Saturday, June 29, 2013

Where on earth is the Left?

Long ago, the Left actually had a unifying philosophy (class).  Those days are gone, and all that remains is a mishmash of tactical identity-politics alliance building.  And so the Left has nothing to offer regarding this:
It's important to understand the distinction being made here between relative and absolute wealth: if the top 10% own 90% of the wealth, then $90 of every $100 of new wealth flows to them. This is politically acceptable to the status quo as long as the wealth of the bottom 90% expands by the same percentage.

Should the bottom 90%'s share of the new wealth rise at a faster rate than the top 10%'s, that's actually preferable, as over time that shrinks wealth inequality while leaving the wealth already owned by the top 10% untouched.

In other words, the top 10% do not suffer any decline in wealth if they collect $80 of each $100 of new wealth rather than $90. This slight reduction in the rate of growth makes little difference to the top wealth holders but it has a much larger impact on the bottom 90% because they own so little wealth.

Every one of these implicit assumptions has been turned on its head: growth is barely above the rate of inflation; by some measures, it has already fallen below the real rate of inflation.

Debt is increasing much faster than income or wealth.

Virtually all of the recent expansion of wealth/income is flowing to the top 10%.
This is why the status quo is doomed: there is no Plan B or even conceptual alternative to the "more growth forever" agenda.
I think that this is terribly important, and quite frankly lies at the heart of the Tea Party's support.  I suspect that it was Bill Clinton who finally ended the Democrat's support for the Little Guy (in the historical, political sense), but there are so many unsavory changes that he brought about that it's an easy charge to level.

Me, I don't have a good feeling about what's happening.  Balkinization is rampant and we've seen that government officials and politicians no longer scruple to pay lip service to the rule of law and to the Constitution.  The naked use of power is ascendent.

Not sure what to do about it.


Carteach said...

I'm coming to believe any paths to a healthier social body are now blocked.

For the common person in no range to make significant change, what is there to do? The weight of history is not in our favor.

William Newman said...

FWIW, Balkinization-with-an-i is the name of Prof. Balkin's reasonably popular blog on (among other things) Constitutional law. I'm not a fan, enough so that I judge that the misspelling fits surprisingly well in your sentence ending "no longer scruple to pay lip service to the rule of law and to the Constitution." But I'm pretty sure you intend to refer not to the blog, but to the politics said to be typical of the Balkan-with-an-a geographical region.

For a recent example plucked from Google, see . Balkin learnedly ponders the constitutionality of trumping the text of the constitution by appealing to "diversity" to, among other things, direct more than 20% of top university admissions to a solidly Progressive wildly overrepresented merchant minority ethnic group by systematically discriminating against a (larger, less solidly Progressive, less overrepresented, considerably more academically qualified) merchant minority ethnic group. Being a learned cheerleader for oathbreaking doesn't mean Balkin doesn't have a good point about his rivals Scalia and Thomas beclowning themselves. However, neither making a good point about his rivals beclowning themselves, nor being joined in his cheerleading not just by most Democrats but by most powerful Republican politicians as well, excuses ridiculous appeals to the authority of the Constitution to authorize a gross racial policy when it does no such thing. Similarly, I see no excuse for solemnly ignoring the bad joke of "strict" scrutiny which doesn't require even a sketch of an argument for how massively favoring Jews over Asians follows from a supposed compelling need for ethnic "diversity".

It reminds me of the message of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. (Instead of asking whether God is a vegetable, ask why social scientists aren't investigating early intervention programs be able to increase diversity of Asians, instead of just increasing IQ for underrepresented minorities. Because diversity is totally a real thing they think it's vitally important to optimize even if some oxes like explicit Constitutional protection get gored, not a transparently dishonest cover for handing out favors in ethnic politics.) It also reminds me of Macaulay's History of England carpet-bombing the solemnly asinine arguments for strict primogeniture mouthed by state clerics during the reign of the Stuarts. (As they say, history doesn't *quite* repeat itself; so you need to update the currency units when describing the progress from the post-Civil-War amendments to Plessy to Brown to modern ethnic patronage policies as "What makes all doctrines plain and clear? About two hundred pounds a year. And that which was proved true before, Prove false again? Two hundred more.")

SiGraybeard said...

It's arguable that this whole article is about the way we measure things, not reality. If you look at calculations of the Gini Coefficient, for example, the income inequality isn't there. What's seen is the rise of single parent households, which appear low income because they aren't dual income households. Reference here, and an explanation <a href= "> of the math here</a>

What's upsetting about that column are the comments full of blood lust for going and killing the hated fraction, whether it's the 1% or 0.1 or 0.01%.

Ugly history is coming if those folks get their way. Well, ugly history is probably coming no matter what because of what's in that last sentence about the failure of increasing debt to help. That much was inescapable.

Chris said...

I have no problem with those members of the "1%" that actually earned their wealth (or inherited wealth that an ancestor earned). I am not happy at all with the banksters, those in the investment firms that fraudulently manipulated arcane financial instruments to, for instance, sell bundles sub-prime mortgages while betting that those products would fail, and the Beltway Bandits. All of the above are exactly the same as the mercantilists and monopolists under King George III, in that they accumulated wealth through the favors of the ruler(s).