Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More about capitalism

I just read an article entitled Capitalism’s Incarnations by John Buell published over on Alternet. Here's a powerful excerpt:

U.S. capitalism in its 2009 incarnation is neither just nor efficient. One need only look at a number of widely accepted measures of economic health. While nearly one of six American workers is unemployed or underemployed, almost a third of our productive facilities stand idle. While homelessness continues to grow, nearly one in seven rental properties stands vacant and foreclosure rates rise.

Put aside Economics 101 and ask a simple question. Isn't there something wrong with an economy that fails to steer unemployed workers into the unused plants? And if some policy achieved this purpose, wouldn't more workers earn enough to rent those vacant homes and apartments?

Americans often pride themselves on looking at facts on the ground. I find it hard to deny that as an economy we have already produced enough homes and factories that everyone could live comfortably.

Conservatives argue that government programs that pay the unemployed to work in those vacant factories would be "inefficient" or would burden our grandchildren with huge obligations. Yet what could be more inefficient than allowing nearly a sixth of our workers and a third of our factories to sit idle? And as for future generations, their ability to pay debts will depend on the strength of the underlying economy, which is being eroded day by day.

That last sentence makes so much sense, doesn't it?

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