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Admittedly, I am one of those extreme types of thinkers who cannot forgive our founding fathers for being slavers and slave rapists, nor our pioneers for being genocidal mass murderers of the native people, nor the early industrialists who smote and ruined countless lives of men, women, and children with abhorrent working conditions, nor those that came later who caused the same human misery, but only after exporting the slave labor to underdeveloped countries, enforced by murderous invasions and US-sponsored wars.
To me, success, growth, or profit are no excuse for killing, maiming, polluting, or destroying.
That’s just me. Extreme.
But I can still talk to you even if you find my condemnation of capitalism extreme, because recent events have made our differences unimportant. There’s nothing left to argue about. Capitalism is over. It’s pretty much been dead since the late 70’s. In order to see the truth, we just need to scrape off all that authoritative media narrative that we’ve all got stuck in our brains.
I’ll give you a start.
Just keep in mind: Capitalism requires growth. If there is no growth, there will be instantaneous and unceremonious death. Like a dead heart can be kept alive by electric shocks from a pacemaker, capitalism can be kept going by stimulus or raiding of our own assets, but that monster must be fed. It eats growth. Natural growth to feed the beast ended in the late 70’s when we were just getting done assigning ownership of the last of the world’s most accessible resources and frontiers.
Late 70’s: Oil embargo leaves Americans lining up for gasoline. President Carter rations it. Jimmy Carter gets on TV and tells his people there just is not enough oil, and it’s going to be running out some day. We’ve got to learn to burn less, lower our thermostats, carpool. The most honest, most morally reflective leader we’ve had–the last fiscally responsible president–and his people respond, “Eat me, Carter, you good-for-nothing born-again peanut farmer.”
They vote out Jimmy, and install Ronald “half-on-his-way-to-Alzheimer’s” Reagan, who begins “deregulating” everything, which means he just stops government from watching out for illegal things private industry does. The effect, in his own interpretation, is to destroy a bloated bureaucracy that stands in the way of innovation.
His hope is actually a little more complicated, though. Everything we do economically to place ourselves ahead–even if it means our coal miners dying underground or our rivers polluted–has the effect of giving us greater leverage against less developed economies. For example, if our chemical plants are operating first, or more productively, or more profitably than those of another nation that, say, has more regulations protecting their rivers, we will attain a dominance over the industry now that will allow us to steer the industry’s development to our advantage. In this way, capitalism directs immoral behavior.
In addition to deregulating, Reagan leads a campaign against unions, and succeeds in severely cutting the taxes of the wealthy. He liquidates government property and government jobs to raise funds so his budget will appear more balanced–a one-time savings that will cost US workers forever.
Reagan’s deficits (how much more we spend than what we earn) are so completely out of control that the national debt (how much we owe to other countries) triples during Reagan’s years, rocketing up to almost three trillion dollars when it had never reached a trillion any time in history before Reagan. This causes a very fake boom, the type of boom you see in the expenses of a very irresponsible teenager with their first credit card.
The profits rich people scored were so great that they adopted Reagan’s reckless economics as a theory of government, and so a graph of the federal debt now looks like a hockey stick, shooting up and never falling back, from 1980 (Reagan) to the current day, where the federal debt is about 11 trillion bucks.
During the post-Jimmy Carter period, crucial changes in the law relating to campaign sponsorship, media ownership, and intellectual property assured any democratic control of the type voters succeeded in exercising just after the Watergate scandal would never be able to recur.
In addition to these changes, a huge change occurred as relates to US industry: homemaking women joined the workforce. This change made it possible to cut wages of the working stiff in half. What Reagan’s people called “downsizing,” “efficiency” and “productivity” enhancement was simply doubling the workforce or doubling the worker’s load at the same cost to industry.
What I would like you to be observing here is the absurd permanent changes we were led through like cattle that represented a steady decline in our standard of living. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the gap between the wealthy and the middle-to-lower income citizens has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
In the same period, corporations moved masses of US jobs overseas, not only destroying US unions (between 1978 and 200, the number of unionized US workers declined by 45%,) but replacing good jobs with a huge overseas labor force of underpaid, non-union, often child, menial labor.
Industry-sponsored Democratic politicians went along, wagging their wealthy tails obediently.
So the growth feeding the beast has been phony since 1980, (with a brief respite in the 90’s when there was a bit of true growth as Capitalism divvied up the remains of the USSR’s communist carcass.) Well, there were real gains (of the “burn-the-wallboards-for-firewood” variety,) in the liquidation of government assets and services, and in the “efficiency” gained by stripping the worker of his union, halving his pay, and replacing the kids’ mom with pre and after-school group programs and video game/cable TV addiction, but these gains were just a stave.
Over the last 30 years, the capitalism beast has supped primarily on a massive bubble of deficit-sponsored debt, enhanced more recently by an enormous real estate debt bubble. By “bubble” I mean money that just is not there–fake money that capitalists use to keep the commoner imagining it is not all over.
Don’t get me wrong–I don’t mean to demonize anyone. It’s not like assigning blame has a practical value. As I say, it’s all over.
