How does 0.5% of the population manage to control the political discussion about the economic realities of the remaining members of the citizenry? If everything is a commodity, then everything can be bought and sold – including information. There are repercussions related to this. For themselves and others.
The economic elite, the financialist allies, and the compliant Republican Party would like very much to remove the fetters on their capacity to accumulate wealth. Deregulate banking, cut taxes for the ultra-wealthy and remove the taxation on capital gains, get rid of unions and any other form of organized labor, privatize and monetize as many formerly public services as possible and then they’ll be happy? Probably not. They may be “shackled in golden handcuffs,” or “addicted to wealth.” Or, they are simply following the prescribed path to riches, adopt the Shareholder Value Theory of Everything as if it described any economic reality other than their own.
Controlling the Flow
In order to advance the Shareholder Value Theory of Everything it must take precedence over all other topics of conversation. For example, see the current web page for CNBC, and look at the major topics for today: Comprehensive Immigration Reform is reduced to a political article about a possible government shutdown. It’s a relatively shallow piece, speculative in nature, and purely political. It will not tell you the findings which demonstrate the value of immigrants to this country in economic terms.
“Immigrants are not the cause of unemployment in the United States. Empirical research has demonstrated repeatedly that there is no correlation between immigration and unemployment. In fact, immigrants—including the unauthorized—create jobs through their purchasing power and their entrepreneurship, buying goods and services from U.S. businesses and creating their own businesses, both of which sustain U.S. jobs.” [AIC]
Interesting, that sounds just like DB’s favorite theme: Increase the aggregate demand and you will grow the economy. Nor will a speculative political piece inform us that the top occupations for foreign born workers between the ages of 25 and 64 were construction jobs and extraction related employment. [CBO pdf] Better still for our economy, immigrants play a large role in our overall economic life:
“Immigrants have an outsized role in U.S. economic output because they are disproportionately likely to be working and are concentrated among prime working ages. Indeed, despite being 13 percent of the population, immigrants comprise 16 percent of the labor force. Moreover, many immigrants are business owners. In fact, the share of immigrant workers who own small businesses is slightly higher than the comparable share among U.S.-born workers. (Immigrants comprise 18 percent of small business owners.)” [EPI]
And here comes the point – if CNBC is trying to grab ratings in order to boost advertising, and thereby increase the value of its shares – then the Shareholder Value Theory of Everything is ultimately determining what kind of “business news” we are getting. Not information about the economic value of immigrants, or even what portion of our demographics they represent; instead we are fed a pabulum of political speculation. Nothing so enhances the power of the economic elites as the capacity to offer little or no economic information beyond the stock market reports and the endless speculation of analysts.
For information which has not been sifted through the tentacles of the economic elite see: “Facts About Immigration and the U.S. Economy” (EPI) “Immigration / EPI” (EPI) “Value Added Immigration,” (EPI), “Immigration and American Values,” (Our Future), “Immigration and the Rural Workforce,” (USDA), “The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System,” (WhiteHouse pdf) Clicking on just a couple of these links will give you 100% more economic information than you would get from the CNBC lead article.
Interestingly enough, considering the ridiculousness of Fox’s reporting on climate related issues, their Big Story of the day is about Toyota’s hydrogen powered car. Fox is quick to inform its readers that other car manufacturers are ramping up development of more ‘climate friendly’ vehicles – but as for the effect of climate problems on our economy – you’ll have to go elsewhere. Honda, they note with emphasis, is not keeping up in order to keep costs down – thus complying with the Shareholder Value Theory of Everything.
For information about the relationship of climate change and the economy, there’s the UCS site including the “Hot Map,” or the CBO’s “The Economics of Climate Change,” (pdf) “Modeling the Impact of Warming in Climate Change Economics,” (NBER), and “Climate Change: Of Warming and Warnings,” (Economist) Again, reading just a few articles out of many will offer far more knowledge about climate and the economy than most of what appears in the so-called business channels.
Good luck finding any comprehensive information about the American work force, or about the increasing threat of income inequality which could have a profound impact on our consumer based economy, or even about the state of American research and development – these are not topic which grab the viewers and focus attention on the sponsor’s products. Worse still, information about the economic impact of income inequality or the struggles of middle income Americans in the ‘wrong’ hands could lead to some serious questioning of the motives of the economic elite.
Controlling the Ballot Box
Money is valuable – especially when a bit of it spread about can offer success in the election of those amenable to the interests of the economic elite. If there’s “runaway spending” in this country it’s NOT coming from the federal government, its sources are corporations – some of which are foreign – pouring vast amounts of the coin of the realm into American politics. Would it surprise anyone that the debate over the pipeline project is driven by about $60 million in election and lobbying funding? [Common Cause] We’re talking about “net neutrality,” and others were discussing it as well – to the tune of some $42 million in federal and state lobbying efforts from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, NCTA, Time Warner Cable, [Common Cause] all of whom oppose neutrality.
Of course, the concept of net neutrality is at odds with the short term business interests of the corporate giants listed above, and since we remain in the land of the Shareholder Value Theory of Everything this must not be implemented – less the share prices go down during the quarter.
However, there is much more attached to the election of those enamored of the economic elite – there’s deregulation of the banks because they had so much fun, and so much profit, the last time they turned Wall Street into such a casino that there are no more investment banks; there’s the privatization of public services because who can complain about someone’s idea to turn public education into test driven private schooling? What better opportunity to make a few million than to privatize public water systems? Privatize public library and internet connection services? We could even privatize our roads, bridges, dams, airports, air traffic control systems? Food inspection? Hospital and clinic inspections? All in the interest of the economic elite. But mostly we could insure the continued prosperity of the economic elite by making certain they don’t have to pay taxes. “Only little people pay taxes.”
Combining The Queen of Mean with the Shareholder Value Theory of Everything yields such excesses as the taking of approximately $30 Trillion from financial gains since the recession – almost all of it going to the richest 1% of our nation’s population – and much of it tax free. The economic elite have framed the system such that you pay less on the income earned from stocks than from the labor of your hands, you can use “carried interest” as an excuse not to pay taxes for hedge fund profits. Roth IRA’s are a tax loophole for the 20% of Americans who own 95% of our financial wealth, and you can insure that your derivatives are paid off first if the bank collapses. And, by the way – a business can get out of debt by declaring bankruptcy, but a student can’t. [Salon]
Did you hear any of this from the corporate controlled media? Probably not. Put the Queen of Mean with the Shareholder Value Theory of Everything and add a Wealth Addiction and we get a picture of the economic elites:
“Only a wealth addict would feel justified in receiving $14 million in compensation — including an $8.5 million bonus — as the McDonald’s C.E.O., Don Thompson, did in 2012, while his company then published a brochure for its work force on how to survive on their low wages. Only a wealth addict would earn hundreds of millions as a hedge-fund manager, and then lobby to maintain a tax loophole that gave him a lower tax rate than his secretary.” [NYT]
Ours was supposed to be a republic, founded on the democratic principle of voting by citizens who shared in the future of the nation – it was not intended to be an aristocracy much less a plutocracy. Nor was it ever meant to be a nation pandering to the addictions of those for whom the love of money became the rationale for their existence.
We can do better.