The One Percent: The Search for Explanations

William Pfaff, author of The Irony of Manifest Destiny (2010), writes: “One percent of the American population receives income equivalent to the other 99 percent put together. This is caused by the consensus decision of the economists and business schools to define profit as the sole criterion of corporation efficiency and public (and civic) worth. The automatic consequence of this has been the de-industrialization of the United States, the export of its manufacturing capacity, unemployment in the U.S. comparable to that of the Great Depression, poverty levels with no modern American precedent, and the moral corruption of American politics.”

Niall Ferguson, in an interview with Michael Posner (The Globe and Mail, November 5) said: “American society has become significantly more unequal than it was in the 1970s. But Wall Street isn’t the sole cause. The reason income stagnated is not the wickedness of Wall Street. It’s that globalization reduces massively the returns to unskilled labour. That’s the big story OWS is not getting. And blaming it all on financial institutions misses the almost equal responsibility of political elites. The epicentre, the mortgage market, was rigged by interventions that horribly backfired. So the anger is legitimate, but it’s been channelled simplistically into narrow demonization.”

William Pfaff: “How do you change the system, you may ask? We changed it before. What we have now was not the American economic and social system the United States possessed during the twenty-five years that followed the Second World War. What we have now has actually proven a colossal failure for the United States and the developed world.”

Niall Ferguson: “Are we necessarily doomed to collapse? No, you can act or prevent it by identifying vulnerabilities and making the system more robust. Education reform, for example, is urgently needed in the West, particularly at the secondary level.”

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2 responses to “The One Percent: The Search for Explanations

  1. Which leads us back to public broadcasting. Are we being served by a culture that lionizes hockey violence, pointless competitiveness and jingoism? Or are the angels of our better natures now permanently expelled from the garden of public discourse? Public broadcasting used to be asperational. Now it is merely predictable.

  2. The 1%, or their acolytes, have persuaded Americans that’s what’s good for them is good for America (and probably fully approved by God). The saintly Reagan administrations got rid of the Fairness doctrine in ’87 (the Chairman of the FCC at the time said: “The television is just another appliance – it’s a toaster with pictures.” As if he really believed it. Ferguson probably really believes his simplicities as well.

    from Wikipedia: “The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced. The FCC decided to eliminate the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.”