History Gets it Wrong, at Least Salon’s Version

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In a compelling story over at Salon about how rich people are screwing everyone else over to line their own pockets, they miss one key point that we must recognize if we’re going to avoid history repeating itself.

Salon reporter Sophia McClennen writes that “starting in the 1980s policymaking elites in the Western world were scared to death of oil shortages, inflationary spirals and the impact of jobs being shipped to lower-wage nations or made obsolete by increasingly powerful machines and computers. Something had to be done.”

McClennen’s assertion that policies passed in the 1980s were a direct result, or a response, to oil shortage and inflation is not accurate.

What happens in these situations, is that capitalists play on people’s fear and anxiety about events that capitalists probably put into play. So for instance, in the 1970s there was an oil shortage. I remember people lining up to get gas, everyone was worried gas prices were going to skyrocket and they wouldn’t be able to get to work. Also in the late 1970s there was really high inflation and that made people nervous.

When these events happen, capitalists pull on the strings of their puppets in DC to pass legislation and change regulatory rules. These actions are marketed to the people as solutions to the problems of oil shortages and inflation, but what they’re really doing is making it easier for capitalists to take more money from the economy then they were before the crises.

So it’s not as McClennen reports it, that these noble politicians were just doing what needed to be done in a time of great fear and uncertainty.

The rest of McClennen’s story is spot-on and I’m being a bit nit-picky here, but if we don’t recognize when we’re getting played, we’re going to keep getting played. It’s easy to look at the ramifications of the actions taken on behalf of capitalists, at the expense of everyone else, it’s another to ask, “How do we fix it? How do we avoid doing this again?”

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