This is a failure of our basic institutions of production. The job of the market is to bring together willing buyers with willing sellers in order to produce value. This is not happening and as a result literally trillions of dollars in value are not being produced.When people say that the job, purpose, goal, intent, etc. of something is to do something entirely different and often at near total odds with what it actually does, because someone once proclaimed these unsubstantiated and never-happening outcomes to be the job, purpose, goal, intent, etc., it calls into question their analytic framework. When someone says that the drug war is a failure because instead of stopping drug use, it destabilizes narco-producing regions of the world, brutalizes the underclass, perpetuates inequality, and foments the expansion of the police-prison state, then that person has mistaken a slogan for a product. When someone muses that our "strategy" in Iraq or Afghanistan is a failure because it is not producing "a durable, non-violent resolution to . . . political conflicts", then that person is a fool. And when someone says that late, post-industrial capitalism fails to "bring together willing buyers with willing sellers in order to produce value," then I wonder in what idealized world of pure form and meaning has this man been living, because obviously, if you consider the current American economy and the global system in which it is embedded, the production of "value" is incidental to the continued concentration of material wealth and political influence. That is the point. It isn't a failure of the system. It is the system. You can look at America and say:
Let me say that again because I think it fails to sink in – literally trillions of dollars in value are not being produced. Not misallocated. Not spent on programs you don’t approve of or distributed in tax cuts you don’t like. Trillions of dollars in value are not produced at all. Gone from the world entirely. Never to be had, by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Pure unadulterated loss.
-Karl Smith of Modeled Behaviors
We have very low capacity utilization (75%) and very high unemployment (10%).And you can be very worried and confused by this. It might strike you as unsustainable. Politically destabilizing. Socially disloacting. Deeply inequitable. Harmful to the long-term project of republican governance.
That is, we have factories sitting idle for lack of workers – low capacity utilization. At the same time we have workers sitting idle for lack of factories – high unemployment.
There are machines waiting to be worked and people waiting to work them but they are not getting together. The labor market is failing to clear.
Which, I'd say, is precisely the point. Cui bono, motherfuckers? Last time I checked, there were still some fuckers getting rich. Meanwhile, the American citizen is increasingly a cash-poor, at-will worker whose docility is enforced by his total dependence on the whims and good will of his employer. Capitalism! Ain't it grand?