James gets a few things exactly right: rising income and wealth inequality continue unabated. For everyone below the 70th percentile of income (roughly) this means trouble, the more you project outward. Hence, the survey results. He is spot on about an army of edu-bureaucrats who drain billions from education and provide nothing but more hiring of their own kind, ed school gobbledy-gook ("outcomes assessments" is the latest tripe), and absurdly meaningless teacher training and "student enrichment." All the rest of the stuff about servants is only relevant to James and his ilk, those well above the 70th percentile. Wake up! Those of us in the middle and below are not able to hire armies of staf to reassure us about our identity and that of our children's. The rich did away with that level of discretionrty income for the so-called "middle class" a long time ago. Whatever, take on some more debt, buy the latest gadget and download some apps. It is designed to make you feel cool even if you are sinking.
This is one of the very few articles to hit the nail on the head. What every champion of capitalism refuses to look at is inequality. They are allergic to it because their raison de etre is defense of that old time religion: "capitalism good, communism bad." But what the last thirty years show us is that de-regulation, low taxes and anti-unionism creates a perfect storm of corporate profits, baking excesses, and insane gini coefficients.
The results are inescapable: stagnation, high unemployment, anomie at worst and rioting at best, fiscal logjams, monetary desperation, and the constant threat of another implosion.
As Dervis correctly notes, what is needed is a political solution that addresses inequality. But the political system has become so dependent on ceo/bankster contributions and lobbying that such a solution seems highly unlikely. Probably only more crisis and the threat of fascism will waken political elites to the need for deep structural reforms.
The one good thing about this article is Brinton's illustration. Since the only way to determine value in this current post-capitlaist, virtual world is by money (digital, of course), someone will have to balance out the economic gains of our virtual genetics with the zombie effect, dissociation, and alienation that the virtual world exacerbates. Oh, and then there is ll the lost productivity from checking e-mail, going on facebook and playing solitaire.
Yes, we will become more like our ancestors except that it will all happen within screens and a vast cosmos of zeros and ones. Ahhhh, the nostalgia!
It is fine for anyone to "take a more balanced approach." But that is not what this apologist for the free marketeers does. A balanced approach would not simply point out one small facet of a problem that may have been overlooked. Rather it would try to weight the different factors. If one does so it seems hard to escape the fact that the historically low interest rate set by the fed coupled with an exploding demand for sub-prime mortgages, to be packaged into securities, were the most salient factors in the housing bubble.
Additionally, I can't imagine that the bankers really mind being "blamed" for the crisis as long as taxpayers bail them out and they return to record profits. Of course they do this by taking advantage of a historically unprecedented spread between their borrowing costs from the fed and the interest rates they charge. For the average American who is left screwed and tatooed he can rest assured that "we all have to make sacrifices."
This is a good general overview. Perhaps more could be said about social disturbances not just in terms of income inequality and corruption but in regards to the related issue of the environment. This is the third leg of the stool so to speak. How will China keep up its breakneck growth rate while reversing the calamitous effects that growth has had on the land, air, water, people's health, and traditional ties to the land? More and more hostile protests break out over this than corruption (though, again, they are related).
I don't see how the Party's announcement about a "social review board" could be taken at more than propaganda value by the Chinese people.