Ten Years After the Crash, Some Progress, But Much More Remains to be Done

Yves here. I have to confess to thinking not much has changed at all, but that the limited to the financial system, coupled with massive bailouts with no one held accountable, have mainly served to move the pressure points out of the financial realm into the political sphere via flagging growth, greatly rising inequality, and even more open corruption. But I do tend to dour views.

By Fran Boait. Originally published at openDemocracy

Ten years ago I spent the summer after graduating waitressing in Cafe Uno in Cambridge. The most political campaign for me that summer was the fact that I was getting paid below minimum wage because they could top up my salary with tips. At the same time, the western world was on the verge of financial collapse that would not only change the course of my future work, but also deliver such a shock to the world order that nothing would ever be the same again.

So what has changed in ten years? I’m guilty of banging the angry drum that nothing has changed, and saying that finance is still totally self-serving. In absolute terms, this is true. The vast majority of new loans continue to pour into financial and property markets, and this hasn’t really changed since the crash. Lending to the productive economy, including SMEs, has not grown. It was the failure to reform the financial sector, and the vacuum of conversation about what must be done, that allowed the conversation to morph into the need for austerity, which was of course completely untrue.

But looking under the bonnet of the headline figures about our stagnating economy, rising food bank use and record high stock prices, there is some good news. We are building an army of voices who didn’t exist ten years ago. The public know that things are not fixed. Today we at Positive Money have released a pollshowing 66% don’t think banks work in their interests, and 63% are worried about another crash. The conversation is changing.

Here are ten things that have changed over the past ten years, including some huge achievements, that should be cause for hope and celebration.

1. Occupy captured the public’s imagination

The Occupy movement struck a chord with many of us. It said that the system is unfair and broken, and we need something new. People camped outside St Paul’s, and there were book groups, workshops and lots of other activity that encouraged people to wake up and realise that we need something new. Importantly, it repeatedly made the news, and memes like ‘the 99%’ stuck and exploded across the world. The challenge of Occupy was always going to be ‘how do we take its passion, voice, energy, and impact and channel it into a self-sustaining movement?’. And now, in the years after Occupy, do we avoid saying the inevitable ‘we need another occupy’ whenever a meeting full of activists and campaigners get together?

2. A civil society movement exists

We now have an ecosystem of institutions, campaigners, organisers, thought leaders, and economists focused on reforming the banking and finance sector, and its growth is accelerating. Organisations that were set up before the crash, like Robin Hood Tax and Share Action, have grown in size, profile and impact. New organisations like my own, Positive Money, as well as the Finance Innovation Lab and Finance Watch have established themselves as key NGOs with expertise. Larger NGOs like Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, and WWF have allocated resources towards recruiting people dedicated to looking at the finance sector. Think tanks started work on finance and banking. The New Economics Foundation set up a banking and finance team and have done an awesome amount of research on issues ranging from financial system system resilience to stakeholder banks. IPPR, Demos, and Respublica have all looked at alternative banking models. Work focusing on how people at the sharp end of the finance sector are affected, such as from Responsible Finance and Toynbee Hall, continues to grow. Unions are finding their voice in criticising the financial sector. A coalition of organisations are organising a large event to mark ten years after the crash, which will be taking place on 15th September.

3. Women are leading the movement

Anna Laycock heads up Finance Innovation Lab, Catherine Howarth leads Share Action, Maeve Cohen is the Director of Rethinking Economics, Miatta Fianbullah leads the New Economics Foundation, Faiza Shaheen is the Director of CLASS, Sarah-Jayne Clifton heads up Jubilee Campaign, Jennifer Tankard is the Chief Executive of Responsible Finance, Sian Williams is the Director of Policy at Toynbee Hall, Grace Blakeley at IPPR has been doing some fantastic work on Financialisation and Tax, and the brilliant Christine Berry has been doing excellent work across the movement. This is a fantastic development, which is not totally unconnected to the next point.

4. There is a culture of collaboration and systems thinking

Civil society has always been victim to a human characteristic prevalent in modern society – competition. Starting essentially a new sector and movement, we knew we had to do things differently. Finance and civil society is clearly a David and Goliath situation. If we spend time competing with each other, we won’t be able to move fast enough. That’s why when I joined Positive Money at the end of 2012 I wanted to work with the movement and create a culture of support. So I partnered with Charlotte Millar and Chris Hewett, both then at the Finance Lab (which was set up by three amazing women and a great man) to set up the transforming financenetwork. An important aspect of creating this collaborative culture was that we have several ‘systems thinkers’ amongst us. Systems thinkers are able to hold uncertainty, hold tensions, have humility, and can adapt, innovate, and most importantly evolve. Donella Meadows’ paper ‘leverage points’was a key text for us. Systems change attitudes results in less ‘my policy is bigger or better than yours’, and more ‘how can we work together to move our common agenda forward?’

