Two great pools of wealth, although seemingly at odds, are nontheless conjoined at the hip.
Private enterprise hates it when they have to pay high wages or provide expensive benefits, so they look for ways to mitigate this by killing unions domestically and investing overseas where the labor market and general costs of production are cheaper.
The public hates it when all the private enterprise profits go to other places rather than to increased wages and benefits, and seek ways to regulate corporations and extract taxes from the wealthy, indirectly filling the coffers of government so that a redistribution of wealth can take effect.
This love/hate relationship relies heavily on each other. The public is dependent upon the corporations for job creation, and the corporations, even if they are invested heavily overseas, still are dependent upon their own government for bailouts when capitalism burps, as it did in 2008 when all the leveraging and deregulation of Wall Street fell on its own sword.
The reason capitalism burped is because of unregulated risk taking (gambling) by the wealthy and the corporations. This was made possible when the government (elected officials) buddied up to wealth. The public can’t make large individual donations, but GE, Bill Gates, the Kochs and the Murdochs can. This buys deregulation so that corporations can pretty much do as they please, and during the Go Go 90s and the early 2000s, that’s what they did. As they say, give capitalists enough deregulation and they will hang themselves.
Leading up to this burp, the wealthy and the corporations had their eyes glued to their own successes, not necessarily to the success of society. The fact that both society and capitalism goes hand in hand was lost in the fog of greed. Society, or the needs of the working man and woman, had no place on a profit and loss sheet. Stockholders had no interest. As a matter of fact, labor was a negative expense.
The public, the working man and woman who simply wanted no more than an attainable standard of living, could not compete with the laser like focus of the wealthy individuals and corporations incentivized by both greed and a burning need to please stockholders. Therefore the influence of the wealthy and the corporations, paid for by generous political donations and the creation of media outlets tailored to advance their agendas, increased rapidly. Again, they lost sight of the needs of a greater society and they considered the public no more than marks to be capitalized on. There was no interest or compunction for compassion, only hard and fast ambition.
A combination of this powerful influence and control of the media persuaded the public to give up their own interests for the betterment of the wealthy and the corporations. This was backwards. Instead of the powerful wealthy people and corporations looking out for society, society was looking out for the oligarchs. Government, which previously had the role of looking for the public; the working man and woman, was now looking out for the wealthy and the corporations as well. What developed were three entities now; the working man, the government, and the corporations.
So the public bought into the idea of Supply Side Economics, or “Trickle Down.” They were led to believe that without their wealthy and corporate benefactors, the public would never have jobs again! And they bought it heads and tails.
At the same time, moves were being made to alienate the public from any political forces that would challenge the wealthy and the corporations. Democrats were made out to be against America, people who would burn all Bibles and ban all guns. This endeared the public unknowingly to the power of the wealthy and corporations through spokesmen in the media that instilled fear into the public regarding anyone who would dare challenge supply side economics. Anyone challenging the wealthy was labeled a socialist.
“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” — Dom Hélder Câmara
Unions were targeted as the cause of America’s decline, not overseas investments by wealthy corporations and individuals, all fueled by generous tax cuts engineered, again by congressional influence. Because of ingenious manipulation and because of a focused, laser beam determination to make money exponentially by the wealthy and the corporations, the public began cutting their own throats but didn’t know it.
Of course, the interest of the wealthy and the corporations is always opposite to that of the public. They focus on expanding markets and eliminating competition, i.e. corporate mergers and buyouts and an expanded stock market. Narrowing the competition enriches the wealthy by increasing profits and reducing choice, but that becomes a “tax” on the public when prices go up and selection goes down.
And, when any kind of regulation is mentioned by the public, which is now getting hurt, that proposal is considered by the same legislative body that has been effectively been bought and paid for by the wealthy. It hasn’t a chance. The proposal competes with the wealthy and corporate determination to deceive the public by pretending to be the public’s benefactor when in fact they have become the publics’ enemy number one by oppressing society.
Of course, the wealthy and the corporations knew that if anything bad happened, the ‘paid for’ government would bail them out, and it did. Where the problem comes in is that the wealthy and the corporations have lost sight of the fact that government is made up of the public. Government, to the wealthy and corporations, is no longer viewed as the public but rather a Good ‘Ol Boys club that exists only for the wealthy and the corporations. The working, earned income man and woman has been conveniently forgotten simply because they are irrelevant in global marketing, except of course, during elections.
The strategy therefore was not to help or please the public, but to confuse them into voting for things that are against their inherent interests; for example, eliminating their social safety nets and reducing taxes for the wealthy and the corporations.
