This week, Joe Weinstein, one of our most prolific and thoughtful commentators, addresses Robert Reich’s “What’s the Economy for Anyway?”
As Reich notes, our roles as workers and citizens are now being subordinated to our roles as consumers and investors.
But what now do we do about it? Reich – like almost everyone else, no matter ideology or education – has no effective answer, in part because his perspective is clouded by the myth expressed in his very last phrase: that our task is somehow to “reclaim our democracy”.
This country has not had real democracy to be reclaimed. Constitutionally in the USA, just about every jurisdiction has been run as a Roman-republic-style populist-veneer oligarchy: public decisions are made by (or are sold out for profit by) the whims of an oligarchy of high political officials.
In one feeble sense one could argue that we have a degree of ‘democracy’: it’s measured roughly by the proportion of citizens who are empowered as high political officials. In that sense, we’ve had ever less ‘democracy’ because population and scope of citizenship both keep increasing faster than number of truly empowered political offices. As it is now, if our public-decision power as citizens were reflected in our economic wealth, all but
Sustainable change will occur only when masses of us ordinary citizens demand – in the names of scientific-age reason and of our personal rights – a truly more deliberative and democratic approach to public decision-making.