We the Underdogs: Capitalism and Democracy

I think most of America’s problems stem from two things.

Firstly, we are supposedly a capitalist country and democratic republic.  And yet, it seems as if capitalism and democracy, by their very nature, are diametrically opposed. Until the people that are supposed to represent us stop taking campaign money from business lobbyists and religious organizations, we can never hope to realize the freedoms we thought our constitution protected.

Capitalism is (supposedly/ideally) is a social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is the system of laissez-faire (freedom). Legally it is a system of objective laws (rule of law as opposed to rule of man). Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production its’ result is the free-market.(source)

Closer to the truth of the matter, yet still idealistic, may be the Wikipedia definition:

An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital assets and goods. In a capitalist economy, investors are free to buy, sell, produce, and distribute goods and services with at most limited government control, at prices determined primarily by a competition for profit in a free market. Central elements of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, and a price system.

What capitalism seems to mean in America now, though, is closer to Jafar’s idea of the golden rule:

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It feels like everything is crony capitalism,

I found it rather interesting (in a sad and ironic way) how Ayn Rand described capitalism.

When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

That’s all swell, but we really don’t have separation of church and state either. But this will never stop until politicians are disallowed from taking campaign money from lobbyists and churches. Until that happens, politicians will always be more influenced by what their contributors want then by what the people want.  Some people debate the meaning of the “separation of church and state” mentioned in constitution.  Some people, myself included, feel that parts of the constitution are obsolete. Sacrilege!  But I do wonder, how “ironclad” can it be if it can be “amended” so much?  I think regardless of what was intended then, I think today one can not write legislation for a whole country based on one religion, and with many politicians in the church’s pocket, that’s pretty much exactly what’s happening (think about how they’re trying to jam prayer back into school and force women’s reproductive rights issues.)

Anyway, it’s my opinion…my belief…that between the capitalism that keeps the poor poor–

Attempts at eliminating minimum wage and claiming it will “help” the poor (one can only guess at the ass backwards logic behind that one).  Forcing taxpayers to subsidize their profits by footing the bill for all the Walmart employees  on welfare or food stamps as a result of their pitifully inadequate wages, and let’s not forget the government bailing out Big Business–

–and the religious conservatives bent on forcing us all to follow their rules and code of morality through legislation (lobbyists giving money to influence representatives…and here money comes into play again) the majority of America is in a stranglehold.  Basically, if we’re not CEOs of the gas companies, we’re the schmucks who pay 3.69 a gallon because we have no real recourse.  After all,  our representatives’ campaigns are probably being financed by the gas company.  This is a very simplistic generalization, but you see what I’m getting at, and I am not the only person who feels the weight of being low man on the totem…    

Let me finish up by leaving you with another Ayn Rand quote to think on:

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.

Yup…we’re doomed.

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Conflict or “Equilibrium”

My regular readers know I’m becoming quite the misanthrope in my old age (that’d be 31.)   The world is a lot smaller now that we’re all virtually connected via the internet.  Everyday that I’m online, I’m bombarded with information, a lot of it bad news.  War, famine, rape, death, abuse, injustice.  People doing horrible things to the Earth, animals, each other…their own children.  It’s always been around, but now we’re ever more aware of it, and it seems to be getting worse.

Becoming a mother has made me hypersensitive to the atrocity.  I hate this world we live in.  I hate these people who can’t see past their own id.  My heart breaks for the innocents, and I’m often afraid for my child, who has to grow up in… a sea of crazy people.  I wonder what we can do to effect a significant change in people…   It feels like there’s nothing we can do.

And then today,  I started watching Equilibrium.

The film follows John Preston (Bale), a warrior-priest and enforcement officer in a future dystopia where both feelings and artistic expression are outlawed and citizens take daily injections of drugs to suppress their emotions.

Based on the concept that emotions are the root of all strife in the world, the logic is that by eliminating these basic emotions, conflict is eliminated.  And the concept seems to have merit, if you don’t consider the immediate execution of any persons committing “sense” offenses, as well as the incineration of any emotionally stimulating material– art, music, and apparently, puppies–  to be “conflict.”

