Did you know we live in a Marxist society and have for some time?
I didn't either, until I watched this fascinating lecture given by Professor Richard Wolff called Capitalism Hits The Fan (side note: Link is in the middle of a fundraising drive, so please give. LinkTV is only available 24/7 on DISH and DirecTV, and Link in conjunction with Free Speech TV is ONLY available on DISH Network, so drop your cable, skip Murdoch's DirecTV hegemony and get a DISH!)
Capitalism in America worked pretty well for the first two hundred years of our nation's existence, even if for a large swath of that it was poised in large part on the backs of slaves. Around 1970, something happened.
Four things, actually. Production continued to rise, while the traditional tie-in to real wage growth (which occurred in this nation in every decade, including the 1930s) was severed, and wages became stagnant and even declined.
Wolff explores these four reasons-- automation and computers, global competition, immigration, the expanding role of women in the workplace-- and comes to the logical conclusion with respect to the recent mortgage meltdown (and the coming consumer credit crisis): it was inevitable that in order to "keep up with the Joneses" we'd all have to borrow our asses off.
Indeed, General Motors makes less money now off its automobiles than it does lending money to Americans to buy them (and houses, and in credit cards).
In fact, as Wolff discovered, companies realized that they could freeze wages, make enormous profits off the gap between rising productivity and frozen wages, and then make even more money lending those profits back to the working classes and earn interest on the money they rightly should have been paying in wages!
Meanwhile, Americans began working more hours to compensate for frozen wages, because, you know, you have to keep spending and paying off your credit cards and putting food on the table and, oh yea, buying a car for the wife who now works and getting her work clothes and lunches and...
Hours worked per annum in America rose 20% in the period since 1970.
For every European nation, they dropped, on average, 20% over the same period! We're exhausted here!
Wolff goes on to examine the various solutions proposed for this current and (what he feels will be) extended recession, and finds fault with all of them.
Why? Because they don't address the structural inequity of American capitalism: you can't turn the clock back to the 1970s and forgo global competition or automation or women in the workplace or increased immigration (mind you, he doesn't mean illegal immigration, which actually helps prop up the wage structure). You have to move forward, and giving money to ease the pain is putting a bandage on it.
His solution is both elegant and capitalistic, but reminds us that Marx has been distorted beyond parody.
Marxism is in America, right now, and right now, you are looking at its products, if you have an HP computer or printer or an Apple iMac or Macbook, or any countless number of "entreprenurial" products that arose in conjunction with the computer revolution.
But go watch his lecture on LinkTV to find out the real answer...