Mitt, My Good Man





Romney: Rivals’ attacks a ‘good warm-up’

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Dearest Mitt . . .

I am unsure if we have had the pleasure of an in-person exchange.  I too travel in political circles.  However, I do not recall.  Perhaps we met in the past.  I trust I have done business with you and your firm, Bain Capital.  Bravo on your successes.

Please allow me to introduce myself by way of this letter.  This morning, I caught a glimpse of your Today Show interview with Matt Lauer.  I heard you speak of the exaggerated envy now heard on the campaign trail.  Oh, my friend Mitt, how I relate. If I might; well stated my man. People do want what they do not have. First Bain, then the White House.  Indeed, one Chief Executive position ensured that you were a world power.  The other is but a natural transition. Instead of having a seat at the table of global influence, as President of the United States, you, old man, will own the table.

I concur with the thought expressed in the title of a Wall Street Journal Mitt.  The Bain Capital Bonfire. Romney has a good story to tell, if he’s willing to tell it. Might you have read the account my friend?  The treatise speaks of the gains and losses, signature events in our glorious Capitalist system.  You know the tale dear Mitt and I trust you will articulate it well. I look forward to the day when you share it with me personally; perhaps, over dinner.  Until then, may I offer my own anecdote.  It speaks of why I do not envy you.

Mitt, my man, I am an extremely wealthy individual.  Granted, financially, I have had my share of ups and downs.  At birth, I was born into money.  My father, Michael, had been a very poor young man.  One of thirteen children, the son of first generation Americans, Michael had to work his way to the top.  

Michael enrolled in University. He may have been the first in his family.  He completed his degree in Accounting.  Michael sought and realized Certification.  Then, “visionary” that he was Michael opened his own business. The man was an expert at making money.  He made millions for his client and much for himself.  Ultimately, his firm grew and grew.  

At the time of my birth, my parents lived in a large house on a hill.  The estate was built only a year before.  “Mother” designed the private residence herself.  She chose the neighbor and the acreage.  It was a beautiful plot of land, rolling hills, a deep forest to roam through.  I used to  wander the woods for hours on end.

As a seedling, conceived in a Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite, you might correctly imagine that, as  a child, my clothes were all New York designer collections.  My backyard playground was furnished with the finest swing sets.  We had two.  Sliding boards, climbing bars, and seesaws as well.  Among my favorite toys was not a plaything at all.  Made of wood, large and spacious, a cabin graced the grounds.  Outside of my little log home was a sandbox.  The container for tiny grains did not sit on a lawn. No. the box was built deep into the soil. When I sat within, a portion of my body might appear buried below the surface of the land.  Did I mention the whirly-bird? Oh, Mitt, my life was a child’s delight . . . or so it might have appeared.

I trust any child would have been envious of me, all that I had, and did daily. We vacationed often. A skating weekend here, days away at a resort . . . Sun and fun. Snow and frolic.  ate at the best restaurants regularly. My “father” owned one, that is, in name only.  The Penthouse was an investment made on a client’s behalf.   Taxes, title exchanges. . . shelters and such.   I am sure you understand old man.

My Mom too lived a lovely life. She had no need to work.  Philanthropic endeavors were her want.  Dressed to the nines, she volunteered hither and yon.  At times, the women would play. Bowling. Cards. Shopping.  Mommy was active in many an organization.  Religious affiliations were a wondrous source of shared pleasure.  Father’s career was furthered through the associations.  Mother made friends with the women during daylight hours.  In the evening, the men would join their wives at a club.  On countless occasions, a bigger bash was planned.  

Often, my parents hosted these.  The best china, the finest crystal, and oh the food.  Catered gourmet delicacies filled every room.  As a tot, I would sneak out of my room and “steal” a snack. Sure to be noticed, I was met with a smile and “Is she not so cute?”

Cute? Charming? Endearing? So it might seem. Reason for envy? Absolutely!  That is, if it were true.  Yes, the tale is accurate.  The account is my life.  However, as blissful as it might sound, as beautiful as it might be or have been, it was not.  There were hidden hurts.  

I was a spoiled child. Not spoiled, overindulged or a tike with too much.  I had nothing! There was no love. My parents had no time for me. The two hired a woman to raise me before I was born.  I was given everything, anything my little heart desired, except a connection.  Try as I might, I could not bond with my parents.  I had elder sisters. However, they too abandoned me prior to my first appearance in their home.  

The pair was forever busy.  Each had friends who were surely more fun than a baby sibling.   Fine fabrics hung in their closets and were worn on their backs.  Their bedrooms were as full as their lives without me.  While it may seem that only I was unhappy in this home, in this family, at the age of eight and one half, I discovered the truth.

Ten days after my parents wedding anniversary, my Mom walked out!  I was eight.  My sisters were much older.  It was a Sunday. The five of us were it the same eatery we dined at each Sunday, just as we had for years.  We just ordered dinner when my eldest sibling asked for her allowance.  Mother said she could not have it until she cleaned her room.  Father, on the other hand, assured her she would never need to clean.  He would forever furnish her with a Maid and of course, her pocket money  

I will not bore you with the details or the drama, my friend.  Suffice to say, my mother looked across the table at her selfish children, her moneyed husband whose sincerest interest was to have more, and decided she wanted none of it.  Mommy rose from the table.  Walked towards the door and then, through it.  She left!  Stunned, the rest of us sat there for a minute.  I wonder; was my father thinking of the food that had yet to arrive, or . . .

