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treating the symptoms, not the disease

May 9, 2013

A friend of mine sent me a link to this article from Business Insider:

Two Senators Just Introduced A Bill That Could Neuter Wall Street

Probably too little too late since the damage (particularly to the working class) is already done, but if they can actually get this passed, it could be a good thing in that it’d at least help to temporarily stabilize the financial system, place tighter restricts on ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, and protect the working class from having to fund more corporate bailouts.

I do find it interesting, though, that the ruling class, following the market’s lead, seems to be finally moving in that direction, which makes me wonder if economic policy in general isn’t more often than not just a reactive process of intellectually making sense of and bureaucratically codifying the effects of ‘blind’ material forces already at work, arising more out of the needs of capital to continuously expand (i.e., reproduce itself) than any kind of conscious planning.

As capitalism develops, and both the mass of superfluous (i.e., unproductive) capital and labour increase in conjunction with efficiencies in production, causing the rate of profit to fall and a shrinkage in the absolute mass of profit created, capitalists must find ways to overcome this, whether through encouraging debt spending, the opening of new markets, the ‘creative destruction’ of superfluous capital (mostly through state consumption), or creating ways to increase the mass of profit that via evolutions (i.e., innovations) in the means of production and finance that, in turn, set up the conditions for further overaccumulation and crises.

The problem with solutions of this kind, however, is that they can’t permanently prevent things like overaccumulation, the rate of profit to fall, or reductions in the mass of profit. The causes of crises (as well imperialism, wealth inequality, etc.) are structural — they’re inherent aspects of the way capitalism functions — so all they basically do is treat the symptoms and not the disease.

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