Thursday, March 5, 2009

Trying to Understand Why

Right now, one of the best historical analyses I have yet seen of the economic crisis we are in comes from Kevin Phillips. He has written three recent books that deal with the topic: Bad Money, American Theocracy, and Wealth and Democracy. You can hear a very helpful interview from last summer here, as well as watch an even better interview with Bill Moyers here. Tidbit:

KEVIN PHILLIPS: This is the denouement of the 25-year debt buildup which was undertaken mostly by the financial sector putting themselves on steroids to get bigger and bigger and bigger. And we've finally gotten to the point where the bubble isn't sustainable anymore....

BILL MOYERS: But there are people, Kevin, who disagree with us, who say that this financial industry has created great wealth for America in the last 25 years.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Oh, it's created great wealth for a small slice of America. But if you go back and we remember the manufacturing heyday, the auto workers in Michigan had fishing cabins up on the lake. And the middle class had been fattened by the rise of the blue-collar middle class. Well, there's no rising blue-collar middle class now. The middle class is shrinking.
The pie in a financial economy goes to the one or two percent — or even less- that have capital skills and education. We have never had so much polarization and wealth disparity and just groaning wealth right at the top of ladder as we have now under finance.

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