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 Showinterview 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.
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.
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.
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 Capitalismisshattered 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  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.
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.
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 . . .
“Now, that doesn’t mean that questions of Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, the whole range of challenges that we often engage on with the Chinese, are not part of the agenda. But we pretty much know what they are going to say. We have to continue to press them but our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crises.
The news appeared in cyberspace on Friday, February 20, 2009. As Yogi Berra once elucidated, it was as déjà vu, all over again. International and domestic activists have come to realize, once again, America is a democracy dependent on dollars. Amnesty International advocates shook their heads, wondered, and worried of what might be. Students for a Free Tibet collectively shrugged their shoulders and expressed a shared distress. Citizens at home, in America, barely blinked. An avid Obama supporter, was resigned to realities that, only weeks ago, she might not have thought she would willingly accept. Moneybag democracy lives. Hillary Clinton serves the President, the precedent past, present, and perhaps, future.
Days ago, with Secretary of State Clinton abroad in China, the world was given an opportunity to witness America’s new direction. Most anticipated dollars would no longer have a greater influence on United States policy than humanitarian concerns did. Globally, people waited to cheer for the change that had certainly come. Then, Secretary Clinton, pleaded with Beijing to buy United States bonds. Contrary to her pointed comments on human rights, made during her presidential campaign, as a representative of the Obama Administration, Secretary Clinton spoke as though she no longer believes as she had, Chinese ownership of US government debt had become a threat to national security.
Perhaps, Hillary Clinton, and her President, surmised Capitalism, or a democracy devoted to dollars must survive at all cost. Certainly her husband, and his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright had reached this conclusion near a decade earlier.
Like Secretary Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, chose to sell America’s soul. When the first woman Head of State spoke of her decision, few United States citizens said a word. In the 1990s, then Head of State, Albright, in a 60 Minutes interview, discussed the American policy decisions that caused the deaths of more than half-million Arab children in Iraq. She said without hesitation, the loss of young lives were the price the Clinton Administration thought wise to pay. Madeline Albright mused; the sacrifice of little ones was “worth it.”
Hardships on fellow humans are the cost citizens in a comfortable and “civilized” society must pay for democracy. Apparently, Americans, even the most Progressive amongst us, seem to agree. Then, as now, few if any said a word.
Today when news came over the wires, Secretary Clinton stood firm in favor of economic relations with China, regardless of human rights violations, only a few countrymen responded. Activists were ‘shocked’ when they heard the American Ambassador, Clinton, take such a stance. Representatives from Amnesty International and Students for a Free Tibet spoke out.
T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was “shocked and extremely disappointed” by Secretary Clinton’s comment. The advocate for honorable and equitable civil liberties may have trusted that at least where China was concerned, the Clinton’s had a record, or at any rate, had offered respectable rhetoric.
James Mann, a Johns Hopkins scholar who wrote a history of U.S.-China relations, also recalled. When asked of Secretary Clinton’s most recent comment, Professor Mann stated he was struck by the contrast. Bill Clinton, he said, as president more than eight years earlier gave strong speeches on behalf of political freedom in the People’s Republic. “Bill Clinton told the leader of China he was on ‘the wrong side of history,'” Mann recollected. “Now, Hillary seems to be giving them the reverse message: that China is on the right side of history.”
However, historians might consider the statement that President Bill Clinton is better known for was his truer agenda. “It is the economy stu***!” In March of 1997, writer for China Daily, Ren Yanshi avowed the Chinese government certainly perceived the United States had a record of human rights violations, during the Clinton years. In a “Moneybag Democracy,” the United States of America caters only to the rich. In the States, a consumer culture allows the prosperous to profit further. The people, the poor suffer greatly.
In recent years, as the rich got much richer, this truth was revealed in radical ways. The word “Katrina” evokes much empathy. “Bank bailouts elicit more emotions within the ranks of what once was the Middle Class. Some might say, these truths are the reason that change has finally come to America. Until today, the thought was coins and currency would no longer guide an Administration or US policy. Barack Obama brought hope to the world.
Students for a Free Tibet embraced the new Administration. They believed the current White House could and would make a difference in the lives of all people. Surely, a President Obama would not serve only the affluent.
