Sunday, September 30, 2012

The End of Loser Liberalism

The End of Loser Liberalism

By Dean Baker

Book Review

By Richard Edward Noble

Dean Baker is an economist. He earned his B. A. from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He is currently co-director of The Center for Economic and Policy Research.

He has written a bunch of books. I downloaded this one for free. It is the first book by Mr. Baker that I have read but it won’t be the last.

Dean Baker calls himself a liberal progressive. Of late I have been referring to myself as a “progressive.” Mr. Baker is far more progressive than I am. He’s another “idea” man. And he does have ideas. At some points in this book I was laughing openly. Not at Mr. Baker but at his unique ability to turn the tables upside down and backwards on the smart crowd.

What a book this is!

The simplicity of many of his ideas makes a reader wonder why he never thought such things.

Mr. Baker is a free market man … I think. But he takes these free market principles and turns them back onto the hands and heads that have been feeding them to us all for these many confusing years. He makes an art of “quid pro quo.”
How many times have all of us worker types heard the sorrowful whine, But what can I do? The free market dictates.

When our paychecks are cut, it’s the free market competition. When we lose our jobs it free market competition. When they close down the plant and take it overseas, it’s the free market Global economy. When they take our home, it is simply the free market at work. When we can’t afford medical care, it is once again a simple matter of free market competition. Next we will have to dig our own graves preemtively to save the cemeteries on labor costs.

It’s the bottom line. It’s the way things are. It’s inevitable. It’s the way the free market operates.

It’s like the old Greek adage, “Magister Dixit, the Master has spoken.”
Well the gods may have stipulated and the Master of the free market may have spoken but the Master has a new interpreter, Dean Baker.

The Professor, as a free market advocate, takes these so called free market aphorisms and applies them to rich and poor alike, to the humble and the powerful, to the panhandler and the professional.

There were times when I thought my man Baker was just putting the world on, kind of a tongue in cheek thing. But if the man is joking the joke is on the rich, the powerful, the established and the smug.

This guy is good. He is not to be taken lightly. He gives details. Some of his solutions are truly frightening but frightening or not they are often more than justified and long overdue. Many of the ideas suggested, for the most part, have already been used and used regularly with religious zeal and conservative vindictiveness … but only from the top down, never from the bottom up. They have been applied to the working class, the poor and the middle class without compassion in a strict business, free market approach. Mr. Baker responds in kind. He’s tough but very enlightening. He goes to the gut of the matter and dives in with some very heavy body blows. Lots of good stuff here for the liberal arsenal.

Mr. Baker is a progressive for progressives. He has published several other books that I am definitely interested in reading that deal with the truth about Social Security, the Consumer Price Index, how the rich manipulate the system to stay rich and make themselves richer. Looks like some great stuff.

I will close this review with a few paragraphs taken from the conclusion of “The End of loser Liberalism.”

"It is not by luck, talent, and hard work that the rich are getting so much richer. It is by rigging the rules of the game: From a political perspective it is much better to say the progressive agenda is about setting fair rules for the market. The argument that highly paid professionals should face the same international competition as factory workers is a compelling one, and more arresting than the argument that we should redistribute money from the winners to the losers.

“Since public debate is so badly misinformed on almost all economic issues, most people will be hearing these arguments for the first time. Few realize that an agency of the government, the Federal Reserve Board, actively throws people out of work to fight inflation. Few know that the loss of manufacturing jobs and the downward pressure on wages of manufacturing workers are not accidental outcomes of trade agreements but rather the whole basis for them. (The enigma of trade is that it can make a whole country richer and yet most of its people poorer.) And hardly anyone understands that a higher valued dollar intensifies the hurtful effect of trade by putting further downward pressure on the wages of workers subject to international competition.

“Our Federal Reserve Policy, trade policy, and dollar policy redistribute income upward from the less advantaged to those who disproportionately control the nation’s wealth and political power. Each policy is designed for this outcome. Knowing this economic reality is not the same as changing it, but it is an important first step.

“Progressives have to start playing hardball. The right is not just trying to win elections; it is working to destroy the basis of progressive opposition. Breaking private sector unions in the 1980’s was not just getting lower cost labor; it was also a deliberate effort to undermine one of the pillars of progressive politics in the United States. Recent efforts at the state and federal level to weaken public sector unions are not about saving money for the government; they are deliberate efforts to destroy the strongest remaining segment of the labor movement.”

The author also explains the foolishness for attempts to privatize Social Security and Medicare. With regards to Social Security the author matter-of-factly states, “The only value question here is whether it is better for workers to keep their money or for the financial industry to have it.”

And Medicare: “The issue in this case is simply whether retired workers want to have 34 trillion pulled out of their pockets and handed over to the insurance and health care industries.”

This author has the brains, the knowledge and a lot of in-your-face arguments for the progressive side of the political spectrum.
Read Dean Baker’s “The End of Loser Liberalism” and load up. He’s got the ammunition and the firepower, speaking Republicanly.

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