Monday, November 20, 2017
It’s Time for Americans to Become Social Capitalists
By Eric L. Wattree Sr. (Columnist)
Published September 25, 2008

So here they come–all the corporate fascists, hat-in-hand, wanting the American taxpayer to bail them out. These, the very same arrogant, and compassionless social terrorists who demonized as "socialist" anyone who even implied that maybe a crumb should be set aside for the poor or middle class. "Let the market work. Free us from the nuisance of social protectionism, and we'll make America great!" But now that their greedy excesses have worked against them, all of a sudden socialism is not all that bad-and looking better with every day that passes–as long as we remember to privatize the profit, and socialize loss.

Yes–here they come en mass before the great unwashed, the American taxpayer, and without a bit of shame, ask for 700 billion dollars as casually as kid asking for a candy bar. And beyond that, they tell us that this is a must that we accommodate them–and immediately!–if we hope to save ourselves. They tell us that we can't even afford the luxury of thinking about it, because time is of the essence. But while they insists that there's no time to waste, maybe this financial crisis is a blessing in disguise, because it gives the American taxpayer a rare opportunity to leverage his economic clout.

The business community has preached ad nauseam the evils of helping the poor and suffering–"it's a socialist concept, and un-American!" So if it's bad for us, it's certainly just as bad for them. Thus, maybe it's time for the American people to become capitalists–social capitalist. After all, money is a commodity, so why should the American taxpayer simply hand over 700 billion dollars for free-the banking community certainly doesn't. When the average American is in a financial pinch, the banks don't just give us money, they make us pay for it-dearly. So why shouldn't we?

Maybe we should give them an open-ended loan at the prevailing rate. Then they can pay off the loan by setting up a trust fund in which the banking community must contribute a percentage (to be determined) of their annual gross profits. The American people could then use that money to help subsidize social security, child healthcare, and other programs that benefit the American people. In that way, since it is a simple business transaction, we can both benefit the American people, and avoid the "evils" of what the business community has demonized as socialism. It'll be capitalism at its best.

In addition, as part of the formula that determines how much of their profits must go into this trust fund, we should take into account the minimum wage, the cost of living, and the level of disparity between the average worker and the compensation of top tier corporate executives (after all, if a corporation can afford to pay its CEO an exorbitant salary and benefits, it should also be able to contribute more towards its public debt).

Then while we're at it, we need to also take another look at the way we compensate our politicians and government executives. One of the primary problems that we have in this nation is that we've allowed politicians to push their salary and benefits so high that they can no longer identify with the people they represent. So, members of congress, government executives, and judges should be compensated at a rate that is commensurate with the median income of a middle class worker. Thus, by tying the compensation of our politicians to middle class Americans, it will not only serve to keep them in touch with the realities of a middle class life, but also give them a vested interest in legislating with an eye towards what's in the best interest of the poor and middle class.

Combined with the above legislation, it will also be necessary to close the revolving door between government and big business. It should be made strictly illegal for any former politician to either be employed by, or gain benefit or assistance of any kind, from any person or corporation who has had business or any "intimate legislative contact" with that politician for a period of seven years.

Admittedly, in our current political environment it would be next to impossible to get legislators to legislate against themselves. But if we truly want change in Washington, we're also going to have to change to get their attention.

The primary obstacle to changing the political environment in this country is our loyalty to our particular representatives. While we hate the job that congress is doing as a whole, most of us continue to support our own representatives. So we need to set an objective standard by which we can assess all politicians, including our own. One way of doing that is by pressing our particular party, and thereby, congress, to set clearly defined legislative agendas every year. Then begin we can begin to assess our representatives, strictly, based on how closely they adhere to that agenda.

In order for that to work, we must use the Internet and aggressive grassroots organizing to educate the public on how important it is to bring this system under control. We've got to stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated, and start to take control of our lives, and the institutions that affect our lives. We've also got to let radio, television, the entertainment industry, and their sponsors know that they're going to have to become more responsive to our needs, rather than trying to feed us a false sense of security. And we have to let our politicians know that it's going to take more than a pretty smile and a snappy campaign ad to be elected, or re-elected to office.

I'm hope that this financial crisis is a wake-up call for America-it's nothing less than Katrina on Wall Street. Yet again, Bush has been asleep at the switch, and America is in serious danger as a result. Bush has allowed the United States to become weaker than we've ever been in our history. We're in heavy debt to China, Bush has all but destroyed our military readiness in Iraq, and we have a media with a vested interest in not telling us the truth about what's going on around us.

As we spend 10 billion dollars a month in Iraq, and now, hand over 700 billion dollars to corporate demagogues, The People's Republic of China is literally buying America. We were blind-sided with this financial crisis. That should alert us to just how fast life as we know it can come to screeching and abrupt end. We need to consider that as we sip on our next martini.

Eric L. Wattree


Categories: Opinion

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