As a Senator, Barack Obama was among the sponsors of the act, which bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on the Dalai Lama. Senator Obama urged Chinese president Hu Jintao to “meaningfully address the Tibet issue.” After the election, Tibetans were encouraged. They sent President Obama letters of Congratulations. Thus, it was an unexpected and an unwanted surprise to hear Secretary Clinton cavort, cajole, and say as she did. The proponents of social justice stated, Clinton’s remarks “sent the wrong signal to China at a sensitive time.”
“The US government cannot afford to let Beijing set the agenda,” said Tenzin Dorjee, deputy director of the New York-based advocacy group.
Long-time activists, domestic supporters of Barack Obama, persons such as Jessica, see Secretary Clinton’s statement differently. This woman who energetically endorsed Barack Obama from the moment he announced his campaign would have welcomed a more mindful position. She yearns for United States policy to be benevolent as she believes Barack Obama, the man, is. Jessica, who organized her community to come out and work for what she craved, an Obama White House, now thinks America cannot “afford” to do other than cater to the wishes of the Chinese government.
A jubilant Jessica has been joyful since her presidential candidate was chosen to serve. She avows; “Unfortunately, due to our greed, China owns us. If they pulled their money, this country would die. Sad fact but true.”
American lives would be lost if foreign affairs focus on humanitarian concerns in China. There can be nothing worse. Who would buy the wares that please the people in the States, or Jessica might say, in her own defense, furnish jobs for those born in the Far Eastern nation. The argument could be made; and certainly, descendants of Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton, would be the first to offer it. US dollars support a much-improved Chinese culture.
George W. Bush might have mused the latter claim an important one. Perchance, that is why the former President chose to attend the 2008 Summer Olympics. United States indebtedness served to justify relations with China, a country well-known for human rights violations. The desire to feed a Capitalist market, the need to assuage the hunger of citizens who habitually consume on credit, and a country famished for cash, will do all that they can to appease those who beat and brutalize Chinese citizens.
The people of China, many Americans cried at the time, cannot be punished because they live under totalitarian rule. Nor can US athletes be penalized. Cruel and inhumane treatment is not acceptable, or at least it would not have been months ago, to Jessica who did all she could to help place the now President, Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
In primary season, Jessica stood staunchly against what she then thought were Hillary Clinton’s hawkish views. She, might have agreed with essayist Stephen Zunes when he wrote for the Foreign Policy in Focus on December 11, 2007, “(F)ront-runner for the Democratic nomination for president shares much of President Bush’s dangerous attitudes toward international law and human rights.”
Nonetheless, today, Jessica, the proud Progressive, a self-identified peace lover offers, “If there is no money, people will die. Fact. I hate it (almost) as much [as an idealist would.] I also agree we are a soul-less country.”
Then, she quickly deferred to her disgust for the George W. Bush years. She stated the crimes committed by the former Administration were deplorable. Jessica concludes, “(W)e have to hold the previous administration accountable for their crimes.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose position on censure has wavered would concur with Jessica, today. If the subject were an investigation or possible prosecution of the Bush White House, Nancy Pelosi would be on-board. However, Speaker Pelosi may, or may not, think the United States can ignore human rights violations on the part of China. One never knows. History and statements made in the past, are often inconsistent.
Almost a year to the day, on February 21, 2008, Secretary Clinton’s good friend, the esteemed Representative from San Francisco, Pelosi, spoke eloquently of what she did not publicly discuss with fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton, now in 2009.
“If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China’s oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” House Speaker Pelosi told reporters during a visit with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala, India.
Indeed, America, the Moneybag Democracy has forfeited ethical influence. Economics has replaced principled certitude as US policy. The press understands the priority. The commercial media knows dollars deliver. Damn the lives and liberties of our brethren abroad. In the United States there is but one mission, moneybag democracy.
Perchance this truth explains why coverage on the decision to forego human rights concerns is limited. An article appeared here, or there. Yet, few commentaries focused on the human rights aspect of the Secretary Clinton’s travel. The Los Angeles Times reported, Clinton added environmental and security issues to economic talks in China. Most say Secretary of State Clinton has sealed the deal. She has merged the past with the present. Former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton has performed laudably for her President, Clinton, Bush, Obama, or for the precedent moneybag democracy.
