“At the World Economic Forum in Davos, its founder, Klaus Schwab, said: “Capitalism in its current…”

http://bostonreview.tumblr.com/post/42357408614

“At the World Economic Forum in Davos, its founder, Klaus Schwab, said: “Capitalism in its current form no longer fits the world around us.” How badly it “fits” is powerfully demonstrated in Inequality for All, a documentary made by Jacob Kornbluth, that recently won the special jury prize at the Sundance festival… [T]he film “stars” Robert Reich, professor of public policy at Harvard, prolific author, campaigner, former labour secretary under Bill Clinton, a charismatic man whose lectures are renowned for the way he surgically dismembers the mutant capitalism that has taken hold in the US over the past 40 years…

Reich explains in chilling detail why growth alone may not be enough. For too many, he explains, social mobility has begun to slide backwards. A small but growing band of global pirates – billionaires all, without allegiance to community or country, devoid of civic responsibility – accrue wealth from the continued immiseration of the squeezed majority. These hugely rich are fawned over and subsidised by governments even as inequality widens to a chasm that may yet produce social unrest…

Over the past few decades, average families have coped by more women going into employment, by working longer hours and by credit. But since 70% of the US economy is based on consumer spending, a lack of surplus cash means the engine is running out of fuel. The rich are small in number and don’t spend nearly as much as the majority. “Free” markets with the rules written by the richest result in a shrinking public sector, deregulation, unemployment, low taxes for the most affluent and the threat of globalisation, depressing wages still further. The sum impact isn’t “bad” capitalism, it is modern-day capitalism. How it changes, and how rapidly, is a challenge to its own survival. Once, the advancement of the employee was a part of the social contract. Under Thatcher, the aspiration of the average citizen was central via shareholding and home ownership. Now, a more brutal set of priorities pushes the requirements of “the little man” aside, while those who have money buy the influence that unjustly shapes the world in which we live. So how do we forge again the link between morality and the markets? […]

Reich’s agenda for positive change includes more jobs; greater investment in skills and higher education; a just taxation regime; strong unions; investment in public infrastructure; a living wage and a narrowing of the earnings gap. Reich ends with a warning: “We are losing the moral foundation stones on which our democracy is built,” he says. How much more evidence do we need?” – The growing wealth gap is unsustainable (via diadoumenos)

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