Readers of this space know that the view from here argues that a new era dawned in the United States with the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.
Further, while the 2010 Tea Party faction/Republican Party gain of 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the off-year congressional election can be viewed as an electoral reversal -- one in which the Republican Party regained control of the U.S. House, 242-193, congressional Republicans' inability to solve the nation's major problems -- high unemployment being at the top of the list -- followed by poverty, massive maldistribution in income and wealth -- underscore that the crisis the United States is experiencing has hardly been solved by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The American people restored the Republican Party to power in the U.S. House in 2010 to create jobs. What have Speaker Boehner & company done? They've done nothing. They are a Do-Nothing Congress every bit as bad as the 1948 Republican Do-Nothing Congress that President Harry S. Truman, D-Missouri, campaigned against in 1948.
U.S.'s No. 1 Problem: Individuals With No Stake in Corporate Capitalism
Moreover, although other problems exist in these United States, the biggest problem is economic -- the increase in Americans, for a variety of reasons, with little or no stake in the economic system, corporate capitalism.
In his work, Parties and Elections in Corporate America, University of Connecticut Political Science Professor Howard Reiter perhaps best described the cyclical, periodic nature of corporate capitalism's crises in the United States.
Further, the view from my vantage point argues that there's ample research to argue that the current financial crisis represents a crystallization -- a coalescing, if you will -- of several structural problems facing corporate capitalism, in this, its most-recent crisis. I also argue that the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, like the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, represents a safety valve -- a chance for the system to implement reforms, and survive and become stronger, if the correct reforms are implemented.
For the market absolutists and economic conservatives, the above is irrelevant because: 1) there are no economic problems and/or 2) what problems that do exist can not be corrected by federal public policy.
Well, the argument forwarded by economic conservatives would appear to be a harmless stance were it not for the fact that: 1) the number of citizens with little or no economic stake in the system -- whom I call the others -- is growing, and 2) their political power is growing, and will continue to grow until their interests are represented.
Economic conservatives can protest and/or rationalize all they want about the others but the economic problems that exist in our society are not going to go away by ignoring them. Or by trying to repeal the 2010 U.S. health care reform act. Further, the 2011 rise of the Occupy Wall Street social movement seeking economic and fiscal reform represents tangible evidence that electing Republicans to power in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 does not magically make the nation's economic and social problems go away. On the contrary, it's made economic and social problems worse, via Republican intransigence toward implementing long-overdo progressive economic and social changes.
The Others Aren't Going Away
Further, if unaddressed, contrary to what the economic conservatives predict, the economic and social pressures will build and will only lead to even bigger economic change in the future -- and if that day occurs, the outcome will not be favorable for corporate capitalism.
Hence, the correct action, the constructive action -- the one that preserves the system and strengthens it -- is reform -- reform that is largely, but not entirely, progressive/liberal in substance. Moreover, the view from here argues that the good-but-flawed corporate capitalist system can be reformed and is worthy of support, due to its many benefits and strengths.
Further, the reforms will obviously require changes to the economic system's most important actor, the corporation. The rampant, widspread abuse of workers and the violations of the rights and dignities of the human person must stop. Corporations must become more-societal, more-attentive actors in this new era. Labor must receive a more-share of the excess profits from it helps create. I.E. there must be a more-equitiable distribution of the excess profits from labor. This goal will take many years to achieve, and it will not be without cost nor economic dislocation for companies, and in some cases, entire sectors. But these changes must occur if we hope to see the economic system we enjoy continue.
Defeating Liberals or Obama Will Not Blot-Out Economic and Social Problems
Another mistake market absolutists and economic conservatives make is suggesting that if they only just defeat President Obama, or organize protest rallies permeated with fringe groups, or counteract the agenda of the liberal media, the problems facing the nation will go away. But what these conservatives and other market absolutists fail to recognize is that the forces building and necessitating change are far deeper and societal-based than any liberal media outlet or Obama presidency, as forward-thinking, invigorating, and as transformative as Obama's tenure has been to-date.
In other words, in 2008 an economic reform-oriented political base of about 30-35% of the nation, combined with Independent voters, comprised a coalition strong enough to elect a relative newcomer to the most powerful public office in the world. In 2012, that political base could grow to 35-40%, plus the Independents; in 2016, it will likely be above 40%, not counting Independents. If the economic reforms aren't implemented now, what type of reforms will these more-powerful coalitions seek and implement then?
Further, no one knows how the American system of corporate capitalism will respond this time - - in the era of unprecedented wealth, material abundance, opulence, conspicuous consumption, and technological advance -- if the unemployment rate keeps rising. The best outcome for stakeholders in the current system would involve not getting to a point when investors and the nation at large would find out -- which is why public officials need to find ways to create many more jobs in the years ahead. Again, Occupy Wall Street represents the first social activist manifestation of this plight of the others amid rampant poverty, injustice, marginalization, and disenfranchisement.
We are not talking about a U.S. where the majority of the populace is not benefiting the way people with adjusted gross incomes above $1 million do from corporate capitalism: we are talking about a majority of the populace not benefiting from the system amid individuals grossing $1 billion, $5 billion, even $10 billion per year, who are asking for even lower tax rates and an even larger share of income and wealth than they have been permitted to possess. The top 0.1 percent -- the top one-tenth of 1 percent -- control more than 30 percent of the nation's wealth. And they want more. To say that the current maldistribution in income and wealth is not conducive to Sweden society-like serenity would be an understatement.
Hence, for systemic preservation reasons, the above suggests the best tactic would be to find ways to implement economic reforms now, and incorporate as many segments of the others as possible into corporate capitalism -- make them stakeholders and true economic partners in the system.
Put another way, wouldn't it be better to reform a little bit now, instead of being in a position where the former stakeholders will have to adapt to an entirely new system, run by and dominated by the reformers and the others?
International Business Times U.S. Editor Joseph Lazzaro is writing a book on the U.S. presidency and the U.S. economy.