I posted this video to my facebook profile earlier today, a friend shared it and it drew some comments. I got long winded in my response, so I want to post it here and share out the work beyond the walled garden.
The video is incredibly gripping and powerfully edited. It is heavy handed, but the point is made. At every stage, the occupy wall street movement is being shunned and belittled. This has happened over and over again in American history. To minorities, to the poor, to the workers, and to socialists. It is happening again. Here. These are the free and the brave.
So these were the comments my friend got when he shared the video:
yes there is so much in common between libya and the us. why didn’t i think of that.
actually, the distribution of wealth in the united states is pretty similar to many dictatorships, but that’s out there already.
Even more telling — many more people gathered for tea party rallies across this country than have gathered for the OWS mobs. Yet no scenes of violence, defacement and damage of public property, anti-semitism, garbage piles, etc. i am so happy the dems are siding with the OWS crowd.
well, yeah. see earlier posts about who funded the tea party rallies. thanks NRA and Fox News! but anyway, here comes the one we knew would get here….
if the OWS mob has a theme at all, it is to kill capitalism and the free market system, the one financial structure that has created the highest standard of living for more people than any other system yet devised. while they haven’t offered any alternatives, the obvious one would be socialism, a system that has been proven a failure in every country where it’s been tried.
Ah that it is. The penultimate step towards Godwin’s Law. So… anyway, here’s my response:
take some time to read this please, it is long. far too long for talk radio talking points, but this is very serious.
i interpret the data differently, the clear message to me is that the markets are not free at all, and that republican democracy has been subverted by oligarchic plutocracy. the top four segments of the economy have all been deregulated and subsidized in ways that have moved tax payer dollars into the hands of extremely wealthy individuals while tax codes have been structured to keep profits made from the capitalization of those industry level subsidizes. these are far more long ranging and harmful than the overt bonuses paid to financial executives following the tax-payer bailouts.
just to hit a few off the top of the heap – billions for offshore or remote oil infrastructure that could not normally be brought to market at a competitive price, locally subsidized construction of telecomunications infrastructure and auction of public spectrum into private hands, monopolistic merging of banking entities and crossing of state lines until there is no choice or competition at the consumer level, consolidation of health care insurers without transparency in how premiums are spent when they have increased at a multiple of 10x the cost of providing basic service, the needless production of advanced weapons systems for our own consumption at a level that is completely out of balance with the world market, or – perhaps the most damaging globally, allowing massive balloon like growth in inflated economic value through the creation of deravative financial products that have no real value other than speculation on white paper debt…. we could go on and on.
but while not even granular, this is far more complicated on a macroeconomic and philosophical level than most are willing to engage.
capitalism is not without problems, however, particularly in a planet were global population, pollution, resource consumption, and communication were not even imagined when it was first conceived. predating the industrial revolution, adam smith’s vision of capitalism is far more moralistic and humanistic in philosophy than the economic system that came into being. marxism, a product of post industrial thought is more of a framework for understanding cultural interactions through conflict. an objective student can observe that both philosophical perspectives are at work in expansion of modes of production into cheaper labor markets where standards of living are lower and civil rights are laxed, but in the global information age we are seeing how short lived and unsustainable that kind of predatory capitalization strategy is. capitalism requires resources to capitalize and free markets require capital to be effective. our economy has become so dependent upon consumption instead of production that it is unstable, and there is not enough capital in the hands of consumers to move the needle any more.
and your points about socialism, while predictable ideology of the american culture that was propagandized against it by the mercantilist, industrialist, and financial ruling class, are not based in reality. the standards of living in many western european nations that adopted various models of democratic socialism based in no small part on george marshall’s reconstructive plan are higher than in the united states. our current economic disparity rivals the economy of pre-revolutionary france and, in terms of wealth per capita and chances of upward socio-economic mobility, the united states offers less to citizens than did great britain to its citizens at the end of the royalist economy that we found so repugnant that we revolted against it.
there are currently more people unemployed and in poverty in the united states than the whole population of sweden, commonly held by american conservatives as a boogeyman of socialism. in truth, our unemployed workforce is nearly twice the entire population of sweden. and it should be noted that there have been no changes to the tax structure of the job creating class, and corporate profits are record setting, but there are still no opportunities for these people — so that argument of job creating class is just not true. and there are great opportunities for ambition and accumulation of sizeable personal wealth in these societies — the owner of ikea – who lives in sweden and pays taxes there – is one of the world’s richest people and held the top spot on the forbes list a few years ago.
state socialism of the core industries that provide the foundation of all other industries and commerce – electricity, telecommunications, and healthcare, would remove cost burdens from employers who have had to lay off workers to mitigate the skyrocketing costs those industry segments have placed upon all other business. such a move is a natural step in the maturity of economic models, even predicted by capitalist economists. currently, taxpayers subsidize privatized non-competitive companies to supply these core services in sweetheart deals.
we have heard the calls for smaller and smaller government, but honestly, the expanding population requires levels of services and our marketplace requires solid infrastructure for people to do business in it, or else all business people become serfs or sharecroppers to the owners of the marketplace. the guise of smaller government has been achieved in the past several years by outsourcing critical functions to private contractors while lowering taxes on wealthy, but we have seen that the value for those services has been terrible and the price point was debt financed. debt became a tradable commodity, and people continued to get very wealthy more quickly than reasonable by financial trickery, without contributing real wealth to the marketplace.
there are more americans living in poverty than ever in the united states. this is proof that your argument is not true. more americans enjoy a lower standard of living because this market iteration is not free nor humanistic in the way adam smith envisioned. the needle has gone too far, and too few people who champion this form of government and economy are actually victims of it. this is not capitalism anymore. more appropriate words are oligarchy, plutocracy, and kleptocracy. these are all more conservative systems, and are so far to the right that they make real capitalism look like communism.
but the easiest solution is to stop the foreign wars we shouldn’t have started, stop buying weapons we don’t need because it is just our economy eating it’s own tail, and start re-investing in the growth of a middle class (our consumer market) who can buy things to move our domestic production and manufacturing capacity back up to a balanced domestic supply and demand. but first, make the exotic financial dealings that make money out of air illegal again, because that is what is really hurting us, and that is why people are mad at wall street.
they’re not a mob, they’re a market.
See, there’re not socialists, commies, damn dirty hippies, or even nazis (sorry Godwin), they’re customers, consumers, and producers. You business types can understand that, right? They’re citizens. They’re people…. and maybe they’re people who actually remember watching Mr. Rogers on PBS and give a shit about each other and making the world a better place.