Thursday, October 08, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
       I saw the tears of the oppressed—
       and they have no comforter;
       power was on the side of their oppressors—
       and they have no comforter.(Ecclesiastes 4:1)

Michael Moore's latest movie, Capitalism:  A Love Story, is truth telling at the highest level.  For years I have said that capitalism in America has run amuck, running about in a murderous frenzy, trampling the vast majority of the American People.  We are the pawns, or rather the peasants, deluded thinking we are living in some kind of capitalist utopia. Capitalism in and of itself is neither good nor evil - it just is.  It is an economic tool that can be used for the good of the people or for the good of the top 1% who unfortunately do run this country now. As a citizen you have been voted out of office my friend.   Right now capitalism is good for the top 1%. (roughly 100,000 families) and bad for everyone else.  Very good for them, and getting better.

What is puzzling about all this is that through a well financed propaganda program, and the restructuring of laws and courts, that the elite has been able to convince the middle class (and even the poor) to do the heavy lifting for them.  Why that happens was the question behind the book What's the Matter with Kansas?  The current Tea Party movement is certainly right wing reactionary but it has several things right.  For one, it conveys a sense that somehow we are getting screwed over, and those who have been elected to look out after our best interest are instead lining their pockets.  With disturbingly few exceptions that is true. The other is that the movement is against the bailout which is the biggest con game ever perpetrated on the American people and a crime so large in magnitude that it makes Berny Madoff look like a jay walker.  I think the movement is wrong on health care though and a few other issues.  But, the Tea Party movement is a populist movement and populist movements tend to have real good ideas stained with bigotry.  Just one example of that is the Know Nothings which were anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic, but otherwise did have a real agenda for reform.

What happened?  It used to be that we put people first.  Help people and all good will flow from that.  Even the Republicans believed that.  That got turned around to where we now bow to the god of market capitalism, a religion created by the elite, and declare that our duty is to help, preserve, and coddle capital interest.  If we do not protect business, which certainly is not in the business of protecting you, with our own money then something "bad" will happen.  What is so darn fascinating about that is that many people without a pot to piss in, and many who are heavily in debt maintaining a middle class facade, or the most avid worshipers at that alter.  But, I digress.

Our current religion is Utopian Capitalism.  Many churches give lip service to Jesus (who most decidedly was not a capitalist but someone with populist tendencies who believed in democracy) but in reality worship the modern day golden calf in the form of the dollar. Most of modern day Christianity has become a grotesque parody of what it once was.  I am not a Christian, I am Jewish, but I recognize much wisdom and beauty in authentic Christianity which is so now so rare it is in danger of extinction. Money has become an end in and of itself.  Even institutions of higher learning, churches, and other organizations which are pledged to help people are more interested in their own financial interest that there very purpose gets subverted. As modern capitalism has been allowed to run rampant democracy has suffered proportionately.  That is the point of Michael Moore's brilliant movie.

The major prophet of utopian capitalism was Ayn Rand.  Rand believed that we should all act selfishly in our own best interest rejecting any notion an obligation to help others.  She believed blindly in lazzi faire capitalism which paradoxically has the mystical belief in the invisible wise hand of the market regulating and making things alright.  And, this is important for you to know.  Among her many acolytes are Rush Limbaugh and Alan Greenspan,  So the next time you listen to ole Rush keep in mind that his philosophy according to the gospel of Ayn Rand (her term for it was Objectivism which is just about as weird as Scientology) is basically "I've got mine so screw you." 

One last thing.  Wake up to the fact that WalMart, GM, Citigroup, your health insurance carrier (if you are lucky to have one at least for now), or your local bank do not care about you or your family.  They are not your friends.  They are predators feeding on your hopes, dreams, and most of all your hard earned money and you my friend are the prey.

I started with a verse from Ecclesiastes and so it is perhaps a good idea to end with one too:

Whoever loves money never has money enough;
       whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
       This too is meaningless.  (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

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