For a growing number of Americans, there is no need to see fancy charts, graphs or statistics to know that unrestrained capitalism isn’t working for them. They need only to look at their own lives.
Stagnant wages for the last 17 years have meant that for far too many, the previous recession is far from over. Simultaneously, local and state taxes and fees have been on the rise to make up for tax revenue shortfalls, further eroding what little, if any, discretionary spending people hoped to have. And the current trade wars will only serve to exacerbate an already highly tenuous situation.
Due in part to the higher costs of a college education and out of control income inequality, for the first time since the Great Depression, children will economically be worse off than their parents. But if you happen to be a person that needs statistics or third-party verification, you need look no further than the United Nations. In a recent report from the United Nations Human Rights Council, Philip Alston writes, “…the American dream is rapidly becoming the American illusion.” Our nation is in a socio-economic regression approaching total free fall.
Most of us are living in an alternate reality that a vast majority of our government leaders, mainstream media, Wall street and America’s top 20% of income earners conveniently choose to ignore.
During the 2008 recession, the underlying premise of a free-market economy was gleefully abandoned when our government bailed out the automakers and the banks. Foreclosures from 2008 through 2010 impacted over 7 million homes — shattering dreams, aspirations, and putting many into homeless shelters or out to the streets. It was also the perfect opportunity to further weaken worker’s trade unions. Corporate interests, with the help of many in government, wasted no time in doing exactly that. But the bankers and automakers were saved — not by free market capitalism, but by Democratic Socialism.
Billions of dollars in subsidies have been handed over to the fossil fuel industry, even though it has consistently earned billions in profits. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, benefits from corporate welfare by paying non-living wages to their millions of employees — many who are on public assistance of one form or another. Simultaneously, Walmart actively works to destroy any attempts to unionize by their workers. Ultimately, the so-called free-market capitalists have been reaping an awful lot of benefits from Democratic Socialism whenever and however it suits them.
Unrestrained capitalism has repeatedly demonstrated that it is an unsustainable abysmal failure lacking in any morality or ethical ability to control its avarice. Corporate public mission statements (the ones displayed in corporate front lobbies) may often boast social consciousness and awareness, but reality and observation quickly expose these self-serving advertisements as nothing short of a pathetic lie. Photos and documentaries from here and around the world showing destroyed ecosystems, unbreathable air, undrinkable water, unfishable waterways, deforestation, and melting icecaps also provide compelling evidence that even the survival of the planet itself takes a backseat to corporate profits.
“We’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is,” said Minority House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, responding at a town hall event last year when confronted by a student who asked her if the Democrats “could move farther left to a more populist message.” Pelosi, along with many of her counterparts on both sides of the Congressional aisle, is openly in denial regarding the recent victory of Democratic Socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, against a 20-year incumbent and Democratic Party establishment Kingmaker. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez gets it. And on election night, her supporters let her know they get it too and let her opponent have it!
Even the United States Supreme Court has demonstrated its love for unrestrained capitalism by equating money to free speech with their devastating Citizens United decision, opening the gauntlet for even more money to pour into our political process and influence our national and global agendas. And still again, more recently, when it voted to weaken government employee unions.
The influence of unlimited money in politics has delivered a government body that no longer represents the interests for the good of all. Instead, we find ourselves in perpetual undeclared wars, diluted or deleted EPA regulations, genetically modified food supplies with no regard for consequences, and a tax structure designed to further empower the wealthy, while simultaneously attempting to further silence the rest of us.
Creating a better future for our children and generations yet unborn will not happen unless we do our part to change humanities current course. As painful as our socio-economic situation is here, many around the world suffer much greater oppression, hunger, disease, homelessness, violence, destruction, death from wars, forced organ harvesting, as well as physical, sexual and mental abuse.
We cannot work to restore the dignity of human life for those who live here while continuing to ignore the plight of our brothers and sisters around the world. If we do, we are no better than the 20% that choose to ignore us, here at home.
Many who now champion or are part of the Poor Peoples Campaign — those who have suffered the longest and the most profound wounds from capitalism-gone-wild, have every right to say ‘we told you so!’ Meanwhile the middle-class continues to hang on by its fingernails, clasping to the notion that tomorrow will be a better day.
Perhaps we all need to be reminded of the prophetic words from one of the world’s most brilliant minds and self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Albert Einstein:
“Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.”
The current mindset of our leadership does not serve the long-term interests of future generations and the survivability of the planet and its diverse species of plants and animals on land and sea. We must find and adopt new and creative ways that will achieve an equitable distribution of resources, provide meaningful work, a healthy environment, sustainable growth, gender and racial equality, while not further empowering or benefiting the few while simultaneously economically oppressing or enslaving the many.
We must create laws that strengthen labor unions, not weaken them and encourage and support the formation and success of worker-owned cooperatives to promote a democratic workplace instead of the current winner-takes-all mentality.
Healthcare, housing, and access to adequate food and drinkable water must be international human rights and not sold to the highest bidder.
There are hundreds of examples of socialism camouflaged as capitalism. A quick internet search will help you find them. And please don’t fall into the trap of saying the democracy is capitalism or vice-versa — that could not be further from the truth.
Yes, I proudly call myself a Democratic Socialist and with a modest amount of research, you may come to realize that you should too.
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Bill Cimbrelo is a candidate for U.S. Congress in Massachusetts’ 9th Congressional District and is on the Democratic ballot for the September 4th primary. billCimbrelo.com