Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Capitalism 2.0

cap·i·tal·ism [ˈkæpɪtlˌɪzəm] [kap-i-tl-iz-uhm] noun- an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

Corporation, n- An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Investment: The dreams of many in the hands of one. - Eugene Debs

There are two definitions of capitalism that vary differently depending on the economic and/or social strata of whom you ask: There's the definition given to us in every dictionary that focuses on the corporation's role and on macroeconomics. But a working person who bought into the cruel fairy tales fed to them as children will maintain that capitalism means, for them, any person's ability to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make as much money as they can. It's attainable, we've been told since kindergarten, through the Algerian principle of luck and pluck and sticktoitiveness.

What eludes most of us is that our definition serves double duty as it's also the biggest punch line on Wall Street, a collective entity that literally looks down on the American worker and taxpayer as their infallible Plan B when the shit inevitably hits the fan. Sometimes they'll even spit to see how good their aim is.

But since Bush left office, things in this country have actually gotten worse under Obama. Suddenly, companies are no longer hiring even qualified applicants. Banks, despite being bailed out and are now in a time of record profits, are no longer making loans. These same banks are seizing homes they do not even own or are processing foreclosures by using dodgy robo-signer tricks.

Corporations, in fact, are so openly hostile and contemptuous of their own customers and unwilling saviors that merely showing up at their headquarters and demanding to speak to senior management will get you arrested and likely beaten without mercy by the local police department that unfailingly do their bidding.

I went on a job interview about a year ago in which the HR Director openly admitted that at a time of record profits and expansion, the company (Partners Pharmacy) was actually planning to cut the pay of their drivers so that differentials would be a thing of the past. I asked her, "Let me get this straight: At a time of record profits, you're actually planning on cutting the pay of the drivers and you're behind this?" She enthusiastically nodded with a smile.

This is the brave new world into which we're bringing children. Any of us who tell our kids as our parents did us that they can still make it on hard work and diligence ought to be flogged.

It used to be when a company did well, it would share the profits. A man could work at the same factory for 25-30 years, buy a home, a new car every few years, put a kid or two through college and his wife had the option of going to work.

Since the 70's, it became more and more mandatory that wives go to work. Still, we didn't complain. We didn't complain when we found ourselves having to live on credit cards and beyond our means as long as the credit line was extended and we could still refinance our homes. Living beyond our means and on credit, we were now told, was a wonderful way to live and only bolstered that almighty credit rating when the fact is our parents and grandparents didn't need things like credit ratings because their generations were told to live within their means.

Now, the definition of capitalism has undergone a wrenching shift to the right as only Joe Overton could engineer it. Nowadays, it seems whether a company is successful or not, the inevitable result will be massive layoffs of American workers (Borders, Inc. will close soon, throwing 11,000 people out of work while company executives in Ann Arbor will get lavish golden parachutes and Cisco will soon lay off 11,500, 5000 of them going to Taiwan. Cisco reports glowingly that it's a good time to be a company stockholder.). In every case, with fascist discipline, when asked how they could do this to the American worker and economy, one corporate flak after another will parrot, "We need to stay competitive" even at a time when a company is raking in billions in profits.

Our government, obviously bought and sold by corporations, special interest groups, lobbyists and other sociopathic nation killers, are not trying to bludgeon us to death. But they might as well be because the American people are being exsanguinated and killed by the death of 1000 cuts.

If you look at the graph above, you'll note the private sector that still screams about Obama being hostile to industry has grown by just under 5% while the government added a mere 18,000 jobs last month. Look at that graph and note that private sector growth began skyrocketing at exactly the same time the "jobless recovery" is said to have begun: Around June 2009.

Let's get one thing straight: There was no recovery, there is no recovery now and there never will be a recovery as long as we still have those jackals on Capitol Hill calling the shots. Unemployment is still over 9%, the real unemployment rate is actually closer to 17%. But, hey, today Wall Street's Dow Jones skyrocketed today by 202 points, the biggest jump of the year, on news the industry-hating, Socialist Obama administration may fuck over the American people with "concessions" to the economic terrorists of the Republican fucking Party.

