Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Be Thankful for Small Favors

Be thankful for small favors…because whoever becomes the next President that is all you can expect. If Willard Mitt Romney somehow were to win you would probably get no favors at all, and might, in fact, lose some ground. If Obama is re-elected you might expect some small favors. In either case don’t expect much as there is little to gain either way, as both of them are part of the existing problem. The banks, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies, along with big oil and agriculture, are not going to allow much change in the status quo. And basically there is little difference between Obama and Romney. Romney, it is true, is the poster boy for the 1% and will certainly continue the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and neglect the 99%. Obama will perhaps win some concessions for the 99% but they will only be within the margins of what our powers that be regard as acceptable and will not substantially change anything. They may agree to some cosmetic changes but nothing substantial as there will be no profit in it. There will not be legalized drugs, there is no profit in it. The oil companies will not give up their enormous profits, and will not have to do so, big agriculture will not give up their subsidies, again, there is no profit in it. And of course the insurance companies will continue to grow fat holding us up for outrageous increases for our health care, and gloating over the new millions of mandated victims they acquired through “Obamacare.”

There is no reason to expect any serious or basic changes in the way our economic system operates. Free market capitalism will continue pretty much as is, the rich will continue to thrive and grow richer, the Middle Class and the Working Poor will continue to suffer. Newt Gingrich, with all the honesty of an Al Capone, wants us to believe President Obama is “the most radical President ever,” or some such claim. In fact, Obama is about as radical as apple pie. If this were not true he would have promoted a single payer health care system in the first place and not given a trillion dollar gift to the insurance industry. Similarly, he would have taken some serious action against the banks rather than defending them for their reckless behavior. He seems unconcerned with big agriculture, and although he is trying to do away with oil and other subsidies, even if he succeeds it will be little more than peanuts to corporations making unprecedented and exorbitant profits.

Similarly, even if he manages to do away with the Bush tax giveaways to the filthy rich they will remain filthy rich. They don’t need the tax breaks, there is no compelling reason for them, and doing away with them might well help us spend that money elsewhere where it will do some good, but it will not change the basic system in which the rich get richer and the poor, poorer. We hear now all about how it is the wealthy should pay their “fair share,” and the Buffet rule should be adopted. Even if it were adopted it would not even approximate a fair share. Having the wealthy pay the same percentage of tax as everyone else is not even remotely fair when you consider where their wealth comes from. For the truly wealthy the percentage their secretaries pay is a real bargain. That is why so many of them are behind this incredibly generous (to them) proposal. Think of it as I, in my sophisticated economic thinking cap, do. There are only two ways to make a profit, either through the exploitation of labor or the exploitation of the environment. This profit can be expressed in money. Thus the more money you acquire the more you must have exploited others and/or the environment. If this is so, and I believe in general it is, why should you not have to pay taxes on what you have exploited rather than some arbitrary figure that your secretary pays? A fair tax would probably be much closer to the 90% it was during the Eisenhower years than the percentage your secretary pays. The really wealthy understand the truth of this, which is why some of them are begging us to make them pay more (like their secretaries). Marx, of course, understood this, which is why he said that capital is merely dead labor. I’m not sure he mentioned dead forests, dead mineral deposits, dead oil wells, dead fisheries, and so on.

There is no way our current economic and social problems can be overcome as long as we cling to the idea that capitalism is the only viable economic system available to us. Continuing along these lines will insure that massive unemployment will continue, our schools and prisons will suffer, our food will be contaminated and expensive, our health care will be prohibitively expensive for most people, the price of energy will remain far too expensive, the absurd drug war will continue, and, of course, we will remain permanently at war with someone. The current system works only for short term obscene corporate profits and the 1%, and not at all for the people. The idea of government of the people, for the people, and by the people has always been more a dream than a reality, now it has become simply a dimly perceived once upon a time ancestral myth. When it comes time to vote disregard that inner murmur that suggests you are wasting your time, vote like you always do, for the probably least bad choice.

Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.
Franklin P. Adams

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