Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Culture of Greed Out of Control - Gangster Capitalism

The late Justice Louis Brandeis’ warning to the nation:” We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the  hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

An era era of gangster capitalism has arrived; the inevitable result of unregulated Globalization. The 0.1% have taken control, another 0.9% ride on their coat tails and the 99%, face a bleak future. Democracy is now only window dressing to tame the masses. Think of it as a reverse Robin Hood movement where the rich steal from everyone else. The US statistics are startling. While the richest 1% of Americans take home almost a quarter of national income today, in 1976 they took home just 9% -- meaning their share of the national income pool has nearly tripled in roughly three decades.with the share of the nation's wealth by top 1 % now 40%. Those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall, millions have fallen out of the middle class and have found work in box stores where the minimum wages have been declared below the poverty line or they have joined the growing ranks of the unemployed. And this at a time when there is a record demand by the 1% for ocean going yachts and luxury goods. 

The roots of the economic crisis are pretty clear. Globalization without regulation has allowed the owners of large corporations in Western economies to accumulate and hold on to their wealth. Political crooks and cretins their pockets stuffed with money from the oligarchy and their heads filled with half baked and self serving ideologies,  provide the controlling votes and legislation to open the floodgates. Here is what the 0.1% and their carpet-baggers of lobbyists, lawyers and bankers are doing to plunder the wealth of nation states:
  •  They have emptied their factories in America and Europe and passed on the their technology and work to lower cost producers principally in China and India thus putting millions of people out of middle class jobs.
  • To gain public support they have aggressively marketed an absurd view of Freedom!! influenced by utopian and simplistic Libertarian ideals and Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" that denies any form of regulation, declares Governments as the enemy of private enterprise by obstructing the freedom to pollute; evade taxes, eliminate unions, employee benefits and minimum wages, disallow casino banking, The good news!! is that a PayPal billionaire inspired by Ayn Rand and Libertarian principles, has announced plans to build a whole new libertarian colony off the coast of San Francisco. Click and read about it here. We can only hope there will be ample space to house The Tea Party and Rand Paul.

  • Forget about trickle down economics; the rich hang on to it and with the aid of corrupt banking systems, accountants, lobbyists and lawyers find ways to avoid their responsibilities as corporate citizens by operating and placing  their earnings in a web of tax havens outside their respective nation states. A grotesque example, only one of many, is Apple Inc.who is reportedly sitting on 137 billion dollars in tax havens and paid taxes in 2011 at a rate of only 9.8% on 13 billion dollars of profits.
  • The substantial productivity gains in America have been fully absorbed within corporate offices and not passed on to workers  Totally corrupt politicians and their cretinous followers pave the way for this grand larceny to take place.  Eventually much of this money is laundered into tax havens and eventually ending up in The City in London and Wall Street. In that sense the corporate owners are no different from the drug dealers and 3rd world kleptomaniacs. 

The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good.

The reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy. Bush by lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive most of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride. 

I've drawn on US references in this discussion but the theme is  much the same with variations better or worse in the UK and Western Europe;

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Justice Louis Brandeis was right ” We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the  hands of a few, but we can’t have both." Eventually history has shown that when people have had enough they finally force a change. This greed and injustice produced the Russian and French revolutions and today we are seeing revolutionary changes in the Middle East and massive angry demonstrations throughout southern Europe. Hopefully some visionary leaders like another Mandela will show up to peacefully force the obscenely wealthy off their pedastels; otherwise violence is inevitable and with an uncertain outcome.