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The Big Picture: How We Got Into This Mess, And How We Get Out of It (Robert Reich)

Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it's been.

-- The Grateful Dead, "Truckin'"

And that "long, strange trip" has gotten positively rocky, particularly in the last 40 years, under the influence of Reagan, both Bushes, and of course, The Donald. Under their "leadership" (if you can call it that), we've seen the ongoing dismantling of the middle class, the rise of the one-percenters, and most recently, the threat of fascism overthrowing our democracy. Economist and former White House advisor Robert Reich has seen it, too, and it seems as though he has a better than average grasp of the social and fiscal dynamics that got us from there to here. In the following video, he sketches a pretty convincing picture of that path, noting causes and effects, and proposes one possible way out.

Personally, I think his doodles are worth your time. Please enjoy.

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Replies to This Discussion

Great! Thanks!

Thanks, Loren!

Hmmm... everything was fine until that wicked Mrs Thatcher somehow managed to get into office.

Here's what Wikipedia says:

After the Second World War, a new Labour government fully nationalised the Bank of England, civil aviation, telephone networks, railways, gas, electricity, and the coal, iron and steel industries, affecting 2.3 million workers.[73] Post-war, the United Kingdom enjoyed a long period without a major recession; there was a rapid growth in prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s, with unemployment staying low and not exceeding 3.5% until the early 1970s. The annual rate of growth between 1960 and 1973 averaged 2.9%, although this figure was far behind other European countries such as France, West Germany and Italy.

Deindustrialisation meant the closure of operations in mining, heavy industry, and manufacturing, resulting in the loss of highly paid working-class jobs.[76] The UK's share of manufacturing output had risen from 9.5% in 1830 during the Industrial Revolution to 22.9% in the 1870s. It fell to 13.6% by 1913, 10.7% by 1938, and 4.9% by 1973. Overseas competition, lack of innovation, trade unionism, the welfare state, loss of the British Empire, and cultural attitudes have all been put forward as explanations.[78] It reached crisis point in the 1970s against the backdrop of a worldwide energy crisis, high inflation, and a dramatic influx of low-cost manufactured goods from Asia.

During the 1973 oil crisis (which saw oil prices quadruple) the 1973–74 stock market crash, and the secondary banking crisis of 1973–75, the British economy fell into the 1973–75 recession and the government of Edward Heath was ousted by the Labour Party under Harold Wilson, which had previously governed from 1964 to 1970. Wilson formed a minority government in March 1974 after the general election on 28 February ended in a hung parliament. Wilson secured a three-seat overall majority in a second election in October that year. The UK recorded weaker growth than many other European nations in the 1970s; even after the recession, the economy was blighted by rising unemployment and double-digit inflation, which exceeded 20% more than once and was rarely below 10% after 1973.

In 1976, the UK was forced to apply for a loan of £2.3 billion from the International Monetary Fund. Denis Healey, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was required to implement public spending cuts and other economic reforms in order to secure the loan, and for a while the British economy improved, with growth of 4.3% in early 1979.  Following the discovery of large North Sea oil reserves, the UK became a net exporter of oil by the end of the 1970s, which contributed to a massive appreciation of the pound, making exports in general more expensive and imports cheaper. Oil prices doubled between 1979 and 1980, further reducing manufacturing profitability After the Winter of Discontent, when the UK was hit by numerous public sector strikes, the government of James Callaghan lost a vote of no confidence in March 1979. This triggered the general election on 3 May 1979 which resulted in Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party forming a new government.

1979 to 1997

A new period of neo-liberal economics began with this election. During the 1980s, many state-owned industries and utilities were privatised, taxes cut, trade union reforms passed and markets deregulated. GDP fell by 5.9% initially,  but growth subsequently returned and rose to an annual rate of 5% at its peak in 1988, one of the highest rates of any country in Europe.

Thatcher's modernisation of the economy was far from trouble-free; her battle with inflation, which in 1980 had risen to 21.9%, resulted in a substantial increase in unemployment from 5.3% in 1979 to over 10.4% by the start of 1982, peaking at nearly 11.9% in 1984 – a level not seen in Britain since the Great Depression.  The rise in unemployment coincided with the early 1980s global recession, after which UK GDP did not reach its pre-recession rate until 1983. In spite of this, Thatcher was re-elected in June 1983 with a landslide majority. Inflation had fallen to 3.7%, while interest rates were relatively high at 9.56%. The increase in unemployment was largely due to the government's economic policy which resulted in the closure of outdated factories and coal pits. Manufacturing in England and Wales declined from around 38% of jobs in 1961 to around 22% in 1981. This trend continued for most of the 1980s, with newer industries and the service sector enjoying significant growth. Many jobs were also lost as manufacturing became more efficient and fewer people were required to work in the sector. Unemployment had fallen below 3 million by the time of Thatcher's third successive election victory in June 1987; and by the end of 1989 it was down to 1.6 million.    The whole article is here:[    ]

Mrs Thatcher was like a not-very-sympatico surgeon who performs the necessary cutting. In her case, it was the malign combination of nationalized industries and powerful industrial trade unions.  She did for them both, and bless her!

Nowadays, there are few real socialists left, ie people who think the government should own the means of production. Real socialism has proved to be a busted flush, wherever it has been tried. Visit Cuba if you want to see what socialism can do to a potentially-rich country.

So now 'socialism' means something like Sweden (one of the most free economies of the world, supporting a comprehensive welfare state), ie it means 'regulated capitalism'. No one wants to nationalize all industry again.

We can thank Mrs Thatcher, among others, for that.


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