My car is festooned with bumper stickers. Some favorites include “Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers”, “Alternative Energy is Homeland Security” and “These Colors Don’t Run… the World”. This last one in particular seems to provoke the ire of right wingers.
Recently I picked up a new deer rifle at a local sporting goods store. As I returned to my car, I found a note on the windshield that said “Expletive you and your Expletive Commie Bumper Stickers”. It also had a rather fetching smiley face drawn at the bottom as a lovely coda.
Sure, ‘Commie’ is one of those all-purpose epithets that has essentially lost all meaning to most who wield it, but since I’d just seen Michael Moore’s film about Capitalism, I began to wonder, am I a Commie?
With apologies to Michael Moore, I think I’m actually a bit of a Capitalist. Certainly, I do not believe in an equal share of wealth for everyone. For example, I do not believe that a lazy person deserves my standard of living.
I also believe that this thing called the ‘profit motive’ which Moore seems to find distasteful, obviously works. One has only to look at China and Russia: when their collective farms were given the opportunity to sell some of their harvest on the open market and keep the profit, giving them a direct incentive to work harder, their production soared.
This is human nature. In fact, when you take studies of such diverse animals as chimps and macaws into account, one might even make a case that it’s a near universal natural law of social economy, replete with ancillary laws such as ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’.
I believe in a meritocracy. You work hard, you contribute; you live better. You’re lazy, shirk your duty, you live worse. And I believe in private property. I’m hardly a ‘Commie’.
But that doesn’t mean I believe in the greedy, self-destructive form of Capitalism we have today. Our current system is like a snake eating its own tail. It is so obsessed with short-term profit that it is actively consuming itself.
The environment is despoiled for short term gain. Dishonesty and poor workmanship are rewarded for those well-connected. And most alarming, human capital – the experience and skills of innumerable workers, is squandered and often thrown away like scrap iron.
And, because the true cost some commodities, like coal and nuclear power, are not rolled into their market value, they remain artificially cheap when compared to more environmentally benign technologies like solar and wind.
The system is rigged. It’s not a free-market at all. It’s not true capitalism. It is, indeed, a bit closer to the tenets of fascism, which might be paraphrased a bit like ‘what’s good for business is good for America’. That, assumes, of course, that this thing we call business, has America’s best interests at heart. It doesn’t. Corporations are soul-less creations with no morality and only one imperative: make a profit at all costs. If a human were so constructed, he’d be called a dangerous psychopath.
Instead of free market Capitalism, we have the worst of both worlds: a largely unregulated economic system that rewards greed, human degradation and environmental destruction, and a nice safe back-door policy that has made sure, since at least the 1880’s, that the truly huge players are protected from their own recklessness.
The irony is that if we lived in an actual laissez faire Capitalist system, while many things would be worse, there would also be no bailouts, no ‘too big to fail’.
Halliburton would go broke because their shoddy construction that electrocutes troops and their vastly overpriced consulting fees would fail in a truly free market.
No bid government contracts would cease to exist.
Large banks and brokerage houses that took daredevil risks with their investments would go bust, probably triggering a vast meltdown as their underwriters, like Goldman Sacks, also failed.
In a true ‘free market’, who you know, and who you contributed campaign dollars and other forms of bribery to, wouldn’t matter; which is, of course, why the idea of a true ‘free market economy’ is a total fiction. We are chattel, bought and paid for by transnational corporations just like coal or soybeans. There’s nothing ‘free’ about it.