Friday, June 29, 2012

Honest Class Talk

Discussions of the economy in the present climate hide more than they communicate.  There is a whole vocabulary of terms that disguise the reality that different economic classes have different interests.

Take the term "job creators" which is favored term of the conservative politicians to talk about the wealthy.  The words suggest that the role and function of the wealthy is think of ways to hire people and create jobs for the rest of us.  Creating a job for a person is the last thing the wealthy want to do.  If something needs to be done, the first choice is a machine, the second choice is to buy a service from someone on a transaction basis, the third is a temporary, low-wage hire and finally, if there is no other way, creating a good job at a good wage and benefits for someone.

And even this is an old-fashioned way to think about the role of the wealthy in job creation.

People talk as though the wealthy are the owners of businesses that create goods and services for customers.  Even Elizabeth Warren, who of all people should know better, addresses a mythical factory owner when she addresses those who forget that our labor has made their wealth possible.  The wealthy now are in finance, not in the creation of goods and services.

Finance Capital is dominant in our economy.  The real action is not creating goods and services which meet people's needs.  It is investing in and trading in companies that produce profits.  If you give a chunk of money to someone like Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, they will search the landscape for a company that might possibly be profitable someday.  They will buy the company, bring it to temporary profitability, primarily by reducing labor costs, and then selling it.  Finance Capital does not use wealth for the purpose of "creating jobs."   It is more accurate to say that finance capital uses wealth for the purpose of destroying jobs.  This is obvious.  If a company announces a major layoff, eliminating thousands of jobs, capital flows toward that company; the stock price goes up.

Yes, the wealthy create jobs through their personal consumption.  That doesn't mean that much; everybody creates jobs through their personal consumption.  Some of those jobs are at the Chevy plant and some are at the BMW plant.

To Finance Capital, a company that makes a 10% return on investment is twice as good as a company that make 5%.  Social value has nothing to do with it.  This is why profitable companies are forced to lay off workers and cripple their ability to serve their customers -- they are not dependent on their customers, but on the financial markets for their survival.  There are newspapers who were profitable that drove themselves out of business trying to become profitable enough to continue to attract investment.

A company seeking customers has to be better than its competitors.  The resulting competition creates better goods and services at lower prices for customers.

A company seeking financing competes against all other investment opportunities, including companies that are not in the same industry, or even on the same continent.  The result is not better goods and services, but indeed, worse goods and services.


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