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Capitalism - the Gift That Keeps on Taking: Part II

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Part two of a four-part series in which Michael guarantees he will never work for a Fortune 500 company.

From Part One:

Most Americans are not capitalists. They might want to be capitalists, but no matter how much you, or that hardworking barista, that well-paid techno-nerd, small farmer, or gangsta rapping bank teller may want to be capitalists, you are not capitalists. You are workers.

Now that we know who is and who is not a capitalist, let's look at why this steaming sack of profit-driven demonology is antithetical to common sense, human values, kindness, puppies, Mom, and apple pie..."


Part Two:

Let's start with that barista, shall we? The wannabe/thinks she is a/capitalist, smiling while she serves up hot joe to a morning rush of caffeine-craving tension bombs. There she is, sweating over extra cinnamon froth, hurriedly steaming free range milk, and doing it all for minimum wage. Think about that: Minimum wage. Until recently many of our wealthiest publicly-traded corporations boasted about the begamajillions they showered on their CEOs, while simultaneously paying many of their hardest-working employees the government-mandated, rock-bottom amount they legally could get away with. Now, in the spotlight, some of these companies have cut back on their more obscene compensation packages, but if you think that money got shifted to those hard-working folks who actually need it, think again. And why would America's favorite high-value, low-price, supermarket to the world, we bring good things to light, 40 billion burgers sold, every corner coffee companies pay as little as they can without breaking the law? Because capitalism dictates that Labor costs be kept as low as possible so the greatest possible profit can be returned to the Investors. The workers do all of the work, and the money people get all of the profit. And profit only comes from raising prices and/or lowering wages. Corporations are legally mandated to return dividends, not pay reasonable wages to the people who do the actual work. So when that Barista can't make rent, get a winter coat, or buy school supplies for her kid it isn't because she isn't working hard enough, or that there isn't enough money. She's working plenty hard, but the extra money the corporation makes from her hard work is going to the capital investors, not her -- though a little is spent on her for propaganda to keep her believing that Capitalism works for her.

Myth: Capitalism Creates Wealth

No. Labor creates wealth. Capitalism simply profits from the labor.

Here's a test: A guy with no money on the beach. With his bare hands he builds a sand castle that is so beautiful people pay him to take their picture in front of it. All he invested was his labor, and he will have more money than he started with.
Labor = Money.

Another guy. Same beach, $100 in his pocket.

And that's it. Unless he does something. or pays someone to do something, that $100 is not going to increase. "Oh, he could invest it." Hold on, there, Sparky. Wherever the guy would invest his $100 his return would rely on someone's labor to turn it into profit. Starbucks is a profitable corporation, but if a laborer didn't pick the coffee beans, roast the coffee beans, grind the coffee beans, or add hot water to make overpriced, hot bean juice, Starbucks investors would never make a profit. Labor is the essential ingredient to profit. So why aren't we all proud Laborists, rather than wannabe Capitalists? Propaganda. And what kind of economy do you get when a nation convinces itself that money breeds money, investment alone creates wealth, and that labor is irrelevant? Look out the window.

Myth: Capitalism Is Self-Regulating

This is the statement made each time the market crashes -- that the real problem is that there are regulations at all, and that if left alone the market will fix itself. If your car ran like Capitalism -- some days humming along great, other days needing a government tow truck to get it to a shop where the mechanic can only promise more booms and breakdowns after it's "fixed" -- you wouldn't call your car "self-regulating." You'd call it junk. You'd give it away on Craigslist for parts and start looking for something that worked. But the mechanics of Wall Street -- the same mental minnows who two years ago insisted the economic engine was just warming up when in fact the damn car was on fire -- when these sleazy, used car-selling felons tell us this is how the car of capitalism is supposed to run, we consistently fail to trade it in for a better model.

Myth: Capitalism Fosters Competition

Okay, that's just insane. The object of any corporation is to dominate its market, not joyfully share it. It's not about building a better mousetrap, it's about lowering labor costs so the competition's price can be undercut, while building enough investor capital so that all the competing, and perhaps better, mousetrap companies can simply be bought. And anyone who says something different is trying to sell you on tossing out some anti-monopoly regulation. The goal of capitalism is profit. Market dominance equals greater profit. Monopoly insures dominance. The enemy of monopoly is competition. Capitalism always tends toward monopoly.

Myth: Capitalism Works Best with Fewer or No Restrictions

Really? Remember the Recession of 1981? Most serious economic slump since the Great Depression? And what preceded it? The Depository Institutions Deregulations and Monetary Control Act of 1980, which ended many of the regulations on how banks invest your money. Regulations gone, and so they played in the stock market, speculated in Real Estate, lost our dough, and the Federal Government had to spend $870 million to bail them out. Is this sounding familiar? And that was when $870 million could really buy something! And how did these cash-sucking colon worms follow that? With the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, which further deregulated banks, and also the...wait for it...Savings and Loans! By 1983 the FDIC listed 540 banks on the verge of failure, and then the S&L crisis popped. Who didn't see that coming? Another $160 billion! All this during the Reagan "Recovery."

And what legislative Crap-o-rama landed in 1999, right before the latest daylight robbery of our future? The Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, overturning the bank regulating Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had separated commercial and investment banking. Result? Again, look outside! Go! Now! Look! Every bust is proceeded by a natural disaster, a war, some investment bubble, or the loosening of some regulations. History shows that capitalists, like wars, earthquakes, and floods, will always wreck our country -- the only difference being natural disasters don't also rob us in the process.

Part Three