The Anti-Capitalist Response To The Crisis
March 31, 2020 9:19 AM   Subscribe

“We can confidently expect the Houllebecqian nightmare we’ve been warned of. Without a massive stimulus package, the corona crash will wipe out most of the small-scale service sector, from barbers to nail salons to internet cafes to specialty coffee bars. The only companies left standing will be Amazon and the large chains, now lording over a recalibrated sub-economy designed to deliver ‘essential’ goods.” It Might Take A While Before History Starts Again (Damage) “ Monetary weapons have been exhausted; there is no ammunition left for central banks to fire. And fiscal stimulus will be inadequate. So, the global slump cannot be avoided by these policies that are designed to sustain the capitalist economy, not replace it.” The Virus, Capitalism, and the Long Depression (Spectre Magazine) The Coronavirus Crisis Is Disaster Capitalism In Action. Here’s How the Left Can Respond.(In These Times) Avoiding Eco-Fascist Responses To The Crisis (Wear Your Voice) What happens when an apocalyptic pandemic meets the apocalyptic death-cult of neoliberalism? (Current Affairs) Working People Podcast: Make Love, Not Stonks. The Dig Podcast interviews Marxist Economist Grace Blakeley on the economists of Cornoairus.
posted by The Whelk (102 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nancy Pelosi now believes that a Republican stimulus bill that doles out a paltry one-time $1,200 to individual people “has moved sufficiently to the side of the workers.”

Goddammit why is nobody talking about the extra $2400/mo in unemployment that is also part of that decidedly bi-partisan stimulus bill? Why? Because that doesn't fit the narrative, does it?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:54 AM on March 31 [18 favorites]


That extra $2400 is good, but it won't help people who were working under the table.

The easiest, best stimulus would be to give everyone enough, then claw it back from people who don't need it via taxes.

Money is fake, that's more than apparent to everyone now. If the government can invent trillions at a time, then insisting on means testing how we give it out in a time of crisis is just the worst possible political instinct, and I don't think it makes sense unless you analyze it through a class lens, at which point it makes perfect sense and is very, very depressing.
posted by turntraitor at 9:58 AM on March 31 [69 favorites]


In the spirit of rejecting capitalism in response to this crisis, a note to Work From Home-ers:

Zoom is lying about its product supporting end-to-end encryption.

If you want something open source and audited, there's a whole bunch of resources at privacytools.io but I suggest Matrix/Riot.IM. Offers end-to-end encryption and the audio/video conferencing was developed by Jitsi Meet. Jitsi Meet is also excellent but it limited in its end-to-end encryption abilities due to being web-browser based. (WebRTC limitation means end-to-end only works when its a direct message between two people, and there is no end-to-end in a group setting).

Don't let a private company weasel its way as a third party into our work lives. Especially one who takes our privacy and security so lackadaisically.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:59 AM on March 31 [13 favorites]


Without massive stimulus to the workers and small businesses, after the crash and during the recovery, they will all be subsumed into larger entities which were able to gobble up the lion's share of stimulus money and therefore have the warchest to ride out what just might turn out to be the worst economic disruption not in decades, but in centuries.

I'm a believer in the effectiveness of capitalism in the right industry segments and with the right regulatory control (reader, capitalist thinking has been saturated everywhere even where it is not appropriate, and allowed to run with only token checks, regulatory capture will be the death of capitalism). But I also am basically a Keynesian from head to toe.

Stimulus does jack shit if the money isn't SPENT. If it's saved, if it's invested, if it's gobbled up in stock buybacks? It's lost, it's pointless.

What we need now is UBI. A real UBI. Annual US payrolls are around 6T. For a 2T stimulus package that does *literally* nothing else than give everyone half their income, we can stave off the worst of the collapse.

What we need now is a moratorium on rent and mortgages. And relief further up the chain.

What we need is a student loan debt jubilee. 100% written off. No questions asked. All student loan debt forgiven effective immediately.

And THEN when the public has a string to hold onto for security.... THEN we give businesses from 1 person to 100,000 persons 0% loans, with their business assets as collateral.

Capitalism is a fine thing, but it won't get us out of this mess. I believe in the right tool for the right job, and the right tool now is MONEY IN CITIZENS' POCKETS. It will find its way into companies' coffers. Call it trickle-up.
posted by tclark at 9:59 AM on March 31 [39 favorites]


“The key to understanding the drafting error is simple, we cannot encourage people to make more in unemployment than in employment,” Tim Scott said. “This legislation would not stop at 100 percent of your income. This legislation would allow people to make more in unemployment than in employment.”

The reason it's not being talked about so much is because talking about it is tantamount to political leaders in red states admitting they're not paying their workers a living wage with the federal minimum, and that this increase will mean they're getting paid more from unemployment than having a job.

They can't talk about it so much because just like asking us to die for the economy, it's a real bad fucking look.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:00 AM on March 31 [39 favorites]


Zoom is lying about its product supporting end-to-end encryption.

Last year, Apple had to push out a silent update to remove that unsecured web server Zoom installed that allowed anyone on the planet to view the machine's web cam, a web server that hung around even if the user uninstalled Zoom.

So, world's tiniest violin to anyone still using Zoom in 2020. You know what you are getting into.
posted by sideshow at 10:06 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


Last year, Apple had to push out a silent update to remove that unsecured web server Zoom installed that allowed anyone on the planet to view the machine's web cam, a web server that hung around even if the user uninstalled Zoom.
Not to pick nits, but while that bug was bad, it wasn't quite that bad.

Also, the fact that Apple has the (previously undisclosed?) ability to push any software they want onto every mac on the planet is also a huge problem that nobody seems to be talking about.
posted by schmod at 10:19 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


[If folks want to dig in more about Zoom or related tech issues, better to make a separate post about that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:21 AM on March 31 [11 favorites]


I believe in the right tool for the right job, and the right tool now is MONEY IN CITIZENS' POCKETS. It will find its way into companies' coffers. Call it trickle-up.