I will never know. He never spoke to me much.  The next day he did tell us to clean our rooms. We did, but it was too late.  Mother was determined to make a life for herself and any of us who wished to join her.  For a time, there were two of us children.  My eldest sister and I elected to be with our Mom and her new husband, the man I finally felt I could call Dad.

While Mommy was awarded child support and alimony, she refused each.  Barbara wanted none of Michael’s “Dirty Money!” She had had enough of what she characterized as “ill gotten gains.”  That was the reason she chose to give it all up.  We moved to another State and to other than a wealthy suburb.  Our family of four lived a far different life than the one we had always known.  We were poor, dirt poor.

Living on $1500 a year . . . Yes, you read that right. Fifteen-hundred a year for a family of four.  Welfare knocked on our door and said, “You need to apply for financial assistance.  You are eligible.” However, my parents refused.  Mommy wanted no handouts.  Daddy yearned to make it on his, our own.  Mommy gardened.  Daddy did all our household repairs.  Logan returned to school and also worked for meager wages.  Mother too secured a position.  You might recall the once vibrant five and dime, W.T. Grant and Company. Mommy’s employee  discount helped.  The woman who for a score purchased her lingerie at Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bonwit Teller’s and other  exclusive establishments bought my first brassiere at Grant’s.

As a child in this newer reality, I was allowed one new outfit in the Fall of the year, for the first day of school and one in the Spring.  Chic, expensive, exceptional and elegant designs? Not anymore.  There were no dollars for such fabulous duds.  Next to nothing at little cost would have to do.  This was true in every aspect of life.

Mommy grew vegetables. Daddy helped.  All our produce was fresh grown.  Breads, pies, cakes and cookies all came out of the family oven.  Store bought goodies were a luxury we could not afford.  Later, Daddy took up fishing.  Even before that, all our entrees were prepared from scratch. Meals were a time for conversation and connections. At last, I was connected!!!!!  That is rich; a richness I envied whenever and wherever I saw it.  Ultimately, I had it! With not a dime to my name, I had love!  I was loved!!!!!!  Mitt, I trust you likely think you have love as well, and money, and that is the reason others feel envious.  Again, I relate to your reality my friend Mitt.

Over the years, wealth once again became part of my life, or perhaps more accurately, in my Mom’s life, by extension, I too had enough. The family moved to another magnificent house.  A panoramic window looked out onto the ocean. The neighbors were highly educated, esteemed, experts in their respective fields.  You know Mitt; they were our kind of people.

While our life was similar to what it was in earlier, years it was not as it had ever been. The difference; this time was our greenbacks were clean!  We laughed often at our lot in life as we do now upon reflection.  So my friend, I do not envy you.  I have and want not.  Oh certainly Mitt, I, as most humans might, enjoy nice “things.”  I acknowledge that is far easier when earnings are great.  However; while I never expected to quote Governor Rick Perry, in this moment I will.  “There is a real difference between Venture Capitalism and Vulture Capitalism.”  My personal experience Mitt is: A vulture capitalist eats children and families.  A venture capitalist feeds people so that they might prosper.  A free market Entrepreneur wishes to ensure that every person, one and all, have the earnings necessary to live well.

References and Resources . . .

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Consumer Confidence Rises; Democracy Declines



March 21, 2007: Benjamin Barber explains why consumer culture is bad for humanity

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Great News!  The good life will soon return to America.  Auspiciously, months before the holiday shopping season began, Americans were told that after more than a year of fiscal recession, or what some have characterized as akin to an economic depression, consumers were optimistic.  The confidence  index and other indicators were much improved.  Manufacturing executives assured the public, the engine that drives the free enterprise system was in a “sustainable recovery mode.” In the very near future, products, and people’s sense of need, would be fabricated again. Everything will be right with the world, economically.  Few feared the threat that, long ago, Americans had come to accept.   The foundation of a democratic system had eroded in favor of consumption.

Egalitarianism had been so swiftly and subtly replaced by free enterprise, only a small number observed what had occurred.  Mostly, Americans were out in the marketplace, the malls, or in the halls of their homes contemplating what else they might buy.  The Declaration of Independence, the document that calls for equality could not be seen amongst the clutter.  People in this Capitalist country do not necessarily ponder the contradiction.  Satisfied and secure in the belief “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  The purpose of government is to protect these rights.  Perhaps not, In the United States the population acts as though there are more important concerns to consider.  

Citizens are certain the core issue is, “How might I retain my right to buy goods and services?”

The oft-heard answer: manufacturing.  American industry and individuals must invent and invest in expansion.  The United States must produce products to sell.  People to serve the needs of purchasers are also indispensable. The need to fabricate an adequate supply, and the staff vital to support it, will increase employment.  Jobs will provide workers with greater purchasing power.  Expenditure will generate profits.  Proceeds provide a gain that can then be invested in manufacturing.  The only missing component in this cycle is perchance the most crucial, promotion.  In America, we, the people, have allowed our selves to be manufactured.  Citizens are no longer the government; they are customers.