Ok, call me crazy but I thought a foreclosure prevention bill is suppose to be designed to help average folks stem off foreclosures. So will someone tell me how a foreclosure prevention bill would contain bail-out money for automakers, airlines, alternative energy producers and other struggling industries? What do these clowns in Washington have to do to prove to the American public where their loyalties lie. Why is it that when average Americans seek help from their government they are treated to: rely on capitalism and the free enterprise system, but when these CEO’s, who get million dollar bonuses whether their companies succeed or not, make bad business decisions it is ok for the government to bail them out. Who says we are capitalist? I guess the poor are, but the rich sure as hell aren’t.
Washington – The Senate proclaimed a fierce bipartisan resolve two weeks ago to help American homeowners in danger of foreclosure. But while a bill that senators approved last week would take modest steps toward that goal, it would also provide billions of dollars in tax breaks – for automakers, airlines, alternative energy producers and other struggling industries, as well as home builders.
The tax provisions of the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which consumer groups and labor leaders say amount to government handouts to big business, show how the credit crisis, while rattling the housing and financial markets, has created beneficiaries in the power corridors of Washington. NY Times
These representatives of the people have made the argument that they don’t want to bail-out consumers who have made bad credit choices. Let’s say for the sake of argument that some mom and pops did overextend their budgets and purchased homes a little out of their budgets. These people made bad decisions concerning thousands of dollars, while these CEO’s have made bad decisions in the millions of dollars. I can never understand how so many Americans have bought into the false narrative that the government safety net for them is bad, but that it is ok for corporations. It is this same mentality that allowed so many Americans to bite the bullet during the Depression while their rich counterparts continued to live high on the hog. We are being treated to a similar situation today, while many Americans are facing dire economic straits the hedge-fund managers, CEO’s, and other Wall-Streeters have not only lost any buying power they have actually increased their wealth.
Congressional Democrats are also hearing from consumer advocates and other groups who say that the Senate bill does little to help Americans in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
“The Senate legislation gave corporations and Wall Street billions in tax breaks,” Terence M. O’Sullivan, the president of the Laborers International Union of North America, said at a news conference on Tuesday to denounce the bill.
“Tax breaks for corporate home builders won’t help stabilize the housing market, won’t create jobs and won’t prevent a single foreclosure,” he continued. “If anything, this multibillion-dollar windfall will make things worse.” NY Times
It doesn’t seem to matter who is in the White House or who is in the majority in the House the results are the same. The moneychangers continue to rob from the public coffers with little resistance or oversight from those elected to protect us. Instead of bickering about who is bitter and who isn’t, who has more experience, or who is out of touch maybe our candidates could discuss how they are going to deal with coming economic meltdown and the continuing transfer of wealth from the average American to the super-rich. What a campaign about issues? God forbid.
Senator McCain has made it clear that he has no intention of changing course on the war or the economy. And instead of focusing on the real enemy of the American people the Democrats are arguing about the most insignificant things in an effort to distance themselves from each other. They need to be distancing us from the ill-fated policies of Bush and his clone McSame. But who wants a campaign that deals with issues, when we can have the “Desperate Candidates” soap-opera? In the meantime the folks who need foreclosure relief the most will lose out to the likes of American Airlines, Goodyear, and General Motors all of whom I guess are subject to foreclosure.
There are many more wrong answers than right ones, and they are easier to find ~ Michael Friedlander
Decades ago, Americans watched a televised spoof of current events, the Rowan and Martin Laugh-In Show. A cast of characters sang “What is the news across the nation?” Then they assessed the antics of politicians and celebrities alike. Serious situations were satirized; silliness was glorified. Americans were given an opportunity to reflect and see how sadly corrupt and irrational our competitive Capitalist system is. Exuberance envelops us. Avoidance advances. Americans consume, compete, and settle into complacency.
This week, as we again set aside time to honor laborers in America, this reality seemed ever-present. Labor’s failure is perhaps industrialism at its best. Free enterprise follows the market or perchance it creates a product for America to buy.
In recent weeks, the American public was again able to purchase the absurdity that passes for news. The current craze streaming through the airwaves is Senator Larry Craig was arrested in an airport bathroom. Although he plead guilty after being accused of a crime, Idaho Senator Craig, stated, I did nothing ‘inappropriate’ in [an] airport bathroom. What the Senator did do, regardless of whether he solicited sex from a male officer or not, is provide Americans with another welcome distraction. That is glorious; that is entertainment! In a free-enterprise marketplace economy, we demand diversions. The truth of our status is too painful to bear,
The weighty news daunts and haunts us. There are moments that we wish to share what is thought significant to Americans as a whole. However, these are few and far between. U.S. Workers Are Most Productive. As we read this banner headline, we exclaim, ‘Hooray!’ America is still Number One!!! Citizens are reassured. The public need not look any further. Nor is there a need for the mainstream media to dwell. Citizens of this country are secure in their knowledge. This nation is great. The numbers support our sense of self, or at least this calculation does.
