Quacking on the Eve of Diasaster

Lame duck President Bush speaking recently about the economic depression we now face said: “We must save capitalism,” “Government is not the total solution,” “Capitalism is the only way,” and “The key is sustained economic growth with free trade within the US and with other nations.”

Most of us realize at long last that unregulated capitalism is in fact a total disaster for the human race. We have given capitalism all possible monetary support and freedom to display its worth. President Carter deregulated the airlines. President Reagan broke the union movement. The two Bush Presidents and Clinton gave capitalism full military support for its imperialistic expansion abroad. President Clinton, advised by Robert Rubin, gave Wall Street everything it wanted: The safety net was abolished, so as to drive more desperate people into the work force who would take whatever wage was offered. Capitalists were given full legal and military protection to invest abroad. President Bush installed capitalists who should be regulated to do the regulating, and abolished or weakened regulations that in any way inhibited capitalist investment. For more than 50 years, we have primed the capitalist pump with “military Keynesianism.” We have tried capitalist ideas and ideologies of “trickle down economics,” and “neo-liberalism.” Despite all of this, capitalism has failed us.

The truth is that capitalism has destroyed itself and imposed extreme risk and danger of planet wide economic depression and actual starvation on all of us. The truth is that further “economic growth” and “growing the economy” following the failed capitalistic way will destroy the planet.

So far President-elect Obama and the Democratic leadership seem to be doing a bit of quacking of their own as capitalism implodes. President-elect Obama wants the government to bail out the big three auto makers in Detroit, and seems to want to get things going again the way they were before August 2007. Do we really want to finance Detroit to build more locomotive sized SUVs and Humvees? Do we really want to stimulate the construction industry to build more over-priced housing subdivisions that require 50 to 60% of a buyer’s income to finance on long term loans? Do we really want to restore the real estate bubble? The Silicon Valley bubble? Do we really want to give public money to Wall Street’s investment banks to encourage them again to loan money? Loan money to do what? Use the money to do what? Do we want to give Wall Street public money with no conditions, no oversight, and no real controls whatever? President-elect Obama and the Democratic leadership have done exactly that. The fact is that capitalism was obviously in deep trouble prior to August 2007.

There are no constructive creative ideas for dealing with the current crisis coming from the left either. For example the editors of the respected socialist journal, Monthly Review, write in a November editorial: “It is not our job to fix their (capitalistic) system.” So, Monthly Review editors, whose job is it? Who will come up with the ideas that will get us from where we are to where we need to be for a sustainable civilized existence?

We still have the necessary building blocks to maintain a sustainable civilization:

In President Obama we have a towering intellect with inner security, calm pragmatic judgment and a compassionate heart as the new leader of the free world.

This President has the enthusiastic support of voters in the US and people everywhere on the planet.

Although the implosion of capitalism has eliminated many of our jobs and will eliminate many more, we are all anxious and willing to work.

We all have human needs for health care, housing, clothing, a stable food supply, energy, safe bridges and levees, truthful sources of information, and leisure time.

We care about each other. We are willing to work cooperatively together, and to care for each other, to meet our needs.

We are willing to petition, march, rally, and organize between elections to support true leaders and to make sure that our needs are met.

Given that capitalism has imploded, what ideas can we rally around? What can we demand of President Obama?

We can demand a permanent public planning agency something like the War Production Board of World War II staffed with pragmatic, non-ideological, public spirited, bright persons who are willing to direct lending and production to those sustainable human needs that we share. If Detroit should not make SUVs, what should it make?

We can demand that our government provide us with security that we will all have nutritious food no matter what. Many citizens do not now have that peace of mind and some are buying guns to protect themselves from hungry mobs. Although we hope and pray that farmers will continue to grow food at a profit, and truckers will distribute the food at a profit, there may be a total collapse of the profit system, as some economists predict. Hence, we demand that our government have an alternate plan to hire farmers to grow food and to hire truckers to deliver it if necessary. We must terminate our unthinking worship of capitalism. We must not make the mistake of Franklin Roosevelt who ordered the killing of pigs when thousands were hungry in order to restore profit making for farmers.

We can demand that the government stop relating to us as if we were only consumers, and meet our deep need to be producers and creators with a decent share of the income from our production.

We can demand that our government become our bank, our lending agency of last resort, to finance small businesses and cooperatives that produce products and services that meet our needs. We can demand that the Federal Reserve Bank, controlled by private bankers, be abolished.

We can demand that our government become our employer of last resort. If, for example there are no doctors willing to meet our health needs at a price we can afford, let our government subsidize medical schools and hire doctors and physician’s assistants to serve us.

We can demand that our government make available to us radio and TV frequencies so that we can discuss our needs and solutions with each other and with our elected representatives, and so that our President has a means free of the dead hand of capitalist ownership to report to us about how he is implementing our demands and our needs. We can reinstate the “fairness doctrine” and implement the true purposes of the Federal Communications Act to foster public enlightenment, and to provide the complete and accurate information that we need to govern ourselves.

