Gadfly | March 13th, 2023
By Ed Raymond
We Have Had a Mix of Disaster, Chaos, Rotting Capitalism and Socialism for 400 Years
Capitalism leads to a branch of slavery where men and women are in bondage to the plutocrats and oligarchs who have acquired monopolies—unless socialist programs are utilized to restrain economic inequality. We don’t have property deeds for humans as we did before 1865, but bondage remains the same.
Let’s look at the legal definitions of slavery: “Bondage to a master or household. A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force. The condition of being subjected or addicted to specific influence.”
Think of what the Republican Supreme Court with its Citizens United decision has done to the two political parties representing 336 million people. Removing the limits on campaign contributions has enslaved many sitting at the Resolute desk in the White House and those sitting at the 535 Congressional desks in the capitol. Think of the new Speaker of the House and the Georgia representative who believes Jews are firing lasers at—things.
In 1832 Senator Edward Lloyd of Maryland owned 468 slaves. Henry Clay, another slave owner of note, has 16 counties in the U.S. named after him. Since our government was founded, 1,800 Congresspersons have owned slaves.
The dictionary definition of emancipation is tied directly to slavery: “To free from oppression, bondage, or authority: liberate. To free from restraint. To release from slavery or tutelage.”
We have reached the point where three American billionaires have cash, property, and assets, depending upon the day or week, greater than 64% of the American people living paycheck to paycheck. The day-to-day richest man in the world Elon Musk doesn’t pay into Social Security because he operates without a salary. People who make a million a year in wages pay into Social Security for two months.
These facts contribute to the notion that, as Jennifer Szalai writes in the New York Times, “Is the Marriage Between Democracy and Capitalism on the Rocks?” She quotes Martin Wolf, economics commentator of The Financial Times, from his book The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism: “Capitalism cannot survive in the long run without a democratic polity, and democracy cannot survive in the long run without a market economy.”
He reports a truth: Capitalism supplies democracy with resources while democracy supplies capitalism with legitimacy.
The relationship between democracy and capitalism has gone haywire because an “unhinged financial system” led by Wall Street constantly promotes a “rigged” economy for the already wealthy.
Harry Truman, one of my favorite presidents, often got tired of hearing Harvard, Yale, and Chicago economists predicting recessions and bull markets, and suggested he was only going to take the advice of one-armed economists because they couldn’t say “On the other hand…”
For centuries we have had upturns, downturns, and terrible predictions because of wars and politicians on the make, every 20 years or so. The Big Depression lasted about 20 years after investment bankers went “splat” near the bull on Wall Street.
Muscular unions after WW II created a strong middle-class, while millions of veterans achieved middle-class rank by going to college on the Gi Bill. It’s how I got an MA degree when we had three kids.
From Feudal to Monarchy to Capitalism
Since the Industrial Revolution ended the feudal system employed by many countries, governments have taken turns providing resources for sustaining workers or hoarding the resources for their own greedy wallets under the spell of capitalism.
It takes a blending of capitalism and socialism to create “the common good.” Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland have balanced capitalism of the marketplace and socialism of the home to create satisfied and happy societies. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is nonexistent in these countries because of safety nets for all residents.
More than 130 million American families have no secure safety nets and don’t have enough cash to buy a set of tires.
President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in 2020, but the lone democratic socialist in the Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, supplied the political platform that attracted 81 million voters. Biden, in his 44 years in national government had only one talent: the ability to “jaja” the “right” people with the most voters.
Corporate donors who enslaved members of the Democratic National Committee paid for Biden’s nomination and election.
Biden was already an old man at 78 when elected, while Bernie was a young 78 as a senator who had the passion, issues, temperament, and all-around moxie to win over young voters and independents. I am exposed constantly to people between the ages of 75 and 95 in an assisted living environment. Some residents are very old 75s and some are very young 95s.
Sanders is not a pure socialist. He doesn’t believe that governments should own and run all the means of production. He does believe that capitalism became a disaster in the 1920s, a chaos in the 1980s, and is now rotting America in the 21st Century because “Greed is Good.”
Greed has no limit. Huge monopolies such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Tesla viciously oppose the right of workers to organize by firing organizers, assigning them erratic schedules, or by closing facilities when they do organize.
The Labor Department, weakened by Congressional slaves during Republican administrations, is unable to punish lawbreakers because of small fines that just become a cost of doing business.
The stagnation of wages over the last half century, the declining labor movement, the explosive growth of millionaires and billionaires, and tax cuts primarily for the wealthy have added to the rot.
