tv Cross Talk RT August 23, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT
you know sometimes you see a story and it seems so you think you understand it and then you glimpse something else you hear or see some other part of it and realize everything you thought you knew you don't know i'm tom harpur welcome to the big picture. mission free cretaceous free in-store charges free. arrangement free. three stooges free.
old free broadcast clothing video for your media projects a free media dog our teeth on tom. de. lay say. hello and welcome to crossfire where all things are considered i'm peter rising in protesting middle classes all across the world middle classes from the traditional rich to emerging economies feel the pain of the global financial crisis with newly earned wealth and better education millions demand governments to be more accountable and have strategies to meet rising expectations the failure to do so has led to mass protests and political people it's the world prepared for a globalized middle class.
crosstalk the globalization of middle classes i'm joined by richard wolffe in new york he's a visiting professor at the new school and in washington we cross to mark levine he's a senior fellow with the truman national security project in a radio host all right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect it means you can jump in anytime you want richard if i can go to you first let's look at middle classes in the traditional rich countries and the emerging markets similarities differences. well the problem for the middle classes in the rich countries of north america europe and japan is that they've been on a thirty year slide and there is no end in sight to that process it's mostly having to do with the shift of capitalism from the high profit centers in those parts of the world to the so-called emerging parts of the world now where wages are cheaper and cost of production are less and so the profits are higher the problem is that
in the transition over the last thirty years of capitalism from the old to the new are not enormous amount of hype was accompanying that process in other words the new middle classes in brazil and turkey and russia and china and india were told that they were going to have a glorious perpetual future where wealth will be accumulated and on and on and on capitalism cannot deliver that to the middle classes in the new area areas and they're slowly discovering it and the crisis has made it worse so now they feel betrayed by promises that capitalists made on behalf of what was happening but they can't deliver mark so there's no happy ending here i largely agree with richard. no well there could be i mean to me what the middle class is doing and protesting is a happy beginning i'd like to see the people out in the streets demanding political accountability and transparency and fairness in government and political systems that's what it's all about so yes there is
a unhappy beginning but then there's this happy beginning look the middle class has been on the slide for about twenty or thirty years largely because of globalisation basically multinational corporations seek the cheapest labor costs they can and with transportation costs going down it used to be they had to seek within a country now they could seek all over the world so american products are made in bangladesh in china in mexico and basically wherever labor is the cheapest and with labor unions being so weak in america and frankly weakening in europe as well that's the problem with the rich countries with the. british military ending here what happens when you run out of new areas there's no happy ending here. well when you are not new areas maybe we could model and we'll have to. ok richard jumping ahead go ahead richard. yet my point would be two things one you have classically raised expectations that the arrival of capitalist production in
the third form of call third world china india brazil and so on would produce a kind of let's call it sweden of the third world a kind of flowering of a kind of capitalism that used to be concentrated in europe north america and japan and is now globalizing but that's not in the cards the plan of capitalism as mark said correctly is to make the most amount of money moving around the world with the flexibility it never had before and it's going to create little pockets of middle classes but the problem is they can't meet the expectations in the areas they're moving to and meanwhile ahead of steam is building in europe japan and the united states of a very asked middle class that once exists existed but now faces the long term disappearance of what they thought was their birthright this is a crisp ripton for growing social conflict around the world ok mark me they forgot
i don't want to dish i want to be going to pessimist go ahead i don't want to be such a pessimist because i agree that we're in trouble but i don't think that there are no solutions to me the solution has always been a perfect mixture as it were of capitalism and socialism richard mentioned sweden sweden is a good example it is a high tax but also high services jurisdiction they don't have the disparities of wealth that you see in the united states and other countries a lot of european countries of the model the netherlands are frankly closer to home canada does very well much better than the united states in this regard so you could go too far in one direction or the other but just because the united. states that's probably gone too far doesn't mean there is it a happy middle and to me the emergency capitalism in brazil and turkey and really it's a political question whether they have a political system that can that can have fairness for everyone that is still a good sign i still think that the people of turkey are better off than they were
