If we are going to bail out Wall Street, it should be those people who have caused the problem, those people who have benefited from Bush’s tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, those people who have taken advantage of deregulation, those people are the people who should pick up the tab, and not ordinary working people. I introduced an amendment which gave the Senate a very clear choice. We can pay for this bailout of Wall Street by asking people all across this country, small businesses on Main Street, homeowners on Maple Street, elderly couples on Oak Street, college students on Campus Avenue, working families on Sunrise Lane, we can ask them to pay for this bailout. That is one way we can go. Or, we can ask the people who have gained the most from the spasm of greed, the people whose incomes have been soaring under President Bush, to pick up the tab.
They chose the latter I mean former, somewhat unsurprisingly. As Barbara Ehrenreich notes, the Communist Manifesto just turned 160. I remember its 150th birthday. The crisis then afflicting capitalism (remind me what it was again) had produced admiring commentary on Marx’s text from banking executives and captains of industry. Well, looking at what’s happening in America at the minute, the word ‘gravedigger’ sprung to mind:
The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
Just as you can have free market advocates rehearsing arguments, in light of the current crisis, that the fundamental reason is that markets are not free enough, you could argue that Marx’s rather upbeat prediction here (in part intended to scare the crap out of the bourgeoisie, of course) is essentially correct, but that the bourgeoisie is still in the process of perfecting its grave-diggers. Well, I don’t know (de omnibus dubitandum, etc): if this is the case, I think they’ve still got a lot of work to do – a couple of centuries is a long time to be working on a project, so expectations should be realistic with regard to an end date. But the Wall Street bailout appears to indicate that there’s been some progress on the training component, in particular the rather thorny task of laying bare the internal contradictions of capitalism.