By Ed Walker, who writes as masaccio at Firedoglake. You can follow him at Twitter at @MasaccioFDL, and here’s his author page at Firedoglake.
Last Thursday President Obama took time out from his main job as cheerleader for the Forever War to carry out his official duties as cheerleader for Big-C capitalism. He spoke at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and did a rousing job in front of a group trained in the intricacies of neoliberal economics and business management, and ready to take their part in the corporate power structure. The speech was full of statistics, all showing a great recovery from economic disaster, thanks in no small part to what Obama called “sound decisions made by my administration.” He restated the ritual utterances demanded from the High Priest of Capitalism:
I actually believe that capitalism is the greatest force for prosperity and opportunity the world has ever known. And I believe in private enterprise — not government, but innovators and risk-takers and makers and doers — driving job creation.
And here’s the thing. If you only read the national business press, you wouldn’t be able to contest Obama’s facts, or to understand the massive and utterly unnecessary damage he and his administration inflicted on millions of people for the benefit of the financial sector. The national media, like the President, sees its role as cheerleading for capitalism, where every crime is ignored, every rich person is a genius, and every poor person is a moocher, and there is nothing wrong with free markets that more freedom for markets can’t cure.
The job of fleshing out the picture to include the damage done by the modern US form of unrestrained capitalism falls to a few writers on a few websites. None is better than Naked Capitalism. Here you get a group of outstanding writers deeply immersed in the minutiae of the financial system, and able to turn their knowledge into clear explanations of the crimes and misdemeanors of the FIRE sector.
Naked Capitalism showcases international writers who explain how the forces of neoliberalism are hollowing out other capitalist countries; economists not tied to the neoliberal fantasies, who open the way to alternative portrayals of our economy, rather than the ones taught at the Kellogg School of Management; writers with political backgrounds who can discuss the role of government and politics in creating the crushing burdens dumped onto the lower class and whatever’s left of the middle class, so that the dominant class can suck up all the money.
Perhaps most important, you get a persistent push to look closely at the parts that the richest among us don’t want us to see or understand. For example, private equity funds have been sucking the capital out of solid businesses for the last three decades, resulting in the destruction of a many thousands of jobs, outsourcing, and the crapification of US products. You’ll find that story here, in post after post, with numbers and links and solid explanations of the sleazy provisions of governing documents that pour money onto fund managers instead of investors; and the tax laws that make it so profitable for the managers. This isn’t the kiddy version, either. It’s the real thing, with documents you can read for yourself, experts to explain and refer to, and enough details to satisfy even the pickiest.
And you get a smart and funny group of people who read and comment. If you don’t understand something, ask in comments, and you’ll likely get sensible and smart explanations tailored to your questions. That is a benefit created by our host, who herself is frequently in the comments, mixing it up. Seeing this group clarifying the complexities of the financial system is a pleasure in itself. So too is seeing the effect it has on people who come to comprehend the reality instead of the sugar shell.
This isn’t a job for the faint of heart, or for people who expect instant results. The forces that brought us the Great Bailout dominate our economic discourse, pervading our legislatures, bureaucracy, media and power structures. The victories are few and partial at best, and frequently are lost to a hostile Supreme Court or an antagonistic crowd of captive regulators. We, the readers and writers at Naked Capitalism, may be correct, but it takes a mountain of effort to get a hearing, another mountain of effort to overcome the entrenched conventional understanding, and another mountain to overcome the money thrown into the battles against us and our fellow citizens. Change only comes if people like Yves Smith — and you — keep pushing for it.
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