We are in a depression, plain and simple, and now we're told with a straight face that we ought to make seniors, students and other economically vulnerable people pay down a debt they did not create. We're being told with a straight face that Social Security is the cause of our evils when the plain fact is, as Senator Sanders reminded us today, that Social Security has not created a nickle of this deficit.

We're told with a straight face that unions have to make life-altering concessions or see workers laid off (and I'm not talking about Wisconsin but Democratic-run New York). We're told Medicare and Medicaid has to be curtailed. Yet these Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who didn't much seem concerned by deficits or debts when Bush was waging one credit card war after another and giving one tax break after another to those least deserving of it are now very, very gravely concerned for our nation's economy.

And unless they get those spending cuts, Republicans refuse to allow the debt ceiling to be raised even though not doing so, while fucking up our bond rating and putting us into default for the first time ever, would still be beneficial for countless jackals on Wall Street, would destroy Main Street for good.

America is a target-rich environment for Republicans and their Irwin Allen capitalism and the bottom 299,900,000 are the targets. And my question is elegantly simple:

I can understand our lawmakers and Barack Obama not having the balls to oppose the barons, magnates and tycoons who support their incumbency. But why isn't the media and the American people not doing enough to push back against the transparent and easily-provable lies that are being fed to us?

  • "Shared sacrifice" that doesn't ever seem to include those most capable of sacrificing.

  • Entitlement programs are the root of all evil, not, as Chaucer said through the Pardoner, "avarice."

  • Tax cuts will result in lots and lots of jobs such as the ones streaming in a vocational tsunami to Mexico and China.

  • Regulation of private industry is evil while regulation of Elton John's and George Takei's bedrooms is moral and just.

  • Trickle down economics has always worked and always will.

  • When are we as a nation going to wake the fuck up and see the transparency of the most ridiculous and risible lies ever told and repeated to a single nation?

    This is no longer capitalism. A more responsible capitalism lasted for approximately as long as did Communism in Russia. For a little over 70 years with the emergence of the unions that gave rise to the vital and indispensable middle class, capitalists were forced to do business with the American worker. Through public and trade unions we were given reasonable work weeks, paid vacations, pensions, profit sharing, health care, collective bargaining, the list is literally endless.

    Now in the eyes of tens of millions, these are necessary concessions and school teachers, police officers, firefighters, artists, the young and old, the sick and indigent and factory workers are now being targeted in the interests of fiscal responsibility and "remaining competitive."

    Capitalism's definition no longer resembles the dry classical one given to us by lexicons but the one given to us exactly a century ago by Ambrose Bierce.


    At July 20, 2011 at 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Until we put an end to the two-party “ruling elite” Ponzi scheme the rest of us screwed!

    These Congressional crooks won't raise taxes on the ultra wealthy because they are the ultra wealthy either directly or in their family.

    That's why they spent $Millions to get elected to a $175k job to protect their own wealth.

    They don't serve the people...

    Vote them all out in 2012 especially any that vote to raise the Debt ceiling.

    At July 20, 2011 at 12:21 PM, Anonymous Econ is where it's at said...

    You got that right, JP! It's not about "politics," it's about money. I used to pay attention to political goings-on, the D-vs.-R struggle. That was when I thought it might make some difference. I voted for Hopey, not expecting him to be any great leftist, especially not after his vote on FISA immunity, but still, I thought he might change things a little. Since he showed us that he's just Bush II in blackface, I can see more clearly that politics is just bullshit. It's a money game, as Kucinich says. While I have appreciated your insights on politics over the years, I've long thought you should pay more attention to economics. That's where the real power issues are, while the political theater is just another bright shiny object to distract the sheep from their fleecing, and ultimately their slaughter.

    At July 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

    You may be right but I don't have a head for economics or business. There really isn't much economic insight into this article. I deal mainly in end results and what it means for the average American. If you want rock-solid economics, you should still go to Paul Krugman.

    But Michael Collins was right all along: There is no D or R, only the Money Party.


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