I find this astonishing and depressing. In the s, the last time we had capitalism hitting the fan in this way, we produced a lot of regulation. The crucial fact about the regulations imposed on business in the s is that they did not take away from the boards of directors the freedom or the incentives or the opportunities to undo all the regulations and reforms.
The regulations left in place an institution devoted to their undoing. They also left in place boards of directors who, as the first appropriators of all the profits, had the resources to undo the regulations. This peculiar system of regulation had a built-in self-destruct button. And it worked. The right wing in America, the business community, has spent the last fifty years perfecting every technique that is known to turn the population against regulation. So what do we do? This time the change has to include the following: The people in every enterprise who do the work of that enterprise, will become collectively their own board of directors.
For the first time in American history, the people who depend on the survival of those regulations will be in the position of receiving the profits of their own work and using them to make the regulations succeed rather than sabotaging them. This proposal for workers to collectively become their own board of directors also democratises the enterprise.
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The people who work in an enterprise, the front line of those who have to live with what it does, where it goes, how it uses its wealth, they should be the people who have influence over the decisions it makes. If the workers are not in charge of their work situations, five days a week, 9 to 5, the major time of their adult lives, then how much aptitude and how much appetite are they going to have to control their political life?
Maybe we need the democracy of economics, not just to prevent the regulations from being undone, but also to realize the political objectives of democracy. Value for money!
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Capitalism Hits the Fan : The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About it
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Capitalism hits the fan Richard D Wolff
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Though tied quite specifically to that time and economic crisis, the message is intended to be timeless. Wolff's narrative centers around describing the significant problems of capitalism, suggesting an alternative, and exhorting the believers to action. The bulk of the book discusses the shortcomings of capitalism and the resulting problems of it. Wolff argues that the recent This book is a collection of Wolff's short, topically focused articles written from to for an internet column.
Wolff argues that the recent financial crisis was merely a symptom of capitalism, an economic system that weaves implacable and destructive conflict into the production and distribution of goods and services, makes adversaries of employers and employees, and locks businesses into endless struggle against each other.
The result: continuous conflict and ongoing, cyclical crises. Wolff is specific and detailed in his analysis - flat wages starting in the s resulted in more family members entering the workforce, longer working hours per person, and more borrowing and debt in pursuit of "The American Dream". In turn, the resulting personal stress, exhaustion and anxiety has led to divorce, family breakdown, loneliness, and drug dependencies.
With consumption rising and real wages frozen, surpluses and profits were distributed in ways that were cumulatively unsustainable and led to another economic crisis with its resulting pain and personal loss. Whether you find yourself persuaded by Wolff's argument about capitalism or not, whether you are a defender of capitalism or critic, this book's ideas should be understood and considered.
And that, sadly, is the rub. The issues raised by Wolff should be grappled with by all of us living in this economic system, but Wolff's language and strong affinity to one side of the argument will not promote that universal consideration. By allowing indignation to creep into his work, Wolff prompts those who may not agree with his conclusions to meet him with their own indignation rather than thoughtful consideration.
While I am one who is strongly persuaded by Wolff's arguments against capitalism, I was sadly disappointed and left unconvinced by his briefer discussions of an alternative system. While this democratization and melding of the economic and political spheres of our society sounds quite appealing as an ideal, I cannot see how it will practically address the problems of capitalism. How do we address the issue of attaining the resources needed to fund an enterprise, and how avoid enterprises being beholden then to the suppliers of those resources?
How do you run an organization by a committee of dozens or thousands of people? How do you overcome human nature and not quickly revert back to a handful of people who wield power - now in the name of the workers? And most importantly, how do you address the grossly materialistic American dream of rising consumption that lies behind so many aspects of our current society?