This has been obvious forever, though the stakes weren't so high. If you want to stimulate the economy, you stimulate demand. It never made any sense to stimulate supply in the absence of demand, but the owners of the supply also owned the process allocating the stimulus, so.
posted by mhoye at 10:24 AM on March 31 [22 favorites]


Saw something on social media earlier: "Stop imagining the apocalypse and start imagining the revolution"
posted by mostly vowels at 10:30 AM on March 31 [28 favorites]


It never made any sense to stimulate supply in the absence of demand

It can make sense to stimulate supply in certain areas where demand is ambivalent or not pressing, but can reasonably be expected to grow. A good example is the various work administration projects by FDR and the massive public investment in utility/logistics infrastructure. A carefully, intelligently applied stimulus to supply (hah, good luck in this political climate) can not only stimulate future demand, but place the nation in a better place for future growth through industrial efficiency. That's the basic Keynesian principle as I understand it.
posted by tclark at 10:31 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I believe in the right tool for the right job, and the right tool now is MONEY IN CITIZENS' POCKETS. It will find its way into companies' coffers. Call it trickle-up.

But the problem right now is that it won't. How can it when the only open stores are grocery stores, and grocery store demand is already stimulated by hoarding?
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:32 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


That extra $2400 is good, but it won't help people who were working under the table.

Nor people who were already unemployed but not receiving unemployment benefits, whether because they didn't qualify or because they'd already run out.
posted by nirblegee at 10:39 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


But the problem right now is that it won't.

I think it will help -- because of the wide-scale shutdown, demand is basically in the toilet. But that also means every hairdresser, every car salesman, every print shop are all going without money. Today. Because nobody is there. If those people have money in their pockets, and I'm not talking $1200, but an actual regular, reliable income -- even if only partial -- they will be able to buy those groceries, pay their bills, and when the inevitable loosening of isolation policies happens (even if it's stop/start), they will have money to spend on catching up on the things that were neglected and could be put off for a while but not forever.

Without real income replacement, when isolation is lifted, demand *won't* recover because people won't have money they can spend.
posted by tclark at 10:39 AM on March 31 [17 favorites]


Can we talk about just abolishing rent and debt servicing for the duration of this thing? Coz if people aren't working due to global catastrophe, they shouldn't be obligated to pay the landlords... Then the 'demand stimulus' can go to things like food, instead of just back into some real estate tycoon's pockets.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:39 AM on March 31 [11 favorites]


whether because they didn't qualify or because they'd already run out.

Actually, to be fair, those who recently ran out are supposedly eligible for the extended 13 weeks and the extra $600 a week.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:40 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Can we talk about just abolishing rent and debt servicing for the duration of this thing? Coz if people aren't working due to global catastrophe, they shouldn't be obligated to pay the landlords.

My elderly mother who struggled her whole life to pay off that stupid house only a few years ago is now going to be fucked out of being able to pay her property taxes and some of her bills.

This goes way, way beyond needing to abolish rent and mortgage collection during this. What's really fucked is that our government needs our tax money to function, but demanding it from people like my mother right now is honestly fucking criminal.

If only we could have gotten more tax money from people who weren't paying their fair share...
posted by deadaluspark at 10:42 AM on March 31 [15 favorites]


Direct rent relief (i.e. cancellation of unpaid rent debt) runs into Constitutional problems (same for mortgages), and just suspending collections winds up with an impossible rent (or mortgage) bill hanging over people's heads whenever evictions and foreclosures resume, and grace periods run out. Obviously, worse for renters who can't sell their property.

What might be done is rather than bailing out mortgage lenders directly in response to mortgage and rent collection moratoriums, which I'd expect will be talked about in the next round of 'stimulus,' rental property owners could be eligible to have the mortgage on their rental properties paid from a stimulus fund if they waive the rent for the corresponding rental period.

Accepting those funds would also permit other conditions to be imposed (like caps on rent or rent increases), as opposed to attempting to modify private contracts by law, because participation in the program would be voluntary.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:01 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


Sure seems like it would be a good time to take that idea of "universal healthcare" more seriously
posted by SystematicAbuse at 11:08 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


Goddammit this whole thing is so frustrating. The solution is staring at us in black and white. Remember the Panama Papers? Remember the list of Americans and how much money they had overseas, that was supposed to be taxable but the government just never bothered? THAT IS WHERE THE MONEY IS. THAT is what we should be using to cover all of these small businesses and unemployment checks and N95 masks.
posted by nushustu at 11:42 AM on March 31 [47 favorites]


Direct rent relief (i.e. cancellation of unpaid rent debt) runs into Constitutional problems (same for mortgages), and just suspending collections winds up with an impossible rent (or mortgage) bill hanging over people's heads whenever evictions and foreclosures resume, and grace periods run out. Obviously, worse for renters who can't sell their property.

Neither of these need to necessarily happen if mortgages and leases are suspended for the duration of isolation. You don't get 3 months "scot free" of rent or mortgage, and you don't owe back-rent or a mortgage balloon payment for the duration of the suspension. Your payments are simply suspended and the term is extended for the duration of the suspension. A 4 month rent suspension means you get 4 months added to your lease. If you choose not to exercise the option to suspend payment, your lease or mortgage continues as normal.

This won't work unless we make sure the people who are unable to work and make money have a substantial portion of their normal income covered by the government.
posted by tclark at 11:50 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Again, at least within the U.S. context there are Constitutional limits on the ability to "simply" modify private contracts or property rights by law.

A 4 month rent suspension means you get 4 months added to your lease.

This gives the renter four months of free rent and extends their right of occupancy, which doesn't make much sense.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:26 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


As someone who has grown up with Universal Healthcare and in a somewhat decent minimum wage society, I truly commiserate with you all. I mean, Germany's 50 Billion stimulus package for small business, the arts, and culture is rolling out now. That's on top of the safety nets already in place. It's not perfect, but it's something.
posted by WhyamIhereagain at 12:31 PM on March 31 [6 favorites]


I'm aware of a lot of statutory constraints, but I'm unclear on the constitutional ones. What are the constitutional constraints?
posted by tclark at 12:31 PM on March 31


For the States, the Contracts clause. For the Federal government, the Takings clause and maybe more.

Home Building & Loan Ass'n v. Blaisdell (see also Oyez) only went so far as to authorize an extension of the foreclosure redemption period, and is still a bete noir of the Federalist Society conservative types who now control the Court (and much of the Federal judiciary).
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:33 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I hate to sound like a broken record, but money is fake. There isn't a scarcity of money or what it represents, obviously, because we can without a hitch start printing it up by the trillions.

So insisting we need to figure out how to work within the systems that rich people set up to get some chunk of their money to pay for stuff is just...did y'all not read the part about it being fake?

