[...] three processes running in parallel and mutually interlocked (a ‘triple helix’, if you like): the sequence of economic crises of inflation, public debt and private debt (today followed by dramatically expanding balance sheets of central banks, and a corresponding expansion of the money supply); the political-fiscal development from tax state to debt state to consolidation state; and a progressive shifting of the arenas of class conflict ‘upwards’, from labour market to welfare state to capital markets (and from here to the arcane sphere of central banks, financial-diplomatic summit conferences and international organizations).
shifting the arena of class conflict upward is a good description of tech? specifically, upwards to a battleground where capital is already the incumbent, has technological +legal advantages
[...] Until now, of course, longer-term growth rates have been falling together with peak tax rates, and so has the average tax take of rich democracies. Worse still, in parallel with the declining taxability of firms, their claims for national and regional infrastructure have become more demanding; firms ask for tax reductions and tax concessions, but also and at the same time for better roads, airports, schools, universities, research funding, etc. The result is a tendency for taxation of small and medium incomes to rise, for example by way of higher consumption taxes and social security contributions, resulting in an ever more regressive tax system.
the inherent instability of basing tax policy on the Laffer curve (states lower tax rates to attract large corporations)
feels like a fairly simplistic analysis tbh but maybe worth making note of as a larger general trend in light of all the tax avoidance going on?
In my view, for a historical system to be considered a capitalist system, the dominant or deciding characteristic must be the persistent search for the endless accumulation of capital—the accumulation of capital in order to accumulate more capital. And for this characteristic to prevail, there must be mechanisms that penalize any actors who seek to operate on the basis of other values or other objectives, such that these nonconforming actors are sooner or later eliminated from the scene, or at least severely hampered in their ability to accumulate significant amounts of capital. All the many institutions of the modern world-system operate to promote, or at least are constrained by the pressure to promote, the endless accumulation of capital.
Although educational credential inflation expands on false premises—the ideology that more education will produce more equality of opportunity, more high-tech economic performance, and more good jobs—it does provide some degree of solution to technological displacement of the middle class. Educational credential inflation helps absorb surplus labor by keeping more people out of the labor force; and if students receive a financial subsidy, either directly or in the form of low-cost (and ultimately unrepaid) loans, it acts as hidden transfer payments. In places where the welfare state is ideologically unpopular, the mythology of education supports a hidden welfare state. Add the millions of teachers in elementary, secondary, and higher education, and their administrative staffs, and the hidden Keynesianism of educational inflation may be said to virtually keep the capitalist economy afloat.
As long as the educational system can be somehow financed, it operates as hidden Keynesianism: a hidden form of transfer payments and pump-priming, the equivalent of New Deal make-work setting the unemployed to painting murals in post offices or planting trees in conservation camps, Educational expansion is virtually the only legitimately accepted form of Keynesian economic policy, because it is not overtly recognized as such. It expands under the banner of high technology and meritocracy—it is the technology that requires a more educated labor force. In a roundabout sense this is true: it is the technological displacement of labor that makes school a place of refuge from the shrinking job pool, although no one wants to recognize the fact. No matter—as long as the number of those displaced is shunted into an equal number of those expanding the population of students, the system will survive.
link this to "learn to code"-style policies & skills-biased technological change
Another estimate of the timing of future capitalist crisis is provided by world-system (W-S) theory. In earlier writing on the capitalist world-system, Wallerstein and colleagues presented a theoretical model of systemic long cycles. The core regions of the W-S in their expansive phase generate their advantage by resources extracted under favorable conditions from the periphery. Hegemony is periodically threatened by conflicts within the core, and especially by semiperipheral zones rising to threaten the hegemon. Eventually the core gets caught up with, just as increasing competition in a new area of entrepreneurial profit brings down the profits once gained by the early innovator; in this respect, the W-S operates like Schumpeter's cycle of entrepreneurship, but on a global scale. With each new cycle, new opportunities for expansion and profit arise, under the leadership of a new hegemon. The crucial condition in the background, however, is that there must be an external area, outside the W-S, which can be incorporated and turned into the periphery of the system. Thus there is a final ending point to the W-S: when all the external areas have been penetrated. At this point the struggle for profit in the core and semiperiphery cannot be resolved by finding new economic regions to conquer. The W-S undergoes not just cyclical crisis but terminal transformation.
can the new economic region be virtual?
Ad blocking is tantamount to theft, or at the very least running a toll booth without paying.
this facile comment inadvertently inspired some thoughts on toll booths and why this analogy is excellent in its accuracy but an utter failure in terms of its intent
[...] we risk creating the impression that inequality is rising on account of forces outside our control. It is far from obvious that these factors are beyond our influence or that they are exogenous to the economic and social system. Globalisation is the result of decisions taken by international organisations, by national governments, by corporations, and by individuals as workers and consumers. The direction of technological change is the product of decisions by firms, researchers, and governments. The financial sector may have grown to meet the demands of an aeing population in need of financial instruments that provide for retirement, but the form it has taken and the regulation of the industry have been subject to political and economic choices.
rise in inequality due to changes in the balance of power
[...] the decline in unionisation is the result of the bias in technical change towards skilled workers. Technological change biased towards skilled workers undermines the coalition between them and unskilled workers that provides the basis for union bargaining power, and the consequent decline in unionisation amplifies the rise in wage dispersion.
divide and conquer applied to the workforce on the part of management (as a proxy for capital)
[...] digital technology is becoming systematically important, much in the same way as finance. As the digital economy is an increasingly pervasive infrastructure for the contemporary economy, its collapse would be economically devastating. Lastly, because of its dynamism, the digital economy is presented as an ideal that can legitimate contemporary capitalism more broadly. The digital economy is becoming a hegemonic model: cities are to become smart, businesses must be disruptive, workers are to become flexible, and governments must be lean and intelligent. [...]
defining digital economy as underlying other industries that rely on IT
thus it's the most dynamic sector of the contemporary economy
[...] capitalism has turned to data as one way to maintain economic growth and vitality in the face of a sluggish production sector. [...]
think about this in the context of Immanuel Wallerstein's World-Systems theory & running out of markets to expand to
but this is just an easy temporary fix, akin to deleting a few stale keys in redis when you run out of memory (or actually that's not a good analogy--think of a better one)