Capitalism - The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Part Three
Part three of a four part series in which Michael makes sure his in-laws' hopes of him finally landing a good, well paying job with a big company are totally squashed.
From Part Two:
"Every bust is proceeded by a natural disaster, a war, some investment bubble, or the loosening of some regulations. History shows that Capitalists, like wars, earthquakes, and floods, will always wreck our country - the only difference being natural disasters don't also rob us in the process."
CAPITALISM IS FAIR
My friend John, who has been in the financial sector for 29 years (most of them at the largest bank in the United States), says people in the business of money are always, always looking for ways to steal, and that fewer regulations simply give them fewer laws to break while they try to separate you from "their" money. The system is set up for bankers, stock brokers, money managers - anyone involved with "Capital" - to view personal and corporate profit as their only goals, any regulation as the enemy, and whatever pain and economic destruction their undocumented crimes cause along the way as collateral damage, and the societal price of doing Business. AIG, Lehman Bros., Countrywide, UBS, GM, GE, Monsanto, Exxon... Hey did you hear the quote from Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical corporation? ""We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business." Remember Enron? The pack of Texas-sized dickwads who manipulated California's energy market, ripped off their own workers retirement funds, and giggled like little girls about grandmothers freezing in winter? Why did grown men think that was okay? Because the philosophy of Capitalism told them that anything done to get a profit was okie dokie. Enron was not the exception of Capitalism- Enron is the rule.
CAPITALISM ENGENDERS FREEDOM.
No, Capitalism engenders an accumulation of wealth, high-stakes financial crimes, and an economic aristocracy. Democracy and justice engender freedom.
CAPITALISM IS ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY.
While Capitalism was a huge leap forward in the struggle against Feudalism, in the end it has simply replaced an aristocracy of blood and money with one of money and blood.
CAPITALISM IS COMPASSIONATE.
Capitalism is compassionate if there is a profit in it. If they can make money saving your life, Capitalists will do it, and if the profit is in letting you die, you're dead. Remember the Pinto? Ford Corporation knew the cars could explode, but calculated it was cheaper to pay for good marketing and the wrongful death lawsuits than recall and fix the cars. Merck knew that the drug Vioxx could kill you, but with $2.5 billion in annual sales and almost $50 per share, they reckoned their profits would more than take care of paying your surviving relatives for your fatal stroke. Corporations are not designed to provide goods or services in exchange for money; they are designed to make money, while grudgingly providing as little service, or the cheapest product possible, while giving the profit to the investors. Capitalism would let the cutest baby in the world starve to death on it's doorstep... unless there was a profit in saving it.
CAPITALISM IS SELF SUSTAINING.
Oh, Christ! Aren't you paying attention? Remember the whole minimum wage thing? The Barista? It was in Part Two! In the name of Free Trade/Anti-Protectionist/Bottom Line crap these Friedman spouting blowholes pay as little as they can to the very people Capitalism relies on as customers! Henry Ford - the Capitalist hero who, at the time, was accused of being a Bolshevik for paying his workers so much - even he knew it was flat out dumb to pay your own employees too little to be the consumers the economy needs. Such blind greed should have been rebelled against decades ago: villagers with torches, workers with hammers, farmers with sickles, let-them-eat-cake capitalist swine chased naked and screaming through the streets, and high paid corporate heads high on sticks held aloft by gleeful children. But for some reason the underpaid workers didn't rebel. Why? What, besides long-running sit-coms, could make them forget their dwindling wages and spiraling debt? What magnificent invention kept Capitalism's gears oiled just enough to allow it to lurch on?
The great Faustian gift of the Capitalists to the Working Class - Buy now, pay for the rest of your life! Easy credit helped push those lowest wages even lower, since the workers only have to make low, low monthly payments stretched out into an infinite future. Easily obtained credit cards allow ever-increasing deficit spending. No longer did the working class have to decide between buying this or that with their dwindling paycheck - buy both! Result - consumer credit debt has skyrocketed. The underpaid, deeply in debt American worker is now responsible for 70% of the economy because of our purchases and payments... but not for long. With American wages depressed in the name of Capitalism, payments will not be met, and Credit Card companies, unable to cover their own debts, will start falling from the sky like banks. And what's left of the economy may fail.