Toddlers, teens, twenty, thirty and forty something’s are taught just as earlier generations were,  for an industrialized country to thrive consumers must “feel” confident.  An apprehensive public needs to be convinced it is safe and sane to buy.  Thus, patrons are told they can pay later.  No money need be placed down.  Credit can be arranged.  Long-term loans are available, and why not take advantage.  Americans have been given ample confirmation; debt will not destroy them or our “democracy.”

Besides, banks built empires on binge spending and received billions in bailouts.   The country and Capitalism did not collapse.  The economic crisis was but an ephemeral blip.

Fiscal institutions and  financial advisers assuage Americans; there is bad debt and good debt.  Borrowing has its benefits, a new sofa, a sweet set of wheels, and a sensational home.  Damn democracy, social equality, the homeless persons alongside the road, and those without health care coverage.  Full speed, or better said, a shopping spree ahead.

As a barrage of information built on the argument, the economy is stable, buyers began to believe.  Indeed, faith in the American free enterprise system was born long ago.

Birth of a Notion

Adam Smith introduced an idea. “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.” Later Economists expanded on and extrapolated from the original theory.  Then, early in the twentieth century, Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations maximized the maxim, much to the delight of American manufacturers., such as the architect of the assembly line, Henry Ford, and the originator of the premise, “planned obsolescence,” Alfred P. Sloan.

Together, this team of 20th century tycoons converted what had been the crawl, from a reluctant consumer, to an abundantly content and avid trot.  In America, babies were not born, shoppers were.  These gents understood that if companies were to create a commitment to covet, it would take time, talk, and constant titillation.  Consumers are as children.  Advertisers must hold the hand of potential customers. Marketers will teach them the lesson; what you think is only a want is truly a necessity.  

Radio and television broadcasters must also encourage expenditures.  Periodicals must print the message. Peers will surely support Capitalist principles, as will those Representatives who are well financed by free marketers.  “As consumption goes, so goes the American economy.”

Economic Expansion Energized

By Thanksgiving eve, with Black Friday just round the bend, bargain hunters had become sufficiently encouraged.  There were signs that consumers and the Commerce Department were sanguine.  Buoyed by the numbers the Labor Department released, retailers trusted there was reason for holiday cheer. “Unemployment benefits slid to 466,000 last week”, the lowest in more than a year, from 501,000 the prior week. It was the fourth straight weekly decline. The first time since January that claims dipped below 500,000.”

The evidence was in.  U.S. durable goods orders were up in August.  Granted, the government’s “cash-for-clunkers” program spurred consumers to spend more on major purchases. Similarly, the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers helped revitalize housing sales.  Nevertheless, what truly drove the American people was manufactured and purchased long ago.  Citizens are nothing but customers. The American people have come to resign themselves to a manufactured reality.  Government is not of, by, or for the people; it is the rival.  Today, the population professes, Administrations do not protect our rights.  The public protests.  Imposed rules and regulations deny the common folk their birthright to acquire.

History; Democracy on the Decline

It all began back in the day, in 1776, to be specific.   Not only did the acclaimed Adam Smith present his political economic essays in The Wealth of Nations, at the same time the American Declaration of Independence was signed, sealed, and delivered.  Author Adam Smith, the oft-acclaimed engineer of a free market system, or more fully his followers, gave birth to a notion that self-interest is a superior mission.   Hence, whilst our forefathers worked to give birth to a democratic nation, one in which egalitarian principles are prominent, those who espouse entrepreneurial ethics endeavored to ensure that free enterprise ruled.

Indeed, tis true; Adam Smith advocated for independent thought and actions.  He, however, was also a believer in the greater good.  He understood and advanced a need for government.  Yet, free-trade Economists such as David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, as well as tempter Edward Bernays, and tycoons Henry Ford, and Alfred P. Sloan promoted a further cultural shift.  Businesses must manufacturer consumers, and so they did.

Purveyors pursued the public.  People were persuaded to purchase.  The American populace became nothing but pawns.  The common folk are not forced to buy; they are only constantly coaxed to believe wants are needs.  Equal representation and freedom to choose has been converted to Capitalism.  Adults have been infantilized.  Mature Moms, Dads, men, and women say, “Give me.  Give me.  Give me.”

Shoppers Succumb. Economic Strength Expands Again

Buyers trust; they can have all they want.  Prosperity was the dream, the undertaking, and indeed, in America, affluence is the way of life.  We ponder it, produce it, and protect policies that will promote it.

Educated elders, Economists, and elected officials expound; if businesses are bestowed with the freedom to bring in new revenue, bliss will be ours today, tomorrow, and for time in eternity.

Wealth will be shared equally amongst all our citizens, or at least the opportunity to acquire; to aspire, to ascend, towards the American Dream will be possible.  We only need to begin to buy again.  Economic experts, just as everyday commoners trust in the Capitalist system of consumption, and why not.  In this country the constant refrain is “Capitalism is the worst economic system  . . . except for all the others that have been tried.”

With this thought in mind, it is easy to ignore history.  We need not reflect upon the seventeen recessions and world crises since The Great Depression.  In this North American continent, forever, we have faith; we are constantly “turning a corner” Perhaps we are.  Americans have moved back to the future.

