The Dalles Aid for capitalism
To the editor:
Although not a socialist myself, I am happy to learn that Seattle voters elected Socialist candidate Kshama Sawant to City Council two weeks ago. There are three reasons for my praise:
The first is called “crisis theory.” If there is one thing Karl Marx was correct about, it was that too much wage stagnation and rising inequality eventually leads to lagging consumer demand. Consumer credit and home equity loans can artificially prop up demand for a while, but in our case it all came to an end in the horrific crisis of 2008.
Sawant understands that low wages are at the root of our problems, which is why she is putting minimum wages and workers’ organizing rights at the top of her agenda.
The difference between Sawant and myself? While she sees such reforms as a stepping-stone to socialism, I see them as a time-proven tool for saving capitalism by curbing its excesses.
A second reason Sawant’s victory is good is that having bona fide socialist politicians in office makes it easier for the non-socialist left to promote its own less radical ideas, without being publicly harassed and labeled as Marxists by the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins of the world. Their ‘Red Scare’ political tactics are completely unacceptable in an honest debate, and this kind of spectacular backfire may be the hard, tough lesson they need to learn.
Finally, Sawant’s proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15/hour may help to finally shed light on the question economists have long fought over: how far can you raise the minimum wage before negative side effects become a significant problem?
So while I disagree with Sawant as to how profound a change in the economic system I want, I nonetheless think her victory is good for both Seattle and the United States.