There Never Was a Free Market
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist…” – Charles Baudelaire
The great God, Capitalism! Best system in the world and you’d be a fool and a communist to think otherwise. But guess what? Capitalism is getting bailed out…again! Through greed and shitty back door deals with U.S. oligarchs, our main production output is now weapons and cheeseburgers. While middle America has seen jobs evaporate in the millions, piggies fed at the trough of the United States Treasury for decades. Plundering and pillaging the pockets of the American taxpayer, it seems these geniuses missed the day they taught about the Pullman strikes in business school. What’s more, in the middle of a pandemic, the richest country on earth must get rubbers gloves, masks and ventilators from overseas, some donated by Russia. Workers are striking at various weapons and plane factories just to make ventilators.
Sure, President Trump re-enacted the Defense Production Act but who cares? It’s been rendered toothless, since we’re still entertaining no bid contracts and being held over a barrel by greedy, corporate bloodsuckers.
According to Dr. Richard Wolff, capitalism must be bailed out every four to seven years. It’s been more frequent for a while. Because of the cronyism of Dodd Frank, after the 2008 crash, a vote in Congress to put money into banks was no longer required. The fourth quarter of 2019 saw the Fed drop over $1 trillion into Wall St.
Before the passage of the recent trough re-fill, the Fed was dumping one trillion dollars a day into Wall St. Moreover, per Fed Chair Jerome Powell, it will continue to do so. This last bail out is an insult to the intelligence. Congress didn’t have to vote on the banking money, it was dumped with the push of a button by the Fed. However, after earmarking handouts to every other industry, Wall St. got in line…and got the most money. What else is new?
But enough about this bill. Several of my colleagues here and I have covered it, as well as everywhere else.
Let’s talk about Capitalism! It failed. Again. Our eggshell thin “economy” has been hollowed out by bad trade deals, labor deals and allowing entire industries to bet the house and then, being too big fail, get salvaged by the American taxpayer, executive bonuses intact. The consumer driven economy is so fragile that two weeks into a pandemic, we realized just how flimsy the entire house of cards has been along.
That is not even close to the fantasy of a free market.
The idea of a free market is to have competition. Alas, Capitalists don’t want competition, they want monopoly. That’s how many of the “regulatory” agencies got started in the early 1900s; enough rules bar a competitive market. While titans of industry publicly rail against government and its bureaucracies, they bribed this system into existence. Kind of like Al Capone saying prohibition was a good idea.
Let that sink in…
Moving on, a real free market lets failure die. The joke’s on us; modern “capitalism” is for us rubes who think one day we’ll be Jeff Bezos. The banks, defense contractors, telecom and the pharma industry? They get socialism. The internet was a military invention, paid for by the taxpayer. Why do IPs, like Verizon get to sell it back to us at top dollar? The taxpayer funds research and development to Big Pharma by way of grants. Why do they get to sell us a $2 pill for $300? Who competes against that?
Remember Compaq Computer? Big Texas outfit, they took the world by storm in 1982. Then without so much as a whimper, poof! They were swallowed up by Hewlett Packard in 2011. They were gone. As it should be when you fuck up.
The purpose of capitalism is to increase profit. This means to increase profitable activity. So, while many businesses thrive in places like Sweden and Denmark, many are utilities. Oil, banking, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, the prison industry (which is its own oxymoron) doesn’t need to be a business. Who does it help? Especially in the U.S. where none of these businesses are owned by any one founder. They’re corporate boards, and CEOs like Jamie Dimon, bribing the U.S. and other governments to get their way and, in some cases, crash the economy.
Wrapping up, let’s take prisons.
When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, the U.S. prison population (state AND fed) was 300,000. After Bill Clinton passed the Joe Biden led Crime Bill, increasing spending for police and prisons, allowing for private prisons and making crack a schedule 1 narcotic over powder cocaine (nothing racist there) the prison population shot through the roof. Now, we have three million people in prison. Half of these folks are in for non-violent, non-trafficking drug possession. Not exactly el Chapo, most of these are pot violations. Even the more severe narco possession charges (coke, heroin, etc.) require treatment, not prison. If they hurt no one, why are they in prison?
Well, McDonald’s, AT&T, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, the U.S. Military, various manufacturing and call fulfillment centers use prisoners for their production. When California Senator Kamala Harris was Attorney General, she used prison labor to fight the siege of California’s wildfires. They were trained, tested and fought fires for $1/hour with no disability or death benefit to the families. Of course, the carrot was early release, etc. However, when these trained paramedics and fire fighters got out, they couldn’t get a job because of a prior felony. Prison recidivism in the U.S. is 80%, the highest in the world, which is good if your labor force is prisoners! Can’t get a job because of a puritanical, system rife with hypocrisy? No problem! Do crime to feed the family…and go back to jail.
Attorney General Harris was sued twice by the Federal Government for her violations of prison overcrowding. Her argument in court was “that some non-violent offenders needed to stay incarcerated or else the prison system would lose a source of cheap labor.” Good times…
So, when I hear that it was tried in Russia and wherever…no, it wasn’t. They had state run capitalism just like we do! Topic for another time.
Yeah, I didn’t use the word socialism. You did…