21 November 2011

Yes, it's the economy, stupid, but Michael Moran's missing the bigger picture

From the headline, this piece in Salon, It's the Politics, Stupid, sounds like it's got it right, by presenting the thesis that the real cause of America's now much talked about decline is political, more than it is economic.

But when you get into the author's specific analysis, I find it much wanting. Yes, he's right that our political system is gravely dysfunctional, and is making it virtually impossible to do what's necessary to fix our economy. But the solution is not technocracy, or more unconstitutional government by commissions and czars. It's the restoration of democracy.

I've talked about this ad nauseam, but it's worth laying out the fundamental progressive position, in a few sentences, one more time:

Michael Moran is right that America's most serious problems are political, not economic. But the solutions have more to do with restoration of the American republican form of government to its intended functions than with specific technocratic policies.

We need to amend the Constitution, as now, in the wake of
Citizens United v. FEC, appears to be necessary, to take the power of money out of politics, by making it impossible for special interests to buy and sell elections. We need to alter course and enshrine as a principle that Corporations are not people with constitutional rights, but public trusts; and that money is not speech. The unlimited use of money to corrupt politics should be a crime, and certainly is not a right.

We need to restore fairness in taxation, so that the rich pay more, and we need to regulate and control the unwarranted power of financial speculators in our political system.

We need to ensure that our representatives are citizens, not professional oligarchs beholden to the elite that sustains them, and that they are elected to represent the interests of the people, their legitimate constituency, not corporate and financial oligarchic elites. Limiting private political contributions, ending corporate contributions, restricting consecutive terms, and ending gerrymandering might be four of the things that would move us well along in this direction.

If we could accomplish this transformation, I am enough of a believer in the power of democracy with a small-d to believe that the actual technocratic solutions will take care of themselves. There are plenty of good ideas out there for how to invest public resources to create jobs and ensure America's future in energy, industry, and sustainable development. There are plenty of ways to ensure that the common good is the goal of government. Most importantly, there is plenty of wealth in this economy to ensure decent economic development and a social safety net that would be the envy of most of the world, and on a par with the best that privileged highly developed nations like Germany, Sweden, and Japan have to offer their citizens. But until we the people, either through the Occupy Movement, or through a succession of public demands, demand control of our government back from the oligarchy that now owns it lock, stock and barrel, our republic will remain dysfunctional, and its economic decline, including gross income disparity and increasing poverty, will be merely a symptom of that disease.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gyromantic Informicon. Comments are not moderated. If you encounter a problem, please go to home page and follow directions to send me an e-mail.