Following this past presidential election season, I realised and further identified myself as a proponent of Democratic Socialism. Yes, much of what now President-elect Barack Obama advocated in his economic plan does amount to income redistribution. Such ideology goes against the laissez-faire governmental leanings of many conservatives and the popular notion of capitalism. I believe sadly we, as a country have misrepresented capitalism.
Famous in U.S. History is the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 which at the time headed by U.S. Senator of it’s namesake, sought to bust up monopolies that perhaps gained their wealth by “nefarious” acts, but those gained solely on merit were allowed to flourish non-stop. That fully supports the idea of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs amassing such wealth that if one stops and thinks of the number of people who go hungry everyday juxtaposed to their wealth, it would make one physically sick. Well, okay, that’s the country we live in. Most, unless given the ability to ponder the gross wealth that they have, don’t spend much time hatin’, if you will, on people like Bill Gates. All of us at one time or the other have used Microsoft products, we ALL use Microsoft Word, and we all at one time or another have given in to our curiosities and at least went inside of that all white Apple store at the mall.
I believe most liberals would like to make this country much more of a membership organization much like one’s sorority or fraternity where one pays membership dues and gives donations, as a result the more money given the more services and opportunities are available to the members. Frankly, I didn’t know how to handle the City of Chicago leasing the parking meter division to a private entity for the next 75 years. Privatization, is inherently one of the cornerstones on which this country was built.
Journey with me, I’m going somewhere.
I’m not convinced that we’ve experienced pure capitalism in this country, but rather some sort of capitalism that was transmogrified as a result of supreme greed. I believe most of us should have seen the proverbial writing on the wall with the fall of Enron and the other companies that folded taking pensions and 401Ks along with them in the early part of this decade. So it should have came to no surprise when companies such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers succumbed to the subprime mortagage crisis. I think what we saw was a result of supreme greed disguised as capitalism.
As a side note, I think also what we saw was a U.S. Justice Department under Bill Clinton that was unwilling to pursue and perhaps prosecute those who were acting outside of the law and acting nefariously. And let the record show that George W. Bush took his time in dismissing Clinton Department of Justice district attorneys, which does make one wonder just how different the two may be their approaches to certain matters of the law. [Further side note: It was pointed out to me that it will definitely be interesting to see just how current Attorney General-designate Eric Holder will shape the Justice Department particularly after the very famous civil rights bungles associated with the Jena 6 case and with the Sean Bell murder in New York.]
Ultimately, rogue capitalism, that is I believe has placed this country into a position like that of a semi-feudal state with echoes of the Middle Ages in Europe. The vast majority of land, property and other businesses are restricted by a small few. Seriously, the city of Chicago leased the parking meter department to a”company formed largely by three infrastructure funds run by New York-based Morgan Stanley, which also won the lease for downtown government-owned garages in 2006.” And if that wasn’t bad enough the mayor’s nephew is the city and Cook County lobbyist for this weirdly unnamed firm by the Chicago Tribune.
So, with CTA bus fares increasing by a quarter, and they have long since done away with the transfers if you pay with cash, making it $2.25 every ride, increasing parking meters in residential areas by up to $0.75 cents charging $1 to park and up to $6.50 an hour in the Loop, it pisses me off because the money isn’t going to city, but rather into a company that now will dictate how much we will pay for the next 75 years. I think most understand that the city, which is facing a deficit of nearly half a billion dollars, along with many other major cities, and particularly when snow removal is a large and very fluid chunk of a city budget (yes, we Chicagoans expect our side streets plowed) would perhaps have to do some cutting of jobs and propose increasing revenues in areas such as parking, but that the city is just outright going to receive $1.2 billion dollars over the leasing contract and this private company ultimately gets our spare change between our car seats and under the car mats is outside ridiculous in my opinion.
But, apparently this is the American way.
America was built on the premise of ultimately capitalizing on opportunities. This has always been translated as benefiting at the expense of others. The White House, for example built as a result of the free labor from African slaves. Or even the random privatization of various cities, forgoing the democratic republic ideals of a people’s government. It seems to me that perhaps this economic downturn has proved yet another way for private greed mongers to swoop in and privatize former public entities at the expense of public, taxpaying citizens.
It appears that this American way of doing things will ultimately lead to our demise unless things begin to change.
Okay, that was a shameless plug for Obama, but I stand behind it. I think the simple reason that he took the very unpopular step to even mention that he would like to begin trade with Cuba is a harbinger of good economic news to come. Let’s just hope Obama handles it well.
Do you think I’m totally off my rocker and just spouting typical liberal b.s. or is this really our sad state of affairs? What small prices of freedom do you think we have already given up in this country and not even recognised it? What do you think we should do about it? What do you think Obama’s economic plan should be?
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL
One thought on “When America Capitalizes on America”
I also think that we have misrepresented capitalism. I’m not sure about how true capitalism would work and if it could ever work, but what we’ve seen in the U.S. is some hideous perversion of capitalism. I actually didn’t know that little bit about Bush and Clinton’s Dept. of Justice. It does make one wonder, though.
I’ve never understood why so many Americans are opposed to Democratic Socialism. If you know what it means, it hard to be opposed to it really, unless you’re just a selfish individual. Anyway, good post. I do not think you’re off your rocker. We are in a bad state right now.