Back to a Boom and Bust future

‘Without regard for the existing recession, nor the threat of a deeper Depression, citizens brush aside the words of woe and warning.  Mindful of the messages massaged by the powerful few, who control the media, the former Vice President Albert Gore observed television covers trivial excess.  In his latest book, The Assault on Reason, Mister Gore acknowledged American democracy “is in danger of being hollowed out,” as are the brains of buyers who know what they want.  Good news?

The summer doldrums gave way to greater news.   Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke affirmed there is raison d’être for bliss; “Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point.”  

Finally, Americans can muse once, twice, or thrice more; assembly lines with accolades to Henry Ford, will hum again.  The nation’s most powerful tool, mass manufacturing, will ensure near full employment. “Planned obsolescence,” a tribute to Alfred P. Sloan, will still serve as the old reliable economic engine.  The “need” for newer, better, or the best will bring mighty manufacturers new business. The time to consume is once again upon us.  

Indeed, Edward Bernays ensured that the free enterprise system would be easily assimilated.  Adam Smith while the originator of the theory did not implant the seed of shopping as well as later Economists did.   David Ricardo with assistance from John Start Mills enhanced, and would create an American culture of coveters.

In 2009, we witness the outcome.  As US Novelist William Faulkner observed  “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”  What was is ever-present in our lives.  

The economic downturn has required reflection.  Americans think to adopt a paradigm, which is difficult for those, accustomed to endless shopping sprees to accept, self-control, and a sense of being part of a broader society.  While from appearances, in the near term, it would seem the people have been easily able to reduce spending in truth, consumers lie in wait, hopeful that this recession too shall pass.

Economic Past is Ever Present

For a short while, Americans were given an opportunity to ponder the predicament, people began to save., The electorate believed that economic debt and emotional deficits could no longer be endured.  Fiscal frugality had become the favored fashion in America.  “Reluctance to spend became the legacy of the recession.”  Citizens said, countless decades of spending in excess of earnings must cease. Protests could be heard; government cannot continue to print more paper to cover corporate creditors arrears.  Our countrymen must no longer rely on credit.

During the height of the fiscal crisis, Americans looked to the country’s core value. Social equality, as delineated in the Declaration of Independence, was finally thought to be the more attractive commodity.  However, its appeal was short-lived.  Democracy could not compete with more tangible temptations. Ultimately, citizens, consumers, surrendered to their concrete desires.  

News reports served to reassure restless shoppers.  Advertisers did as well.  Earlier in the year, whilst mechanized factories stood silent and still, merchants remained hard at work, Businesses continued to manufacturer customers.  Commercials sustained America’s shared awareness. “Buy. Buy. Buy!”  The people confidently did.

Capitalism; The Credible Crucible

Indeed, for the first time since the recession began more businesses planned to hire workers rather than fire employees.  There seemed to be ample reason to hope.  

Some Economists stated there will be strong growth in 2010.  Existing Home Sales in the United States Jumped.  Prices fell. Home Depot announced profits were better than analyst estimates. Luxury retailer, Saks Fifth Avenue, whose clientele was once thought immune to severe recessionary slumps, beat the street.  All around, earnings were surprisingly strong.  Principles planted firmly in Americans’ collective consciousness assure us we will be fine.  

It is as Adam Smith proclaimed. The notion of the free enterprise system, works. Every individual is led by an invisible hand to achieve, and ,to do the best with his or her abilities. However, poverty is not necessarily reduced.  Prosperity does not consistently or evenly grow,  Innovation is and is not encouraged’ and social and moral progress is evident only for the elite and entrepreneurs.  

What is true, Statistics say one thing, citizens say another.

The numbers make obvious the need to save.  Nonetheless, consumers covet and cling to the idea that what they want is truly what they need .  Accolades to Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mills, and most assuredly to Henry Ford, Alfred P. Sloan, and the maestro Edward Bernays, the mastermind behind a Century of Self.

With thanks to these theorists and tycoons, consumers are happy to ignore Unemployment rates of 10.2 percent of Americans in October.  Certain that the economy will rebound, consumers will  just shop until they drop.

Black Friday, the holiday shopping season will be blissful.  Customers will remain confident and content.  All will be right with the world. Capitalism will be stable, secure, and the economic system of free enterprise will endure. Only the underlying principles of Democracy will be lost. What a small price to pay.

References for Recession and Reason . . .’

Capitalism; Dead, Alive, and Broken

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

For but a moment, whilst the Group of 20 [G20] met in London’s ancient financial capital, ,”The City,” the roars of remorse, could be heard.  Words of woe had been whispered in hushed tones for quite some time.  Scholars spoke of various possibilities on occasion.  Whether Senior Economic Fellows from various think-tanks thought a system to be dead, alive, or near doomed, there was perhaps a bit of agreement.  “I see what you mean.  It is broken,” Economist Mark Thoma mused more than a year ago.  

The public screamed out in pain for decades; however, few cared about the cries of countless common folks.  Those who argued against principles that place profits before people were easily ignored for they had no power and less influence.  Much to the chagrin of corporate titans, even Economists warned; this could be the end of Capitalism.  Yet, until early in the day, only weeks ago, no one paid much attention to what has become a customary declaration for everyday workers.  Morning has broken, and Capitalism is shattered as well.  

America adopted and advanced a system that was unsustainable..  More than once, “systemic failures” revealed the folly of free enterprise principles.  Nonetheless, worldwide people were convinced to purchase damaged goods and premises.  Yet, as Journalist Professor, Robert Jensen contends, “most notably those in the business world and their functionaries and apologists in the schools, universities, mass media, and mainstream politics” do not want to admit that this is so.

