While it's nice to see an economist, even though just a left wing one, recount capitalism's issues by comparing era's and gov't responses it doesn't break any new ground, provides no new insights, and thus simply states what's been stated many, many times before. Reich's article here.
Furthermore he completely ignores (steadfastly refuses to address) the fundamental issue which is how to get a representative democracy to shift directions when the forever nemesis of democratic gov't is alive and thriving as never before. The nemesis I'm speaking of is the one best summarized as "money talks, everybody else walks".
This condition boils down to the fact that the representative election process depends on gaining voter support, which in turn depends on getting their message to voters.. a message that appeals to their emotional ties, and that in turn depends on publishing that message to the target audience(s), which ultimately comes down to how much money is available to the candidates for that purpose. Of course those who have the lions share of disposable income available to spend for that purpose are precisely those who favor promoting and extending the policies that provide for their ability to increase (at least to maintain) their already high levels of disposable income. It is elementary therefore to realize that those representatives who are well enough funded to get their message across the best (best propaganda machine) will be the most likely to be elected and re-elected, while those with the least funding will be the most likely to fail to be elected and re-elected.
Simple probability analysis then shows that over multiple election cycles the best funded candidates will increasingly become a larger majority of the representative body. That of course means that those candidates for election and re-election that support the policies which are those preferred by the ones that also have the most disposable income available.... i.e. the ones that obtain or depend on their income from investments rather than labor ... i.e. the capital owners. Adding corporations to the list of "capital owners" simply augments that which is already overwhelmingly in favor of capital owners getting their preferred candidates elected.
Since it's the representatives themselves that depend on funding to retain their preferred employment as representatives in the first place, that body is loath to pass legislation that restricts their ability to retain gainful employment in that capacity. But what if that were miraculously accomplished anyway... what would the result be?
Well, the fact that getting elected still depends on being the best funded, then only those candidates for election and re-election who were independently wealthy enough to fund their own campaigns (&/or use their economic power to coerce the requisite media support) would be able to seek and then reach office... and that is little or no different than the current situation.... arguably & likely even worse.
So the issue remains in favor capital's interests over those of the broader middle classes (labor's) so long as differential funding for electioneering remains. The only solution to this is to pool all election funds and divvy them up equally to all candidates. Leaving aside the problem of how to do this for now, it means in real effect that those with the most disposable income available for funding their candidate(s) would be forced to also fund all the opposition candidates.... a self defeating exercise.... so funding from the capital class's disposable income well would either dry up or find other means to use their disposable income to apply exclusively (or overwhelmingly) to the candidate(s) that support their interests in maintaining and increasing their own wealth and income sources.
Moreover, since providing money or other value to favor one's representative of choice directly or indirectly is a fundamental exercise of freedom of speech, ... even if the amount of such funds or value is limited on a per contribution per candidate basis ... it's not possible to change the funding disparity issue without a constitutional amendment in any event. So think about that for a moment... even if such an amendment could pass muster in the legislative branch of gov't, it still has to pass muster in 2/3's of states... and guess how that vote would turn out? Considering that the same funding sources that enable the election and re-election of those supporting policies that favor the capital class would now be applied to defeating the amendment's passage --- and they only need to concentrate those funds on 1/3rd plus one of the states (34 states needed to pass, so only 17 are required to defeat the amendment), then it's a near forgone conclusion that such an amendment would never get enough states to pass it.
The upshot is that eventually, over the long run, unless and until the dominant voting class (labor) through-out the nation changes their emotional attachment to "rugged individualism" ... which is a major, if not the major cultural element of the U.S.'s national identity... the business of "reforming" capitalism by the redistribution methods Reich suggests are required ain't going to happen. The ultimate problem then isn't economics and/or the dependency of representatives on capital funding sources, but a cultural identity issue. The real question is therefore how to change that cultural identity... or what kinds of events will force that change? Nobody's addressing this... but that's the real issue, and it's being studiously avoided.
Why Reich refused to address the fundamental issue therefore smacks of his either being naive (and I doubt that completely) or seeking to create a "story" that sounds nice, but like Utopia, doesn't nor can it ever exist. In other words, he's telling his audience a fairy-tale... giving hope perhaps to those that have nothing else to look forward to in their own or for their progeny's future. .
Just thought that Reich's fairy-tale article offered an opportunity to describe reality
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