before they have to worry about the creeping authoritarianism further one but again it's a political question not an economic one richard you separate the political and economic i would i would disagree go ahead i would really disagree if i could because i'm not at all a pessimist i'm an optimist and i'm i'm looking at the future of the world as a conflict finally addressing what should have been the issue all along which is why in the world are we allowing the shape of economies in the old part of capitalist success and the new part of where capitalism is going why are we allowing multinational corporations responsible to a tiny percentage of the world's population who own the shares and who run these companies to make the decisions about where to win best and where to bring prosperity and where to take it away i think what we're seeing is the awakening of middle classes if we want to call them that around the world to the much more fundamental question which we should have been debating of the last fifty years was
what with is this why do we have capitalism why are we living in a in an economic system subjecting us to these kinds of of upheaval to these kinds of long term declines in the west when we should have been debating whether this system has outlived its usefulness and the alternatives and there are several of them that we should have been debating are finally coming to the fore i count that a big plus for the world today ok mark you don't look very happy go right ahead i say no i think at first i was agreeing with everything because i'm glad the middle class is uprising and demanding reforms and then he talked about the end of capitalism. look capitalism needs some tempering it even adam smith the author of the wealth of nations when he talked about the invisible hand didn't really mean that no one had the government there adam smith wrote that the government need to be there to make sure you have a fair system to make sure you have a fair competition i'm all about competition but i don't like a race where two people start a different starting line fair competition means we start the same place it means
equal opportunity means everyone has a chance to succeed it means opportunities in education and things like that so i'm not for ending capitalism i'm for tempering capitalism and that's why i mention the swedish model sweden is not a socialist state it's a socialist makes couplet state the same is true with canada and capitalism does lead to riches as long as it doesn't go too far and united states of america we had a very strong economy and a strong middle class in the fifty's and sixty's in the seventies when we mix things like social security and a g.i. plan the g.i. bill that let americans g i's go to college the those of return for the military and housing loans and things like that with capitalism but ending capitalism i don't support that either pure socialism has never worked to clear more than i know it's that let's ask richard richard supporting socialism ok basically i'm supporting an honest open discussion which we haven't had in united states for sure for fifty years about the virtues not only of capitalism at its
flaws but of a variety of alternatives there isn't one thing called socialism there's a whole variety of those kinds of systems as there are varieties of capitalism we ought to be discussing that but let me address one point that marc made what do you describe your journey of the middle east and capitalism. for me a system beyond capitalism one in which he is the central point who makes the decisions about what gets produced where it gets produced and how we have an autocracy a tiny group of people major shareholders and boards of directors who make that decision we wonder why it doesn't serve the mass of people but why do we wonder we don't allow the mass of people to make a decision my solution simple go back to the concept of cooperative democratize the corporation make it that the people who have the corporations serve and the people who work there democratically decide what happens not
a tiny autocracy and then we sit here scratching our heads wondering why the tiny autocracy that runs multinational corporations doesn't end up making decisions that are in the interest of the majority of people it is a non logical way of organizing an economy and that's the direction i would go to make a fundamental change and not tinker around the edges with this or that law or this or that adjustment ok mark i'm torn here because i'm all about corporate democracy i'm a firm believer in allowing for example shareholders to actually choose who runs a corporation today it's election with with less choice than you'd find in any dictatorship around the world so i'm all about having those choices but to me the idea that the government running one like that would make those choices i'm against that i see basically capitalism like a highway in other words i don't think people should be able to drive in change lanes and go whichever direction they want but the government has to set the barriers they have to say all right this lane for this direction this lanes without
direction and no you can't drive out there i don't think it is the corporations that do not away it's the corporations that are the highway of unfair come on mark . it's the disappointing reason is another so you know if they make it their history of go ahead they just don't have cash in the history of capitalism has been understood by corporations i work with corporations they understand perfectly well that they have a problem they are a tiny minority that runs the economic system and they have this inconvenience called universal suffrage in politics they're all these votes that people have ok they've solved that problem they've used their money and they've used their influence to pick our candidates to control our parties to control the media they're having a field day we're not going to get a government that turns against them unless and until the mass of people arise and demanded which is the only way we can move what i want to make sure is we don't make that we're right in that we may have in the thirty's we had some rules we have some regulations but we didn't go to the core of the problem which is the
corporations and the power they wield until we do we're going to be sitting here complaining about the results but the irony is we don't go to the root of the problem which is that way of organizing productions klara gentlemen i'm going to jump in here we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on the middle class and state party. wealthy british. time to let.
