Sunday, May 30, 2010

When do we open our eyes?

Let's recap the last few years. Briefly.

1) The economic system collapsed because the financial market wasn't sufficiently regulated by the government. As a result, millions lost their homes, their jobs, their livelihoods. The people who caused the problem gave themselves a nice bonus at our expense. The vast majority of Americans sat back in disbelief, completely unable to do anything about anything, because the decisions that caused so much chaos and destruction were being made in corporate boardrooms and stock trading floors that the average American had no access to or right to vote in.

2) 29 miners were killed in an explosion because the mining industry wasn't sufficiently regulated by the government, and the owner of that particular mine found it to his economic benefit to pay fines repeatedly rather than fix a myriad of safety violations. The miners who were killed weren't even given the benefit of a right to organize into a union, where they would at least have a voice to challenge the company's practices.

3) The Gulf of Mexico is currently being utterly destroyed because the government agency overseeing the drilling industry was rife with corruption, and let companies like BP do essentially whatever they wanted. As a result, a rig exploded, a dozen people were killed, and, again, the Gulf of Mexico is currently being utterly destroyed. The vast majority of Americans can do absolutely nothing to stop this disaster, because the decisions that led to it took place in corporate boardrooms in which none of us has a vote.

Libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, teabaggers, radical corporatists, are all convinced that government is the enemy, that freedom is the opposite of government. Yet that freedom they cherish is only freedom for a select few: those who sit in corporate boardrooms, those who own the factories, those who steer the wheels of our collective economic fates.

For the rest of us, this freedom is a lie.

You're pissed because BP is destroying the Gulf of Mexico? Alright then, go fly to London, go to BP headquarters and tell them to stop. See what happens. Sure, boycott them. That'll help. What are you going to not buy, exactly?

You're pissed because you're losing your house, because a mortgage lender lied to you? Go yell at your mortgage broker. See how far that gets you.

You're furious because your husband works in a non-unionized mine, and the mine owner isn't fixing safety violations? What, precisely, are you going to do about it? Your husband has the freedom not to work at that mine, you say? Sure he does. Is there another job available to him? Does that feel like freedom to you and your husband?

What freedom does the "free market" really offer the vast majority of people? The freedom to buy, or not to buy? How does that translate to BP? Or the mining industry? Or the financial system? Absent government intervention, what freedom do we have to hold BP accountable for destroying the Gulf of Mexico? What rights does the capitalist system grant us? What power to effect change?

Left to their own devices, capitalists will always choose the cheapest path that gets them the greatest profit, no matter what other factors may be involved. And if they have to kill people or destroy an ecosystem to get that profit, they'll do it. And there's not a damned thing we can do about it, as long as we believe the lie that this economic tyranny somehow equates to "freedom."

True freedom would be a democratic economy in which we could all participate. True freedom would be a collective understanding of our responsibility to each other and the planet. True freedom would mean that you and I could go tomorrow and vote to shut down BP and press for criminal charges for its top executives.

The anarcho-capitalist teabaggers are lying to you. If you make the government smaller, take away what little power it now has to regulate the market, then the capitalists will shortly destroy the planet in a fireball of incompetence, ignorance, and greed.

How many more massive capitalist failures that cause untold misery? How many more, before we open our eyes?

I'm not waving the red flag of revolution just yet. I just want people at least to recognize the lie. And the only solution, for now, is MORE government regulation, STRICTER government regulation, COMPETENT government regulation, and HIGHER taxes, especially on the wealthy. The capitalists need to be kept on a much tighter leash than they are now, and that costs money.

We can talk about revolution after the next massive failure of the "free" market.

Shouldn't take long. Probably already happened.

This isn't rocket science, people. It's simple economics - and in our current system, economics boils down to this:

Are you the one doing the screwing, or are you the one being screwed?

That's freedom?

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