Sunday, July 25, 2010

Monopoly Capital Blocks Rational Policy of Wage-led Growth

What lesson might the working classes of the global North take from what's happening in China? Canadian journalist Paul Jay spells it out in plain English.

Paul Jay:
So we've been talking about macroeconomic policy, the G-20, austerity. And there was one little line in the G-20 document I thought was interesting, and it's sort of buried in amongst everything. It said countries could facilitate wages going up proportional to productivity, which is rather interesting, 'cause it's the only time I've ever heard it even mentioned by these guys. There's quite a big section about how wages need to go up in China. There they understand the need for increasing demand. And we've heard President Obama say, we can't be the consumer engine of the world anymore, you guys have to do it, looking at China. And they talk about increasing the social safety net in China. They even talk about allowing strike struggles in China so wages can go up, but they sure don't talk about it when it comes to their own places. . . . So the problem is -- and this is where it becomes a political problem. I mean, it's not that difficult to sit down and kind of envision a rational solution to all of this -- you just can't pass it anywhere. The way that the politics is controlled and the small gang of people that actually own the commanding heights of the economy, starting with the banks, they don't allow any of this to actually get passed, so you get to an impasse. You can talk rational visions, but you can't execute on it.
The lesson given by Jay is a Kaleckian one, one of the most important lessons, especially today, as we struggle against the drive to austerity in the North. First of all, make clear what obstacle needs to be removed if the rational alternative is to be implemented.

To that Kaleckian lesson, however, we want to add a Gorzian one, especially in the United States: take productivity gains more in the form of gains in disposable time than in the form of more consumption. That's our socialist ticket out of crisis, economic and environmental.

Minimum transitional demands: retirement at 50 with full benefits; free education and social wages for students (all the way up to doctoral degrees for those who want them); paid parental leaves (six years for each new child); two months of paid vacations per year at minimum; indefinite unemployment benefits (to last till the ruling classes come up with worthy jobs at worthy wages for the unemployed).

Monday, July 05, 2010

Separation of Religion and Science: US behind Iran

"Teach Evolution, Learn Science: We're ahead of Turkey, But behind Iran," according to Gerald Weissmann. Mollas are a dime a dozen in the world today, but Iran's mollas aren't just any mollas -- they are animal-cloning, robot-building, satellite-launching, stem-cell-researching, uranium-enriching mollas.

That is why there is no quick military solution for the empire comparable to Israel's attack on the Osirak reactor in Iraq and Israel's bombing of what is said to be a nuclear facility in Syria. Iran has succeeded in the tasks of both mass education and higher education, building a deeper and broader base of scientific and technological human capital than in any other country in the region except Israel. That means that Iran can rebuild what gets destroyed.

Given its rate of scientific production, as reported in NewScientist, Iran may eventually catch up with Israel, too:
Scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the world average, faster than any other country. A survey of the number of scientific publications listed in the Web of Science database shows that growth in the Middle East -- mostly in Turkey and Iran -- is nearly four times faster than the world average.

Science-Metrix, a data-analysis company in Montreal, Canada, has published a detailed report (PDF) on "geopolitical shifts in knowledge creation" since 1980.
Is that a "threat" to Israel or the United States? Not if these two countries aren't run by people who are given to seeing the world as if it were the stage for a zero-sum game of power struggle. The question is if they are.