Sunday, October 23, 2011

Capitalism: A lust story

Everyone seems to have something to say about Occupy Wall Street. I don't. Like so many things, it could have been something, but everyone turned it into politics, so I don't want to play anymore. The thing that is so frustrating to me about it is that we are still attacking the problem from the wrong perspective. We're getting at the fruit and not the root as many old-timers would say. The honest-to-blog truth is that our real problem is that our beloved economic system is not designed to work in an economy this large. Transparency, at some point, is not enough to keep everyone honest because with a system this big, no matter how transparent it is, it is to big too keep an eye on everyone. If you are a hardcore pro-capital libertarian, I understand if you checking out now. That's fine.

I read Alan Greenspan's 500 page door-stop, The Age of Turbulence, a couple of months ago. In it he brags and back-pats his way through crisis after crisis and name-drops like he's at a high school reunion to come to the conclusion at the end that Capitalism is equal to economic freedom and the inherent risk is a skills-test of the market investor. At the end of it, I was sick at myself for thinking he was so brilliant for all of these years. The man is an enabler for a group of very sick people. There are things to be gambled with. I'm no prude, gambling is fun. Other people's lives, however, are not to be included in your ante.

I've got some friends, older gentlemen whom I respect and they love to debate me on this. I like debating with them as well because it's intelligent and not emotional. We genuinely like each other for reasons not related to our economic positions so it's all fun. They always like to tell me to produce a successful example of communism or socialism because they know that I have some serious issues with their baby. And of course, there are some. Most notably China, although one could argue that it enjoys a mixed-system of capitalism and socialism. Personally, I think that the idea of blending the two is perfect. Another example is South Korea, where my sister visits the a state-of-the-art, well-qualified doctor for about 1/30th of what it costs in the good ol' US of A. But I'm not here to offer constructive examples, I just wanna rant.

Yesterday, I read about different economic crises that were large enough to affect the whole world. There have been something in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 in the last 300 to 400 years. These are serious ones. The moments when greed takes hold so deeply that people are risking other people's money in ways that stand to either make a few people grossly rich or everyone grossly poor. The first being in 1637 and the last being one that we are currently mired in. And it's all because of this free-market, invisible hand, Adam Smithian, and even sometimes Keynesian economic malarkey. These systems are not based in freedom as their proponents would have you believe and on some occasions actually believe themselves. Capitalism is based in greed. They have convinced themselves that the lower elements of humanity are the truly motivational elements and therefore our systems should call to those parts of us. This is just pessimistic in my opinion to the point of being counterproductive.

People say it gives the people the freedom to choose from a marketplace of products and wages are set by level of skill and it's all so perfect and markets determine blah blah. What is becomes is a cold-blooded dog-eat-dog system in which people are making decisions on who lives and who dies based on who can produce the highest quality product at the lowest cost. It's like gladiatorial combat where each fighter has to get the approval of the crowd before delivering the death-blow. It's pretty sick if you really think about it. What people don't realize is that they begin working themselves out of a job with every advancement, falsely so-called. What they are actually working towards is their own guillotine but the profit margin won't let them see it until the panic/recession/depression/run on banks hits them square in the face.

No, capitalism is not about freedom. Capitalism is about lust for money: greed. Capitalism is a bad relationship with an abusive boyfriend who we keep running back to because of the great sex. He knows just how to stimulate us in the way we like at the best of times, so we make excuses for him when we show up to work with a black eye. Well I'm gonna tell you a secret about him. Each time we come back to him, he has another justification for his behavior. Despite his promises of reform, he will never stop hitting you, as a matter of fact it's going to keep getting worse. You keep telling him that while you don't appreciate his behavior, it's not a big enough problem to tarnish the other things you like about it.

What is the point of our economic system? At it's root, what is the real object of this whole thing? I always thought it was to regulate the exchange of goods and services between persons to ensure that everyone gets a fair deal; not to get rich. See, people in this country don't want fairness. They want to talk about fairness. They want to say amen when the pastor brings up equality. They want to cheerlead bootstrap success stories but only insomuch as they represent not having to lift a finger to see another person achieve something. We need to have the biggest house so everyone knows we're better than them. This filthy lucre is a message to the world but only if we can compare it to someone else's. The Empire State building is really only astonishing in comparison to all of the others. If every other building was that tall, we 'd want to build something taller. We have a sickness that has been thousands of years of financial competition in the making but it is not too late. We can still live! In reality, if we were to shift our competition from besting one another as citizens to besting other countries as a unit, we could change our entire outlook on economics and bring in a tide that lifts every boat from coast to coast. But we probably won't because we're still tribal in our minds. We want to fight the little war because the big war is inconceivable in our minds, it is too vast for our eyes to capture. Maybe when China starts dominating us in the Olympics too, we'll start to get it.

And who thought that a fiat currency was a good idea? Nothing in history - really listen to me now - NOTHING IN HISTORY has a more perfect record of failure. So it's not surprising that we really sank our teeth into it behind Richard Nixon.

1 comment:

C Bolsun said...

I thoroughly enjoyed every part of this. I think many of us see the addiction but how does "many" stop it? I compare it to an 80 year old smoker (2 packs a day/60 years) The smoker would tell you that the cigarettes are preserving their body and if they quit they would surely die...quickly. A shock to the system, a system that would not be able to handle the shock. How do you tell generations upon generations of persons to stop looking out for number one? You know, its hard enough telling myself that.