5. The rethinking economics movement is growing strongly too

The crash also triggered a shaking up of the economics establishment. A close relative of the financial reform movement is the rethinking economics movement. As well as fantastic student and university focused organisations like Rethinking Economics, there is a growing number of thinkers writing about how we need to ditch neoclassical economics and be more pluralist in our approach. Even new institutes are being set up such as Mariana Mazzacato’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purposeat UCL.

6. The tax justice movement seized the opportunity to make gains

The shock of the crash, followed by hijacking of the narrative by austerity, presented an opportunity for the tax justice movement. In the UK we saw the flourishing of direct action groups like UKUncut and tax experts like John Christianson and Richard Murphy. Large NGOs also got on board, which allowed it to cut through the public consciousness. This hard work meant that even David Cameron picked up the baton to ensure tax avoidance was clamped down on. A key reason for the success of the tax justice movement was having some key bits of infrastructure in place before the crash, including experts, grassroots activists and large NGOs working on it.

7. More must be done to reform regulation 

It would be remiss to write about the last ten years without saying something about what has happened in the world of regulation. Whenever I go on panels to talk about regulation I generally complain about how regulation is a mess. It’s a tricky point of view, because obviously as civil society we all want banks to have greater regulation, but is more regulation good if the premise on which its developed is based on problematic first principles? For example, ring fencing will be in place by January 2019, but it has always been about a false logic that retail banking is safe, while investment banking is the risky side. But the 2007/8 crisis emanated from the retail arm in the first place, so ring fencing wouldn’t stop another crash. Basel III looks at risk-weighting of assets which categorises lending into the productive (or real) economy as high-risk, whilst mortgages are low risk, even though it was mortgage lending that was a key factor in causing the crash

8. The Bank of England is now a risk manager

After the crash the Treasury took positive steps to add financial stability to the Bank of England’s mandate. The Bank now understands that to predict a crash it must look at the system as a whole, rather than just individual banks balance sheets. Its regulatory approach since the crash has been focused on how to ensure a bank can fail without bringing down the whole system, and as such they have been looking at bank bail-in regimes. While it is an important step forward, it doesn’t go far enough to meet the Bank’s mission which is ‘to serve the good of the people of the UK’. If it was to take its mission seriously, it would look at how banking is failing to serve our domestic economy, and how monetary policy has nothing to offer in the event of another crash. Similar to regulation, this approach can be thought of like a ship sailing off a cliff and crashing, and then continuing in the same direction to sail off another cliff, but along the way making sure there is less mess this time. We might be calculating the risk of sailing off the next cliff in a more complex and rigorous way, but we are not thinking about changing direction.

9. Building the new

Buckminster Fuller famously said that ‘to change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’ Several leaders from civil society’s financial reform movement are now also building the new. Tony Greenham, formerly Director of Banking and Finance at NEF, co-author of ‘Where Does Money Come From?’and more recently Director of Economics at RSA, is now working full time on developing new co-operative banks in the South-West and London. The Finance Innovation Lab runs a Fellowshipdeveloping the leadership capacity and business skills of innovators building a new financial system – one that works for people and planet. Alongside Finance Watch, the Finance Innovation Lab is also sounding the alarm about fintech – which is not all cute and cuddly. We’ve also seen more interest in credit unions, as well as complementary currencies popping up, such as the Bristol Pound.

10. Changing the old

The story of RBS is probably the best example of the challenges associated with changing the old, and of the strong inertia inside the government and regulators. As a result of the emergency bail-out package in October 2008, the British public acquired a majority shareholding in RBS (almost 80%) at a total cost of £45.5 billion. Among the many examples of how RBS fails to serve the UK economy, including consumers and businesses alike, probably the worst is the Global Restructuring Group (GRG). It was found to be deliberately pushing SMEs towards insolvency in order to shore up RBS’ own capital position, in some cases then buying up their assets cheaply. Despite economists, campaigners, and researchers continuing to call on the government to think of alternatives for RBS, namely turning it into a network of regional banks, the government is fixed on selling it back to the private sector at a loss to the public.

