Capitalism’s Piss-Poor Champions
– by David Matthews 2
One of the things about defending freedoms in America is that the defenders really don’t get to choose their clients. Defending freedoms mean you have to, in all likelihood, defend things that you would rather not, and sometimes people that you would rather not.
Do you think the attorneys in the American Civil Liberties Union want to defend a neo-Nazi group marching in the street or homeless people with no place to go? Do you think they want to defend the owner of an adult novelty store or the owners of a website where they share their love of S&M? It’s probably not high on their individual bucket lists, and the group itself certainly doesn’t use it as their advertisement. Instead, what they promote is that they defend something greater than their clients… namely freedom, and the civil rights of all citizens, even the ones they personally would not want to associate with.
The same, however, cannot be said about capitalism.
The people that consciously refuse to accept the message of the Wall Street protesters (which apparently has gone global now) are trying to make the protests be about capitalism itself. They use it to mock the protesters and accuse them of hypocrisy, since they need to use the very system to purchase their protest items and to blog about their arrests.
But while there are some that are using the protests to attack capitalism itself, that doesn’t mean all of the “Occupy” protesters are anti-capitalism; any more so than you could accuse the whole Tea Party crowd of being racists just because some of them fly Confederate flags and they all seem to have a seething hatred over who is living in the White House.
Unfortunately for those that have chosen profits over people, this is not a false characterization that they should be embracing. Making this argument be about capitalism itself actually serves as nothing short of an insult to the very system they claim to defend.
For starters, it presupposes that what we’ve been seeing these past few years IS capitalism at its best.
You tell me… when you look up capitalism in the dictionary, is there any reference to federally-funded bailouts? I don’t seem to recall anywhere in the dictionaries that I use that there is a part in there that mentions that government serves to bail out reckless companies. In fact, the definitions I see often talk about an “unregulated market”, which means no government involvement. So how is it that bailing out “Too Big To Fail” with hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars on loan from foreign nations be considered capitalism?
Speaking of which, would the very idea of any business being considered “Too Big To Fail” fit in anyone’s definition of capitalism? Think of all of the businesses that have come and gone over the generations. Would a true supporter of capitalism actually say that any of those businesses that have collapsed need to be supported and sustained with taxpayer money even to the detriment of a nation because it is “Too Big To Fail”?
Is bribery capitalism? We’re finding out that so-called “credit rating services” were giving favored ratings to financial schemes that they knew were nothing more than glorified houses of cards. And they were doing so because they would get bonuses to that effect. When you teach your children about capitalism, do you also teach them that cheating and bribery are an essential part of it?
Is perjury capitalism? There are banks that have signed foreclosure petitions, legal documents, that they know they have no claim to. That’s perjury; a criminal act. We actually impeached a sitting President of the United States for that. So when you send your children to business school to know about capitalism, are they taught how to break the law in the course of doing business?
Is theft-by-government capitalism? Developers have long used the power of local government through eminent domain to take private property of others for their own gain, and in at least one instance for the benefit of a rival business. So when you teach capitalism to someone from another country that never experienced it, do you point out that capitalism allows legalized stealing of someone else’s property for your own gain?
I’m sure the answer to all of those above question is “no”. No, I’m sure that you would be very adamant about saying that capitalism is not about stealing or bribery or theft or bailouts or breaking the law.
Nor would you want people to look at the social and economic devastation that has been caused these past three years because of abuses of those in Wall Street. You wouldn’t want people to see the neighborhoods turned into ghost towns through rampant foreclosures. You wouldn’t want people to hear about the escalating crime sprees caused by those out of work and desperate to do anything to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. You wouldn’t want them to hear about the abject misery caused by the lack of jobs, the lack of businesses, and the continued degradation of whole communities by the lack of tax revenue as a result of the lost jobs and the lost businesses. And all of this is going on while those in the top percentage of the income pile are raking in record profits, getting record bonuses, and still complaining endlessly like spoiled children about their “sorry” state of affairs.
No, you wouldn’t want people to think about any of those things when you tell them about capitalism.
And yet let’s get brutally honest here… that is precisely what you are doing when you make this subject be about capitalism. You are putting all of these things on a pedestal for people to see, warts and all, and then expecting everyone to just see what you want them to see and ignore the rest. You are not doing yourself or capitalism any favors when you are doing that.
What America has been going through for the past decade or so is nothing short of criminal. Fraud, corruption, cronyism, misrepresentation… there is a word for what we’ve been going through and it is not “capitalism”. It is called Raubwirtschaft, which is German for “plunder economy”.
If you’re going to defend capitalism and prop it up as the end-all-be-all for society, then you need to admit that what we’ve been going through is not it. The system that has been set up, the system that people are protesting up and down North America, and in fact around the world now, is not capitalism! It is a perversion of the very idea. What is being protested is what our system has become, which is a predatory system. A system of plunder and graft.
So if you’re going to continue to sit in willing ignorance and stupidity over what the protesters are really protesting over, you’d better make sure that you know what you’re really propping up and defending. Certainly if you want to carry on like you’re superior to those protesters, you better be able to prove it.