Saturday, August 10, 2013

Obama's “Better Bargain”: Hard Work For The Poor, Wealth For The Rich

Because the capitalist class came to own all the means not merely of production, but also of expression, ideas like "hard work" being a good thing were predatorily preached to the poor and working people in order to encourage them to sacrifice most of their living energy to enriching the few rich masters. In the older days, labor movements deconstructed the stupid bourgeois ethics, those ethics preached to the poor by Barack Obama, and instead the right to be lazy (and yet sustained) was praised. Soon, this will not be just a right, but a necessity. Robots will see to that. The poor will be denounced as lazy—so evil and deserving to die—or at best will be bulldozed into the vast pit of the economic collateral casualties.
"To arrive at the realization of its strength the proletariat must...proclaim the Rights of Laziness, a thousand times more noble and more sacred than the anaemic Rights of Man concocted by the metaphysical lawyers of the bourgeois revolution."—Paul Lafargue, The Right to be Lazy, 1883 

While most of the attention has been spent analyzing what Barack Obama said yesterday about how spying on all Americans is no big deal and people should just get over it and quit nagging him about it, something else the President said, which he identified as the USA’s most important priority, should be looked at as well:
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about what I believe should be our number one priority as a country, building a better bargain for the middle class and for Americans who want to work their way into the middle class.”
While building a better bargain for the rapidly disappearing middle class sounds good, what exactly does Obama mean by this?

A “bargain” concerning what? And between what transacting parties?

Obama clarified his meaning a couple of times yesterday, as he explained how he envisaged the “good” middle class life in the USA:
“[A] big part of my job right now is to make sure the economy is growing quickly and robustly, and is sustained and durable, so that people who work hard in this country are able to find a job.”
AND
“What you should be thinking about is how can we advance and improve ways for middle-class families to have some security so that if they work hard, they can get ahead and their kids can get ahead.”
So, let’s evaluate these policy statements, and see what they add up to.

The one qualifier the President has always included in his view of how the middle-class, and people even poorer than that, should be existing, is that they should be working hard.

I wrote about this earlier this year, noting that:
“It is a maleficent power, or technology or training, that obliges you to work harder. Instead, we should empower our citizens with the skills they need to never work again. That should be the ideal to which all people aspire.”
This is especially the case if the economic conditions in play guarantee hard work will result in people remaining poor or barely above the station at which they began.

And this brings us to this “bargain” idea.

What is it?

Oh, it is this: you, the poor working classes (getting more numerous every day), agree to work (very fucking hard) at three shitty jobs to make sure you earn too much money to get any public assistance, and, by this hard work, you enable some corporate leviathan to make its rich owners even wealthier, In return, your kids will get to grow up and sign up for the same stupid fucking bargain.

And that’s the Dickensian bullshit policy pushed by the alleged “socialist”!

Of course we know the GOP alternative—work hard, or not, whatever—you’re still a worthless, lazy poor person who rates slavery, and that means Republicans hate you ALMOST as much as they hate black people, Mexicans, and Charles Darwin.

There’s been so much going on lately (especially about NSA and spying), that really interesting stuff, for example on the economy and employment, is getting missed for the most part. For example, on Friday, Paul Krugman wrote a column for the Times that was pretty interesting, in that it basically argued that it was time for a Marxist revolution on the part of the working classes in the USA.

Now, Krugman does not explicitly say this, but in praising the predictive powers of an old Marxist economist, Krugman dismisses any concern that someone might have in looking at Marxist-type solutions for the current problems of the working classes:
“[I]f you haven’t been radicalized by recent events, you haven’t been paying attention; and policy discourse since 2008 has run exactly along the lines [the Marxist] predicted.”
By which Krugman meant that the capitalists had successfully run the “confidence” scam on Obama—meaning that no matter how much money in stimulus was pumped into the economy, capitalists claimed repeatedly they had insufficient confidence in the future health of the economy to hire people.

Of course that was a lie. Capitalists were hiring people, and have been hiring people, but it is a funny brand of hiring that has been taking place in this anti-labor economic recovery.

Capitalists saw in the 2008 economic collapse a golden opportunity to finish transforming the American labor market into more of a Chinese model, where American workers could be crushed by the horrible high (and longterm) unemployment into working long and hard for very little. In fact, in many cases, they could be pushed into taking jobs as interns making nothing at all!

This move made a lot of sense for the capitalists, as it opened the door to bringing home production, as labor costs in the USA fell to a point where it was competitive with Chinese factories, especially if you add in (or that is eliminate) shipping costs from Asia.

So, the “bargain” is increasingly very one-sided, with American families having even less hope than before for building any brighter futures by their hard work.

Obama's solution for this problem is to convince Republicans to cooperate with him on a plan to make the bargain "fairer"—paying poor people a little more money, so that their hard work will enable them to buy more stuff (thus further enriching the wealthy), but will of course never realistically give working Americans any chance to dig their way out the dreadful hole into which they've fallen during the last five years and really for decades now.

If Barack Obama really wanted to wisely and beneficially plan for the future, he would start making preparations for the huge economic and social revolution that is already taking place in the USA. What revolution? That's not the Marxist one, but the Asimovian one, where American workers get replaced permanently, first by automation-aided humans (capable of massively more productivity), and then by the robots themselves.

As I said, this is already happening. Millions of Americans in the last few years have simply given up hope of ever working again. They don't get counted as unemployed, and so the unemployment rate has steadily declined for a while now. As more and more people give up hope, having become permanently obsoleted, the unemployment rate will continue to drop, until the day when the USA, having become entirely run by robots, achieves zero unemployment.

All this could be acknowledged, planned for, the worst impacts of it avoided, by prudent political leaders.

But foresight, insight, wisdom, have absolutely no political value in the world today.

Obama will announce his little plans to rebuild the middle class. The Republicans will reject the plans as being too burdensome to the good (rich) people. Both parties will agree that no matter what, any poor Americans left working had better be working hard—for their rich masters.

What a better bargain.

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