However, sadly, days later, we learn, 4-Year Growth in Jobs Ends; Dow Off 200. This pronouncement did not appear as prominently; nor did it receive the attention Larry Craig’s resignation did. Few wanted to discuss the devastation in the job market or the blow to the economy.
Not only did the report show that there was no job growth last month, but it also found that the job market was significantly weaker in June and July than the government first reported. Revisions to earlier jobs reports showed that 81,000 fewer jobs were created than initially estimated.
This bulletin is not novel. Buried in the back pages a thorough reader often finds words that might destroy the illusion. Opinion: Pay heed to needs of the American worker. However, statements such this are far less titillating. Sex sells. Super star sensationalism stimulates. A member of Congress in crisis is a celebrated chronicle. Accounts of Labor Day festivities, those filled with fun and folly can help to affirm America is on solid ground. Any information that attests to the good of Capitalism is treasured.
However, if we care to probe deeply, beyond the hype, we might question the system that leave its citizens steeped in debt, despair, and economic depression.
Just prior to Labor Day, John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations] published an editorial that appeared in no more than one or two periodicals. Sweeney spoke of the plight of the American employee, the drudge. He discussed circumstances that are yours and mine. We, the laborers, the common folk that sustain this country, and make the United States great may wish to understand.
‘What’s wrong with America?” That’s the question Steve Skvara, a disabled, retired steelworker, asked seven Democratic presidential candidates several weeks ago at the AFL-CIO Presidential Forum in Chicago. Skvara struggles to afford health care for himself and his wife after the company he worked for declared bankruptcy and abandoned its commitment to those who gave the best years of their lives to their employer.
As we approach Labor Day, many of America’s workers are echoing Skvara’s question.
Corporate greed and nearly seven years of wrong-headed Bush administration economic policies have fed a growing gap between the haves and have-nots. Americans are less secure about their jobs, retirement, health care, and standard of living.
The issue that Skvara so poignantly raised – health care – is on the mind of nearly every American.
Our system is broken; it’s left 47 million without insurance coverage and millions more with inadequate or unaffordable care. Rising health costs are crippling families and making it harder for responsible businesses to compete. A recent study by the New York City Department of Health found that one of every six adults in New York has no health insurance, though nearly two-thirds of those without coverage have jobs.
Americans now work longer hours than workers in any other developed country, and as a result, we generate a whopping $13 trillion in income every year. Yet, at the richest moment in our nation’s history, the wealthiest 1 percent claims more than 20 percent of the nation’s income. As a result, workers have seen their slice of the economic pie shrink to a sliver.
Yet, those with an empty stomachs are grateful for the smallest serving. In America, we are trained to believe there is a limited supply. Resources are scarce. There is only enough for a few. Some will have, others must work diligently to acquire a pittance. Citizens are reminded there is reason to hope. The news is filled with success stories. The masses are asked to suspend disbelief. They too must dream.
In truth, opportunities are not equal. This reality may seem obvious if you are among a minority, or born poor. Nevertheless, even those that struggle to do well in America, aspire to greatness. After all, this is the land of the free market, free enterprise, freedom, and opportunity.
Citizens and immigrants alike believe as their great grandparents, grandmothers and grandfathers did. We trust in the words of Mom and Dad. America is the land of opportunity. People have faith that in America anyone can make good. Perhaps, early in our nation’s history some did. Narratives are nuanced. Nonetheless, today there seems less reason to dream.
The study finds that economic mobility in America is “less than has long been presumed.” It says economic mobility is actually declining for men in their 30s, who are doing worse (as a whole) than their father’s generation when measured by incomes: “This suggests that the up escalator that has historically ensured that each generation would do better than the last may not be working that well.”
The study also says that, based on other research, “about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income are passed onto the next generation,” which means “one of the biggest predictors of an American child’s future economic success – the identity and characteristics of his or her parents – is predetermined and outside that child’s control.” In other words, the existing rich are just getting richer and the middle class tends to stay middle class.