Where do we go next?

We must continue to work together by forming alliances and coalitions, increasing our expertise and skills, and building new infrastructure for the movement. We must appreciate our different tactics and theories of change, and tackle different parts of the system at the same time. We must bring down the old, while also building the new. We must challenge the neoclassical thinking that underpins the status quo, while also developing new policy prescriptions that can be implemented now. To do all this successfully at the same time, we need more people.

Brexit means finance is at a crossroads

The government, the City, Mark Carney and the Bank of England all want our financial services sector to be our ‘engine of growth’. Carney said he wants to see it double in size over the next ten years. We know that the bigger our finance sector is, the more detached it is from our domestic economy, and the more detached it is from real people, jobs, work and investment. What 2008 should have shown is that we can’t have it both ways. We can’t have a bloated financial sector in the City of London serving itself and global financial markets, because it will always undermine the kind of economy we are trying to build for most people here in the UK. As Michael Hudson’s book aptly puts it, the finance sector is ‘killing the host’.

The stakes are high, but if the last ten years have taught us anything, it is that if we aren’t in the game, we definitely can’t change things. So let’s get stuck in.

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  1. JEHR

    “But the 2007/8 crisis emanated from the retail arm in the first place, so ring fencing wouldn’t stop another crash.”

    I understand that commercial banking was considered less risky because depositor’s money could not be used for risky investments like sub-prime mortgage securitization. When commercial banking and investment banking became one and the same, then the risk from investments was transferred to commercial banking. Prior to the Great Recession, at least in the US, retail banking indulged in a lot of fraud, namely, accounting control fraud and predatory and fraudulent sub-prime mortgages and fraudulent securitization of those mortgages. Many of these securitized mortage instruments were sold world-wide. There was corruption aplenty in the investment side of banking while “independent” commercial banking was mainly concerned with deposits and loans made to depositors. The word Fraud seems to have disappeared from everyone’s vocabulary!

  2. lyman alpha blob

    In the US it still seems like grifting as usual with the usual suspects gutting the already weak tea Dodd Frank ‘reforms’, etc. But perhaps things are getting better in the UK as the article suggests.

    I have a personal anecdote along those lines. About 8-9 years ago I was at an extended in-law family gathering and there was a wing of the family from the UK in attendance that I hadn’t met before. I exchanged pleasantries with the Brits and learned that the husband who IIRC had married into the family had some quite well paying job and they seemed to be flying pretty high at the time. It was only after they’d left that my mother-in-law informed me that the high paying job involved chopping up and repackaging the mortgages that caused the financial collapse for some TBTF UK bank. Pretty sure she realized that had she told me this fellow’s occupation while he was still in attendance, the family gathering may have become less then civil ;)

    Fast forward to a week ago, and my mother-in-law informed me that this same gentleman was back stateside again, but this time under very different circumstances. Apparently he had fallen on hard times and was looking to relatives for assistance as he and his family tried to get back on their feet. I’m not sure of the details, but maybe there is a little justice in the world after all, and some karma too. Remember while you get rich taking away others homes that the same may happen to you!

    For some reason it brings to mind this scene from the great Paul Newman film Sometimes Great Notion where he retaliates after having his family’s livelihood destroyed. To paraphrase Newman, “It may not be a new financial system, but I sure do feel a lot better”.

    1. Norm de plume

      I haven’t seen the film, but it is based on an all-time favourite book of mine by Ken Kesey. It’s ironic that the Stamper family whose livelihood had been destroyed built that livelihood by systematically destroying large tracts of forest, often by opportunistically under-cutting unionised local efforts.

      It says something about the power (and great humour) of Kesey’s writing that despite his clear sympathy for the ruggedly individual Stampers over the cartoonish figure-of-fun unionists, country over city, industry over environment, male over female.. that I still read that book every decade or so. Could have used a strong willed editor, but zest and brio in abundance.