Why Do We Spend Twice as Much on Health Care as Any Other Developed Country?
Bernie Sanders understands why we have a crisis in health care. Passage of his Medical-for-All program would just begin to cure the rot. In 2021 the Divided States of America, the only industrialized and developed country without universal health care, spent $12,318 per capita on health care. The rest of the developed countries spent less than $6,000 and provided much better care. The results? We have lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates than almost all other developed countries.
U.S. drug companies charge $100 a vial for insulin while Great Britain pays $8.00. Slaves in a rotting Congress don’t even ask why. Why did a hospital charge a patient $1,830 for a pair of orthotic insoles? Because it can. Although the health care sector eats up about 20% of our Gross National Product, it has to be considered a rotting failure which must be corrected by democratic socialism.
What is the most common debt owed by families? Why are credit scores so low in the South? Medical debt, the reason more than 500,000 American families file bankruptcy each year. Of the top 100 counties with the highest share of adults fighting to pay medical debt, 92 are in the South, in states governed by Republicans. Welcome to the Grand Old Party!
Martin Wolf summarizes his book in one sentence: “Capitalism expands wherever it can, plowing its way through national boundaries and local traditions---making it marvelously dynamic or utterly ruinous, and not infrequently both.” Amen.
Of 500 members in Congress, We have only One Atheist. Why Don’t We Have a Better Country?
California Representative Jared Huffman was elected to the House in 2013 and admits he is an atheist, but he likes to describe himself as a humanist. His bio relates he was a fine student, an Olympic volleyball player, and another law graduate from the Ivy Leagues.
Halfway through this column, I thought, with 534 religious people in Congress, why in hell aren’t we doing better in governing this nation? Good Heavens, if I may use that phrase, we have 385 Christians in Congress (166 Democrats, 219 Republicans), 25 Jews (23 Dems, 2 Republicans), 3 Muslim Democrats, 3 Democratic Unitarian Universalists, 2 Democratic Hindus, 1 Buddhist Democrat.
And 14 who refused to state what they were (13 Democrats and 1 Republican---supposedly. (Maybe they are Qanons, zombies, or worship the Great Spaghetti monster.)
We have 222 Republicans and 212 Democrats in Congress, all claiming they practice their various religions. They don’t “practice” much. With all that religious power in Washington, why are we killing each other at a world record rate with AR-15s and Glocks?
The Bible has more than 2,000 references about the poor. Jesus mentioned them quite often. Why do we have the greatest economic inequality in the world when we have 434 Congresspersons who claim they “practice” religion? They have the political power to resolve this outrage. Man, that atheist must really have power like DeSantis!
A very rich person is going to spend $30 to $50 million at a Sotheby’s auction to buy the oldest Bible in the world, called the Codex Sassoon. It will most likely set a record for the most valuable historical document ever sold at auction. The world has 3,311 billionaires today and will probably add a couple tomorrow, so the Bible might go way above the estimate. To spend that kind of money on an old book, is the buyer making an investment or does he want to learn something about life from it?
Which religion is teaching “Kill thy Neighbor”? Why are Roman Catholics taking pictures of saints armed with AR-15s in their arms and using gun symbols instead of beads on rosaries they use to pray?
Why do evangelical Christians insist that males are heads of households and females should be kept pregnant without shoes? Five evangelical churches were recently tossed out of the Southern Baptist organization for hiring female preachers.
The Vatican has been excommunicating women for years who claim they have been ordained as priests. At least they aren’t in the sacristy or out on the streets abusing kids. Why should the Vatican insist women cannot be priests because there were no women sitting at the table in the Last Supper? Women in the kitchen, some pregnant with future apostles and priests, must have prepared the menu and others served it.
For just a moment the other day I thought it would be much better if the human female had the same periods and pregnancy as the female elephant. The matriarch is interested in sex for only a few days every five years because her pregnancy lasts for 22 months, and she feeds and trains her infant for more than two years. Then she looks for a one-night stand who is roaming the plains looking for nookie. She signals her selection with a low sound and he comes a‘running. It sounds like a better plan.
To Mike Hulett and His Sweeties
Yes, Mike, life begins at conception. But so does death a mini-second later. Homo sapiens are at the top of the animal ladder and have dominion over some things, but the birthing process is imperfect. Out of 100 pregnancies, 25 fetuses will not see the sun. Twenty-one will be miscarried and aborted, and four will suffer serious anomalies discovered late in the pregnancy such as lack of organs or terminal disease, and must be removed from the mother to save her life.
In real life, abortion is about economics and healthcare, not religion.
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