Capitalism is self-sustaining like a cancer - it sustains itself as it kills it's host.
No, no it doesn't. It has failed repeatedly through it's brief history, each time because of speculation and rampant greed, each time absconding with a huge chunk of wealth.
The Crash of 1857. Cause: Land Speculation and embezzlement. Federal Government sells revenue bonds to revive markets.
Panic of 1869. Cause: Gold speculation. Federal government sells gold to lower prices.
Long Depression of 1873 - '79. (Known for decades as the Great Depression... alot they knew!) Cause - Railroad speculation. Federal government issues land subsidies to lower prices, stabilize markets.
Panic of 1893. Cause: Railroad speculation. Federal government.... no! Gold strike in Klondike buoys market! Let's hear it for the exploitation of Mother Earth!
Panic of 1907. Cause: Copper speculation. Federal government passes Federal Reserve Act to help regulate bank credit.
Great Depression of 1929 - 1940's. Cause: just flat out speculation across the board. Federal government does flat out spending across the board to revive economy. And that includes WWII! Who do you think paid for that, Rockefeller?
At this point the big depressions and panics kinda taper off. Why? American know how? The victory of our style of Capitalism? Gumption?
Nah. Every other industrialized country in the world had their factories bombed from 1939 until 1945, so there was no competition for American goods. That's it. America became the economic powerhouse of the world simply because we could still make stuff to sell while everyone else was digging themselves out of rubble. Cars, refrigerators, watches, whatever - jobs a plenty, and foreign cash flowed in while "Made in America" flowed out. Not because our Capitalism kung fu was good or better or right, but because we weren't bombed. And that worked until the rest of the world rebuilt. Then suddenly everything was made in Japan, Taiwan... and slowly the dough started to dry up. Result? Crash of 1973. But this time the Federal Government does... nothing. Politicians had forgotten how to save the economy . Markets stay low for 20 years.
Which brings us back to the Reagan Recession/S&L Crisis of the 80's, and the new approach to economics: trickle down.
This is not a complete list of crashes, by the way. Huffington Post does have a word limit, and I'm way over already! I only included the big ones. But the pattern is clear. Each time millions, billions lost. And each time - except for the Gold Rush - each time the Federal Government rode to the rescue. That's right - our hard earned tax dollars, all that money that should go to making our collective lives better instead is repeatedly sucked away and fed to the freshly dead zombie corpse of Capitalism as it is once again dragged from it's too, too shallow grave by Corporatists and Corporate Politicians, and resuscitated before our very eyes. And it is never, ever a strong dose of more Capitalism that is injected into this tottering, thieving, crack head of the Undead. Oh, no! What saves Capitalism each time, giving it enough life to kill more of our hopes and dreams? Government spending! Regulations! Socialism! The very things the Capitalists tell us are the problems are always used by the Capitalists to prop up the nightmare illusion we call the Free Market. How did Reagan work his recession out? By increasing public spending... on the military! Biggest increase in history! The Left was horrified, but the Market was thrilled! Lockheed, GE, GM, Raytheon, Dow... all our money spent on overpriced crap. Conservatives like to blame the government for wasteful spending, but since the mid-80's the U.S. military budget has been the longest running, most expensive corporate bailout in history.
And after the Nasdaq Crash - why do you think Capitalists were pushing so hard to get Social Security money into the Stock Market? Because they cared about our retirements? It was because they knew the latest bubble had burst, and Market was going to fail, once again, without a big infusion of public dough. The didn't get their hands on Social Security, so instead they went after high-risk, unsecured loans - anything to get our money flowing to them, keeping them afloat. Capitalists have reduced Adam Smith's vision of economic liberalization to a simple Ponzi Scheme, which can only run with a constant inflow of cash. Capitalism feeds off the public sector because it cannot stand on it's own.