people cannot be paid less than a certain amount.  The time has come for a maximum wage law too.  Don’t laugh, I’m serious.

The rich should be taxed out of existence.  They are the biggest threat to peace.  They are the ones who make it impossible to get any laws passed that will actually help fix the problems of the world.  They are the ones who always get there way with the politicians because they can buy influence.  The rich are the real danger. The rich have always been the biggest threat to world stability. Billionaires should be taxed out of existence.  CEO’s who pay themselves millions of dollars depriving stockholders and workers there share of the profits should be arrested, charged with grand theft, and put in prison. 

Class warfare is here and the commoner is losing.  The rich are the real enemy.  Read Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein.

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By Expat, January 11, 2008 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

Regarding late 80’s recognition; that was finally here in America.  He worked most of his life consulting for foreign countries.

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By Expat, January 11, 2008 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, almost single handedly brought Japan from a third rate manufacturer of shoddy crap to the leading producer of quality goods, most importantly automobiles.  The U.S. rejected his manufacturing philosophy and starting in 1950, he worked in Japanese manufacturing.  Japan awarded him the highest honor for a non-Japanese, for his work in Japanese manufacturing quality control.  It wasn’t until the late 8o’s (very late) that industry recognized him for the genius he was; he died in the early 90’s.  The rest is history and here we are!
Mediocrity has become our standard across the board; most importantly we have exceeded our wildest non-expectation in our choice of leaders.  Not only do we not excel, but we expect the state to take care of and protect us from womb to tomb.  Every major country in the world is surpassing us (Russia, China, India, and the EU) and the others ignore us.  Have you ever lived in an area where you had to pack a gun for your own protection; I have and glad for it.  We have squandered our freedoms for a phony sense of security.  Security from the state is tyranny.  I don’t mean to be preaching, but I am angry when I see Americans losing there last vestiges of freedom for an illusion.

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By cyrena, January 11, 2008 at 2:06 am Link to this comment

G.Anderson, as usual..and excellant analysis. And, I agree on the acknowledge of Max Weber’s powerful point, except of course that far too many of us have never even heard of him!! Therein lies the problem.
He’s not on TV, (unless maybe the discovery channel, but I doubt it). And, it has nothing to do with sex or religion, or Oprah, (she obviously isn’t into Max Weber) so no…they won’t get it.

Sad to say, I know. But, it is what it is. What, read a book? Do a little comparative thinking? It’s not happening. And Doug Henwood makes that point as well. We’ve lost our competence level.

And yep, we’re just all doped up. Makes me think it must be something in the water.

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By Douglas Chalmers, January 11, 2008 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

America has made a society of winners and losers. That is, a rat race in which everybody endlessly scrambles to survive. Many inevitably fall through any illusory safety-net while a few manage to become bloated in their warped selfish temporary happiness.

I used to blog here on business and management isssues but they were too keen to censor any use of the “R” word. Now, everybody has to face up to the reality. Just as well some of the USA’s graduates are from Yale, instead, uhh. The pain will be mainly America’s and, to a lesser degree, its allies.

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By G.Anderson, January 11, 2008 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

Hopefully, somewhere in Kutter’s work, is some acknowlegement of Max Weber’s, understanding that the middle class acts as a buffer between classes. Helping to mute violent clashes between conflicting interests.

After all, that is the function of government welfare and social programs, to nuture and expand the middle class, to offer hope and modest increases in income, to which the vast hordes of workers can aspire, either through education of their children of via hard work. The middle class then becomes an economic partner as it’s interests for continued upward social momentmum become identified with the upper classes.

Hence nations that destroy their middle class are vulnerable to civil unrest, class warfare, and military dictatorships.

To enumurate the details of America’s collapse, both economically and politically, only provide a footnote to what is becoming obvious to everyone.

Out capititalist class is bankrupt, having to bow down to foreign trading partners for the money to continue the domination of our country. Soon they will be replaced by others who will take their revenue streams abroad.

America at that point will no longer be a world power, she will be bankrupt as will her people.

Will American’s remain doped on religion, sex and T.V.? Or will they finally wake up?

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By Margaret Currey, January 10, 2008 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Cree Indians have a saying

When the last tree has died

When the last river is poisioned

When the last fish is caught

Can you survive on money alone.

The more things change the more they remain the same.

China was once a great and rich nation, but a lot of the natural resources were depleted a long time ago.

Now this country will also use up its natural resources and then the real fight begins.

In the Phillipines and other asian countries there are always mudslides after the rains, due to the clear cutting of trees.

Here in the Northwest the same thing happens although not as much as the Phillipines.

So when the last fish is caught then what?

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