Fast-forward to Scott Walker today. Representing a new breed apart from Wisconsin's earlier Republicans, he is seeking to reopen the asset-grabbing, Gilded Age-style. A plague of rent-seekers is seeking quick gains by privatizing the public sector and erecting tollbooths to charge access fees to roads, power plants and other basic infrastructure....This is the pass to which we have come: the wealthy draining the rest of us dry. This, I am sure, is what is really behind the attacks on public sector unions: a drive to privatize what is left of the public's possessions and to break all possibility of organized resistance. In this regard, the huge resistance in Wisconsin is heartening—there was a huge demonstration only yesterday, and obviously the opponents of Walker's drive to wreck public unions and the public sector are not giving up. That is the sort of determination that is needed.
But who is one to steal from? Most wealth in history has been acquired either by armed conquest of the land, or by political insider dealing, such as the great US railroad land giveaways of the mid-19th century. The great American fortunes have been founded by prying land, public enterprises and monopoly rights from the public domain, because (to paraphrase Willie Sutton) that's where the assets are to take. Throughout history, the world's most successful economies have been those that have kept this kind of primitive accumulation in check. The US economy today is faltering largely because its past barriers against rent-seeking are being breached.
Nowhere is this more disturbingly on display than in Wisconsin. Today, Milwaukee - Wisconsin's largest city, and once the richest in America - is ranked among the four poorest large cities in the United States. Wisconsin is just the most recent case in this great heist. The US government and its regulatory agencies are effectively being privatized as the "final stage" of neoliberal economic doctrine.
May I modestly suggest a simple slogan that encapsulates what the majority of people in this country, not to mention the world, need right now: The rich have no right to their wealth! The rich have no right to their power! Think about it. I will return to this in later posts.