Dean Baker tries, once more, to explain things

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

Poor Dean Baker often writes about the same problems—topics that he’s discussed in detail and for which he’s provided solutions in his book Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer. He’s a national treasure.

Once more, though, from the top. His brief post Thomas Friedman Shows Us Why Democracy is Facing Huge Problems by Dean Baker (CEPR) makes the following points (all emphases added).[1]

Patents

“Bill Gates is not incredibly rich because of rapid accelerations in technology and globalization, he is incredibly rich because the government gives Microsoft patent and copyright monopolies on Windows and other software. It will arrest people who make copies without his permission. In fact, it negotiates trade deals (wrong called “free trade” deals) that require other countries to arrest people too.”

The Finance Industry

“The reason there are very rich people in finance, who can bid up property prices in major cities to make them unaffordable to the middle class, is that we coddle the financial industry.

Unequal job-protection

“And the reason globalization puts downward pressure on the pay of factory workers, but not doctors and dentists, is that we have protection for doctors and dentists.

The Market

“[…] the point is that we have screwed middle-class workers by deliberate policy; it was not just something that happened.”

The market does not work in mysterious ways. It works in very predictable ways—as long as you don’t deliberately ignore which levers are actually being pulled. It’s not like the incentives are hidden. The elites are screwing everyone else in broad daylight.

So stop pretending that we can’t figure out how to fix problems.

We know how to fix them. We just don’t give enough of a damn.

The elites would rather keep everything for themselves and pay people like Thomas Friedman to try to convince people that it’s their own fault they can’t succeed. It’s a level playing field, after all, no?


[1]

The article Liberals Used to Feel Your Pain. Now They Inflict It by Ted Rall makes a similar point about elites, but with ACA (Obamacare) as an example. He used to live in Ohio, where there was one plan available. It cost $1,400 per month and still had a $10,000 deductible.[2]

His colleagues living in large cities (e.g. Manhattan) thought the ACA was great—because they had choices. The ACA prefers the urban professional because it’s a market-based solution. That it prefers urban elites is a matter of policy. A single-payer healthcare system would be the same for everyone.

Rall compares this lack of empathy—what I call the I got mine Jack response—to the way the Western media tries to charge the Gilets Jaunes in France with not caring about the environment because they don’t want another gas tax. They’ll pay the gas tax—but not if the elites don’t pay their taxes.

It’s about fairness. It’s about people buying somewhat less bullshit. It’s about pulling back the curtain and seeing the scam.

Ignoring this will get Trump re-elected.

[2] Jesus, I thought Switzerland was expensive. That’s almost 4 times what I pay, with a deductible that’s almost 7x higher.