Bi-Partisan Status Quo Establishment Politics are for the Rich

flickr/KAZ Vorpal

Counterpunch - December 13, 2019

"As Bernie Sanders has already demonstrated, when presented with truthful explanations of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal that includes a Job Guarantee, together with an explanation of the government funding mechanisms to pay for it, the unified class interests of the 90% are brought to the fore. This threatens political and economic control by the rich. Medicare for All would eliminate economic rents in the healthcare system. A Green New Deal would force producers to bear the environmental costs of their production. And a Job Guarantee would reduce or eliminate monopsony rents (excessive corporate profits) in labor markets."

Russiagate, Ukrainegate and impeachment aren’t conspicuously economic issues. But they are, to a large extent, class issues. They are inside-the-beltway dramas about foreign policy arcana that are important to people who see their lots tied in one way or another to the established order. This includes, by degree, those of us who would like to make room for outside-the-beltway concerns like ending militarism, solving environmental crises, providing meaningful employment for all who want it and creating functioning healthcare and educational systems.

This isn’t to suggest that these are equivalent concerns. And in fact, they aren’t. Absent something akin to a revolution, the worst possible outcome for the connected insiders engaged in impeachment-tainment will be moving on to lucrative ‘careers’ working for private equity and / or investing their family fortunes in one world-ending enterprise or another. Four plus decades into the neoliberal overthrow of ‘managed’ capitalism, circumstances aren’t quite so universally advantageous for the rest of us. Rising global political unrest seems destined to bring this division to the fore.

However deeply felt, the Trump / anti-Trump division diversion was dreamt up by establishment political marketers as cover for the remarkable similarities between the alleged opposition parties in their service to the oligarch class. The stock market has risen 350% since the first quarter of 2000 and 500% since Barack Obama entered office, while stock ownership has become even more concentrated. Recall that most of Wall Street would have disappeared in a puff of smoke in 2009 if it hadn’t been bailed out. To the studied bullshit that doing so ‘saved the economy,’ working class and poor people own a smaller percentage of stock market wealth today than they did in either 2000 or 2009.

Why this matters is that stocks are a proxy for the political and economic power of the rich and the professional class. These people are doing better than ever in both absolute and relative terms. And this has nothing to do with how much they produce. Corporate executives have given themselves stock options— ownership shares in the corporations they control, and had their corporations borrow money to raise the value of these shares. Government programs to boost stock prices have done exactly what they were intended to do— they made the rich richer.

This wealth ties to political control through the relationship of campaign contributions to legislative outcomes. The rich and the professional class have the money to make campaign contributions thanks in large part to government programs that boost the value of their stock holdings. Debate amongst economists is over the mechanics of how this is done, not whether or not it is done*. The oligarch’s ‘virtuous circle’ is wealth used to buy legislative outcomes that increases their wealth that then buys more control over legislative outcomes. ...
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