If someone's locked up their imaginary unicorn in a bank where you can't get it, just imagine your own unicorn.
posted by turntraitor at 12:42 PM on March 31 [17 favorites]


P.S.: it does feel oh-so-very-2020 that the Prof. Epstein cited as one of the prominent critics of Blaisdell is the same one currently being dragged to hell and back on Twitter for his misled and misleading Covid prognostications.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:42 PM on March 31


all that may be true, snuffleupagus, but the courts ruled long ago that the government is under no obligation to actually protect people

meaning that if the government decides it's not going to enforce eviction or foreclosure, then nothing can make it do so
posted by pyramid termite at 12:43 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


The government itself doesn't enforce evictions, unless you mean by the ultimate writ of possession after the conclusion of the judicial process.

At which point, you really are talking about a full-on revolution in which law enforcement refuses to carry out judicial orders, and then debating any current law is pointless.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:45 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


The government itself doesn't enforce evictions

do you mean to tell me sheriff's deputies don't work for the government?

the governor in michigan already ordered that evictions would not happen until april 17, except for extreme circumstances, which do not include non-payment of rent

i guess that's a revolution, then ...
posted by pyramid termite at 12:54 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Sigh. I'm not going to get drawn into obtuse posturing to the point of quoting Marbury.

The eviction process has been suspended under emergency orders. Basically, you can't get a trial date right now. Go look at every Mayor or Governor's order and press statements and you'll see it made clear that these are temporary measures put in place for so long as movement and work is restricted, and all rent will be due eventually.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:56 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Goddammit why is nobody talking about the extra $2400/mo in unemployment that is also part of that decidedly bi-partisan stimulus bill? Why? Because that doesn't fit the narrative, does it?

Well, no, because the "narrative" is that the entire bipartisan system of an inequitable capitalist economy (which is reinforced by white supremacy, colonialism, and the patriarchy) is deeply immoral and harmful to people and the planet.

To bring up the score ($1200 vs $2400) when people are criticizing the game itself seems to be missing the point.
posted by Ouverture at 1:09 PM on March 31 [7 favorites]


To be clear, what I am most worried about is the situation in which banks and servicers and insurers are bailed out due to defaults after non-payment of rents and mortgages, but everyone still gets evicted. I know bailing out landlords is distasteful, but better to do that while conditioning it on rent relief than to just bail out banks while they foreclose on property owners and resell to those with enough money left to speculate.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:13 PM on March 31 [11 favorites]


To bring up the score ($1200 vs $2400) when people are criticizing the game itself seems to be missing the point.

That post you quoted was correcting someone who "brought up the score" erroneously.
posted by Brian B. at 1:22 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


How can it when the only open stores are grocery stores

This is not true. You buy nearly an infinite variety of things online direct from manufacturers. I just bought two HP laser printers direct from HP (to avoid the scum that is Amazon) so people in my office can work from from home. I also got a Bose speaker system.

There are infinite ways to spend money.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 1:23 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


More and more, people are seeing that a capitalist society will lead only to destruction.

If you are interested in a revolutionary socialist approach to handling COVID and the economic devastation that's coming, check out the US division of International Marxist Tendency's 10 point program.

But we will have to fight for a society led by and for workers and the poor to start making this happen.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 1:23 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


sideshow: "So, world's tiniest violin to anyone still using Zoom in 2020. You know what you are getting into."

Does the tiny violin also play for those of us who work for universities that require us to use Zoom to keep teaching classes and, I don't know, continue getting paid?
Guess we know what we're getting into.
posted by signal at 1:38 PM on March 31 [21 favorites]


You know the last time there was a Marxist revolution following a global pandemic things didn't work out so hot for the workers. Or anyone else.

Just say'n.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 1:44 PM on March 31 [7 favorites]


So, world's tiniest violin to anyone still using Zoom in 2020. You know what you are getting into.

Until COVID-19 I had not heard of Zoom. I hope your sense of superiority can be weaponized against the investor class, because right now you're just slapping the people next to you.
posted by avalonian at 1:45 PM on March 31 [32 favorites]


Man, this place is getting saucy. There are some people in this thread who need to take a breath. There are some bad people, who deserve our ire. The people in this thread are not them.
posted by nushustu at 1:52 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


The real problem with revolution is there is no guarantee that the new boss will be any better than the old boss or that society will end up organized any better. (something something power corrupts)

I sympathize with the call for revolutionary action (in the context of this thread), however, in the face of a virus that has literally upended the world and revealed in stark relief the deepest of its inequities.
posted by deadaluspark at 1:55 PM on March 31 [11 favorites]


(Yah, avalonian, I was talking about the people to whom you were responding.)
posted by nushustu at 2:21 PM on March 31


I hate to sound like a broken record, but money is fake.

So are you an anarcho-capitalist Randian goldbug, or an anarcho-communist Kropotkinite? You see, it's hard to tell the difference when you say that money is fake.
posted by tclark at 2:26 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]


ok cool. I flagged my comment as noise, then. Probably should've flagged with comment. You're welcome to delete this and my previous comment, moderators.
posted by avalonian at 2:58 PM on March 31


To bring up the score ($1200 vs $2400) when people are criticizing the game itself seems to be missing the point.

The article I quoted described the $1200 as "paltry" which suggests that the author felt it was woefully insufficient. The $2400 per month (or more precisely $600 per week) unemployment boost is way more than sufficient for the vast majority of people to fully live on. It's a defacto UBI for which most under- and unemployed people are eligible. UBI being, of course, a major agenda item of the progressive left. It notably excludes undocumented workers, which makes it woefully imperfect, but it is a far cry from the $1200 vs $2400 bean counting exercise you make it out to be.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:15 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]


Damn. Even MetaFilter is falling apart.
posted by Token Meme at 3:18 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


The $2400 per month (or more precisely $600 per week) unemployment boost is way more than sufficient for the vast majority of people to fully live on.

The median price for a one-bedroom in Oakland climbed to $2,470 a month, and a two-bedroom hit $2,990 last year, and cost of living is similarly expensive.

No, $2,400 a month is not "way more than sufficient" for many people.

Also, some 2.7 million Californians will not receive any assistance.
posted by Lexica at 4:17 PM on March 31 [7 favorites]


There are plenty of people living in glorified broom closets in the bay area who made too much in 2018 to qualify for the relief. Unless there is some sort of accounting for the locale's cost of living, any system is going to be unfair. Either people living in 4000 square foot McMansions in Alabama get relief because they can afford that kind of mortgage on 100k for a family of four, or people sharing rooms in San Francisco don't get relief because as singles they made over the 100k cutoff in 2018.
posted by tclark at 4:24 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I hate to sound like a broken record, but money is fake.