  3. Jeremy Grimm

    Gosh! Just reading this post gave me a cavity in one of my incisors … made me afraid to chew on it too long.
    Claim #1: Occupy did indeed capture the public’s imagination much the same way viewing an iron maiden in a museum might. We can imagine the kinds of punishment and retaliations any movement contrary to the will of our Elite might expect. Occupy showed clearly that “the gloves are off” and our overseers wear brass knuckles.
    Claim #2: It’s hard to say much about such a squishy claim.
    Claim #3 combined with #4: Female chauvinist much! I could believe all sorts of claims if I could believe the mere presence of women at the top of an organization brings a “culture of collaboration and systems thinking”, which appears to be the tacit claim of #3 and #4.
    Claim #5: So what? Neoliberalism owns the Universities, Science, and the Media, and its range of well funded “experts”, astro-turf-roots activists, large NGOs, and think tanks appear stronger and more influential than ever.
    Claim #6: The smoke of revelation and recrimination blows tepid ripples in the “news” but where are and where were the cleansing fires of confiscations, fines, and imprisonment?
    Claim #7: This claim falls into the category of “be careful what you ask for”. Regulations are indeed being “reformed” and removed. I would be happy just to see proper enforcement of what regulations remain on the books.
    Claim #8: This author is English? I didn’t see BREXIT mentioned until the end of this post. I think it might let a lot of the air out of dubious claim #8 regarding the Bank of England.
    Claim #9: I’m glad it’s not all “cute and cuddly”. I might gag.
    Claim #10: I have no idea what claim, claim #10, is making. It seems to say the story of RBS is an example of how effective efforts have been to change the old. This leaves very bitter aftertaste to this otherwise saccharine confection.

    1. RBHoughton

      What a sad sack you are Jeremy Grimm, Grimm in name and grimm in nature. The author has been deeply involved in Positive Money in UK for many years and has managed along with a few good friends to stir the British public into action. There are now communities all around the country debating the way we want our monetary system to work. That is an achievement which we have not seen since the Fabians in this country. She and her group deserve credit for it. Not only is the immoveable object beginning to move but the Swiss have a similar initiative in their country which recently achieved 30% approval in a referendum despite a dump-truck of money being thrown against it by banks. As Obama used to say “change you can believe in” – this is how it works.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Are you being sarcastic with: “As Obama used to say “change you can believe in” – this is how it works.” ? The British public is stirred into action — such as what action? There are communities debating all around the country, an accomplishment rivaling the Fabians. OK she can have credit for that — but what does it mean? Has Britain thrown off austerity and started building rather than tearing down its safety nets? Do you guys have BREXIT all worked out slick and clean? People have been debating Global Warming in the US for two decades, we still are, and more people seem to believe it is real and caused by humans! Change I can believe in is change whose impacts and effects I can see and feel. If that makes me a “sad sack” than I suppose I am.

        For too many decades I have heard promises and slogans and seen marches and demonstrations and initiatives and debates and seen nothing come of it all but lower wages, higher costs of everything, more wars … and I’m running out of decades. I just can’t get too excited about positive money debates spreading across Britain. And let’s say that everything is great in Great Britain with Positive Money and debates spreading and the British economy fully recovered from the little economic downturn a decade ago. I am happy for you, but as a Yank I’m not sure why that should make me optimistic about the future for the US.

      2. LyonNightroad

        So because he has a negative outlook I should disregard his points? Is this what qualifies as logic today?

  4. Hepativore

    Things might be getting better, or they might not, it is hard to tell. The problem is that it took decades for the US as well as parts of Europe to become as dysfunctional as they are today after years of neoliberal leadership. Because of how extensive the damage is that they have caused to people and the economies of many countries world wide, I am afraid that it will probably take decades to fix it again and that is even with a Herculean effort.

    The people that have borne the brunt of the Great Recession and austerity policies are the children of the boomer generation, as well as boomers who are experiencing great financial difficulties as they enter their senior years. Speaking as an “older” millennial myself at 34, while it is probably too late for us to see the fruits of something akin to a current version of a program like the New Deal, the younger millennials as well as the up and coming generation after us might be able to have better lives than we did if the reforms we pushed for do take root decades later.

    1. anon

      I’ve been hoping to see a comment of yours to let you know I did respond to the questions you asked me, earlier this month. Both of our comments got a bit snagged up time-wise, until humans retrieved them (I don’t envy that task, and thanks humans!), so I’m not sure that you’re even aware that your questions to me were ever posted.

      As to my thoughts on this particular Academic Feel Good White Paper™ post, I generally agree with your points, and Jeremy Grimm’s, noted above at 2:15 PM EDT. I would add that there are likely millions of suffering Generation Xers also.

      At any rate, I think you have a wonderful mind, humane intents, and wisdom, and wish you the very best, in an increasingly brutal environment for everyone but the insanely wealthy (though they won’t even go unscathed at the end of the day). .

