Friday, January 18, 2008

The Real Deal

Politics fills our consciousness these days, with the grand distraction booming forth from every newsertainment source on the planet. If you're not careful, you might begin to think it's important.

Don't worry, it's just part of the carnival show.

The real deal takes place behind the curtain, in gatherings of (mostly) men in high places, the movers and shakers of the financial world, the meetings of the unimaginably rich and powerful, deciding for themselves how our world will be.

It's been this way for more than a century, since the time of the great capitalist business tycoons in the late 1800s, the industrialists who made this country "great." They learned long ago that "laisez-faire" capitalism doesn't work in the long term, that is, from the perspective of those who seek power and control. Capitalism poops out over time, lost in its own internal contradictions.

Marx wrote about it, in epic tomes that defy comprehension these days, but it's pretty simple and self-evident once you think about it. In capitalism, the means of production, that's raw materials, land and capital (factories, etc.) are privately owned. In order for the owner to make a profit to reinvest in growing his or her business, he must create excess production over that required to break even. So if the factory must produce 100 widgets to break even, it must then produce 150 widgets to make a profit. Even worse, the workers in the factory can never make enough money to buy back all the widgets the factory produces, so those widgets must be sold somewhere else.

Thus, capitalism requires continued growth and an ever expanding market.

What's happened now is there are few new markets to exploit (China is the latest), and the purchasing power of the employees at home is constantly shrinking due to inflation and fiscal and economic manipulation.

What to do, what to do?

The answer, since World War I, has been, every time: destroy a whole bunch of useless production so we can produce more, aka WAR.

War is the economists wet dream, growing the economy without requiring new consumers and new markets. Build it, blow it up, build more.

Furthermore, war changes power relationships among nations, as governments vie for access to raw materials, labor and markets.

What a deal!

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Think about this as you contemplate history, the present... and the future.