Money, like promises, is immaterial, but nevertheless breaking promises tends to have pretty ruinous material consequences, especially for the most disadvantaged. So even granting that money is "fake" in some sense (which honestly I think is not a very productive conceit at all), I still remain baffled at your insistence that... exactly what is it you're saying? That unicorns are real because money is fake?

Inflation is very real and arguably begot Thatcher & Pinochet; perhaps even Hitler. I'm not exaggerating for effect. I'm not trying to spice up a dinner party conversation with "daring" speculation. Right now somewhat near half my relatives live in a country where rampant inflation has all but destroyed the fabric of society, by kindling corruption, destroying public infrastructure & services, and crushing foreign trade & investment. I think you're categorically mistaken.
posted by dmh at 4:45 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]


"There are plenty of people living in glorified broom closets in the bay area who made too much in 2018 to qualify for the relief. Unless there is some sort of accounting for the locale's cost of living, any system is going to be unfair. Either people living in 4000 square foot McMansions in Alabama get relief because they can afford that kind of mortgage on 100k for a family of four, or people sharing rooms in San Francisco don't get relief because as singles they made over the 100k cutoff in 2018."

Yeah, this problem is all over. Minimum wage (and/or UBI) should be cost adjusted to cost-of-living (and automatically increase for inflation) for the locale where people reside. Otherwise we'll continue to run into this problem.
posted by el io at 5:01 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


The unemployment benefits are not means-tested. So it doesn't matter how much you made. And of course, not being cost-of-living adusted, it isn't enough for people living in the most expensive area in the US. It is not perfect, but it is enough for most people to not only live on but also save money and a huge step in the right direction.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:07 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Well, $800+ a week would be enough to save some money even in many expensive cities, if it lasted more than three months. In California, most will get $1000+ a week, will they not? You get what you made before up to whatever the state's maximum weekly benefit is, plus an additional $600 if you were regularly employed. If formerly of the gig economy, you get half the maximum plus the $600 a week.

Dunno, that seems far better and more useful than literally any past help to the recently unemployed the US has ever seen. Should keep me housed, though, so I'm inclined to look upon the program more positively since the alternative is literally being homeless next month.
posted by wierdo at 8:31 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't this generous and non-paltry 2400/month only last something like 12 weeks of the expanded unemployment term?

So anyone who gets laid off next month gets a nice cushy 600/week for the summer, and then it's back to pathetic Normal Unemployment Struggle checks right?
posted by windbox at 8:59 PM on March 31


It lasts 39 weeks. Sunsets end of December 2020.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:12 PM on March 31


Thus far, the relevant Florida agency continues to insist that benefits may only be drawn for 13 weeks, despite the bill explicitly extending the time period. One hopes that they will pull their heads out of their asses in the next month or two so that it is only an anxiety-provoking inconvenience rather than yet another own goal by the state government against the state's economy.

The minimum amount for most people in most states should get is at least $3200 a month, by the way, since the $600 a week is above and beyond whatever benefits a person normally would receive and the minimum maximum benefit in any state is above $200 a week.
posted by wierdo at 9:22 PM on March 31


So are you an anarcho-capitalist Randian goldbug, or an anarcho-communist Kropotkinite? You see, it's hard to tell the difference when you say that money is fake.

I took that to be a "fiat currency is fake so we should make a bunch more of it" versus a "fiat currency is fake therefore you should buy precious metals."
posted by atoxyl at 11:05 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


a workers' paradise may be closer than you think! (perhaps a vote away ;)
Sen. Sherrod Brown, ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee and Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee each introduced legislation last week that would require the Fed to create so-called digital dollars and for member banks of its regional satellites to create accounts whereby Americans could access their digital bucks, free of charge.
what could you do with a FedAccount!? imagine :P
posted by kliuless at 11:34 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Amy Kapczynski & Gregg Gonsalves "Alone Against the Virus"
COVID-19 is a crisis of social solidarity and social investment. It has been fifty years since Goldwater and the rise of the right, which has told us, again and again, these things don’t matter. Now with the coronavirus outbreak, we see that, in fact, it’s a matter of life and death and has been all along. Coronavirus has shined a light on the cruelty of American life as it has been constructed for much of our lifetimes.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:24 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]


re: Money is fake

I still remain baffled at your insistence that... exactly what is it you're saying?

That money just represents will in our society. It doesn't represent what we say it does, which is value distributed against scarcity. Because if that was true, then when rich people become penniless, why don't they stop being rich? They don't seem to suffer bankruptcies the same way, say, a poor person does.

In this same sense, if I am allowed to go bankrupt but a cruise ship company is not allowed to go bankrupt, in a macro sense it's because the will to preserve that cruise ship company exists, but the will to bail out people like me does not. It's not about how much money exists; they're literally inventing money out of thin air for whatever purpose they need to. Where's it coming from?

Money isn't real, but power is. Money is just the smokescreen we throw up that obfuscates what power wants to happen.
posted by turntraitor at 6:07 AM on April 1 [10 favorites]




“we’ve been tracking support for Medicare for All for over a year. in March, as the US became the #covid19 epicenter and 43% of voters said the pandemic makes them more likely to back universal health care plans, M4A support rose a nine-month high”. new from Morning Consult
posted by The Whelk at 6:47 AM on April 1


also, CARES Act coverage seems to be burying the lede on the Paycheck Protection Program: "The US just went full-Denmark on payroll support."
First, the Treasury factsheet [and] the SBA guidance:
  1. It's a loan program. But loans are *fully forgiven* if 75% or more of them go towards payrolls. Including benefits. And (rapid) rehires. So it should function like a grant program.
  2. The reason why it is structured as a loan program is because it can be administered through FDIC banks, credit unions, etc. I.e., if this works well, you can walk into your local bank and get cash fast. Maybe on the spot?
  3. But the banks *can't* profit; no fees allowed. Also no collateral, no personal guarantees required. If you go over 25% on non-payroll borrowing, then payments are paused for 6 mo (extendable to 12), with 0.5% interest. I.e., basically no-interest.
  4. This applies to small businesses, sole proprietorships, non-profits, tribal concerns, veterans orgs, self-employed, and independent contractors. I.e., almost everyone not working for a large corp.
  5. Payroll support is for 8 weeks, which buys us a good amount of time. Also creates infrastructure if it needs to be expanded further.
So, as I read it, and if it works, it's full payroll support, for free, without having to go through the SBA directly, and also support for business rent/mortgage/utilities payments. That's huge!

And because it's a Treasury program it can be easily backstopped by the Fed, which allows for quick expansion if needed (it will be needed).