Wanted; Dead or Alive

The evidence is everywhere.  What was a question rarely uttered, “Is Capitalism Dead?” has become a statement, or perhaps the dream of those who have been severely affected by this most devastating downturn.

Wealthy watch breathlessly as stock markets crash.  Banks fail.  Blue Chip companies crumble.  Foreclosures flourish, and people, those once thought prosperous, pour out onto the avenue in search of a job, or some sense of stability.

Perhaps, that is why, average citizens felt a need to break the silence, to speak of the broken Capitalist system.  In the shadow of powerful and prosperous Presidents and Prime Ministers, who gathered together for the G20 Conference, 4,000 demonstrators pleaded, not for pity, but for relief from a fiscal system that requires poverty.  

Frustrated and forlorn by an attitude that fosters further advancement of free market principles, at least in the United Kingdom, dissenters shouted in disgust.  It would not be wise to work within an economic structure that changed the global culture in ways that ultimately brought international institutions down.  

On a fateful day, early in April a young girl in the crowd, Aeyla Windridge pleaded.  I want “the death of Capitalism.”  The twelve-year-old spoke to what Heads of State had not for centuries.  “Capitalism isn’t in crisis, capitalism is the crisis,” so said another activist.  

Recovery, Reinvestment, and Rescue

Few of the principal players, those who represented the twenty participant countries were willing, or able to acknowledge the free market theory is flawed.  Most of the prominent Heads of State were, and continue to be, content with sanguine assessments.  Up to 85 percent of global gross national product comes from the shores of but a score of countries.  Eighty [80] percent  of world trade comes from these territories.  Americans, who might be thought of as the authors of Capitalism, saw and see no reason to change the status quo, at least not substantially.

Borrow and spend had worked well in the past for the superpower, or so the US government attempted to advocate.  While the President poses this philosophy cannot stand, America must move away “from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest,” in the same breath, the Chief Executive who represents the country that gave birth to free enterprise, endorses the framework, just as those who preceded him did. (Please peruse the text What Ever Happened to Free Enterprise, By Ronald Reagan)

Capitalism, the Obama Administration states, was not the cause of the planet-wide monetary collapse.  Only greed, excesses, and a lack of regulations brought about the demise of the dollar, and the rate of exchange.  As he addressed other world leaders in attendance at the G20 Conference President Obama conceded, “the crisis began in the United States.  I take responsibility even if I wasn’t even president at the time.” However, Mister Obama contends all countries must be accountable for this massive macro-breakdown.  America’s Chief Executive proposes plans intended to strengthen a Capitalist structure.

In his April 4, 2009 Action to Address to the Global Economic Downturn, President Obama encouraged more regulations in an attempt to expand a consumer-based Capitalist theory.  With little regard for how the American way of life, which the President does not apologize for, cripples common, people throughout the world, Mister Obama declared.

“(W)e know that the success of America’s economy is inextricably linked to that of the global economy. If people in other countries cannot spend, that means they cannot buy the goods we produce here in America,  . . . if we continue to let banks and other financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, that affects institutions here at home as credit dries up, and people can’t get loans to buy a home or car, to run a small business or pay for college.

Ultimately, the only way out of a recession that is global in scope is with a response that is global in coordination.”

One is reminded of why, in earlier years, no one spoke vociferously of the crisis that is Capitalism.  Ordinary people were busy.  For centuries, regular folks worked day and night only to bring home a nominal paycheck.  Even in prosperous nations, people could barely afford to put food on the table.  People took trivial jobs just to secure shelter.  Millions felt forced to pursue professional paths that offer few rewards.  The only goal for the average Joe and Jane was to stay afloat.  Few have had the time or energy to protest their circumstances, or what the powers-that-be had and have imposed internationally.  Today, and in the past, worldwide economic slavery has sufficed.  That is until now.  

Lest the President and Prime Ministers elsewhere forget, in the States, and abroad, people are out of work.  The promise of an ownership society,where “people, from all walks of life,” would open the door of their private residence and say, “Welcome to my home” proved to be but a myth.  The pledge of plump stock portfolios for everyone through Capitalism was a claim never substantiated.  Contrary to the oft-voiced assurances, the American Dream could be achieved anywhere on Earth If people only invested in a free market economy, this current fiscal crisis has shown the world, words were but wishes promoted by the prosperous.

Regardless of how average people are punished by a fiscal formula that requires there be poor people, the current President intends to preserve the Capitalist principles that govern a global economy.  While Mister Obama may not profess a commitment to an “ownership society,” he too wishes to encourage people to possess what they cannot afford.  

Broken Beyond Benevolence

In contrast, more than a few Economists have begun to contemplate the wisdom of a system based on constant consumption.  Experts in monetary movements examine, What went wrong and, rather more importantly for the future, what did not. Other statistician who study the social science of fiscal affairs suggest there is ““Good Capitalism, (and) Bad Capitalism.”  Certainly, no matter the belief, with cause, “Capitalism is under fire.”  

William Pfaff, the author of eight books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history has pondered the depths of a paradigm profoundly broken. Mister Pfaff offers a perspective less limited than the simpler theories often presented by Administrations and Academics.  The  observer of intercontinental issues writes . . .