      1. Hepativore

        Well, thank you. I used to also run a blog on nuclear energy and related topics as I was heavily involved in the rational skepticism community and nuclear energy is a topic that frequently came up in addition to anti-vaccine woo as a lot of people do not understand how nuclear energy works or the different types of processes and reactors. The blog is still up, but I cannot sign in anymore as it is under Blogger which is owned by Google. Google made it so that you cannot sign in with a non-gmail address as the blog is under my old one from Yahoo. I have since tried to contact Google and complain but they have just brushed me off.

        I will say no more about nuclear energy here, as it is a very politically charged topic on Naked Capitalism, and I do not want to make enemies. I used to be on the Balloon Juice blog, so I know what that is like as it was taken over by Clintonites in 2015 and all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth after Trump won the presidential election only made the Clintonites there even more vicious.

        1. anon

          You’re welcome, dear!

          Uuugh, but not surprising, about Google Blogger and that Gmail enforcement. I feel for all those who were forced into using it via their workplace or schools. It never ceases to horrify me that the predominance of technocracy (e.g. Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook) critics, in academia, have Gmail accounts (I always check, and off the top of my head the percentage has been over 97%). My guess is that they were likely forced to use Gmail via the Universities and Institutes they’re connected with, whose muckety muck overseers didn’t think twice about unleashing it on their hapless, captive audience.

          Also, I confess to being anti-nuclear (though I rarely bring it up here); though … at least I’m not a Clinton, or Boing Boing, fan. Actually, Cory Doctorow has always grated my nerves, so I generally never read their offerings, and now Xeni is also grating them whenever I coincidentally stumble onto something she’s proclaimed).

          Have a good evening!

          1. Hepativore

            I do not know who Prof F is, but I went under the name “Hepativore” on Balloon Juice just like I do here, but I rarely posted a comment.

  5. Wukchumni

    We forestalled failure a decade ago and are now paying the price for lying every bit as much to ourselves, as the reign of error does every time he utters something. We deserve him.

    Had we taken our well deserved beating at the time, we could have started over fresh, but no dice.

  6. Glen

    TBTF banks are bigger. Wealth inequality is growing. Our political system sells itself to the highest bidder (the very, very rich). And climate change is now impacting us, and getting worse.

    It’s true that progress is being made, but real change is not happening.

    This is too little, too late. Soylant Green, here we come.

    1. John Wright

      In my cynicism I see the run-up of the Global War on Terrorism and the Afghan/Iraq wars demonstrating to the elite and well-connected they had installed a media / government that could sell damn near ANYTHING to the USA population.

      When the financial crisis appeared, they realized the same media / government could pitch the “we’ll have a great depression” if we don’t rescue the banks on terms very favorable to the financial industry.

      What we have observed over the last 20 years is the triumph of propaganda that continues.

      The “Russia, Russia, Russia” narrative could well be a continuation of this, a Democratic Party real-time demonstration to show they can still herd voters their donors’ way.

      Meanwhile the real festering problem, climate change, continues unabated.

      Maybe I’m too cynical in suspecting the USA is not guided by people who actually care about the “hoi polloi”

  7. Susan the other

    This does not give me much confidence. MMT has not yet caught on in the UK. It is the most coherent way to fix the mess. But the author does mention Richard Murphy in the context of tax justice, and Murphy knows his MMT well. She also mentions Michael Hudson. The rest sounded like puff to me. The point about “after Brexit” and Carney predicted that UK financial services would “double in size” is insane unless they’ve already got it set up. Sometime around 2010 when Timmy was summoned to an EU meeting – about that same time the UK (City) announced that it was moving its derivatives desk, I think, and some other stuff to Hong Kong. Then later someone mentioned Shanghai. It sounds pretty aggressive to me – firing up the old British Empire cooperation association. They’ll have to offer nirp loans to compete. And damn the torpedoes. I can already smell the pollution.

  8. RBHoughton

    A tendency to dour views is precisely what is required to confront the obstructionist policies of the duopoly of money and power. You are a hero Yves – our David to their Goliath. Well done.

  9. Sound of the Suburbs

    Problem solving involves two steps.

    Step 1 – Understand the problem
    Step 2 – Find a solution

    2008 – “How did that happen?”
    It was a black swan.

    We never completed step one and so are relying on monetary policy to fix a problem it can’t fix. You can’t solve a debt problem with more debt, but this is what the central banks have been trying to do.

    The economics of the neoliberal era had a fundamental flaw.

    The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn’t look at private debt, neoclassical economics.

    The success of the neoliberal era came from bringing future prosperity into today with bank credit.