Our countrymen complain; yet, customarily, we accept, ‘Life is not fair.’ In the spirit of an entrepreneur, Americans believe. After all, in this great nation our Constitution confirms, “All men are created equal.”
Nevertheless, Economists theorize. Researchers reassure us, the reality that the ‘rich get much richer’ is a new phenomenon. It is only in recent years that the Middle Class struggles to sustain a comfortable life style. Always in the past, the poorest among us had a chance at success. In America, the streets are paved in gold. Anyone can make it here.
An individual merely needs to maintain that competitive edge. A word to the wise and those that want more, keep your chin up and nose to the grindstone. Pay your dues. Good comes to those that work hard for a living and wait. Americans accept these standards. Conventional wisdom serves to secure the workforce as is. We understand, We must keep hope alive if the USA is to remain Number One.
The public is encouraged to think the best of the current situation, regardless of reality. Rarely is the populace exposed to fiscal facts. The news is just too disturbing. Besides, in a market economy, actual statistics are dry. Data does not sell. Nor do formulas and figures entertain a society groomed to crave comedy, short stories, drama, and special effects. No one wants to know the myth is a manipulation, necessary to maintain inequality.
Recent studies suggest that there is less economic mobility in the United States than has long been presumed. The last thirty years has seen a considerable drop-off in median household income growth compared to earlier generations. And, by some measurements, we are actually a less mobile society than many other nations, including Canada, France, Germany, and most Scandinavian countries. This challenges the notion of America as the land of opportunity.
Despite these potentially troubling findings, the current national economic debate remains focused too narrowly on the issue of inequality, leaving aside the more important core question of whether the foundation of opportunity, economic mobility, remains intact. As Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke recently noted: Although we Americans strive to provide equality of economic opportunity, we do not guarantee equality of economic outcomes, nor should we. Indeed, without the possibility of unequal outcomes tied to differences in effort and skill, the economic incentive for productive behavior would be eliminated, and our market-based economy – which encourages productive activity primarily through the promise of financial reward – would function far less effectively.
Elected officials grasp, inequity is exceptionally good for the economy. Indeed, it is essential. Noted Liberal Senator, Barney Frank finds no fault with disparity. The Congressional Finance Chair merely struggles when the difference between the rich and poor is extreme. In a News Hour interview, on a day set aside to honor labor, no less, the Progressive Massachusetts representative concedes.
Inequality is a good thing. You don’t have a capitalist system without it. But we are in a position now in which inequality is excessive.
One might ask, in a system that promotes scarcity among the poor, and advances policies that allow the affluent to become more so, how can we expect any outcome other than what we witness today. Yet, Americans do not inquire why or how an economic system that requires inequality is adopted in a nation whose Constitution states, all men women, and children are of comparable worth.
Instead, common-folk suffer in silence. Individuals stress. People in this great country, the land of opportunity, blame themselves for not being better, or at least for not being the best they could be. Our countrymen are convinced the sky is the limit. They watch others on their televisions and think, someday.
Actors and actresses on the silver screen are larger than life. Surely, the audience thinks that could be me. Industrialists are featured in periodicals. We see them in commercials. Businessman and businesswoman write books. These Capitalist share their secrets. People are captivated by the promise that they too could become rich. Competitive drive is all we need.
The media, just as free enterprise Economists, remind us of this in each moment. Residents of this country are persuaded to cling to stories of celebrity, self-made millionaires, and corporate genius. The thought is, if he or she made it, so too can I. As much as Americans enjoy success stories, we much prefer tales of woe. Thus, for weeks now, we have been guided to the toilet. The Larry Craig story lives large. The Senator’s sexual preference has been discussed with greater vigor than all other matters since it was first exposed. Howard Kurtz of Cable News Network’s Reliable Sources offers his hypothesis for why this might be. He states.
Celebrity scandals have become embedded in the media’s DNA. Every couple of days, it seems, somebody somewhere who’s been mentioned in “People” or “US” or on “Access Hollywood” gets into some kind of trouble and we all start buzzing about it.
Now comes “Entertainment Weekly” with a cover story on the 25 biggest celeb scandals of the past 25 years.