The essential question is, what capitalism are we talking about? Since the 1970s, two fundamental changes have been made in the leading (American) model of capitalism.

The first is that the “stakeholder,” post-New Deal reformed version of capitalism (in America) that prevailed in the West after World War II was replaced by a new model of corporate purpose and responsibility.

The earlier model said that corporations had a duty to ensure the well-being of employees, and an obligation to the community (chiefly but not exclusively fulfilled through corporate tax payments).

That model has been replaced by one in which corporation managers are responsible for creating short-term “value” for owners, as measured by stock valuation and quarterly dividends.

The practical result has been constant pressure to reduce wages and worker benefits (leading in some cases to theft of pensions and other crimes), and political lobbying and public persuasion to lower the corporate tax contribution to government finance and the public interest.

In short, the system in the advanced countries has been rejigged since the 1960s to take wealth from workers, and from the funding of government, and transfer it to stockholders and corporate executives.

There is ample evidence to support the author’s contention.  In 1970, the recipient of a Nobel Memorial Prize on Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman, encouraged an emphasis on corporate earnings. A culture that creates a vibrant community, Friedman insisted is counter to “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”

Decades later, his disciples of sorts, Presidents Ronald Reagan,  George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, each implemented plans that increased earned income for the influential and decreased available dollars for the already disadvantaged.  Policies designed to protect and promote an American entrepreneurial taxonomy, or Capitalistic interests, were proposed as a means to spread democracy.  Planet-wide, people and economic practices were transformed.

The second change that has taken place is globalization.  The crucial effect of this for society in the advanced countries is that it puts labor into competition with the poorest countries on earth.

We need go no further with what I realize is a very complex matter, other than to note the classical economist David Ricardo’s “iron law of wages,” which says that in conditions of wage competition and unlimited labor supply, wages will fall to just above subsistence.

There never before has been unlimited labor.  There is now, thanks to globalization – and the process has only begun.

The variance is vast.  Those who have possess so much.  The portion of population that owns little, have far less than even an average individual might imagine.  The wealthy cannot conceive of a life where food might be the most valuable commodity.  A world in which water is worth more than gold seems unthinkable to those who thrive in “civilized” communities,  Yet, this reality may come to towns in a Capitalist country.   Indeed, in some American communities, this truth appears today.

Nonetheless, agreements secured at the G20 summit ensure the adoption of a debt-driven American-style “democracy.”  An arrangement, in which all are not created equal, will continue to be the practiced and preferred economic system planet-wide.  People will once again forget assessments presented less than a decade ago.


Many of the radicals leading the protests may be on the political fringe.  But they have helped to kick-start a profound re-thinking  about globalization among governments, mainstream economists, and corporations that, until recently, was carried on mostly in obscure think tanks and academic seminars.

The reassessment is badly overdue.  In the late 20th century, global capitalism was pushed by leaps in technology, the failure of socialism, and East Asian’s seemingly miraculous success.  Now, it’s time to get realistic.  the plain truth is that market liberalization by itself does not lift all boats, and in some cases, it has caused damage to poor nations.  What’s more, there’s no point denying that multi-nationals have contributed to labor, environmental, and human rights abuses as they pursue profits around the globe . . .

(After a ten-year expansion of market capitalism around the world, as of the year 2000) The World Bank figures the number of people living on a $1 a day increased to 1.3 billion, over the past decade.

The extremes of global capitalism are astonishing . . .  If global capitalism’s flaws aren’t addressed, the backlash could grow more severe.

Indeed, the repercussions have been relentless.  Near a century of consumption, solely for the sake of profits, has weakened the world.  The current fiscal crisis reveals Capitalism was never the cure for what ails the people on this planet.  Persistent poverty, and the threat of increased insolvency, born out of a free enterprise system is an expense few, if any, can afford.  One need only look at Capitalism, and what it has wrought.  Acquisitive individuals may acknowledge one reaps what one sows.  Independently, or collectively, as a global community anyone might come to understand, “If my brother is poor, I/we too will suffer.  Ultimately, I/we will pay for the poverty I/we accept.”  

Without such a realization, and inspired by the spirit of an individualism that has flourished amongst free-marketers, people may, as President Obama proclaimed.  Worldwide, or here at home, we “want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that [has] been missing.”  However, it is not another glorious “morning in America.”  Nor is it a beautiful day in most neighborhoods.  Were the clouds to clear, globally people might avow, authentically, there need be an actual new dawn.  It is time to dream of economic structures that have never been.

The majorities in the States, and throughout the globe, are no longer silent.  Common folks have spoken.  Capitalism is broken.  It is not wanted, dead or alive.

Sources for economic and empathetic structures . . .

War of Words. Bloggers, Broadcasters, Rappers Code of Ethics


Oprah on Imus (Public forum with Russell and others) 2

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
In this tome, I am not advocating autocratic censorship.  I ask each of us to look within and consciously choose an empathetic ethical code.

“There is a problem.”  However, Americans do not agree what the problem is.  Sexism, racism, homophobia, violence, or the words we use to promote such social ills.  For weeks, language has been in the news, on the blogs, in the airwaves, and in music-industry executives meeting rooms.  Free speech is the topic in question, as is the power of words.  As children, we learned that “Sticks and stones may break our bones; but names will never hurt me.”  In fact, the opposite is true.  Words and the inferences can cause greater, and more last injuries than twigs or rocks might.  The body heals far better than the heart does.

