Reply to Dr. Frankel: Thank you for the response. Our disagreement has to do with different interpretations of history, which of course cannot be avoided. Assuming one accepts the predominant cold war narrative, it would be hard to disagree with what you say.
For a more critical perspective you might find it interesting to look over recent work coming out on Michał Kalecki, the great Polish economist that famously anticipated Keynes in most important respects; and who Krugman has recently taken notice of with regard to unemployment. I mention Kalecki because he strongly bucked the trend of communist economic policies that merely mimicked the West, in an endless (and, ultimately, impossible) effort to keep up in manufacturing and especially arms production (See, e.g., _Kalecki’s Economics Today_, especially part 4.) Kalecki also obviously made a very important contributions on the political economy of capitalism. I'm simply suggesting that there is more to the story, and certainly a great deal more to learn from figures like Kalecki, who transcend the narrow specialities typical of academia. (The latter's Collected Works, especially Vols. I & V, are the best place to start.)
I certainly hope you don't repeat the rationale provided below on the race/incarceration question. Perhaps it was unintentional, but your comment clearly suggests that "mistaken policy" on drugs results in a significantly higher rate of black incarceration because blacks "use" or "traffic" in "hard drugs" at higher rates than whites. Thanks to a raft of studies in sociology we know with certainty that nothing could be further from the truth. Even if blacks and other minorities "used" or "trafficked" more (they do not), it is highly unlikely that it would explain the stark variation in incarceration rates. Chronically high unemployment—a persistent failure of capitalism, especially for minorities (and other precarious layers of the workforce)—on the other hand at least allows one to get closer to a comprehensive answer. (Discrimination in sentencing and race profiling have also both been clearly documented.) You should really look at Alexander's book as I'm sure something will surprise you.
Of course you are correct that our drug policy is inane. My point, however, is that significant layers of the working population here in the U.S. are routinely "let down" by capitalism. Have you looked at deportation statistics lately? Does it not bother you that as quickly as we encouraged the absorption of workers from Latin America (mostly Mexico) we no sooner deported them when economic conditions turned sour; and conditions inevitably reach crisis proportions: such is the nature of capitalism.
Yeah, a socialist indeed! You obviously prefer that the political spectrum never breach the bounds of your limited imagination since it saves you from being seriously challenged. You should try debating a real socialist sometime, and then reconsider your proclamations about Obama. For example, try Richard Wolff (http://www.capitalismhitsthefan.com)
Congrats: you have assured your place among the most simple-minded reactionaries in the U.S. No need to produce any evidence for this claim, since, presumably, you feel the Carter Center simply can't be trusted. Still, you should try reading a bit because it will prevent you from looking so silly so often.
Don't you think it would be reasonable to qualify this statement? Unless of course you are oblivious to the actual social health of "market societies" vis-á-vis other social formations. Certainly blacks in the U.S.—who suffer mass incarceration in no small part because the economy *does not work well* for the underprivileged—would take issue with your statement (see the recent book, _The New Jim Crow_). As would the great bulk of humanity who are daily strangled by the economic imperialism of the U.S. Ultimately it seems like your purpose is to defend capitalism—which makes sense because it needs all the defense it can get at the moment.
My, my, Ken, you seem to be frothing at the mouth. "Let's have a revolution, kill all the rich people as we have done for thousands of years and redistribute their stuff..." Apparently you've been watching a bit too much scifi lately. (Indeed, you act as if the rich have never killed to retain their power…sigh.)
In any case, your point about technology would make sense in a society geared toward the satisfaction of needs. But that's not what we live in. The purpose is profit, which is why "needs" themselves must now be manufactured. I very much agree that we all could have a very short workday in a rationally planned economy. But to get there we'd have to kill all the rich people ;)
Seriously though, you should take a look at David Noble's _Forces of Production_ before you recite that argument again. Hopefully you'll modify it a bit.