. look i'm a liberal in america i'm a member of the democratic party which means that i do think corporations have gone too far and i do support reform reforms like the dodd frank bill which i don't even think went far enough but would keep corporations but for being so big they had to be bailed out reforms like obama's health care bill which means that everyone gets health care a little more cheaply i would go farther and i would give everyone universal health care so i believe in reforming the system and i do believe corporations have gone too far on the other hand i'm not quite sure which it is advocating it's arguing that corporations shouldn't exist i mean i'm the first to argue the corporations for example don't have rights under the united states constitution that this applies right here to individuals not to corporations i'm all about that but the same time i don't know that i would abolish the corporate form which has given us a lot of wealth to me it means restraining it given i know who is an iraqi lady who's getting up there who's given us a lot of wealth who is us mark i mean from the look mark you want to answer the
interview with the shrink the virtually all americans it's not true today ok but in the one nine hundred fifty the one nine hundred sixty s. one nine hundred seventy or even in the two thousands under the clinton i would we had that the rich getting richer the middle class in richer the poor getting richer too i agree it's not happening today but to me that doesn't mean that capitalism is flawed it means that couples have as practiced today is flawed richard when. well look capital capitalism is practiced all the time is that constant tendency to inequality of wealth and income periodically the mass of people can't stand it anymore the system breaks down partly by the anger of the folks below and partly by the and competent speculation of the rich at the top that's what brought us the great depression in the one nine hundred twenty nine period and afterwards and then we had as an attempt to mollify the mass of people let's remember in the united states we had the new deal because we had
a the greatest union movement in the history of the united states we had powerful socialist and communist parties in this country who forced this system to make the adjustments but as soon as the war was over as soon as the depression was behind us the capitalist system renewed what it normally does which is accumulate inequality of wealth and income use it to then be in an equal political and cultural system and here we are with an irony of ironies thirty years later back to square one with the breakdown of the kinds of minimised sharing that mark refers to and here is the joke of jokes we had the glass steagall act coming out of the one nine hundred thirty s. to control banking the banking system went to work to evade it then they weakened it and finally under bill clinton they got rid of it eight years later the financial system collapse again we do die hard frank and here's the joke we are
doing it all again it's as if we didn't learn the lesson you've got to go beyond what the liberals want control reform of bill here a bill there the corporations are laughing all the way to the banks they control because that they know how to undo they've already done that in the last century of our history we've got to learn that we have to go much further and i'm not abolishing. cooperation i'm taking the democratic way make a corporation as responsible to the will of the people directly expressed one person one vote as we make our politics we have the stream and i hear you're so happy with everything you say without a democratic economics that's not a viable good point marc you want to reply go ahead i agree with every yeah good everything richard said until he got to the final analysis and you know i should state today that harry reid in the senate is talking about even ending the
filibuster just as republicans are refusing to allow dodd frank to be implemented part of the problem with these reforms is they're not allowed to be implemented you've got a supreme court that allows corporations to buy our political system so we've definitely had regression in the last few years i don't deny that at all but there are certain things we still have in the thirty's we still are still security we still have medicare from the sixty's yes the republicans are trying to abolish it but they haven't succeeded as of yet so we do have some remnants and i do think reform can work i guess my question back to richard is are you saying that we should have referenda on whether exxon should purchase an oil plant we should have referenda on whether apple should build a new i phone surely you're not saying that people go to vote on every corporation's business are you richard go ahead. no i'm not saying that i'm saying that we can be just as creative and inventive in figuring out how to get democratic control of corporations not every decision not the location of the bathroom of course not just as we have been able to manage that in our political system what is
amazing about the defense of the capitalist system that we have from liberals today is the notion that the whole question of democracy doesn't apply what a strange idea why if we believe in democracy why don't we apply it in the institution where adults spend most of their lives monday to friday all the time you're getting ready for work you go into work you're living at work if you're committed to democracy work is the first place it ought to be institutionalized whereas we live in a system where it isn't even on the agenda to do that as if it were a god given requirement that a tiny group of people make the decisions of what to produce how to produce where to produce and what to do with the prophets as long as we don't change because love is something that some agreement continue to live in the system we have ok mark but i don't like agreement on this program going to come. let's see if we can come to some agreement here because some other forms that liberals have been pushing for
they haven't succeeded in congress because they've been stopped by the republicans but i think you would agree there are good ideas things like having the shareholders actually vote have a choice about who the board of directors is things like giving workers a share of the corporate production things like having a very wages and treating high corporate salaries for c.e.o.'s ok richard you're disagreeing good head but i think those. yes i disagree i think those are illusions they're steps in the right direction in the same way that if i move two steps to the east i might be closer to china this is not a significant movement for me i'm sitting here in new york so for me what are you advocating to try to figure all of this is how little is how little we have got we have a great greater gap between rich and poor in america now than at any time in my lifetime and i was born in youngstown ohio a place which by the way is a disaster economically even though it was a thriving city at the time of my birth back in the one nine hundred forty s.
