Thomas Paine:

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Democratic Capitalism as an Oxymoron

Detecting a neocon crapshoot with our futures

      I am not an economist. I have never taken even one course in economics. I do, however, have a highly sensitive, built-in crap detector, and, after having lived through 40 years of laissez-fair, “free” market, trickle-down Reaganomics, and spending a great deal of my free time reading about politics, the antenna on my detector is quivering like mad.
      I wrote an email to the real deal recently, the Chair of the Economics department at a local university. His response was reassuring. He said, “I expect that the financial meltdown will be prevented from getting worse.”
      Okay...that sounded good. But then McCain bailed out of the debates; then the Republicans bailed out of the bailout...then Paul Krugman said, this morning on DemocracyNow!, it’s looking “scary.” So, I am beginning to wonder what’s next.
      This question arises: would a complete meltdown of our entire economy really be a bad thing in the screwy mind of the neo-con? Think about 9-11. Didn’t that disaster lead to the fulfillment of many of their wildest dreams?
      Consider how this historic tidbit, from Greg Palast about Chile, economic collapse, and Pinochet, rings familiar: Palast

      It was fascinating to hear G.W. Bush refer to “democratic capitalism,” as the “best system ever devised.” I mean, considering the reality of American life today, where union membership has reached an all-time low; where Congress, increasingly indebted to corporate support and influenced by lobbyists pushing corporate interests, chooses again and again to ignore the interests of ordinary citizens in favor of corporate America; where the will of the people —expressed on the streets during the Democratic and Republican conventions, with calls for impeachment, an end to torture and the war in Iraq and Afganistan, healthcare, a living wage and all manner of progressive changes— was ignored by the corporate media and denied constitutional rights —of speech, peaceable assembly to petition the “government for a redress of grievances”— by unidentified riot police who looked and acted like police-state goons; where, if you’re “the people,” ordinary citizens trying not to go bankrupt, well, you’re on your own, as Obama says about Bush’s “ownership” society; but, if you’re Wall Street —corporate America— well, hey, here’s 750 billion dollars for you! You know what I mean. So, isn’t the notion of “democratic” capitalism an oxymoron? Just how much influence do we demos have, anyway?
      No. Better terms would be totalitarian capitalism, given that our previous mixed economy is moving closer and closer to a condition of absolute intolerance of regulation and democratic controls on industry (thus, you have the Republicans bailing out of the bailout because they want more(!) de-regulation); or fascistic capitalism, given that corporations and government are nearly completely merged, i.e. gone fascist.

      Here’s what I wrote to the chairman of the economics department: “I don't share your confidence that the ‘financial meltdown won't get any worse,’ however. For a long time now I've been watching the de-regulation trend —laissez-faire, "trickle-down" Reaganomics— and those who have been doing their best to destroy the New Deal and everything good about it; and this current crisis seems totally consistent with their anti-democratic desires. The next thing, after they add this next hundreds of billions to the government's already huge debt, will be to say, Oh so sorry, we're going to have to privatize Social Security now, i.e., destroy it— the funds are gone...oops!" I mean, it's all so obvious. So, that's what I mean by ‘worse;’ and, it would be unbearably worse for me, since I am living off my Social Security benefits now.”

      I hope I am wrong and he is right. Let’s see if McCain suspends his campaign entirely, when the bailout completely fails. It wouldn’t surprise me, given his weird threat not to attend the debate tonight, if that’s not a hint of things to come. Will Bush’s sudden fear-mongering over the economy morph into an excuse to delay the election, when he can make a case that the economy is in collapse?
      Just connecting the dots...but remaining hopeful that these are merely the natural, though unfounded, fears that trickle down during times like these.

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