But now it seems that the strategy of the Wealthy and the corporations is running out of gas. The ones that they have manipulated for so long, the working man and woman, is coming around to bite them in the behind.
When you live by the stock market, you die by the stock market. There comes a time when all the schemes, all the hype, and all the shouting no longer do any good. It’s a time when reality takes the place of delusion, when decent, honest people take back their lives.
The entire facade of financial manipulation comes to a screeching halt when leveraging exceeds even greed and approaches insanity. When that happens, the entire house of cards collapses and actual value raises its down-to-earth head.
Why is it different now?
Usually when there was a downturn in the past, the owners of privately held corporations would take a cut in profits but in general keep its workforce intact. Now, however, corporations are publicly held, meaning we buy their stock, and when there is a downturn, demand by stockholders for profit forces the corporation to cut labor costs immediately in order to continue to show profits, and we end up with higher profits (because of expense cutting, usually labor) but higher unemployment as well.
So, stockholders make out instead of workers. Unearned income (stocks) becomes more powerful than earned income (workers). But this is only at the beginning.
Soon, all the laid off workers cannot buy anything and the corporation has no more cuts to make even though the appetite for profit by the stockholder has not slackened and if anything has increased. So now it’s time to sell or merge the corporation, again in the interests of short gain, and again involving more layoffs.
With this in mind, the wealthy and corporations become insensitive to worker’s needs. After all, they are just expenses on the balance sheet. So they would be against any kind of help by the government for the people for fear of taxes going up. Also, they would be against any kind of spending to retrain people or any kind of a social safety net.
Oligarchs and corporations have one thing in mind – making money, accumulating money, but the more they greedily stockpile, the less goes to society until society shuts down and a vicious cycle begins.
Oligarchs believe passionately in a free market system with no money wasted on such things as social services or any kind of tinkering by government, knowing that their paid off government is their insurance policy of last resort, but forgetting that the masses, if incentivized, could change that arrangement at any time.
If oligarchs don’t begin to address the needs of the worker and establish a working relationship between regulated capitalism and a social balance of security and opportunity, workers will stockpile their cash and pay off their debts, but they won’t spend – therefore exacerbating the situation as no profits flow back to the wealthy and the corporations. As a result, corporations cut jobs, workers stop spending, the inequality of wealth widens to stupid proportions fostering calls of class warfare. And society in general collapses.
Social upheaval is being witnessed all over the globe from the UK, to Libya, to Egypt. Why? Because of increased tensions between the haves and the havenots. Why now? Because people are hooked up to the internet and see what their situation is and who has been holding back their freedom and oppressing them. The oppression of the working man and woman - whether it be in Libya where a dictator by brute force oppressed a society, or in the U.S. where income inequality has forced the middle class to leverage itself beyond imagination for the last thirty years to keep its head above water - when the worker becomes aware of injustice and manipulation, and frankly how they have been duped and played for a fool, they tend to react violently.
Right now, at this present moment of civilization, we are on a precipice. Wall Street gambling, financial houses of cards, over leveraging or borrowing up to our eyebrows, income inequality, and a reset of the standard of living that we have become accustomed to (albeit a very leveraged one), has all led us to the edge of a cliff. How will the various segments of our society react when more and more is taken from them? The poor will especially feel it because they don’t have much left to take, which means they will be living on the streets.
This will be a time when the blind ambition of the oligarchs; the wealthy and the corporations, must be replaced by an acceptance and understanding of society and how society must go through its cycles.
Whether what we recognize as America continues to exist or not depends entirely on how each of us reacts to the changes that are inevitable.
E. Raymond Rock (anagarika eddie) is a meditation teacher at the DhammaRocksprings Theravada Buddhist Meditation Retreat Center: dhammarocksprings.org and author of “A Year to Enlightenment: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Enlightenment-Steps-Enriching-Living/dp/1564148912 His 33 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.
He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.
» left by david from magnolia, texas (1 year 259 days ago.)
What with a lack of intelligence and the public's propensity to forgo education for scripture, combined with the fear of those who are left with just a little and have been promised that they'll lose that unless they follow strict trickle down economics, I don't hold out much hope that this society has the will to reject their corporate masters. You have to remember too that a vast majority of the people in this country believe that they are better off with no social net, and that is people that don't have a pot to pee in. That kind of ignorance fueled by religion's complicity to please their biggest donors is almost impossible to overcome.Respond to this comment
» left by e (1 year 256 days ago.)
China's looking better all the time. America is beginning to suck!
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