adventures in dysthymia

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Inequality

I don't mind income inequality. Ownership inequality is the problem. The means of production has become too concentrated.

No nation can survive when the control of productive property is in the hands of a few, whether that few be the government or private individuals and corporations. Any structure needs a wide base for stability; any structure that is top-heavy must topple.

That is what is happening in this nation and, for that matter, the world in general. It's been going on a long time but has accelerated. It is an inevitable result of our current economic system.

Government must act to prevent this concentration of ownership, while not taking economic power to itself. That would be socialism and ultimately just as undesirable.

Socialism (in the strict sense) entails collective, i.e. government, ownership or control (essentially two ways of saying the same thing) of the means of production. The welfare state is not socialism; it was created by capitalists to co-opt the socialists and their demands. It throws crumbs to the masses so they will not ask for more.

Social welfare programs are necessary to keep the modern capitalist system working. They provide both a safety net and a pressure valve for the labor force. Unfortunately, they also make the people dependent on the state for what they could achieve through their own organizations, through trade unions, etc.

In essence, I consider the system existing in the majority of nations today to be some form of corporatism. It is a democratic corporatism in most, but still based on the partnership between government and business. It is the modern model for capitalism.

I recently read a piece describing the modern Democratic agenda (New Deal, Great Society) as 'corporate liberalism.' That pretty much jibes with my own view. Truly, both mainstream liberals and conservatives are in bed with big business. They see its success as the success of the nation.

But what good is being 'competitive' in the world market if we do not serve our own citizens? What good is to have big business thrive while small businesses fail? Our leaders on both sides have a Wal-Mart mentality, the whole bigger-is-better attitude of modern life.

They are not truly friendly to small business at all, to the Mom-and-Pop store, to the family farm. They believe that we should all have 'jobs' working for some company or another.

Naturally, big business interests support and donate to the campaigns of such politicians, those already inclined to be friendly to them. It creates a culture of corporatism in the mainstream.

We can't expect the political climate to change -- not as long as the process is driven by money. Change must come from us. An unfettered internet may be our best hope, a place where new ideas (and some good old ones) can be freely expressed.

But the exchange of ideas is not enough. It is only a beginning. We must be active. We must change our government. We must change ourselves and our habits.

Each of us supports the status quo, each day, through action and inaction. It is impossible to do otherwise. Still, we must make the effort or we will most definitely end up on the wrong side of that inequality gap.

SB MMXII

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