Sunday, August 5, 2007

Capitalism has Outlived its Usefullness

I watched the Minnesota Interstate Highway bridge collapse. I watched the amazing pictures of the New York City steam pipe explosion; and I watched the levees crumble and saw New Orleans flooded.

I wanted to write about how America’s infrastructure is falling apart. I was going to point out that there is insufficient money in the Federal Budget to upgrade and maintain the roads, bridges and utilities we all share and are imperative to our standard of living.

I was going to close by making the point that the war in Iraq is costing us well over two billion dollars a week and that the money could pay for rebuilding our infrastructure. I was going to show that it could go a long way to making good on the promise of decent health care service for us all.

But I started thinking; if we weren’t involved in a catastrophic war where would we spend the $300 million a day the war is costing us? Would this money go to rebuilding our power grid? Would prescription drugs be available to those who need them? Would our roads, bridges, rail roads, air traffic control systems be improved? Would health care for all be affordable?

Nahhh! I don’t think so. Since 2001 the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s have all received budget cuts of up to 4%. The Corps of Engineers, despite what they were doing in New Orleans, receives almost 2% less than in 2001.

These are the federal departments most directly responsible for the upkeep of our national infrastructure; they are not even close to staying even with the degeneration of our national infrastructure. The physical degeneration of our country didn’t start under the current administration. The infrastructure was crumbling under previous administrations as well.

Why? Isn’t our government supposed to meet the needs of we, the people? The truth is, government sees to the needs of those who control the national purse strings. The Investment Bankers, Wall Street Tycoons, Oil Company Magnates and the others who control 80% of our country’s wealth call the shots. If they want a tax cut, they get a tax cut. If they want less regulation, they get ‘em. If they want to increase their control over the world’s oil, the government does its best to accommodate them.

There are men and women in government who are decent and actually try to represent the interests of the majority of people. But the rich and powerful are winning the ideological class war; and large numbers of us who are not part of the economic elite have bought into their lies.

The big lie is that the rich deserve everything they have and if you are not happy; it’s your own fault. Not happy with your lack of health insurance? Eat healthier and you won’t need it. Not happy because your workplace closed and now you’re forced to work two jobs to make as much as one used too? It’s your own fault for not getting that Masters Degree in Business. Not happy because the color of your skin seems to draw the attention of the police as you drive? Quit whining – You should be more careful where you drive. You’re not happy because it’s impossible for your power chair to negotiate the curb cuts in your neighborhood? Blame your Mother for taking thalidomide. Not happy because it’s getting more expensive to gas up your car? Blame the environmentalists for blocking drilling off the coast of Florida. Not happy because that low paying job you had laid you off to hire new immigrants? Don’t blame the owners, blame the new immigrant. And so it goes.

They’ve got us so turned around that for the first time in history the have-nots are blaming folks who have less for our dissatisfaction. In fact, many of us are more likely to identify with the rich and powerful than with our neighbors and co-workers.

History is filled with examples of how economic systems become obsolete and are replaced. It was only a couple of hundred years ago with the start of the industrial revolution that the feudal system was replaced by capitalism. That was a good thing. Feudalism became a brake on the ability of society to move ahead. Capitalism filled the historical bill. People who had a stake in maintaining feudalism fought hard against the budding capitalists. There were revolutions aimed at overthrowing or restricting the power of the feudalists in Germany, France, England, the United States and just about the rest of the industrializing world. Back then it was the capitalists who were the revolutionaries.

It is time to end capitalism's reign. It no longer is capable of moving the standard of living for all forward. It is incapable of providing the breakthroughs to benefit humanity. Those who profit from capitalism are engaged in a giant war to maintain their privilege and make us think that these inequalities are right and just.

Let’s get over our fear of being called names and open our minds and our hearts to create an economic system where greed is not good but concern for our co-inhabitants of this planet is.