Again, we might question why do Americans focus on the failures of the famous. Perhaps, other indulgences, such as sex, drugs, and drink have not significantly dulled the pain. Try as they might, people in this prolific territory, never seem able to compete with the images they have of themselves. Middle Americans do not often live up to their expectations. People become impatient with themselves and with all those around them.
Residents in this wealthy nation want, they need. We cannot wait. After all, in movies, on television resolution and riches comes within minutes. Granted, people in the United States are greedy. As well they should be. Capitalism demands such an attitude. Immediate gratification is cultivated by corporate America. Once more, Journalist Howard Kurtz assesses this truth in his meta on the media. As Kurtz and his guest correspondents, digest the dynamic of media coverage as it pertains to hurricane Katrina, they accept what many of us perceive. During the tempest, there was much drama. Now two years after the storm, the interest in the circumstances and the people affected has died. The audience is flippant. They are a product of a competitive free-market society.
Kurtz: [O]bviously, John Dickerson, it lacks the drama of the hurricane itself, when you have people clinging to roofs and water rushing in. And, you know, anybody who goes there — I went there about eight months after the storm — is just struck by the continuing miles and miles of devastation and abandoned houses and all that. And you come back and you want to sort of tell the world about it. But in the world in which we live, it’s got to compete with Michael Vick pleading guilty to dogfighting and Larry Craig and everything else.
Dickerson: That’s right. And what was interesting is, after Katrina, there were a lot of people — you know, even Condi Rice said we need to have a national conversation about race. And what everybody said was, you know, we had forgotten about this story of America’s forgotten people and the poor before Katrina, so let’s all think about it now. But now we’ve seen that that conversation, even after this devastating tragedy, has, in fact, shrunken away.
For the masses, much fades from memory, even when we marinate in what is. Distractions are often a welcome break. The misery of another can be the source of great entertainment, particularly when, in a nation of lopsided wealth personal fulfillment does not seem possible in the near future.
A year ago, also on the Labor Day weekend, another report surfaced. Only the affirmative aspect of this study was considered suitable for distribution. The Public Says American Work Life Is Worsening, But Most Workers Remain Satisfied with Their Jobs. The qualifier is important to note. People may rant, ‘We must make a change.’ However, humans adapt easily. Mankind is comfortable when our essential needs are met. People gravitate towards the familiar. If we feel safe and secure in our knowledge, ‘life is fine,’ we will likely do little to alter what is.
Years ago, I lived in a roach infested studio apartment. I slept on a Murphy, pullout bed. The springs poked through the thin mattress. The stove in my minuscule kitchenette had two small burners. The furniture was used, dirty, and dilapidated. Nonetheless, I was content. Settling seemed more sane than venturing into the unknown. To others my state of affairs seemed sad. For me, all was good enough.
It is good to know, people adapt. They make due. This fact benefits those averse to accepting less than the best. In a Capitalist culture, the affluent must be certain there are those willing and able to serve. The underclass, if gratified with crumbs will continue to work for the wealthy. Thus, the rich can get richer and the economy survives. The elite among us thrive. The poor ultimately perish at an early age. No matter. Reproduction will help sustain the imbalance necessary for Capitalism to flourish. There will be a continual supply of underprivileged to meet the demands of the corporate class.
However, the health of the working class is in rapid decline. Few are able to prevent illness. Health insurance is frequently not provided by employers. Government programs are restrictive. In a Capitalist country, programs that might prevent illness are labeled, “Socialist” and therefore unacceptable. Let people fend for themselves. “Pull your self up by your boot straps,” even if the price of foot-ware is beyond your reach.
The number of Americans living in poverty or lacking health insurance rose for the third straight year in 2003, the Census Bureau announced yesterday, reflecting a job market that failed to match otherwise strong economic growth.
Overall, the median household income remained stagnant at $43,318, while the national poverty rate rose to 12.5 percent — 35.9 million people — last year, from 12.1 percent in 2002. Hit hardest were women, who for the first time since 1999 saw their earnings decline, and children. By the end of 2003, 12.9 million children lived in poverty.
As expected, the number of people without health insurance grew last year, to 45 million — an increase to 15.6 percent from 15.2 percent. White adults, primarily in the South, accounted for most of the increase. The proportion of people receiving health insurance through an employer fell to 60.4 percent, the lowest level in a decade, from 61.3 percent.