We can and should tax the extreme wealth and income at the very top of our society. It is the only source of funding available to do what needs to be done. It is not only because “it is unjust for some people to have more than they need when others are needy,” but because the wealthy have hugely profited at our expense because of recent policies. We should studiously avoid bailing out the wealthy and their failed institutions and ideas. David Chandler, a California Quaker and businessman has calculated the wealth now held by the top 1%: It is as much wealth as all that we at the bottom 95% own. Most of us do not know about the immense total wealth held by the wealthiest 1%. It is a well kept secret. It is at least $13 Trillion, and that estimate is conservative and does not count secreted wealth. This $13 Trillion is held by 30 thousand people. These 30 thousand hold as much wealth as 300 million of us. If we stack up $100 bills, $1,000 stack would be a stack between ¼ inch and ½ inch high. A million dollar stack would be 39 inches high. A billion dollar stack would be 3280 feet high or 6/10 of a mile. A trillion Dollar stack would be 621 miles high. $13 Trillion would be a stack over 8,000 miles high. See: http://lcurve.org/

Free of the propaganda coming from the top 1%, we can evaluate the power and numbers of “terrorists,” and make a determination as to whether there are less expensive and more effective ways such as effective police work and negotiation, to deal with them rather than a permanent planet-wide war.

We must halt all public financial support of capitalism and capitalists. Let capitalists stand or fall on the true principles of capitalism without public subsidy, and without “socialism for the rich” or “military Keynesianism.” We need not let capitalism take us humans and civilization down with it.

Doug Page is a retired lawyer for unions, a former Democratic politician, and a life long observer of government, unions and business. He can be reached at: dougpage2@earthlink.net. Read other articles by Doug, or visit Doug's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. John Hatch said on November 20th, 2008 at 2:22pm #

    Almost always taken for granted is America’s insane military budget. People are allowed to go homeless, hungry, uneducated and sick while America indulges in insane killing orgies abroad, while it maintains bases where it isn’t wanted, while it chases ghostly ‘terrorists’ while indulging massively in the same. America tortures people, then lets them go without charge or apology. 9/11 wasn’t conceived in a cave, but probably a boardroom a lot closer to home. Like Washington.

  2. Ron Horn said on November 20th, 2008 at 2:27pm #

    ‘There are no constructive creative ideas for dealing with the current crisis coming from the left either. For example the editors of the respected socialist journal, Monthly Review, write in a November editorial: “It is not our job to fix their (capitalistic) system.” So, Monthly Review editors, whose job is it? Who will come up with the ideas that will get us from where we are to where we need to be for a sustainable civilized existence?’

    Why on earth would socialists want to save a capitalist system?? The author seems unable to imagine any other system than capitalism, and doesn’t appear to understand another system when he reads about it.

    I only had to look at the lead article in this month’s edition to find constructive alternative ideas. For example, the article states when discussing socialism within the context of ecological constraints:

    ‘Socialism has always been understood as a society aimed at reversing the relations of exploitation of capitalism and removing the manifold social evils to which these relations have given rise. This requires the abolition of private property in the means of production, a high degree of equality in all things, replacement of the blind forces of the market by planning by the associated producers in accordance with genuine social needs, and the elimination to whatever extent possible of invidious distinctions associated with the division of town and country, mental and manual labor, race divisions, gender divisions, etc. Yet, the root problem of socialism goes much deeper. The transition to socialism is possible only through a revolutionizing practice that revolutionizes human beings themselves. The only way to accomplish this is by altering our human metabolism with nature, along with our human-social relations, transcending both the alienation of nature and of humanity.’

    Then the article continues to elaborate this thesis in greater detail.

  3. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 20th, 2008 at 3:32pm #

    how can we change america when america is not broken? it is not broken as long as it has a sanctified constitution.
    it is not broken as it has congress, WH, senate, vast army, cia, etc.
    it is broken only to ab 2% or usans.
    cia is not broken; it’s working smoothly and obediently for the ruling class and ab 90% of its fierce supporters.
    US military isn’t broken, either. it’s all over the globe doing the work that the ruling class demands of it.
    not that changing constitution to whatever degree wld change anything for better.
    changing education might produce enlightened people who then cld fix US.
    but it too is not broken but best in the world according to clero-ruling class. it is broken to ab 2% of amers.
    to me, US education is the best in the world for bringing up serfs.
    and it is controled by the ruling class.
    and may receive accolades from 98% of amers. thnx

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 21st, 2008 at 6:23am #

    Yes. It’s capitalism’s inability to deal with what were called “negative externalities” in college economics courses in the early 1960’s, that’s finally doing it in. And all the head-of-a-pin economists who won Nobel Economics Prizes, starting with Milton Friedman (in 1972?), and all the money in the world, can’t put it back together again.

    I say. Isn’t Paul Krugman a bit pro-regulation?

  5. Max Shields said on November 21st, 2008 at 6:37am #

    Given the history of American empire, starting with the merciless genocide of the indigenous people, with their complex egalitarian societies, the Northern transport of slaves to the South, the racism created to divide and rule as a result of uprisings such as Bacon’s rebellion that challenged the elite in 1676, and the horrific westward move which bore ultimately neoliberalism; the hate and destain for the poor that comes from Calvinism the Northeastern world-view that mapped so perfectly to the materialism and elitism of capitalism and empire.

    When we post about the killing in Iraq, Afghanistan and elswhere where American Empire has planted itself, we are talking about the brutal history that is the American colonial history to the present. Technology has simply made the rule of empire, and the subserviants of other more sophisticated, but with a level of brutality unmatched in its reach and totality.

    Until this is changed to its core – not through some election or evolution (we’ve had 400 years and we are still barbarians at heart), there will always be the same unmitigated narrative.

  6. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 21st, 2008 at 8:06am #

    i see it that way also. thnx

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 21st, 2008 at 9:41am #

    gee bbb, i want my (this) comment first. And what IS the definition of a “regular” at DV – someone who posts to see his/her name in DV’s Recent Discussion column?

  8. bozh said on November 21st, 2008 at 4:08pm #

    i don’t know what r u trying to tell me. ur question appears as an either-or structure.
    one posts for various reasons and not only to have one’s name on dv.
    does this clarify sit’n?