Archive for October 4th, 2011
Winner-take-all politics: how Washington made the rich richer-and turned its back on the middle class
A groundbreaking work that identifies the real culprit behind one of the great economic crimes of our time–the growing inequality of incomes between the vast majority of Americans and the richest of the rich. We all know that the very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades while most Americans haven’t. In fact, the exorbitantly paid have continued to thrive during the current economic crisis, even as the rest of Americans have continued to fall behind. Why do the “have it- alls” have so much more? And how have they managed to restructure the economy to reap the lion’s share of the gains and shift the costs of their new economic playground downward, tearing new holes in the safety net and saddling all of us with increased debt and risk? Lots of so-called experts claim to have solved this great mystery, but no one has really gotten to the bottom of it–until now. In their lively and provocative Winner-Take-All Politics, renowned political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson demonstrate convincingly that the usual suspects–foreign trade and financial globalization, technological changes in the workplace, increased education at the top–are largely innocent of the charges against them. Instead, they indict an unlikely suspect and take us on an entertaining tour of the mountain of evidence against the culprit. The guilty party is American politics. Runaway inequality and the present economic crisis reflect what government has done to aid the rich and what it has not done to safeguard the interests of the middle class. The winner-take-all economy is primarily a result of winner-take-all politics.
Increasing inequality in the United States has long been attributed to unstoppable market forces. In fact, as Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson show, it is the direct result of congressional policies that have consciously — and sometimes inadvertently — skewed the playing field toward the rich.
The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams. Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions of Americans out of their homes; and real incomes have fallen faster and further than at any time since the Great Depression. Many of those laid off fear that the jobs they have lost — the secure, often unionized, industrial jobs that provided wealth, security, and opportunity — will never return. They are probably right.
And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery. The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer. And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer.
The media’s inscrutable brush-off of the Government Accounting Office’s recently released audit of the Federal Reserve has raised many questions about the Fed’s goings-on since the financial crisis began in 2008.
The audit of the Fed’s emergency lending programs was scarcely reported by mainstream media – albeit the results are undoubtedly newsworthy. It is the first audit of the Fed in United States history since its beginnings in 1913. The findings verify that over $16 trillion was allocated to corporations and banks internationally, purportedly for “financial assistance” during and after the 2008 fiscal crisis.
In reality, the term P2P refers, since a long time now, to the range of solutions, paradigms and approaches focusing on co-design (collaborative design) and co-creation, openness and freedom: that is, each decentralized, shared, distributed, equal mean to provide free and open solutions to common problems.
The long-term goal is to facilitate the emergence and consolidation of peer made communities to play a new role, a role that is traditionally a prerogative of companies and industries, according to the model of capitalistic production of goods and services.
The peer production model stands quite in opposition to neoliberalism. Open, equal and participatory platforms and paradigms, able to put people in direct contact with each other, shown tremendous potential during recent years: with the mission to help other p2p alternatives to emerge and consolidate, the “Foundation for P2P alternatives” was founded by Michel Bauwens years ago.