Thursday, September 17, 2009

140. American capitalism is broken

Although I will, I don't need to see Michael Moore's new movie on capitalism to suggest what I already know: the American version of capitalism is broken.

What has become increasingly clear. . . the one common link to most problems in this country, from the banking industry and Wall Street, to the mistreatment of animals on farms, outsourcing of American labor, political corruption, the war in Iraq, illegal and legal immigration, and, yes, healthcare, is the corruption of capitalism.

Self-interest, greed, corruption and oppression have become capitalistic principles rather than abuses and exceptions.

It is amazing that people remain unable to make the connection. Opposed to American jobs being shipped to China-that's capitalism. Upset that the Indians had to trade C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, declaring bankruptcy because you can't afford your medical bills, or think it's unfair that illegal aliens are here taking American jobs-that's capitalism. Think that the college football "Bowl Championship Series" is absurd, compassionate enough to think animals should have room to turn around in their cages, or had to close your small business because Wall-Mart moved to town-well, that's capitalism too.

One percent of the population continues to own as much as the bottom 95% of Americans combined; CEOs make 550 times that of their lowest paid workers. Yet, the American dream is sold to the public and its people, who ferociously defend the system. It is a system, as presently applied, that keeps the very wealthy, well, very wealthy.

Somehow, people who make $50,000 or $100,000 think this is a great economic system, they think they have "made it," that thanks to capitalism their "hard work" has paid off. The top one percent must just sit back and laugh when they see these people at town hall meetings fighting against "socialized medicine" or "entitlement programs." They are fighting their battle for them. They have been successful in marketing capitalism as patriotic as baseball and apple pie.

Not only have the very wealthy succeeded in balancing that fine line that gives the middle class just enough to keep them from uprising, they have succeeded in convincing the middle class to defend the system that allows this to happen.

Pure capitalism can work, and should work. However, it needs to be just that, pure. Capitalistic interest must be removed from our political system. Lobbyists and political contributions must be dismissed as a controlling influence on our political officials. Government rules and regulations have thus far been a pathetic attempt to curtail abuse-the wealthy are adept at finding loopholes. Bailouts should be unconscionable interference, however, capitalistic endeavors have put the country's fate in the hands of a few mega-corporations-whose failures would ruin the lives of millions of Americans.

In the current debate, it is the blatant failure of capitalism that provides the basis for the consideration of government-run healthcare. Any discussion on health care reform must start here. Insurance companies, Wall Street and corporations have nobody else to blame but themselves. They are the ones that have established the current system of healthcare in this country-one that is obsessed with profits and greed. It is a system that denies coverage to millions, one that is laden with fraud, theft and millions spent on self-preservation.

However, even today, they are the ones laughing as fiscal conservatives fight their battle. They are smoking cigars and toasting those who have been obsessively distracted by things such as deficits, illegal aliens, tort reform, abortion, and government inefficiencies. It's not that these things are not important, or don't matter, because they are very important. It is that people are acting on behalf of the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and other interested parties-and their arguments are smoldering in hypocrisy.

I learned all about shareholder wealth, market economies and the other arguments for capitalism while I was earning my MBA. However, I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid to see things as they really are. Maybe, someday, Americans will also put down their drink. Pure capitalism can work; our system is corrupt and oppressive. Unfortunately, that is no longer just an opinion.

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