The census report provided hard numbers to anecdotal evidence that the recent recovery has missed certain regions and segments of the population. An additional 1.3 million Americans fell below the poverty line in 2003, as incomes dipped for the poorest 20 percent of the population. An additional 1.4 million became newly uninsured.
“This recovery has failed to reach those in the bottom half,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute.
As the years pass, we realize red flags remain ignored. The poor are not the only persons affected.Study: More Middle Class Uninsured. an income once thought opulent now is substandard.
Number of Uninsured Swells 2.2 Million to 47 Million
15,000 Doctors: “Single Payer National Health Insurance is the Only Solution”
Chicago – The U.S. Census Bureau released data today showing that the number of uninsured Americans jumped by 2.2 million in 2006 to 47.0 million people, with nearly all the increase (2.03 million) concentrated among middle-class Americans earning over $50,000 per year, according to an analysis by Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). Strikingly, 1.4 million of the newly uninsured were in families making over $75,000 per year. An additional 600,000 were in families earning $50,000 to $75,000 per year. (The median household income in 2006 was $48,200).
“Middle income Americans are now experiencing the human suffering that comes with being uninsured. It makes any illness a potential economic and social catastrophe,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
When Americans have health insurance, the coverage is often inadequate. Half-truths flourish in a Capitalist culture. It is imperative we maintain the myth. However, we need only look at our own lives to realize the vibrancy of the “Middle Class” is not what we are led to believe.
Granted, more Americans may have color televisions. Cellular telephones are abundant. Much in the way of supposed material wealth fills our homes, or more honestly, the house the bank owns and we live in. Nonetheless, most of what we possess is not fully ours. We made the down payment on our wares and we continue to pay the bills. Our purchases ensure the economy will remain healthy.
In America, credit card debt is up. Homeownership is down. The miracle of a home ownership with a ‘no money down’ mortgage was merely a mirage. Ultimately, as might have been expected the bubble burst. Bankers did as the public does. They borrowed from Peter to pay Paul. Our pal Paul had investments on paper. His worth was inflated. Industrialists are able to create great illusions. Print more money; it is the magic cure.
For years, Americans believed as businesses invited them to do. All this can be yours. A signature is all that is required. Brokers said, ‘You too can buy a beautiful home.” Your good name is enough to secure a loan. Today, Mortgages in foreclosure at record high. The sub-prime fiasco is as much is in a Capitalist society, a front for failures.
We, as Americans fail to save dollars or cents, sense [sic.] We have no time or knowledge of how to do other than what we have done, keep up with the Jones’s. It is a competitive world out there. Only the strong survive. Strength is measured in dollars. Yet, all that glitters is not gold.
In a world where inequity is thought excellence, there is much to consider. Americans may speak about a need to change. However, when asked to do so, we proclaim. I do not want to give up the creature comforts that destroy the environment.
Rarely, do we consider that if we work together to better the Earth for all it inhabitants equally, the quality of life will improve for everyone. We dare not contemplate industry and government together can create jobs that nurture nature. This topic is taboo. Government and industry, must remain separate. In truth, they never were in the United States. Capitalism spreads freedom, free enterprise, even as democracy, the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, falters. Thus, we have it income inequity increases. The rich get richer. The masses sink further into oblivion.
Capitalism thrives for citizens of this great nation comply. They accept familiar and comfortable circumstances. It is far easier to do as we have done for centuries. People in this Capitalistic culture continue to claim this “civilized’ lifestyle is unsurpassed. Certainly, no country is as great as ours.
Americans compete in a desire to feel complete. We shop until we drop. We drown our sorrows. Those in this, the wealthiest country on the planet, dive into drug-induced stupors. The general public hopes to find happiness. However, they must know, in a culture that breeds inequity, they are powerless.
An educated community exercises their right to free speech. Speaking out pacifies anxious Americans ; still frustration lingers. Ultimately, even the scholarly escape in various forms of entertainment. Men and women in this glorious nation gossip, indulge in rumors, and temporarily absorb themselves in reports to release the pressure. Capitalism and the active marketplace appease the masses and sustain the classes.
Thank goodness, Americans excel at avoidance and diversions are everywhere. If it were not for a Conservative Idaho Senator and his circumstances, Amid sex scandal, Senator Larry Craig resigns we might have to question the quality of a competitive market economy. So, embrace the fury. It is your duty as a Capitalist.