I'm sure this was the director's intention, but is it any wonder the insignia for the dystopic powers that be looks like a swastika?

I’m sure this was the director’s intention, but is it any wonder the insignia for the dystopic powers that be looks like a swastika?

But as you may well have guessed, it is a colorless, pointless, and dull existence, devoid of any happiness…or empathy And in the end, isn’t the absence of empathy the root of the problem our world already faces?

The problem with the film…  Sean Bean.  Goddammit! Is there any film in which he doesn’t die ?

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Sean Bean_Stay Alive

Just Sayin’

Came across this on Facebook this morning.  In the interest of brevity, I edited some of it out, but you can see the whole thing here.  Also, it should be noted that the validity of some of the facts contained in the following have been called into question. You can check out one guy’s rebuttal here.

Wal-Mart vs. The Morons
1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart Every hour of every day. 2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target +Sears + CostcoK-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people, is the world’s largest private employer, and most speak English.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger and Safeway combined…
8. During this same period, 31 big supermarket chains sought
bankruptcy…
11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at Wal-Mart stores. (Earth’s population is approximately 6.5 Billion.)
You may think that I am complaining, but I am really laying the ground work for suggesting that MAYBE we should hire the guys who run Wal-Mart to fix the economy.
To President Obama and all 535 voting members of the Legislature…
a. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.
b. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.
c. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.
d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to”the poor” and they only want more.
e. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.
You have FAILED in every “government service” you have shoved down our throats while overspending our tax dollars.
AND YOU WANT AMERICANS TO BELIEVE YOU CAN BE TRUSTED WITH A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM??
AND I know what’s wrong. We have lost our minds to “Political Correctness”
Someone please tell me what is wrong with all the people that
run this country!!!!!!
We’re “broke” and can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless, etc. and the last months we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, and Turkey and now Pakistan ( the previous home of bin Laden). literally, BILLIONS of DOLLARS!!!
Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid nor do they get any breaks.
AMERICA: a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without needed medicines, and mentally ill without treatment, etc.

What I want to point out really has more to do with the attitude of the piece than with any specific “facts” represented within.  One passage in particular really rubbed me the wrong way.
Let’s look specifically at this passage:
We’re “broke” and can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless, etc. and the last months we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, and Turkey and now Pakistan ( the previous home of bin Laden). literally, BILLIONS of DOLLARS!!!
Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid nor do they get any breaks.
AMERICA: a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without needed medicines, and mentally ill without treatment, etc.
This would mean so much more if the people purporting this supposed injustice actually gave a shit. I don’t think it’s that we “can’t” help our own people… I think the problem is that many people in this country (specifically the “haves,” as opposed to the “have nots”) have just as much disdain for and issues with helping “our own” people as they do those of other countries.  There’s this perception that if you’re poor in American, it’s because you are lazy.  It’s evident in all the snide remarks about people on “welfare” and food stamps I see all over social media.  Don’t believe me?  The writer of this piece expressed some of that disdain with his claim:
$1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to”the poor” and they only want more.
I’d like to take his little air quotes and shove them up his ass.  Sure, there are many people that milk the system.  But there are just as many people who try to do things to improve their situation and are rewarded with a reduction in help from the government.  If you’re pissed that people are being lazy, maybe you should re-examine the way the government rewards the laziness more than it does people who are trying to get out of the hole.   You can go to work, make a pittance, and lose your food stamps, yet if you stay home and sit on your ass, you will keep receiving the full amount.   So why would someone who is poor and needs all the help they can get want to be penalized for trying to do the right thing?
That aside, let’s take a minute to examine the self-important attitude and complete lack of compassion directed towards the poor in this country, as shown in just that single statement.  Apparently the writer has a better idea of how to decide who is worthy of help in this country and who is not.  The very “poor” people he decries for sucking up all the “confiscated” money may well be the parents of the “children going to bed hungry,” or the “elderly without needed medicine.”
Anyway, that said, I believe the article has some valid points.  The amount of money congress makes (and they can approve their own “automatic raises”) is obscene, and yet this country’s budget is in the toilet.   Maybe we should focus on changing that before passing judgment on and withholding aid from “the poor,” less fortunate people of our country.  Just sayin’.