Unless I'm missing something this is a very big deal. It needs to be expanded to ALL workers, not just small businesses. & it will need more funding support (and/or something creative like a Fannie/Freddie for SMEs). But I never thought this admin would do something this decent.

They've released the application form. Very simple.
in US fashion -- business socialism -- this gets us closer to denmark :P
posted by kliuless at 8:18 AM on April 1 [5 favorites]


Money isn't real, but power is. Money is just the smokescreen we throw up that obfuscates what power wants to happen.

What is wealth?* "we should use Adam Smith's definition of wealth: '[A person] must be rich or poor according to the quantity of labor which he can command'. This means that the extent of one's wealth ought to be estimated within a historical context: how many thousands hours of labor one can command if he were to use his entire wealth..."
This means that the extent of one’s wealth ought to be estimated within a historical context: how many thousands hours of labor one can command if he were to use his entire wealth. This metric however is easier to implement in the past than now. When, say in Roman times, countries were at approximately the same level of income, taking the richest person in Roman and Chinese empires, and comparing their wealth with the subsistence income (i.e. the usual wage at the time) made sense because that “usual wage” was the same in Rome as in China. But if you take Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates with whose wages should you compare their wealth? Wages of US labor or some notional global wage rate? If the former, should not then Carlos Slim’s or Russian oligarchs’ wealth be compared to the average wage in Mexico and Russia? This is what I did in “The Haves and the Have-nots”...

When we do this kind of calculation, we implicitly look at billionaires potential domestic power: their ability to hire thousands of people. But notice that here I have moved a bit the goalposts. I am really measuring wealth in the space of potential power. Now, that power does not always require actual financial wealth. It can come from straight political power. Stalin, to take one example, could have moved much more labor by his decisions than either Khodorkovsky or Slim. The same is true for many other dictators in history.

This conflation of the amount of money as such and the power to order workers around leads people to believe that absolute rulers must have been extraordinary wealthy. The view is implicitly based on the values of our own contemporary societies that are fully commercialized, and where having wealth comes close to having power. With people like Trump, Berlusconi, Thaksin, Bloomberg etc. it becomes even more “natural” to see wealth and power as just one and the same thing.

Wealth also, it is thought, should include the ability to leave it to your heirs. After all, many people justify their amassing extraordinary amounts by their concern for family, or maybe for some philanthropic causes. But what happens when the actual private wealth is low even if the ability to control an enormous amount of resources is huge? This was the case, in an extreme way, with Stalin, but also with most communist leaders. Whoever among them was a supreme leader within his own country had a huge power to move resources around. They also used for themselves many resources; not (in the case of Stalin) in an ostentatious Czarist way but in order to showcase own power and the power of the state (as argued very convincingly in Vladimir Nevezhin’s “Dining with Stalin”, reviewed here). Resources were also used to pay for incredibly high security costs so that no one could track the movement of the supreme leader. (The same reason that leads American presidents to always use two or three helicopters and not one.) This resulted in Stalin having access to approximately twenty residences in different areas near Moscow and on the Black Sea coast. (Some of these residences were only for his own use, others were shared with the rest of the leadership). Very similar was Mao’s situation. Tito had at least seven residences in different parts of the country.

But what neither of these dictators had was the ability to transfer such “wealth” to their offspring. Many of them did not much care about their nearest family—certainly the cases of Stalin and Tito. Mao cared just a bit more, but his son inherited little; Chiang Ching (Jiang Qing), his widow, even less and died in prison. Thus, if we make a simple table (see below) of what wealth consists of, we note that in these cases it did not fulfill all the functions that we normally assign to it. The reason why it failed to do so is because we ascribe to wealth the characteristics of our own commercialized societies. In different societies even if they are relatively close in age and technological development to ours (like Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China) the function of wealth was different. Power was the true wealth—not the mansions that were used ex officio and that you could not bequeath to your heirs.

[Table: Functions of wealth in different societies]

We thus find that comparing wealth over different ages is not only fraught with difficulties or rather impossible because we cannot assign values to the things that did not exist in the past and exist now, but because we have trouble comparing wealth in different societies with structurally different features. We have to realize that it is okay to compare wealth of the people on the Forbes list so long as they share similar social environment: the same ability to protect that wealth, to use it to boss people around, to bequeath it. The moment when these underlying conditions diverge comparison ceases to be meaningful.
also btw...
Historical wealth: How to compare Croesus and Bezos - "No other commodity but labor power (an hour of unskilled work) is both as unchanged over time in terms of effort exerted, and yet paid the equivalent of different amounts of real goods and services reflecting the general level of productivity of a society. It is both covariant with wealth and an unvarying numeraire."
posted by kliuless at 8:43 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]


Because if that was true, then when rich people become penniless, why don't they stop being rich? They don't seem to suffer bankruptcies the same way, say, a poor person does.

Because bankruptcy isn't penury. It's the inability to cover one's debts, which are either partly or completely wiped away in a bankruptcy, and managed with creditors. The reason rich people don't suffer from bankruptcies the way poor people do is because they still have a lot of money. Some rich people really DO lose all of their money, and therefore stop being rich. That's less common because bankruptcy laws are designed to prevent rich people from ACTUALLY losing their money, but it definitely happens.
posted by tclark at 9:33 AM on April 1 [3 favorites]


There's more than one kind of personal bankruptcy, and moreover at a sufficient level of wealth it's probably your enterprises that are going bankrupt, not you.

So anyone who gets laid off next month gets a nice cushy 600/week for the summer, and then it's back to pathetic Normal Unemployment Struggle checks right?

Details are trickling out, but it seems to me you get significantly less if you are not within the regular unemployment system and only qualify for the special Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:41 AM on April 1


snuggflepagus, the PUA is separate from the $600 per week. PUA is basically federally-subsidized ersatz statue unemployment for non-W2 workers. It starts at $190 and goes up from there based on income. The $600/wk is on top of that, just as it is on top of normal state unemployment.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:40 AM on April 1


And thank you, kliuless! That is more great information.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:41 AM on April 1


Additional paycheck-protection provisions under the different loan programs for small businesses (under 500 employees), medium businesses (500-10,000 employees), and the federal reserve loan program (unrestricted), based on this overview:

>Small businesses lose their loan forgiveness as they fire employees or cut their pay. See Kliuless' post, above. [This loan program is under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act]

>Medium businesses have to make a "good-faith certification" that:
------>(i) the funds they receive will be used to retain at least 90% of their workforce, at full compensation and benefits, until September 30, 2020;
------>(ii) they intend to restore not less than 90% of the workforce that existed as of February 1, 2020, and restore all compensation and benefits no later than four months following the termination of the COVID-19 public emergency;
------>(iii) they will not outsource or offshore jobs for the term of the loan or guarantee and for two years thereafter;
------>(iv) they will not abrogate existing collective bargaining agreements for the term of the loan and for two years thereafter; and
------>(v) they will remain neutral in any union organizing effort for the term of the loan.

