CQ17: Do we need to rethink our version of democracy; of elections and governance; of reconnecting with real people and their issues?
It is quite the political season, what with the US Presidential election looming, and since I am of a political mindset today, I figured I would attempt to delve into Kate’s Creative Question.
Normally, I am not a politically-minded person, but I am a history buff, so politics does interest me from a historical point of view. And I will admit that I am not a fan of Capitalism. I am a liberal progressive and I believe in inclusivity. I am not in favor of the top 1% having the bulk of the wealth while the lower 99% falls deeper and deeper into poverty. This is what Capitalism has done to this country, not just now, but throughout our history. In the past, huge monopolies gave the top 1% an economic advantage. These capitalists controlled our country’s wealth through our banking, trade and labor systems. The bulk of Americans lived in poverty-like conditions while these wealthy Capitalists lived in luxury. We saw changes during the late 40s and 50s when a middle class emerged through FDR’s policies and our country became economically strong.
So when did it all begin to go wrong? We can trace the decline of the middle class back to the 1980s when Reagan first proposed his “trickle-down” theory. The premise of this was that if we gave corporations (capitalists) huge tax breaks, then they would open more businesses, thus creating more jobs, and the wealth would trickle down to the lower 99%. It continued during GHW Bush’s administration when he first proposed NAFTA, the North American trade deal with Mexico and Canada. This deal was supposed to allow Mexican and Canadian companies to trade openly with the US. It was signed by Bill Clinton during his administration. What happened instead was that US corporations found cheaper labor, mainly in Mexico, and began moving their corporations out of the US and into Mexico. Other trade deals followed in the ensuing years, allowing corporations to move overseas to China, India, Bangladesh, etc. All of these corporations were looking for the same things – cheap labor, a lax on environmental laws, and more money in their pockets. And who got the shaft? American workers, the 99%.
So now we are looking at the same situation that we faced as a country before the 1940s. Capitalism has once again turned us into an economically backwards country. Those at the top love Capitalism because it makes them wealthy. They tell the American people that if we just worked harder, we too could reap the benefits of Capitalism, but they are merely feeding us a pipe dream. We are being lied to by those who hate the very idea that the 99% could be as rich as the 1%. Both sides of our current political agenda want to keep us living in poverty. They occasionally throw us bones to keep us pacified, but the truth is, as long as Capitalism is the American Way, the 99% will always be poor.
So what is the alternative? There are many corporations in this country who do the right thing. They allow unions and incentive programs, like sharing company profits with the workers. These corporations know that American workers are happy and satisfied when they benefit from their labor. Most of these are medium to small-sized businesses. They don’t get the big tax breaks of large corporations. And perhaps, that is what makes these companies better for our current economic situation. But what is more important is that these companies reflect a more socialistic atmosphere.
Socialism isn’t the “devil” that many Capitalist paint it as such, and it definitely is nothing even remotely close to Communism. Socialism is an unselfish form of government. Its premise is that when we help the less fortunate in our communities, we also help ourselves as a whole. It says that even the lessors of our people have value and should be taken care of – children, the elderly, the disabled. And we do this by everyone paying their fair share of taxes, the poorest and, most definitely, the wealthiest. Critics say that Socialism is Un-American, but those critics have been fed the Capitalistic pipe dream for centuries. It goes back to the days of Kingdoms and fiefdoms. The wealthy deserve to remain wealthy and the poor must just endure. We see Socialism in action in small communities all over this country – charities, churches giving aid, food banks, bake sales for children’s school activities, etc. Capitalistic-minded people even participate in these kinds of events, but they don’t realize that these things embody the very spirit of Socialism.
Our government would benefit from adopting more Socialist ideas by giving incentives to companies that enrich their workers through unions and profit sharing programs, by creating a fair tax plan for all Americans (the poor and wealthy), by investing in schools, our infrastructures, and our health care, and finally, by punishing companies who outsource their jobs overseas. We need to stop being a selfish country where we think of ourselves as individuals and only look out for number one. We all have value and we should all reap the benefits of what this country has to offer.