It was the time to go to the barricades, not just unionized labor but the rest of America’s middle class that union activism had helped create. It was the time to reverse the ill-advised globalist course in which Reagan and Bush Sr. had taken the nation. And, as it later proved out, it was to be the very last chance.
That was back in the 1992 presidential election as the electorate appeared ready to change course from the political economics of the Tweedledum—Tweedledee parties which supported the international brand of capitalism, not the domestic variety envisioned by conservative maverick Patrick Buchanan, and the more colorful and controversial, Ross Perot.
Some of us remember that election as the perfect show-and-tell performance of a flawed electoral system to crown the nation’s Chief Executive. Here we had the inane result of Bill Clinton taking the reins of the nation with 43 percent of the popular vote, while garnering 69 percent of the electoral vote (Electoral College). Perot’s initial vertiginous rise to popularity as a candidate, due for the most part to how he presented to the public his anti-globalist position as exemplified by his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), shrank almost as fast as his dictatorial, biased and egocentric pre-election decisions cut down his popularity from being at par with the Tweedledum and Tweedledee candidates (Clinton and Bush Sr.) to half of that at election time. And Perot’s political burial as a serious candidate (he was a candidate again in 1996) took with it the remains of any hope for an honest and serious national discussion of how globalization might decimate the middle class.
Seven decades before, British economist John Maynard Keynes had made that oft-quoted observation [relative to monetary reform] that “In the long run we are all dead.” The applicability of using that phrase when answering those stalwart defenders of capitalism, as they evoke the long run benefits of globalization, could not be any truer in 1992… or today. Owners of capital – be they disciples or apostles of greed – have found the way to minimize risk and secure their wealth in perpetuity via this great economic equalizer for the capital-disenfranchised.
Except that in the short run, which we expect to continue for another two-plus generations, the resulting redistribution of income will adversely affect the working middleclass of existing industrialized nations. More brutally so in nations like the United States where in perception, or in reality, that middleclass had been maintaining a standard of living which surpassed its productive capability, via government-promoted illusory borrowing… in cahoots with the Fed.
Globalization has done for capitalism – the true capitalists, not the penny-ante savers who’ve been fooled into thinking that they too are capitalists – what would have been an improbable task in any single industrialized nation: redistribution of wealth from the middleclass to the capitalist power elite by using an intermediary conduit, the idle-impoverished populations of developing nations.
Some sociologists would argue that such economic global undertaking is justified, actually helping create sizeable middle classes in geopolitical giants such as India and China, laudable not only in producing a higher standard of living for more people in the world, but also because it provides an economic base which will support a better chance for international cooperation and peace.
Trying to secure integrity for their capital assets, in whatever form, owners of multinationals have also found in globalization the optimal tool which they can use to combat inflation promoted by monetary policy of individual governments. Keynes hit a bull’s-eye when he stated that “by a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.” To which I will add that an even more significant problem exists when those governments broadcast the existence of only a fraction of such inflation via the manipulation of data, as it has been the case in the US for some time.
More than 80 percent of Americans are part, whether admittedly by them or not, of a disappearing, or already disappeared, middle class. And our body politic does not appear to be acknowledging that fact and confronting it head-on, leaving it in the hands of a two-party, self-serving mafia with leaders that could care less about the citizens they represent… the ongoing and ever-present mirage of our American democracy. Yet, the games in the Colossal Capitalist Circus continue on, this time with a half-emaciated, gladiator-middleclass chanting from the arena: “Salve, Barack Obama, our moribund middleclass salutes you.”
And our salutations on his upcoming 83rd birthday, June 27, to Ross Perot, the unconsummated savior of this moribund middleclass!
Ben Tanosborn is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben’s website: http://www.tanoborn.com/