I haven't been able to find an enforcement mechanism yet, for those who break their certifications.
[This loan program is direct from the Dept. of the Treasury]

>Medium businesses will also get access to a federal reserve loan program with some restrictions that I haven't seen yet, but will apparently include a 2-year ban on outsourcing and offshoring.

>Air carriers have to hold off on furloughs or cutting pay through Sept. 30. There are also limitations on executive compensation and stock buybacks. [Also direct from Treasury]

>Although there are no explicit employee number requirements, and apart from the new program described above, truly big businesses will generally be the ones to access the federal reserve lending program. It ostensibly will have some strings attached to it: restricting stock buybacks, dividends and capital contributions; limiting executive compensation; and prohibiting loan forgiveness. BUT there's nothing so far about protecting paychecks or against layoffs or furloughs. Also, the Treasury Secretary, i.e., Steve Mnuchin, can waive the existing (and future?) restrictions as long as he testifies to Congress about why.

So Walmart (2.2M employees in the US), Amazon (500K), UPS, Home Depot, etc. can, in military parlance, fire at will.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 12:02 PM on April 1


It's worth noting the the "stock buyback prohibition" provision is only for the term of the loan plus one year. Nothing will stop big corporations from using that money for buybacks after a year is up.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 12:12 PM on April 1


CA EDD Coronavirus Page: "The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a brand new program. The EDD is working with deliberate speed to stand up this new program and the other new provisions to serve unemployed Californians, including the self-employed. Californians should follow the current instructions on this page regarding potential UI benefits with more details to come later in the week."
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:24 PM on April 1


My SIL is a dentist and apparently the PPP isn't super helpful and might put her in a worse position financially than just closing, plus people are making more on unemployment than they would in her employ, which given the term of the unemployment benefit will make re-hiring people extremely difficult once social distancing restrictions are lifted.

Stuff is really complicated, apparently? But I'm at least glad that people can collect unemployment.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:42 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


which given the term of the unemployment benefit will make re-hiring people extremely difficult once social distancing restrictions are lifted.

I don't think so, unless people are really putting a lot of trust into unemployment that isn't yet warranted, that's just a talking point, not actual reality. I mean, just think if you have to change apartments, that "I'm unemployed but I'm making more than working" line isn't going to go very far, even if it is temporarily true.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:50 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


(U.S.) Unemployment benefits are temporary. Even if you make more than your pay during the benefit period, you sabotage yourself for when you need to work later.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 2:00 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Stuff is really complicated, apparently?

It's only complicated because our politicians want it that way.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:05 PM on April 1


Depending on the terms of separation, a person may be required to return to work for their former employer or lose all unemployment benefits. The suspension of job search/application requirements are only temporary.

As far as whether a business would be worse off taking the money than not, it's a pretty damn simple calculation: Will you spend the money you are given only on covered items, even if that means paying employees to sit at home? At worst you are acting as a middleman for the government, using their money to make payroll.
posted by wierdo at 2:06 PM on April 1


As far as whether a business would be worse off taking the money than not, it's a pretty damn simple calculation: Will you spend the money you are given only on covered items, even if that means paying employees to sit at home?

You have to spend 75% of the loan on payroll, so if your non-payroll expenses are > 25% of business costs, you are ineligible for loan forgiveness unless you pare back those expenses, which in the case of rent, insurance etc. - particularly for small medical practices - may be infeasible.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:21 PM on April 1


Assuming the alternative isn't shutting the business permanently, you're going to be paying those expenses regardless. Simply not paying such expenses out of the loan proceeds forecloses any possibility one might be on the hook for repayment.

Having the expenses isn't a problem in terms of forgiveness of the loan. And even if you do need to spend more than 25% on allowed non-payroll the worst that happens is that you pay 0.5% interest on that amount and that only if so many loans are issued that they end up actually enforcing that 25% figure. Were I a dishonest business owner, I might be inclined to try to convince people not to take advantage of the assistance they are being offered, since I would then be able to have the government cover even more of my business expenses.
posted by wierdo at 3:42 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I'm waiting for CA to put out some actual guidance, but as a self-employed professional who has not yet incorporated (on the advice of my tax preparer to wait until I had more revenue) and has no other employees (and so no payroll), it seems to me that the loan program may still be helpful if I want to keep my doors open and apply for PUA based on a reduction in hours, rather than taking myself entirely out of business.

That is a lot more sustainable and (hopefully) recoverable than putting everything on credit cards with high rates and shrinking available balances. Which I may need to use to eat eventually.

It's a shame that it's as murky as it is, but Kliuless' info was somewhat heartening.

Plus, I don't want to judge the relief solely based on what it does for me an an individual. I will feel my feels about that, and cope with the consequences, but that kind of solipsism feels repellent while health care and logistics workers are being asked or just expected to put their lives on the line.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:50 PM on April 1




Green Jobs Are the Answer to the Coronavirus Recession:

The climate case for making the government the employer of last resort
posted by The Whelk at 5:54 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


That money just represents will in our society. It doesn't represent what we say it does, which is value distributed against scarcity.

I tend to think of money as debt. The value of debt depends on the expectation of redemption. This expectation in turn depends on the perceived ability and willingness to service the debt. In this view money is a debt backed by the body politic, with its value reflecting the ability and willingness of the body politic to service that debt in the future.

Printing money means borrowing against the future earning potential of the body politic, which, all else being equal, reduces the ability to service future debt, thereby reducing the value of that debt. There is more money, but it buys less.

Because if that was true, then when rich people become penniless, why don't they stop being rich? They don't seem to suffer bankruptcies the same way, say, a poor person does.

One interesting thing about debt is that its value depends on who holds it. Since rich people have access to more resources, there is a greater likelihood that they will be able to exploit those resources to generate the cashflow required to service the debt. So debt held by a rich person is more valuable than debt held by a poor person. This explains why rich people get better terms on debt (ie. they get more money for less) than poor people.