so for me i'm watching a capitalism that is not able to deliver the goods to the mass of the american people is widening the inequality politically culturally as well as economically and still won when we were in the uk a great question the fundamental decision making i don't believe it's the republican i got it all the time i had always a church or let me see their currency rising with the republicans ok mark going here's my agree with you they compromise too much to look with the churchill once said democracy is the worst system in all the world except for all you know we're used to democracy in a combination of poor where is democracy in the economy why does the point here we don't have it how do you how do we do this every time you talking about it make sure of capitalism socialism how would you do diplomatically i love your question very interesting than me i think there is any particular just natural to regulate corporations richard go ahead. i'll give you the example the history of capitalism is replete with people in isolated places and sometimes not so isolated who have
had it up to here with capitalism one of the directions they went to is something we can call cooperation or co-operative if you like they are a group of people get together and guess what they don't have a hierarchy of board of directors and shareholders they make collective decisions as a group of people those kinds of co-op production systems exist around the world and in the united states they are small they are meeting i know who are the ones the seventh largest corporation i know anyone that is largest corporation in spain is called the wonder gone corporation they operate as a cooperative there are alternatives to capitalism we're not stuck with that and we're not stuck with capitalism incrusted by a few laws that they know well how do we they'd undo within years after they are produced we're not limited to that and yet we act as if that's the only universe within which we can make choices mark go ahead reply the only example of pure
socialism that i know of is the israeli keep books which works i think for maybe a thousand people when they all work together and none of them get paid and they all do what they want to do but any time you have a so-so some system larger than that a socialist system what happens well there's an incentive for people not to work very hard because other people are doing the work you have to reward people who are being more productive more than other people to me it's not that socialism is perfect or while it overpaid nice there is it's that right now in the nation all right when we come socially it's an economy going to riot the socialism is just this variety that area gated socialism is just the verge as ever capitalism is worth let me give you another example if we're going to start trading examples in the one nine hundred fifty s. six workers began a co-op in the north of spain and in the basque country six workers led by a priest a father as mending here we are fast forward to two thousand and thirteen the monder gone call. peroration which is what that beginning was now incorporates one hundred thousand workers all of whom
a collective decisions in three hundred or so co-ops seven biggest corporation in spain out competed every other capitalist business in their environment showing that they can grow showing that they can compete showing that they can be successful they have a much lower unemployment rate where they are that in the rest of spain there are a rollicking success of a non capitalist nonhierarchical cooperative business venture and there are thousands of others we can pretend there are no are there is a not hierarchy where i and i problem in many parts of the world is facing those ok mark or not be successful go ahead mark go ahead last word on the program go ahead marc you said nine hundred nine. i'm not sure quite how that works in spain i'll tell you this i told you i support employer ownership of employee ownership of corporations i do think that makes people work better but if it's nonhierarchical what if someone doesn't do their job how do they get fired are you telling me that someone can do whatever they want aren't their internal bosses i'm all for diminishing the
difference between the c.e.o. when they got in the assembly line but i'm not sure i would end hierarchy entirely i don't know how long we can put a hold of some kind of bosses richard go ahead i'm sure to see to a thousand to do shit to a thousand collective organisations from a local church to a boy scout troop to anything you want in which all kinds of mechanisms for the group to police its own members are not trying to make a profit a hereditary or money hierarchy that's not necessary that's what democracy means all right gentlemen i'm going to end the program get in the program on our plate many thanks a to my guests in washington and in new york and thanks to our viewers for watching us here at our d.c. unix time and remember cross talk with us. is .
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of the warriors at great things other that. regard their court a wall around alive there's a story made for a movie is playing out in real life. please . please. more news today violence is once again flared up. and these are the images the world has been seeing from the streets of canada. trying to corporations rule the day. look.
you live on one hundred thirty three bucks a month for food i should try it because you know how fabulous bad luck i got so. i mean the town finally has i'm still the same really messed up. in the prairie so closely. at. worst you're going to. find out superman. radio guy and columbo minutes from a cliff costs that. much closer a budget because you've never seen anything like this i'm told. welcome to break in a set i'm your host.