Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Viewing with alarm

Here's a handy little chart that ought to give you the willies. (I didn't link to the original source, because it's embedded in a long boring PDF, but Dr. Wolff's presentation is accessible and his own discussion is worth reading, although I don't agree with it entirely.) Actually this cuts off just before the Big Plotz of 2008, which did temporarily reduce the relative incomes of the top 10% a bit because those capital gains went away, but they're coming right back.

As you can see, we are right back to the Gilded Age. But it's actually worse than that because, while we still have that extreme inequality, we also a depression-like job market. Lots of people who have already been out of work a long time are never going to get another job. Now, in the 1930s, the U.S. turned away from Gilded Age laissez faire capitalism -- an earlier form of what we today recognize as Randist libertarianism and general Republican plutocracy -- and adopted a strategy of saving capitalism by making it tolerable for the proles. You can see the pretty picture it makes in Dr. Wolff's chart. But you you already know what was going on in Germany at the same time.

In times of desperation, voters are ready for extreme solutions, and the NSDAP (National-Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei -- National Socialist German Workers Party) exploited the situation. Skilled Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels launched an intensive media campaign that ceaselessly expounded a few simple notions until even the dullest voter knew Hitler's basic program. The party's program was broad and general enough to appeal to many unemployed people, farmers, white-collar workers, members of the middle class who had been hurt by the Depression or had lost status since the end of World War I, and young people eager to dedicate themselves to nationalist ideals. If voters were not drawn to some aspects of the party platform, they might agree with others. Like other right-wing groups, the party blamed the Treaty of Versailles and reparations for the developing crisis. Nazi propaganda attacked the Weimar political system, the "November criminals," Marxists, internationalists, and Jews. Besides promising a solution to the economic crisis, the NSDAP offered the German people a sense of national pride and the promise of restored order.

Draw your own conclusions.

1 comment:

roger said...

hmmmm. that all sounds strangely familiar. is newt our goebbels?