Monday, December 02, 2013

Inequality's discontents

Do watch the video. It is a little saccharine, but it is true.

Over the past weekend, workers at Walmart stores protested pay policies that put shopping where they work beyond their reach. On Thursday, workers at McDonalds, Wendy's and other fast food joints plan one day walkouts, asking for a $15/hour wage. Retailers are complaining the over-hyped "Black Friday" was a bust.

Get used to it.

Henry Blodget, who was chased out of Wall Street finance in the early '00s for illegal security trading and who now pundits at Business Insider, explains to capitalists why their racket is in trouble. He takes his argument from a guy named Nick Hanauer who was the founder of online advertising company aQuantive, which Microsoft bought for $6.4 billion.

What creates a company's jobs ... is a healthy economic ecosystem surrounding the company, which starts with the company's customers.

... entrepreneurs are an important part of the company-creation process. And so are investors, who risk capital in the hope of earning returns. But, ultimately, whether a new company continues growing and creates self-sustaining jobs is a function of the company's customers' ability and willingness to pay for the company's products, not the entrepreneur or the investor capital. Suggesting that "rich entrepreneurs and investors" create the jobs, therefore, Hanauer observes, is like suggesting that squirrels create evolution.

... Rich people don't create the jobs. Our economy creates jobs. We're all in this together. And until we understand that, our economy is going to go nowhere.

Not so different from the AFL-CIO message, though Hanauer is a billionaire with a plane and a lavish lifestyle. Even current winners are beginning to notice that something isn't working.

It doesn't take much foresight to suggest that political and social events in the next few years will be played out in the context of economic failure that is the byproduct of unhindered inequality. So are we, together, going to change things? It is more than time.


Rain Trueax said...

I hope so as I hear more and more talk about those calling for revolution on both sides of the spectrum. I always try to put forth that leads to chaos and anarchy. Things can be changed legally if we only all voted. Vote responsibly and support good people. But you can see with what happened in the Ukraine, how fast it could go from Walmart crowds to violent mobs. Each side thinks they'd take it over and how many sides currently are there? I just don't know how anyone who thinks could want anarchy but some are so convinced this is totally broken, it's the only answer they see. The unfairness is glaring and worse has been turned into a religion

janinsanfran said...

Hi Rain -- agree that non-violent struggles are almost always the way to go: voting, of course, and also protest and the theater of the streets that forces unrecognized realities onto the society's mental agenda. Trouble is, opponents always brand vigorous advocacy as anarchic insurrection. Some is; more is just expressing truthfully how righteously pissed off so many are.

Hattie said...

I don't think Wal-Mart workers demonstrating for higher wages are serious disturbers of the peace, and I don't fear them.
To equate what's happening here with a few hard-pressed Wal-Mart workers to the nascent revolution in Ukraine is a bit much.

Rain Trueax said...

I wasn't Hattie but what I am saying is what I hear lefties and righties saying is there is a lot of talk out there for revolution which means get a crowd together and riots are possible. There was amazingly even violence with the attempt to get bargains.

Over twenty years ago, before he died, my father said there would someday be a battle between the haves and have-nots and people would shoot strangers as part of that rage at unfairness. Whether it will come to that, I don't know but I don't think we should hear 'revolutionary' talk as meaningless.

I read this week someone praising Ted Kazinsky's book as making sense, and that totally amazed me as it was coming from a leftie. Seriously they are listening to this guy's philosophy of how to undo what he considered wrong?