The Providence Journal regularly publishes the syndicated column of University of Maryland business professor Peter Morici. His columns are regularly filed with right wing propaganda touting the miracles of capitalism. The one published on January 4, 2018 is called “America on the cusp of a Golden Age”. He begins with the idea that low oil prices are a boon for America, as the days of fossil fuel powered autos are numbered due to the rise of electric cars and that wind and solar will fuel the electricity markets of the future, so the drill baby drill folks can export oil which will create millions of jobs. Of course as is typical of those in his line of work, he can only think of selling without reckoning in the costs of climate change and the wars for oil. And if everyone is getting off oil, including China, who is the oil going to be sold to? Nor does he account for the fact that globally economic growth rates are sinking in almost every country except the very poorest.
Morici, who reminds me of “The Island of Dr Moreau” then discusses how cheap money will fuel the rise of giant corporations and make it easier to start giant corporations. Of course Paul Krugman recently reminded us that with money so cheap, the next time we hit an economic snag, a kink in the oil markets, a war in Asia, a mortgage meltdown, or any of a number of other potential economic slowdown scenarios, the fact that money is so cheap, interests rates so low, means that governments will have very few tools available to pull us out of a recession, except maybe doing actual public works on infrastructure and parks, which is anathema to someone like Morici. But due to a variety of crazy things like tax cuts for billionaires, offshoring, and automation, large corporations have record profits, even as millions drop out of the job markets, so let the good times roll.
He follows this up with a statement on how automation means that paying labor is no longer an impediment to capital accumulation and therefore his buddies, the rich, will grow and grow their fortunes despite the fact that many workers will be displaced and there is no real effort to retrain workers since there will be no jobs for them anyways. His solution is that we can genetically alter and electronically program all the poor folks on the planet to be geniuses and then we can train them with the techniques shown to us in “The Matrix” for all the jobs that have been eliminated by automation. This one I really do not get.
His comments on how great the advances in health care, such as genetically altering folks to cure diseases can help folks have some slight connection to reality, but he neglects to discuss how anyone other than the already very wealthy will be able to afford any of these treatments that cost $300000 a dose. If the people/government received royalties for all the advances that were funded by government grants and we had a single payer health care system that covered everyone, maybe his comments would resemble reality, but alas.
He finishes his op-ed with some grammatically challenged sentences about the evolution of humans and how new advances will create a highly modified species that will live more productive and satisfying lives, but he neglects to mention how this will help people like the Rohingya and all of the people suffering from climate change, American fueled wars, pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, our dying oceans, and the collapse of ecosystems that threatens livelihoods around the world.
Morici lives in a fantasy world. All of his work is based on the idea that resources are unlimited and the laws of physics irrelevant. That we are not being bankrupted by pursuing endless wars, and that the US is seen as a force for good in the world, not the worst rogue state in the history of the planet, despite the fact that a homicidal rogue is actually how we are viewed. Our government has killed people in at least 76 different countries this year and threatened countless more (according to Brown University’s project on The Costs of War the Pentagon does not know/will not tell Congress the location of at least 44,000 American military personnel so who really knows how many places Americans are killing folks).
Morici usually at least writes reasonably clearly, even if most of it is rich folks propaganda, but the garbled writings in the January 4 column make me wonder whether he has simply run out of things to say or is becoming ever more unhinged from reality. But I do know that the Providence Journal continuing to publish his propaganda does not actually contribute to the public debate in Rhode Island, only the power of the rich to prevent progress.