The new millennium brought us Bush-Cheney, who, neither man having ever had an original thought of his own, just carried forth Reagan’s ideas but, with the help of a Republican Congress, they were able to legislate with the hyperactivity of a band of wild monkeys snorting crack. The corporations were allowed to grow larger than our government (a treasonous success for Bush-Cheney,) as they remain still.
And the standard of living for the common person continued the decline it began in the mid-70’s.
I am not saying all of us felt the decline, fueled as many families were by debt and bubbled assets (ie: mortgages on homes that the real estate bubble had caused to be overvalued to the extreme point that the average house in the desert of Tempe, Arizona was worth a quarter of a million dollars,) but just about everyone has by now.
And now, we have a country full of state and local governments about to go broke because all their investments have gone south and business failures, employment lay-offs, foreclosures and falling home values mean less tax revenue.
So what does the government do? They say, in essence, we are going to pay to keep this bubble inflated, which, mind you, doesn’t take a great-big 2-trillion dollar stimulus package puff, as they’d have you believe, but a steady flow. And it does nothing but delay the inevitable.
And who is paying the trillions of dollars in stimulus money??
The media lies to you. They tell you it is the taxpayer.
Hell, no. No one is saying we should raise taxes to pay for this. This is paid for by national debt–with money borrowed from China. This is further robbery of future generations. This is the Reagan doctrine, it is the Clinton doctrine, it is the Bush doctrine. But it is not stupidity, because I doubt any of the people who run our country actually believe there is a positive road beyond the debt. It seems clear they have the wits to understand the debt they incur will never be repaid. They are just playing out the endgame so they don’t have to get out of their seats.
So, what is their latest bubble? What might buy a little more time for them to sit in their seats of comfort? Austerity.
That’s right. The growth must continue or it’s all over. And our borrowing days are rapidly ending. Who’s going to go on investing in these dregs? (Greece is currently borrowing its bread-and-butter needs at 12 percent! Tw-e-l-ve perc-ent!) So where will the “growth” come from? Their answer: from schools and streets, government services and infrastructure. In Jersey City, they’ve cancelled the July 4th fireworks. If a government can’t pay for gunpowder to celebrate its independence day, you know the end is near.
Poor countries that once maintained levels of population that could be fed adequately by food produced locally are now overpopulated to provide laborers for manufacturing, and they are dependent on foreign food supplies. In the economic crisis, as manufacturing declines, with high oil prices, food costs more to transport, process, and fertilize (food comes from oil –see this really great article.) During the 2008 oil price surge, there food riots around the world.
The value of the dwindling resources we are taking from the earth is approaching a tipping point, and the sources of fuel too scarce–we have digested all our frontiers and polluted our planet to the point where it is turning in on us, making growth, which is necessary to capitalism, biophysically septic.
Due to international competition, the people of the Earth are incapable of making decisions for the good of the whole world, and are, in fact, forced to make decisions that are rather ramping up the destruction, such as the need of huge nations like India and China to industrialize and use as many fossil fuel resources as quickly as possible to enable each one’s race to expand and claim its share of the worldwide markets, of which there is not enough to go around because everything on earth that can be owned is already owned by the thieves who just bankrupted the world.
One thing you need to watch for when you hear “experts” talk about economics: they never seem capable of staying on point. There are two types of economic strategies. A competitive strategy deals with how we become more competitive with our world neighbors. A non-competitive strategy deals with how we create more effective ways of living that save us resources. Listen for it. An economist is not talking about the challenges our world now faces when talking about being more competitive—that is, investing in infrastructure, educating our people better, reducing regulation, lowering taxes on businesses…. Growth is, in fact, a particularly destructive competitive strategy. Austerity is, too, in that it is commonly used without a thought for the value of the item we are being deprived of (ie: golf courses should obviously be shut down before hospitals and independence day fireworks displays,) and instead it is used to obediently show industry your common people are willing to take the next step down on the worldwide standard of living decline, undercutting the competing locales.
Our problems are not just our state’s problems or our country’s problems. Our problems are all global. We need ways to make us—all of us the world over—more effective at preserving resources. The experts offer little to no suggestions for addressing this need, probably because the question is just too big for them to consider—they do not believe in our ability to face that problem.
The answer is obvious, but unthinkable, as it brings us all the way back to that idyllic little schoolroom and that teacher who knew all the answers. It shows her to be a fool, along with all the neat little securities she helped us plant in our brains. In order to face our future we need to pick up that big, fat old apple pie—Patriotism–and chuck it, face first, in that dark green metal trash can. We need to serve ourselves, instead, a heaping helpful of the very un-American humble pie. As we chew, we need to fully comprehend that people are a bunch of ignorant chimps. There isn’t a damn thing we are doing well with on this earth, not a thing we have any decent control over. It is a poor mental construct–our way of life, our independence, our capitalism.
Any sane people into whose hands was cast a verdant world as rich as ours once was would nurture it, and find a way to live in harmony with it—they would not grow all over it and digest it, turning it all to waste, but they would care for it tenderly.
So, we define ourselves anew as world citizens looking for a world government. We purpose ourselves with ideals that include the fate of everyone we share this closed system with.
That is the start.
Mark Crane Motormanmark.com