After receiving numerous death threats, blogger Kathy Sierra called on the blogosphere to confront the culture of cruelty in cyberspace.  This active author and public speaker, fears for her life.  Missus Sierra recently canceled public speaking engagements and suspended her site.  On her weblog, Kathy Sierra writes . . .

If you want to do something about it, do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence).  Do not put these people on a pedestal.  Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary,” “protected speech,” or simply “criticism.” 

For weeks, Missus Sierra has been immobilized.  After becoming the focus of ample threats, inclusive of a post that featured a picture of her next to a noose, she stated . . .

“I have cancelled all speaking engagements.  I am afraid to leave my yard, I will never feel the same.  I will never be the same.” 

The police are investigating the harassment and the blogosphere is blazing.  Discussions of how women are treated online are fueling a fire.  While, on her own site, Creating Passionate Users, Kathy Sierra receives much support, there are those that think her call for civility and courtesy is ridiculous.

In Death threats and blogging, by the famous Kos condemnation of a proposed code was evident.

[T]he rantings of a lunatic. For my part, I’ve gotten my fair share of such vile emails.  Some of them have threatened my children.  One or two actually crossed the line into “death threat” territory.  But so what?  It’s not as if those cowards will actually act on their threats.  For better or for worse, this isn’t a country in which media figures — even hugely controversial ones — are routinely attacked by anything more dangerous than a cream pie.

Email makes it easy for stupid people to send stupid emails to public figures.  If they can’t handle a little heat in their email inbox, then really, they should try another line of work.  Because no “blogger code of conduct” will scare away psycho losers with access to email.

This dictum on Daily Kos was posted on April 12, days before an angry aggressor, Cho Seung-Hui avenged those he loathed at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  The shooter’s rants were his truth.  His threats proved to be powerful.  Cho Seung-Hui may not have sent his last package in a timely manner.  Nevertheless, he did warn and alarm many years before he carried out this horrific and planned deed.

Words can be wicked.  They are often used as weapons.  Expressions wound a heart and soul; they hurt.  Yet, we excuse these repeatedly.  Mel Gibson declared, “I am not anti Semitic” after a tirade that was terribly intolerant.  This was not the Directors first show of fury against Jews.  Nevertheless, it was excused.  It did promote momentary concerns.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Gibson’s apology “unremorseful and insufficient.”  Prominent Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel called for an industry boycott of Gibson in a blog posted Monday.

“At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements,” he wrote.  “People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.

“There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money.” 

Nonetheless, money ruled.  His next movie “Apocalypto,” distributed by The Walt Disney Company received rave reviews, even from periodicals that some consider Progressive.  The almighty buck may not reduce bigotry.  Actually, it may help to create it.

In recent years, [Mel Gibson] has turned his attention to producing films and TV shows through his Icon Productions.  The hundreds of millions of dollars he made producing the 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” has given the star the ability to finance his own films, giving him a measure of independence from the major studios.

Some “artists” using racial slurs make millions.  They defend their right to do so.  Many or most apologize.  However, there is skepticism.  Why are they contrite.  Can a heart change in a moment or is cash their concern. 

When Michael Richards railed against Blacks in his audience, he was quite impassioned.  His “hate speak” seemed infinitely sincere.  Smears spewed; slights slammed, all said with sincerity.  These affronts fell trippingly off his tongue.  The comedian apologized while explaining, “I am not a racist.”  The response was “Really?”  It is difficult to know whether Michael Richards has or will recover from such a blunder or the unbelievable statement, “I’m not a racist, that’s what’s so insane about this.”

Will Don Imus be deeply effected by his debacle?  The debate continues.  Again, cash was cut off, at least temporarily.  Imus was apologetic and ashamed, perchance more so after advertisers raised the volume on this discussion.  Ultimately Don Imus lost his battle.  The major television and radio networks that carried the Don Imus Show felt they could no longer support him.  The load was too great; the rewards realized too little.  Don Imus had become a distraction.

Executives at CBS and MSNBC saw where the numbers were heading.  They may well have been genuinely disgusted by Imus’ reference to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos,” but their decision to dump him had little to do with moral outrage.  They simply did the math.  They’ll miss the millions they would have earned from Imus’ show, but they stood to lose even more if they let him stay on the air, and so he was toast.

Free speech, meet free enterprise.

However, unlike Don Imus who justifies his antics as comedy, and whose money is or was tied to corporate sponsors, there are the rappers.  They too are coming under attack.

For political prominents, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Bruce Gordon enough is enough.  These gentlemen want the smears to end.  These Black leaders think even Black on Black rubs need to be eliminated from our common language.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Racism, bigotry, and misogyny cannot be defined differently depending on who exhibits such behavior.  Reverend Al Sharpton is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to punish artists and announcers alike for advocating violence in word and deed. 

In 2005, this issue was fresh and addressed.  Then, a  member of rap group, The Game was wounded during a shooting outside a New York hip-hop radio station.  The cause was clear; another hip-hopper, 50 Cent was on the air criticizing The Game.  Tempers flared.  The effect of word weaponry was realized.  The rest is rap or American history.  After this volatile event, civil rights leader Al Sharpton . . .

