…and, yes, I do understand that such a title as that places the author in one of those troubling lights, one that suggests he is either a rock-throwing, graffiti spraying, dreadlock-topped and angry young anarchist post-grad whose revolutionary thesis in the form of a graphic historical novel that attempts to redefine Bakunin as prophet and seer for the 21st century… or one of those “new age commies” with a lumberjack beard and a man-bun, looking to save the Earth by wrapping his lettuce, carrots, celery, and radishes in planet-friendly, wax-process paper rather than storing it in plastic Zip-loc bags, the sort of zeitgeist common man of the 21st century who stays home and watches the kids while writing a socialist cookbook-cum-manifesto titled, “Thirty-seven ways to eat the rich.”
As much as I might like you to think of me in synch with such a seductive, rebel sort of image, along with the manly, disheveled ‘look’ that goes with it? As much as that might boost my image? Let me assure you, up front and out loud, that I am neither of those things, but probably both… in spirit at least, if not in fashion… and infinitely more radical and dangerous in fact than any Marvel-inspired stereotype you could imagine, armed as I am with opinions based upon facts and referential analysis of historical precedence. But hey… relax, these are only ideas, little seeds I like to plant in the minds of the innocent and the unwary.
But enough about me… let’s talk about you.
The economy, they tell me, is booming. Are you getting your share? Of course not. Saddled with student loan debt for a principle sum that seems to grow the more you pay into it, money you borrowed for a degree that would give you a decent living if it translated into real-world value, perhaps you already know that the possibility you could own a home of your own probably seems like a pipe dream. Mom and Dad might have left you theirs when they died and they certainly would have, but for the inordinately inflated cost of the medicine and health care that didn’t quite give them the longevity they’d hoped for. Drug companies, co-pays and deductibles impoverished them, took what was left of their savings after their retirement plan succumbed to whatever economic reason that caused the fund to go broke. They lost their home in the process… and you? Well, if they were still alive, you would likely be taking care of your parents. Sadly, those of you whose parents have survived may yet be burdened with their end-of-life care. And… since you can barely afford to take care of yourself and a family, if you’ve been optimistic enough to marry and have children… how will you take on the more and greater debt that comes with such an added responsibility?
If that’s not your situation? If you are you doing very well today in an economy that provides for the wealthy by borrowing from the future of everyone else… if you enjoy the benefits of corporate welfare like other wealthy Americans with a stake in huge monopolistic enterprises like Amazon… if you pay no taxes whatsoever? How fortunate for you, but stop for a moment and think… how long can this go on?
For the rest of us, who are not so lucky? Hyperbole and hypotheticals notwithstanding, the facts tell us this: the opportunities that existed for our parents are not as prevalent today and for us as it was back then and for them.
It’s not hard to pinpoint the cause of such unprecedented economic inequality. The facts are there, though hidden and mystified by those who manipulate the truth. You ask, “What is truth?” Ask a huindrd people and you will get a hundred different answers, but the truth doesn’t change. Truth is not a marketable commodity. Every fact, figure, or representation of truth is only and absolutely binary in terms of its reality. A thing is either true… or it is untrue. Truth cannot be enhanced, varnished, polished, rendered more attractive in any way except that it will detract from its essential being. A fact is either true or it is not. There is no liberal truth, no libertarian truth, no conservative truth. There is only truth. Everything else? Dross and manipulation.
Convincement, the result of long decades of propaganda in the form of marketing and hucksterism brings us down to the pinnacle of possibilities in government evolution under the influence of capitalism… and what does that look like, exactly? In 2016 it led to the presidency of the ultimate huckster and capitalist poster boy, Donald Trump, the current skipper of a sinking ship of state that better resembles… and could very well be modeled after… the example set by the present Russian plutocracy under Putin. Wealthy American oligarchs and right-wing corporatists now direct and control virtually every segment of the executive branch of our Federal government. They’ve begun dismantling benchmarks, controls, and safeguards that have been established over long decades of progress in protections for the average American from the growing influence of monopolies and corporate monoliths.
I’ve often and unapologetically labeled Trump’s administration “fascistic” in the past and even progressives have criticized me for doing so, but it fits the description quite well if we can hear the opinion of people who lived in a time when fascism threatened the safety and freedoms of the entire world. If you don’t accept my characterization, then read this… from Henry A. Wallace, Vice President under Franklin Delano Roosevelt (quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944) and then tell me you do not sense an eerie feeling of historical déjà vu….
“The really dangerous American fascist… is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
(Snooze alert – in that the following two paragraphs may include boring descriptive reprsentations of economic concepts, but I will try to be brief.)
If we take the concept of capitalism down to its basics, it could be explained as an economic theory based upon the concept of property and commercial exchange that transcends the original method of trade, which was barter… a simple swap, where one commodity was traded with another comparatively valued commodity based upon the needs of both parties. Capitalism renders trade infinitely more efficient by introducing commodity exchange with the use of money, which is any medium that represents value in terms of the need for which it is exchanged. Trade assumes both the concept of property and the value of money.
Without getting into the details where the devil resides, capitalism is driven by needs… by the satisfaction of human needs and desires through trade. But there is no equity built into the system that we know as a free market economy. It’s all about competition for profit, some reward of extra value acquired by obtaining greater value in the trade than that value required to produce the commodity traded….. and blahblahblah… blah.
Simply put, capitalism is based on greed with the rewards going to those who can get more of everything than everybody else. It collapses every now and then due to massive inequities and inflated values inherent with inevitable institutional dishonesty when greed is the defining energy source… and when it does collapse, everyone suffers. Greed is at its peak today, so get ready for another major economic disaster.
I wrote the following assessment on Facebook back in October of 2016, before Trump was even elected, when everyone could not believe that the fascist pretender had a chance of becoming the “leader of the free world…”
“The pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry have grown fat and rich by developing pain medications that have caused drug dependencies in millions of people who would never have otherwise been led into a dependent lifestyle. In the meantime, criminalization of street drugs has led to mass incarcerations and created a for-profit prison industry that makes millions off the labor of prisoners in a new
brand of slavery. In the meantime, the price of life saving drugs which have been somewhat affordable in the past and necessary for the survival of millions of people are systematically and suddenly overvalued beyond the reach of any but the most wealthy Americans.
“Bankers commit crimes that result in catastrophic financial losses and economic collapse nationwide, putting thousands out of their homes and others out of their jobs. Not only does our government not prosecute these insidious parasites, but rewards them by bailing out their banks while they set up roadblocks that make it it virtually impossible for homeowners to come back from foreclosure. Injustice abounds. Social and economic equality does not exist in any discernible measure. We are not living in a post racial society, nor do we enjoy the same freedoms and opportunity that were prevalent only fifty years ago. We are moving quickly toward an oligarchy of race, privilege and wealth that fairly ignores the concept of the common good of all people in a democratic republic that once conceded this primary and indisputable fact… that we are all created equal.”
Tell me things have gotten better since then. I dare you. Capitalism will fail us again and again and again and again and… et cetera, et cetera… ad infinitum.
Okay… I get tired of criticizing things as they are. I want to talk about things as they should be. My next essay here won’t consist of any additional critiques… no continuation of an ongoing though relevant screed listing the numerous evils of American capitalism. Instead, I will begin to present an alternative possibility, a thing to be accomplished, not through some violent Marxist revolution, but American style.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something absolutely different and quintessentially… unequivocally American as… you know….