May 5, 2013
Unregulated capitalism is out of control. Like a cancer
it has become "something evil or malignant that spreads destructively,"
with tumors growing in several once-healthy parts of the American body.
1. Attacking the Hungry
uncontrolled growth of investment wealth is diverting resources away
from vital programs, effectively smothering them. The average
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
received about $1,500 for food for the entire year. At least ten
Americans each made that much in under ten seconds from their investment
gains in 2012
, about the time it took each one to fluff his pillow and roll over in bed.
Under capitalism, fortunes accrue to a few while 47 million
Americans, or one out of seven, need food assistance
. Almost half of the hungry are children
. For every food bank we had in 1980
, we now have 200.
Yet just 20 people made more from their investment income in one year
than the entire 2011 food assistance budget
That's $73 billion, taxed at the capital gains rate. Meanwhile,
President Obama couldn't get the $1 billion per year he needed to
improve childhood nutrition
Most recently, the House proposed a farm bill
that would cut another $2 billion a year from the food stamps account.
2. Suffocating the Students
corporate style of capitalism allows young college graduates, the
bright hope of the future, to work in minimum wage positions while
carrying an average of $26,000
in student loans, which accumulated because tuition rose ten times faster
than the cost of living, and which now come with interest rates
many times higher than the banks pay.
The great majority of pre-recession jobs have been replaced, if they've come back at all, aslow-wage
jobs in food service and retail. The number of college grads working for minimum wage has doubled
in five years. They may be the 'fortunate' ones. In 2011, about 360,000
Americans holding advanced degrees were on food stamps or some other form of public assistance. Many of them are homeless
Jobless and frustrated young Americans trusted the system, and it failed them. Yet free enterprise entrepreneurs hustle
for even more college, in order to extract federal loan money, which
goes right to the schools to pay administrative salaries.
Defenders of capitalism say hard work will ensure success. At a recent jobs hearing
in Washington, only one Congressman bothered to show up.
3. Weakening the Children
The disease has been spreading since the 1960s, when life expectancy
began to decrease along with increasing health care costs. Capitalism has betrayed our children. A UNICEF study
places the U.S. 22nd out of 24 OECD countries in "children's health and well-being."
Child poverty, perhaps the main cause of their health problems, is up 50%
since 1973, with the rate for minorities three times that for white children.
global poverty ranking is shameful. Despite having the second-highest
average income for children among the 30 OECD countries, the U.S.
ranked 27th out of 30 for child poverty
(percentage of children living in households that are below 50% of the median income).
4. Depleting the Taxpayers
The body of our society has been drained of its vital juices by tax avoidance. Loopholes and exemptions cost the public about a trillion dollars
a year, and underreported
costs another $450 billion. The total is much more than the cost of our
stable but always threatened Social Security program.
Since the recession, Fortune 500 corporations have cut
their tax payments in half, even though their profits have doubled in less than ten years.
Finally, it is estimated
that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed, with up to40%
owned by Americans. U.S. PIRG
that the average taxpayer in 2012 paid an extra $1,026 in taxes to make
up for tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals. The
average small business paid $3,067.
5 .Paralyzing the Voters
and Congress are a carcinogenic mix. Voters are rendered useless, like
withering organs, as all the attention is given to the greedy mass of
nutrient-taking super-rich individuals and companies.
A vast majority of Americans want background checks
on guns, an emphasis
on clean energy
, job stimulus
programs, taxes on the rich
, and an uncut Social Security
program. Yet Congress only hears the ka-ching of campaign contributions. Of the 435 House elections
in 2004, 95% of them were won by the candidates who outspent their opponents.
There's much more to the sickness, like the workplace explosions and fires triggered by cost-cutting measures, banks preying
on working people, the environmental
destruction caused by oil companies
global warming, the middle class collapse caused by corporations
transferring jobs overseas and then calling themselves multi-nationals
to avoid allegiance to the country that supported their growth. Et
cetera, et cetera.
This all allows a small number of people to
make most of the money. These are the people who demand 'freedom' at the
first hint of regulation.
The post-WW2 American body began to
deteriorate around the time of Milton Friedman, author of one of the
all-time economic inaccuracies: "The free market system distributes the
fruits of economic progress among all people." For forty years the
sickness caused by his teaching has spread, at first without pronounced
symptoms, but now in an out-of-control process that threatens to
incapacitate the better part of America. A revolutionary medicine may be
the only hope for recovery. A revolution, that is, of co-ops and small
farms and local currencies and solar panels on the rooftops.
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