Spin not only is the main source for daily accounting of the joist and thrust of national politics, it is also now the wholly accepted principal substitute for truth. Like the video games that are a model for our current politics, spin has hierarchies of levels and skill. The best spinner wins! Which only muddles the truth more and makes the chasm bigger.
Extracting a point of fallen and bruised truth, discombulated and shredded by spin: austerity doesn’t bring prosperity; tax cuts will not stimulate demand or create jobs. Despite this obvious truth, a South Carolina commenter replied to me last week in a local paper that “the rich will buy a lot more groceries with a tax cut.” Common sense may be impossible to retrieve, and our national politics certainly reflect its lost.
Question: Fed Ex recently announced 45,000 temporary openings for the holiday season and is using twitter to prompt its recruiting, corporations are sitting on close to $2 trillion in cash, and Bank of America earned $2.78 billion in profit in the quarter ending in July; has the old relationship between stimulus spending and economic expansion made a qualitative leap?
Within the culture of political economy, I point to Iceland as a case in point. Enjoying the world’s lowest unemployment, high personal satisfactions, good wages, the country crashed and became bankrupt virtually overnight when it leaped outside of the charts. My other case is historic: Sweden in the early 1700s. Faced with a severe depression, Sweden gained prosperity by selling iron ore to English smelters to be processed for long handled hoe blades to work the rice plantations of the Carolina and Georgia colonies. What would have happened to Sweden if the market for steel had not opened up? Are their parallels?
Might not the new source of wealth and prosperity – for some – be sourced in the permanent lose of jobs and displacement of others (even as the safety net is dismantled, shifting even more wealth to corporations)? Might this new truth be hidden by the political spin of its own complaint?