Over at sister-site Government Cheese, a discussion of capitalism, propaganda and how a few wealthy people keep things under control
Capitalism literally means that the people with wealth make the investment decisions for society & get the return on investment, and the broad public don’t.
All the rest is just propaganda. Capitalism has nothing to do with “markets” or “freedom” or any of the rest.
It’s really so simple. It’s how a few people maintain control of society for their own benefit and it’s been this way for thousands of year, under different labels. It’s what a monarchy is. The King and his buddies control the wealth. “WE should have this and you should not and here’s why.”
It’s why the United States was such a breakthrough. WE THE PEOPLE will decide what’s best for us, not you. Government of, by and for THE PEOPLE. Not the elites, the wealthy, the aristocrats, the priesthood, the monarchy, the warlord, whatever label put on the ruling wealthy. A country run for the benefit of the people in the country. Whatever label we put on that – democracy, socialism, whatever.
That’s all. All the rest is just propaganda.
Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the context of the monarchies of Europe just salivating waiting for “the Union” – the experiment in democracy – fail so they can get the world back where they want it.
“Some corporations do bad things.” “Corporations bribe politicians.” “Good corporations don’t harm people.” “Corporations are greedy.”
Almost everything we read and hear about corporations destructively misstates what corporations are and why we have them. Understanding what a corporation really is has enormous implications for our democracy.
Corporations Don’t “Do” Things
Here’s the thing: A corporation is a contract. It is a legal agreement enabled by our (“We the People”) government. That’s it.
Corporations are not sentient entities. Contracts don’t “think” or “want” or “need” or say” or “care” or “do” anything. Neither does a will, nor a lease, nor a confidentiality agreement. Corporations also can’t be “greedy” or “criminal” or “good” or “altruistic.” But people can.
When we say these things about corporations we are reinforcing misunderstanding of what a corporation is. This helps the executives running corporations get away with all kind of bad acts.
Continue reading “Understanding What a Corporation Actually Is Can Help Restore Democracy”
How often do we hear that “government spending is bad,” or “the government spends too much money”?
The purpose of government in a democracy is to do things for We the People to make our lives better. We the People make the decisions, and allocate resources toward making our lives better. Government spending is the point of democracy. Government in a democracy spends to make our lives better.
Here’s an experiment. When you hear the word “government” substitute the words “decision-making by We the People.”
When you hear, “Government regulation gets in the way of business” try this, “We the People are supposed to decide to regulate business activities to protect US”.
When you hear “the private sector should decide how to spend money,” try this, “In a democracy We the People decide to have roads and rail and solar power, etc.” When you hear that “taxes are theft,” try this, “We the People decide to tax the rich and their corporations so they don’t get so big that we can’t control them.”
This is not how it is today in this country. For decades we’ve been told that government – decision-making by We the People – is bad, that government spending – We the People doing things to make our lives better – is bad, that regulating – We the People protecting each other – is bad. And this has made our democracy weak.
So now many people believe anything government (democracy) does is bad and government spending is bad. That is anti-democracy, and we are living with the consequences of decades of that anti-democracy propaganda.
Richard (RJ) Eskow, writing at Absolute Zero, in A Society That Makes People Homeless Has Lost Its Humanity,
Shelter is a basic survival need, along with food, clothing and health care. But it’s even more than that. It’s also a psychic and spiritual need. As the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote: “A home shelters daydreaming, a home protects the dreamer, a home allows us to dream in peace.”
We cannot experience our full humanity without a home, which is one of many reasons why housing is both a basic human need and a basic human right. It’s another reason why the US housing crisis is unforgivable.
In a decent society, nobody would have to spend a single night without a home. And people don’t ‘become’ homeless. We make them homeless, through the deliberate choices we make as a society. With half a million people already unhoused and millions more at risk, it’s time to ask: What kind of people are we? Who are we, that we allow this to happen?
Do “we” do this, or is it because We the People are not making the choices?
We don’t have to “bring back jobs from China.” Economists explain that exporting low-level jobs and automating free up resources so “we” can have more $ and free time. And places climbing the jobs ladder get jobs.
The problem is how “we” are distributing the gains. Right now a company ships jobs away or automates and a few already-wealthy people in charge of the company get all of the gains. The workers a shit out of luck. They lose homes, etc.
AND on top of that the owners of companies use those job losses to break unions, etc, forcing wages down. “Shut up and accept the pay cut or we’ll fire you.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Imagine if “we” all shared the gains, and received more $ and free time. And as those other countries automate, etc., they also get more $ and free time.
What we need is democracy (aka “socialism”,) so we can GET that $ and free time.
Imagine if we had an economic system designed to be of, by and for We the People, where we require that automation and job exports mean those economic gains go to US – We the people – instead of an already-wealthy few.
A company improves efficiency by automating, etc., and the gains go into a fund. As all the companies do this, the fund provides income to working people. People get the same pay and reduced hours because the efficiencies mean there is less work to do. Or they can move up the ladder to more-skilled jobs for more pay.
In other words, imagine democracy