Trends in Unsustainability

capitalist cycle I realize that “financial services” explains some of the number and that the baseline is last year’s anemia, but, nevertheless, this quote from today’s New York Times is worth noting:

“Things are better, but they’re not anywhere near where they need to be to make major inroads into unemployment,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics.

The item that is “not anywhere near enough” to trigger meaningful job creation by the Obama-worshipped, cash-hoarding “private sector?” Last quarter’s 3.2 percent rate of overall economic growth.

So, this is where we’ve allowed ourselves to be taken: A rate of economic growth of the bloated, hyper-distorted, massively wasteful U.S. economy that is wildly, insanely unsustainable in the ecological terms of the 21st century is now nowhere near fast enough to make capitalism do the first, tiniest bit of trickling down.

Such are the wages of letting the overclass buy up everything and impose its supply-side priorities* everywhere. Such is the decrepitude of this outdated, severely dangerous social order.

*“All for ourselves and nothing for other people seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” — Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

The Ultimate Form of Waste

dump Waste, these days, is alleged to be a creature of public, not private, enterprise.

The suppressed fact, of course, is that this is a huge case of excessive protestation.  Corporate capitalism, with its scattered McMansions and its 95 percent idle 4,000-pound grocery fetching machines and its omnipresent packaging-for-marketing efforts, is 2/3 waste.

And the waste isn’t confined to the use of materials and space, either.  In a nation of billowing, softening, clogging bodies, with vast fields of work needed in reconstructing towns and rehabilitating ecosystems, how sick is this?:

108.616 million people in America are either unemployed, underemployed or “Not in the labor force”. This represents 45.5% of working age Americans.

If you count the “Part time employed for non-economic reasons”, you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or “Not in the labor force”. That represents 53% of working age Americans.

Hat-tip: Doug Pressman

Black Reagan’s Third Year

He Warned Us...

While scamming the electorate in 2008, Zerobama did admit he was into Reagan.  Careful to suggest he was also into FDR, he did admit it.

Certainly, no doubt remains which was the substance and which the window dressing.

Fresh off appointing a high-ranking career bank executive his new Chief of Staff, our Entrepreneur-in-Chief has long since buried all talk of FDR under the accumulating mountain of his Reaganite assaults on the public/give-aways to the rich.

The latest, delivered with yet another insistence that “Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country,” that, in other words, government will continue to do nothing to create jobs directly?  A truly moribund mega-howler, delivered, appropriately enough, on the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal.

The actual essay, chock full of familiar, obsequious Reaganite fictions surrrounding the core thesis that “vibrant entrepreneurialism is the key to our continued global leadership and the success of our people,” is just too awful to reprint here.  Read it on you own, if you must.  But don’t bother.  It’s vintage Reagan:  Hoary, moldy, petulant, wishful falsity.

Suffice it instead to say, this summary from The New York Times is just about right:

President Obama, intensifying his courtship of the business community, announced Tuesday that he is issuing an executive order that aims to free companies of unnecessary regulatory burdens and promote economic growth.

In an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Obama said he is ordering a government-wide review of the rules that govern business, in an effort to remove “outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.’’ He said his administration is committed to seeking the ‘’proper balance’’ between freedom of commerce and regulations necessary to protect the public against threats to health and safety.

They always talk about “balance,” of course, when they are opening the henhouse door even wider for the foxes.  We have scared and defenseless poultry and hungry, impatience canines wanting to expand their dining habits.  The foxes aren’t asking to take the door off completely.  “Balance,” see?

In actual history, of course, before giving them away to capitalists, government sponsors or invents most of the core technologies (assembly line, airplanes, computers, various types of electronics), and government regulation has always been not just a primary form of protection for the public, but also often a core benefit to business interests.  Never in human history has de-regulation revived a depressed capitalist economy.  Indeed, it can’t, because depressions are demand-side, not supply-side, problems.  Further indulging business owners when there is already too much capital at the top does nothing (less than nothing, really) to put money in the pockets of those truly in need, the ones who would spend it if they had it on basic, economy-boosting products.

All that, of course, is not going to stop an utterly unchecked and decrepit and self-deluded ruling class of rentiers and their lapdog politicians from making the same old claim.  Power concedes nothing without a demand.  Hell, it doesn’t even admit it has a problem.

It would be funny if it weren’t so deadly serious.

Strummer’s Lament

nero fiddle“A car in the fridge. Or a fridge in the car? Like cowboys do in TV land…”

Such was the late Joe Strummer’s apt diagnosis of capitalism’s inherent pursuit of trivialities/limitation of society’s available macro-choices.

30 years and a month later, what are the great, bailout-taking entrepreneurs up to?  Serious answers to Peak OilPovertyArmageddon?

Not quite.

Holographic birthday cakes, as we’ve seen, for one thing.

The latest “cutting edge” advance?

Recharging smartphones, digital music players and other personal electronics cordlessly will be as easy as dropping them onto the console of a car under a deal being announced today by General Motors.

GM will take a $5 million stake in Powermat, a company that sells cordless charging units for home use. It is making the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“Imagine a mat or shelf where you could put your iPhone, your Droid or other personal device and charge it automatically while you commute to work, run errands or as you’re driving on a family vacation,” said Micky Bly, GM’s executive director of electronic systems and hybrids, in a release. “The Chevy Volt will be one of the first applications, but we intend to expand it across our vehicle portfolio.”

Yes, imagine!  Will wonders never cease?  How thrilled will your grandkids be to learn that this was the sort of thing that received massive public subsidy in the early 21st century?

Ford’s Latest Finger of Death

skeleton-driverConsumer Reports calls the Ford Motor Company’s new MyFord Touch system, by which automobile operators use computer-video touchpads rather than old-school knobs and switches to perform various mostly extraneous tasks while driving,  “complex and buggy” and “a complicated distraction while driving.”

Translation from the polite punch-pulling language of Consumer Reports: This latest case of marketing-driven product elaboration, which Ford propaganda shamelessly paints as being “all about making the driver’s experience connect with technology in the car, and their digital lifestyle safer and simpler,” is, as the Ford Motor Company certainly knows full well, going to kill thousands of people a year.

Of course, this won’t stop this precisely planned corporate marketing tactic from working.  MyFord Touch, Ford tells Reuters, “is helping make Edge and MKX [the models in which it has been launched) among the best sellers on dealer showroom floors.”

All in a day’s overclass entrepreneurship…using people’s “digital lifestyles” to boost the profits of an outdated corporation’s shareholders, via a deadly, cynical gimmick.

And they say trickle-down economics might be outdated…

Interactive Cake

nero When it comes to allocating society’s surplus wealth, capitalists, the reigning story goes, always know best.

So, one might ask: Beyond perpetuating existing core institutions like big business marketing and cars-first transportation, what new wonders does our corporate overclass hope to deliver, in this, the epoch of peaking resources, crumbling ecosystems, and unresolved extreme inequality and fractiousness?

Interactive Disney cakes.

Renews one’s appreciation for supposedly “crude” predictions that “at a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, …with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters.”