Governments have never existed to solve problems domestic or international. Governments and their institutions exist merely to further and secure the interests of favored groups, but We the People are never the favored group.
Paul Krugman recently wrote that
- the fact is that the Fed, like the European Central Bank, like the U.S. Congress, like the government of Germany, has decided that avoiding economic disaster is somebody else’s responsibility.
- None of this should be happening. As in 1931, Western nations have the resources they need to avoid catastrophe, and indeed to restore prosperity — and we have the added advantage of knowing much more than our great-grandparents did about how depressions happen and how to end them. But knowledge and resources do no good if those who possess them refuse to use them.
- And that’s what seems to be happening. The fundamentals of the world economy aren’t, in themselves, all that scary; it’s the almost universal abdication of responsibility that fills me, and many other economists, with a growing sense of dread.
Krugman and most other Americans are fond of blaming social problems on the personal failings of individuals rather than on the systemic failings of institutions. It is people borrowing more than they can afford rather than banks lending too loosely or consumers saving too little rather than businesses paying too little to enable consumers to save that causes all of the problems. But borrowing and lending and saving and income are not independent variables. People are persons with personal failures but banks are institutions with systemic failures, and the systemic failures can entice people to engage in activities that may look like personal failures but are not. Krugman and many others assume that governments and their institutions exist to solve the problems peoples face. When the problems persist, these people again assume that it is because those in government just aren’t doing their jobs. But there is very little historical evidence to support this view … //
… During an interview on Internet radio, I was once asked, being a veteran, why soldiers fight. The host, I am certain, expected some profound response such as for God and country, for human dignity, for the rights and freedoms our people enjoy. But I merely answered, because they’re there!
When we take perfectly normal young Americans off the street and send them into battle, we do not presume that they are inherently killers. After all, killers are bad people. Yet we send these good young men and women off to kill and they do. When they return, we again do not assume they are killers. We expect them to return to being perfectly normal young men and women. So do bankers do what they do because they’re bad people or because they’re bankers and banking requires it? Are politicians corrupt because they are bad people or are they corrupt because politics requires it?
People, ask yourselves this question. Do our institutions make us what we are? If our institutions promote greed, will we be greedy, if our institutions promote killing will we be killers, if our institutions promote bribery, will we be bribed, if our institutions promote corruption, will we be corrupt? What will we be when our institutions promote goodness and how can we build such institutions?
The Romans had an expression—cui prodest?—meaning “who stands to gain?” Who advocates a specific view isn’t important; what is important is who stands to gain from it. Only then can who the view favors be known. But in today’s world, cui prodest? is too general a question. It is too easy to conjure up arguments that purport to show that many or even all gain. That everyone gains from tax cuts for the rich can be argued ad infinitum.
But who stands to gain the most financially can’t. It always has a specific answer, and if you want to know who the government’s favored group is at any time, that is the question that must be answered. When the answer is some group other than the common people, the view must be rejected; otherwise, the human condition is mired in the mud of hate and will never improve, conflict will persist, and the human race will very likely exterminate itself and perhaps life itself.
Jefferson knew that merchants had no country. And that the business of America is business has often been voiced by the established elite and endorsed by the Republican party. The Congress is in gridlock because the Republicans do not care what happens to America or the American people, just so long as their favored constituents’ interests are preserved. That is what Paul Krugman and others like him fail to understand. That is why the models of economists, even if any turn out to work, are of no consequence. The only models that matter are those that advance and secure the interests of the favored group. Can the problem of unemployment be solved? Nobody in power really cares! Can the problem of world-wide poverty be solved? Nobody in power really cares! Can peace ever prevail between human beings? Nobody in power really cares! The dead require no benefits, and a very small government will suffice.
Since drafting this piece, I have discovered that three political scientists, Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal, have provided empirical evidence for my thesis in Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. Their views are summarized in a piece by Daniel Little:
“What is really interesting about this analysis is that it implies that the sizzling rhetoric coming from the right — personal attacks on the President, anti-gay rants, renewed heat around abortion and contraception — is just window dressing. By the evidence of voting records, what the right really cares about is economic issues favoring the affluent — tax cuts, reduced social spending, reduced regulation of business activity, and estate taxes. This isn’t to say that the enraged cultural commentators aren’t sincere about their personal belief — who knows? But the policies of their party are very consistent, in the analysis offered here. Maybe the best way of understanding the extremist pundits is as a class of well-paid entertainers, riffing on themes of hatred and cultural fundamentalism that have nothing to do with the real goals of their party.”
There you have it. The people are viewed by the establishment as chickens to be broiled for lunch.
(John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on jkozy.com and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage).
Link: The Collapsing US Economy and the End of the World, on Global Research.ca, by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, July 9, 2012.