The Dallas newspaper is a good source for finding out about capitalist thinking. Columnist Jim Landers published "To create jobs, beat the world in manufacturing, expert says," on 12/13/11. He interviewed think tank guru Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and concludes that the main problem with the U.S. economy is "...we’ve lost our competitive edge in the international economy, particularly in manufacturing."
Atkinson is right, as far as it goes, but his prescriptions are just what you would imagine: “We have got to really seriously cut entitlements,” He said. “Raise the retirement age. Tell federal retirees they’re not going to get their pensions early. Raise taxes on Social Security, and index Social Security cost-of-living increases to inflation and not to wages.”
In other words, the way for America's capitalists to "regain competitiveness" in manufacturing is to cut the costs associated with the upkeep of America's workers. They are particularly interested, at this point, in chopping the very vulnerable older population, because they see older people as the easiest targets. But everybody will get their turn as the American austerity program, like those in Europe and virtually every industrialized nation, proceeds.
What Landers doesn't ask and Atkinson doesn't say is that the entire capitalist world has exactly the same problem and is seeking exactly the same solutions. The "winner" of this macabre race to the bottom will be the first capitalist nation to drive its population to the lowest subsistence level, or temporarily beyond. To be more precise, what they are trying to do is increase their rate of exploitation, and they can never get enough!
None of this is actually new, but our use of historical materialism helps us view today's situation as a moving part of history coming from the past, when the United States had virtually the only manufacturing capacity to survive World War II, to the future when the other capitalist countries are more than competitive. In fact, those countries that are defying their capitalists and using national planning are the only countries to escape this particular crisis.
So far, the world's capitalists are doing an amazing job of lowering their costs. Some European countries are already on their 2nd or 3rd round of new austerity programs. The United States hardly ever uses the word "austerity" in talking about their own policies, but they are nevertheless doing a tremendous job of it. The 11/15/11 Dallas newspaper reports in "Record 48 percent considered low-income" by Associated Press that "...a record number of Americans -- nearly one in two -- have fallen into poverty or are scrapping by on earnings that classify them as low-income." They have driven almost half the population into near-poverty in the richest country in the world! At the same time, the capitalists have profited more than ever. The same 11/15/11 newspaper reports, "Tax on wealthy may die" because Congress couldn't muster the votes to make the billionaires pay for even an infinitestimal part of the crisis.
In spite of all the capitalist efforts to delude us, Americans are increasingly aware of what's being done to us and who is doing it. They are beginning to ask, "Do we really have to accept these problems and these solutions within the framework that capitalists created? Why do the 1% get to do all the collecting and the 99% have to do all the paying? Isn't there a better way to run an economy?"
There certainly is.