Since by definition a rich person is not penniless, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by that, except in the sense that rich people tend to have rich friends, and as such they benefit from social or class solidarity. That is to say, when you have rich friends, you are more likely to have access to lucrative participations or bridging loans. In fact I think this is one of the prime motivators behind wanting to become rich in the first place. Becoming rich is a poor man's social safety net.

In this same sense, if I am allowed to go bankrupt but a cruise ship company is not allowed to go bankrupt, in a macro sense it's because the will to preserve that cruise ship company exists, but the will to bail out people like me does not. It's not about how much money exists; they're literally inventing money out of thin air for whatever purpose they need to. Where's it coming from?

As long as a cruise ship company remains in business, the likelihood that it will be able to generate the cashflows required to service their debt is non-zero. Once the company is out of business, that likelihood becomes zero. So for a lender, it might make sense to support an already insolvent company by increasing their debt, if that enables the company to continue generating cashflows. For most private individuals, that's rarely the case, and so the debt of a cruise ship company is more valuable than that of a private individual. The money comes from the expectation that the debt can be serviced; it is borrowed against future earning potential.

Money isn't real, but power is. Money is just the smokescreen we throw up that obfuscates what power wants to happen.

I think power is the perceived ability and willingness to make good on your promises & threats. In this day and age, I think this is expressed mostly in the ability to service your own debts and the ability to collect on debt held by others. In that sense the value of money absolutely reflects relations of power. Since powerful people want to hold onto their power, they will fight tooth & nail against any reduction in power, even if that means ruining the powerless.

To me that's not just morally wrong, but also counter-productive. Since by ruining the powerless, you ruin the body politic, and by ruining the body politic, you ruin its long-term ability and willingness to service the debt, which is what ultimately backs the value of your money. So to retain the value of your money in the long run, it must be invested into the body politic as a whole, either through direct redistribution, or tax breaks, or by subsidizing education or healthcare, etc.

Distributing money is a means of distributing power. But you have to do it in such a way that inspires the trust of others. You can't just announce to the world that your money isn't real and expect the world to continue extending credit. They will eat you.
posted by dmh at 5:54 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]




^ Capital, especially in America, can’t afford to increase labor’s access to the social product because decreasing labor’s share is how they’re maintaining productivity growth, and that’s already the only thing worth investing in....There’s an acute challenge here. Capital (via the state) has to backstop a certain level of consumer demand through the crisis, which is another way of saying that they have to take care of people.


I find myself growing weary of analyses that discuss "Capital" as though it were some kind of distinct actor (in a top hat and monocle). There is no longer monolithic "Capital" if there ever was, and an abstraction doesn't have feelings or desires.

What does it mean for "Capital" to 'want' something when "Capital" includes everyone's 401(k)s?
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:15 AM on April 2


What does it mean for "Capital" to 'want' something when "Capital" includes everyone's 401(k)s?

Not just 401ks but also pensions. Companies boosting their stock price by buying back stock is helping you (or your relatives).
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:42 AM on April 2


What does it mean for "Capital" to 'want' something when "Capital" includes everyone's 401(k)s?

What do people want from their 401Ks? To grow faster than other investment vehicles. What do investors want from their investments? To grow faster than other investments. What does it mean to grow in an investment sense? To appropriate value that exists outside corporations and bring it within corporations to be converted to currency dividends over a period of time (or, in the artificial sense, buy up more of your stock so your portion grows).

I would argue that "Capital" is more monolithic than it ever was. What with risk managed, diversified investment strategies based on the beneficiaries needs in regards to timing (and they're almost all in regards to timing IME). I'm pretty sure the rules and laws that are required for capital to exist across borders (property rights enforced at gunpoint by a governments with guns, regulated markets, etc) have been disseminating around the globe like wildfire for quite some time now. The baked in "wants" of capital, at that point, are legislated (fiduciary responsibilities, tax breaks for 401ks, etc) so as to get more people on the same page with the same want: growth.

I believe it was stated the most eloquently by Bong Joon Ho when discussing his wildly popular film Parasite "I tried to express a sentiment specific to Korean culture, [but] all the responses from different audiences were pretty much the same. Essentially, we all live in the same country, called Capitalism.”
posted by avalonian at 8:01 AM on April 2 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure I agree with the 'more monolithic than ever' part, but that is very well put!

I also want to note that most of that Commune article is about policy specifics, and is quite good.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:06 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


What does it mean for "Capital" to 'want' something when "Capital" includes everyone's 401(k)s?

Let's go one level deeper: why do people have 401ks?

Capitalism has shred up the safety net and its biggest beneficiaries have convinced people it's for their own good because freedom or something.
posted by Ouverture at 9:38 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


Capitalism has shred up the safety net and its biggest beneficiaries have convinced people it's for their own good because freedom or something.

I have a hard time with this because before 401ks was pensions, and before that was family support. Pensions really only existed for a short period of time, so it was mostly just family support. So the safety net hasn't existed for very long. So at best you can say that a pension > 401k > nothing. Capitalism has existed though all of that. Pensions also have serious downsides, especially with regard to cost inflation which can diverge from official inflation rates.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:11 PM on April 2


I have a hard time with this because before 401ks was pensions, and before that was family support.

There's also Social Security, which if you look at it from a certain perspective, is a type of government pension. It's not, because pensions are more intended to be deferred remuneration, but it's not unreasonable to think of SS as a pension-type vehicle.

The problem I see with 401ks is that locking retirement income to market performance results in huge distortion of the market. Companies are risk-averse enough, and desperate enough to goose stock values in the short term so the executives can get their bonuses and run off into the countryside, but having 30, 50, 70% of the public's retirement income tied directly to stock market performance only amplifies this incentive.

It results in people staking their entire political lives on "yeah, Mr Orange is a horrible person, but how's your 401k doing?" And we end up here. Where people are, in all seriousness, advocating the quick death of millions to defray an economic crash. And people are falling for it because they look at their 401k numbers, do some quick calculations, and think "if preventing those deaths wipes out my retirement, perhaps those deaths shouldn't be prevented..."
posted by tclark at 1:37 PM on April 2 [9 favorites]


It results in people staking their entire political lives on "yeah, Mr Orange is a horrible person, but how's your 401k doing?"

Mr Orange hasn't been good for the stock market. At best he's been spotty, considering extreme low levels of unemployment. 2 of 4 years have been overall down years for the market.

Also we make those calculations as a society all the time. It sucks, but it's true. It's just laid bare in this particular instance. We've had these conversations before with the 737 Max crashes. Boeing is at best careless about loss of life, regulations, blah, blah, meanwhile 3X as many people have been run over in the US since the planes were grounded. 40k die in car accidents every year. 20k from the regular flu. We could do something about these deaths, but we don't because the changes would be inconvenient to us.

