The new normal

Published on People’s World.org, by Sam Webb, Oct. 21, 2009.

Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase are back to the “old normal.” Profits are soaring – $3.2 billion and $3.6 billion respectively in the third quarter. Bonuses of $23 billion (yes, I got it right – 23,000,000,000 bucks) are in the pipeline for their managers and traders.  Their field of competitors has thinned. And these leeches have morphed from “too big to fail” to “much too big” to fail. In the meantime, the rest of us are fast-forwarding to the “new normal.” Let me explain …

… An obvious objection that will arise among friends, as well as foes, is that the federal deficit is out of control now and a project of this size goes way beyond the scope of government and would represent a massive intrusion into people’s lives.

The federal deficit is at record levels and there are dangers to be sure, but nothing as big as the danger (and costs) of long-term stagnation to the American people. Moreover, some of the financing could come from a reduction in the military budget and a shift of taxes to Wall Street and corporations.

As for government intrusion, federally directed development could encourage municipal and regional authorities to plan and organize major projects as well as channel investment dollars to small and medium sized businesses and worker/community cooperatives.

Whether a developmental project like this sees the light of day depends only in a small way on its feasibility and necessity. In a larger sense it rests on which of the competing sides (there are more than two on the political landscape) are able to frame the national conversation and win active popular majorities to its vision.

At this moment, political strength, moral authority, and public opinion tilts in the direction of the new administration and the broader movement that elected him, but not to the extent that it is able to win such radical economic reforms, assuming for th

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