August 20, 2013

Why the economy won't work for all


Fast forward 70 years, and it's all going on still. Captains of Industry, as Kalecki calls them, coupled with their Republican defenders in Congress, decry the deficit at every opportunity. Whatever public investments are made, businesses would like to see privatized. Government spending on food stamps and welfare, while encouraging consumption, takes money out of the hands of investors.

This gives rise to the austerity gospel that the most unequal countries in the world – the United States and Britain -- bow to. Austerity means working class people, and their communities, give up things while money moves to those who already have plenty.

In other words, the working class must be kept in its place, and a little more suffering won't hurt if it keeps government out of the market.

This why former Rep. Mike Pence -- now Indiana's governor -- and other Republicans blasted Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for his policy of quantitative easing designed to get more people to work. The Fed should just concentrate on holding down inflation, they said.

Nowadays, unlike 1943 when the government stamp was all over the economy, private markets are worshipped and looked at as the sole savior of the economy. But anyone with a perfunctory grasp of economics knows that the markets don't work. A long time ago, Kaleceki pointed out that the rich who control the markets don't want an economy for all.

Screaming about the deficit and promoting austerity is a just a masquerade to protect economic privilege. Americans are an optimistic people, but economists like Kalecki illustrate that the game is rigged against working people and always will be until they tire of it.

Stephen Dick is a CNHI News Service columnist. He can be reached at

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