I agree with Social Security is like a pension, but it also hasn't been around very long either, not everyone gets it, and those that do don't get much, so it either needs to be dramatically increased or you need other sources of income to supplement.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:20 AM on April 3


Steven Attewell, LGM: Job Guarantee When?
One indisputable fact that UBI advocates have going for them is that we are currently in a moment where we don’t want people going to work but we do want them having income. In this context (or at least for this phase – more on this in a second), a UBI makes more sense than a job guarantee. (This point can be over-extended, however. It is absolutely the case that there is a lot of work that could be done remotely in the present moment, from doing health surveys of the population, taking on some of the burden from overstretched public communications and coordination infrastructure, or even producing surgical masks from home.)

At the same time, one of the things we’ve learned from the recent stimulus bill is that even if we pursue a maximal UBI strategy, it doesn’t cause normal politics to go away: Republicans will do their level best to make it difficult for anyone, be they immigrant workers who have taxpayer ID numbers but not Social Security numbers or retirees who don’t normally file taxes, to get help. In addition to political malpractice, there are real administrative difficulties in pushing the necessary income out to 128 million households in a timely fashion. [...]

So what then can we say for the Job Guarantee?

At some point, whether it’s six months or a year from now, when we shift from the immediate task of social distancing to the task of economic rebuilding, something more than conventional stimulus will be necessary. [...]

In the current crisis, therefore, UBIs and JGs seem genuinely complementary, with the strengths and weaknesses of each lining up with the other. UBIs are well-suited for a phase where we want people to stay at home, but they can’t rescue the economy on their own; JG programs will have to wait until people can once again leave the house to work, but once they can go into effect, they have a peerless ability to directly attack unemployment rates without having to wait on the rest of the economy.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:24 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]




This Green Stimulus Proposal is also making the activist rounds.
posted by progosk at 3:41 AM on April 4


> The reason why it is structured as a loan program is because it can be administered through FDIC banks, credit unions, etc. I.e., if this works well, you can walk into your local bank and get cash fast. Maybe on the spot?

so because i may have got some folks' hopes up, i don't want to gloss over the "if this works well" caveat, which for the reason cited -- couching payroll support as a loan program -- is running into institutional pushback from banks not accustomed to being enlisted into portioning out the dole. it's been a rocky rollout.

also: Why sweetened layoff benefits may be at odds with U.S. loan program

i guess (like obamacare's launch) it kind of underscores how there are probably better ways of doing things than the way they're done now, e.g.: "It would be good to have the federal government provide every American with a very basic checking account (run by the Fed, piggybacking on USPS retail infrastructure) that could, among other things, be the vehicle for this kind of broad stimulus." (see above)

> The baked in "wants" of capital, at that point, are legislated (fiduciary responsibilities, tax breaks for 401ks, etc) so as to get more people on the same page with the same want: growth.

fwiw, capitalism's contradictions have come around in (401(k)) index communism. or consider that the world's largest asset manager thinks -- and is telling CEOs of companies it owns -- "Each company's prospects for growth are inextricable from its ability to operate sustainably and serve its full set of stakeholders." (btw: Why the US Federal Reserve turned again to BlackRock for help)

which brings to mind the FT's friday editorial: Virus lays bare the frailty of the social contract - "Radical reforms are required to forge a society that will work for all."
Radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix.
or, as karl polyani noted: "the cruelty of the free market makes us vulnerable to fascism."

re: four futures: peter frase: "There are therefore four logical combinations of the two oppositions, resource abundance vs. scarcity and egalitarianism vs. hierarchy."

i.e.: "Having a competent state and bureaucracy and thriving private sector aren't mutually exclusive."
posted by kliuless at 12:43 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]


just to note in a non-dysfunctional state...
Swiss lead way with crisis loans to small businesses - "It took Matthias Knauer only a minute or two to complete and scan the single-page form for a liquidity lifeline from the Swiss government. About 30 minutes after sending it, the money was in his company's account."
posted by kliuless at 6:45 AM on April 6




Capitalism has shred up the safety net and its biggest beneficiaries have convinced people it's for their own good because freedom or something.

That's basically what happened. But there are few details worth noting, in that most people in America once worked their private property for a living (farms, bars, cabs, rental properties, etc), so communism was never an option after the Russian revolution, but they overwhelmingly supported tax reforms in 1935 that "soaked the rich." Then they went on to offer social security and food stamps, so that a revolution was practically impossible. Then corporations got more involved in politics, and took an interest in fighting communism at the same time because it made money for them through the cold war, So the corporations sponsored a conservative backlash in the name of Christianity so that nobody would confuse Christian morals with a safety net, which was always a PR problem for them. The safety net soon had no moral support from the wider culture. Abortion was something the godless or communists did, so that also a rally point, which also channeled ancient feudalism about breeding as a duty. After communism collapsed, there was no corporate PR reason to generally support a safety net that reduced demand for revolution, so a backlash emerged where the rich and poor alliance of corporations and Christianity elected incompetent supply-side politicians who cut taxes (and welfare) in order to stimulate the economy. The plan failed, and proved the point that stimulating demand is what worked all along, which is what a safety net is. The problem is that it was always competing for tax dollars, and that corporations were always making most of their short-term gains from public funds. Case in point, it was widely reported that ultra-conservative (and safety net hater) Newt Gingrich's house district in Georgia received the vast majority of its income from defense contracts through the 1980's and 90's. The irony is how communism played its part in their political revenue scheme as an internal bogeyman and foreign enemy.
posted by Brian B. at 9:15 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]




THESE ARE CONDITIONS IN WHICH REVOLUTION BECOMES THINKABLE
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


The Plan Is to Save Capital and Let the People Die (Hamilton Nolan, In These Times)
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:15 PM on April 7


The Plan Is to Save Capital and Let the People Die (Hamilton Nolan, In These Times)

Normally I enjoy reading Nolan, but when I hit this sentence, "You would keep the healthcare industry, now booming, in private hands," I had to quit, because "booming" is so disconnected from the reality of healthcare right now. Hospitals are getting destroyed from the lack of revenue; their vendors are getting destroyed because the hospitals are clinging to their money rather than paying their bills. There are so many firings and layoffs in medicine right now. I just... Critiques of capital have to be based in reality, in what's actually happening, not in handwavy "all the rich are doing fine through this" lines.
posted by mittens at 5:56 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]




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