    It was one big debt fuelled boom, which was replicated across the US, the Euro-zone, Japan and China.

    At 25.30 mins we can see the super imposed the debt-to-GDP ratios.


    Japan did it first in the 1980s and they have been experiencing the balance sheet recession that follows since the 1990s and Richard Koo has had decades to study it.


    Those huge QE reserves sit in the financial system inflating asset prices, but do not enter the real economy as people aren’t borrowing. We get financial asset price inflation, but little consumer price inflation.

    Fiscal stimulus is the only way out and contrary to popular belief this isn’t a problem as sovereign Governments can create money with debt that doesn’t matter. It exists in accounts but has no effect.

    Adair Turner has built on Japan’s experience to come to this conclusion.


    Modern monetary theory has been developing in the US since the 1990s to fully explain Government money creation.


    The mainstream watch as the populists rise when the only real problem is their reliance on Central Banks to sort out a problem they can’t sort out.

  10. Jeremy Grimm

    Economic theory serves as a tool for designing, implementing, and evaluating the effects of economic policy. To serve this purpose well it matters how well objective reality agrees with the outcomes economic theory predicts. But economic theory also serves as a tool for justifying policy and rejecting other policy. In this application theory objective reality does not matter and with a sufficiently loud megaphone even consistency in applying theory does not matter. A similar reasoning can be applied to questions of Science particularly where only those expert in the field can reasonably measure objective reality.

    Objectively, the economic theories of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) have long been accepted as a tool for designing and implementing economic policy — as our military spending, QE, and other forms of Corporate Welfare amply demonstrate. Although the claim that the theory is ‘accepted’ is probably too strong. One could easily wonder whether our Elite cares how policy affects anything other than their bottom line or worse their bottom line relative to everyone else’s. This same reasoning can be applied to government applications of Science for creating policy as Climate Change arguments and policy demonstrates.

    On the other hand the economic theories of MMT are not useful for justifying the policy our Elite desires. I think this brings us to the heart of the matter. Debate about the objective value of MMT as a tool for designing, implementing, and evaluating the effects of economic policy is of little import if as asserted above our Elites care only for how policy affects their bottom line and how well theory serves as justification for the policies our Elites desire. The real point of contention is who rules. Convincing the mice that eating mice is bad is fine but what mouse or combination of mice might bell the cat no matter what their congress might decide.

    I hope this comment isn’t outside the scope of this post. Other than cheer leading of a sort I’m not sure this post is really about MMT or “Positive Money” (?) as suggested in a comment above.

    1. Hepativore

      I have a theory, and I am not sure how true it is, but that the US economy is now largely based on a form of “military Keynesianism”. Over the years industries tied with defense spending and arms-manufacturing grew as they are one of the few strong sectors remaining in the US as everything else has been sent overseas.

      Because so much of our economy is propped up by military spending and business with private contractors, it might be nearly impossible to cut the defense budget without a serious restructuring of how our economy works. While neoliberal elites and the Pentagon have purposely set up the economy of the US to work this way in the beginning to fund their pet projects, I am not sure how you would even start to dismantle the war industry without causing even more economic chaos. As things stand now, we are all caught in the vicious circle of starting wars and ramping up defense spending ever more in order to prop up the related industries that our fragile economy is floating on.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I believe the days of MIC ascendancy are over. I think the directions of Education, Science and Technology reflect this shift in in power. The Space Race was a way for the MIC to generate spending and create the kinds of technology it felt we needed for “Defense”. For good or ill the MIC spending did build up our educational systems and created a plethora of technologies which arguably did enhance our “Defense”. Today things are different. I believe the Reagan years were the watershed dividing MIC spending with at least some intention of producing something more than profits for MIC Corporate behemoths from spending for the sake of generating profits. As the Neoliberal regime assumed control of our country the lost its privileged position with the supposed “end” of the supposed Cold War as Russia imploded and we started shipping our Industry and Employment to China. The MIC became one among many Cartels vying for public funds and plunder of the public. Try cutting the funds of any of them. The only cutting done the Cartels do themselves as they vie for how to divide our pie.

        It may sound silly and I suppose it is. If you can a Corporate Library somewhere — most were disassembled and shutdown years ago — you’ll notice a significant difference in the quality and quantity of high quality scientific and engineering monographs printed before 1980, actually before 1970, gathering dust on the back shelves. This was evidence to me of a significant change in funding, culture, and the place of science and technology. Today the Market rules supreme.

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