The founder of the National Action Network emphasized in the letter: “We cannot sit silently by while young Americans feel that shootings and bloodshed is now synonymous with success and celebrity.  We understand you’re in the business of making money, but it cannot be at the expense of polluting the cultural outlook of young Americans.”

However, two years later, rappers again speak to their creativity, just cause, and the need to communicate their concerns.

Rappers reason they are poets; they please the people.  Although admittedly, not all the people.  The recent allegations of racial and misogynistic rhetoric against Don Imus amplified a too often delayed or dissuaded discussion.  Is it proper to demean women or people of other ethnicities.  Might a poet use his or her artistic licenses?  Is it just when an performer uses racial slurs, or vile vernacular against one of their own?  Today, USA Today reported . . .

Imus fallout: Music execs discuss rap lyrics

NEW YORK (AP) – In the wake of Don Imus’ firing for his on-air slur about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, a high-powered group of music-industry executives met privately Wednesday to discuss sexist and misogynistic rap lyrics.

During the furor that led to Imus’ fall last week from his talk-radio perch, many of his critics carped as well about offensive language in rap music.

The meeting, called by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, was held at the New York home of Lyor Cohen, chairman, and chief executive of U.S. music at Warner Music Group.  The summit, which lasted several hours, did not result in any specific initiative.

Organizers billed the gathering as a forum to “discuss issues challenging the industry in the wake of controversy surrounding hip-hop and the First Amendment.”  Afterward, they planned to hold a news conference at a Manhattan hotel to discuss “initiatives agreed upon at the meeting.”  But by early afternoon, the news conference was postponed, because the meeting was still going on.

After the meeting ended, it was unclear whether there would be another one.  Simmons’ publicist released a short statement that described the topic as a “complex issue that involves gender, race, culture and artistic expression.  Everyone assembled today takes this issue very seriously.”

Although no recommendations emerged, the gathering was significant for its who’s-who list of powerful music executives.

Again, we stand still.  Money moves mountains; yet, capital does not necessarily change minds.  We think, and act on our beliefs.  When people profess their deepest, darkest chauvinistic values, spirits are often broken.  Lives can be lost.

Rappers know this as do bloggers.  Suffering students are realizing that words, written or spoken cannot be ignored.  The common folk and tycoons agree; yet, they disagree.  This is evident when we listen to recent Oprah Winfrey town-hall meeting.  Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of Hip-Hop Summit Action Network stated his beliefs . . .

“We’re talking about a lot of these artists who come from the most extreme cases of poverty and ignorance … And when they write a song, and they write it from their heart, and they’re not educated, and they don’t believe there’s opportunity, they have a right, they have a right to say what’s on their mind,” he said.

“Whether it’s our sexism, our racism, our homophobia or our violence, the hip-hop community sometimes can be a good mirror of our dirt and sometimes the dirt that we try to cover up,” Simmons said.  “Pointing at the conditions that create these words from the rappers … should be our No. 1 concern.”

I wonder; might our number one concern be the hearts and minds of all humans, men, women, Black, White, Yellow, Brown, Red, and Jew, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians too.  Whether we are born in poverty or into wealth, we are human.  We hurt; we bleed.  We can love; however, as long as our language degrades another, love will not survive.  Perhaps, neither will we.  I am reminded of the phrase, “race riots,” or “the war against women.”  I fear the folly of expressing emotions in a manner that kills heart, mind, body, or soul.  I prefer the words, “May peace be with you my brother and my sister.”

For me, a code of ethics need not be written or etched in stone; it must be lived because we believe in love, peace, and tranquility. 

The Rap and Resources . . .

  • Blog death threats spark debate.  BBC News. March 27, 2007
  • Death threats and blogging, By Kos.  Daily Kos. April 12, 2007
  • Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks cited in official police report, By Jeremiah Marquez.  Associated Press.  SFGate.  July 31, 2006
  • Daily Kos
  • Imus fallout: Music execs discuss rap lyrics  USA Today. April 18, 2007
  • Officials Knew Troubled State of Killer in ’05, By Shaila Dewan and Marc Santora.  The New York Times. April 18, 2007
  • pdf Officials Knew Troubled State of Killer in ’05, By Shaila Dewan and Marc Santora.  The New York Times. April 18, 2007
  • Apocalypto, By Peter Travers.  Rolling Stone.  November 21, 2006
  • Jews, Mel Gibson, War. Rehabilitating Hatred, By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org
  • Sharpton Asks FCC to Regulate Rap By Tracy L. Scott.  Free Press. March 25, 2007
  • Rev. Al Sharpton asks FCC to punish violent rappers.  Jet. April 11, 2005
  • Oprah on Imus (Public forum with Russell and others) 2  YouTube.
  • ‘Kramer’ Apologizes, Says He’s Not Racist. CBS News. November 21, 2006
  • 32 killed in gun rampage at Virginia university, By John M. Broder. International Herald Tribune. April 16, 2007
  • Imus vs. free enterprise, By Kevin Nance.  Chicago Sun-Times.  April 17, 2007
  • pdf Imus vs. free enterprise, By Kevin Nance.  Chicago Sun-Times.  April 17, 2007
  • Sharpton complains to FCC about rap music.  USA Today. March 25, 2005
  • National Action Network (NAN).