Dear reader, your faithful columnist has occasion to dine with wealthy men. Being of a curious nature I love to ask questions. One of my favorites is, "What are your top two hot buttons, or issues? Things like the second amendment, poverty, the environment, immigration, abortion...."
A surgeon I was dining with last summer said, "That's an interesting question, let me think." He thought a minute and then looked up at me and said, "Welfare. It really pisses me off to think of my hard earned money going to women who sit on their asses and do nothing."
Where do I even begin to tell you, dear reader, my thoughts on this. And, his response is not isolated, not by any means. There is a seething resentment of the corporate elites towards the poor. Christian charity? Not on your life. Socialist compassion, forget it.
This is America, they can get friggin' job like everyone else. And, they can work their way up like I did. There is an Ayn Randian survival of the fittest, and the not so fit be damned mentality. This is, of course, the heart of predatory capitalism. This is America. Who can make the most money? Who can move up the ladder? Who can drive the best car? Who can live in the coolest house.
This attitude is why America is not like the Nordic countries. Why we do not have universal health care. Why moms and dads whose baby gets leukemia and cannot pay the medical bills end up in foreclosure or bankruptcy.
According to Investopedia:
A study done at Harvard University indicates that this (medical expenses) is the biggest cause of bankruptcy, representing 62% of all personal bankruptcies. One of the interesting caveats of this study shows that 78% of filers had some form of health insurance, thus bucking the myth that medical bills affect only the uninsured.
Rare or serious diseases or injuries can easily result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills - bills that can quickly wipe out savings and retirement accounts, college education funds and home equity. Once these have been exhausted, bankruptcy may be the only shelter left, regardless of whether the patient or his or her family was able to apply health coverage to a portion of the bill or not.
This mentality of ruthless capitalism is why we had predatory mortgages that went bust and destroyed lives, while those who doled out the said mortgages were bailed out and paid their usual bonuses.
This is why we can ship jobs overseas for slave labor wages and not give a rip about the American workers left behind, or the slave labor wages paid to the third world workers. This is why the corporate ruling class can see the cities of America die in the Rust Belt and look away without batting an eye.
These predatory capitalist directors, presidents, owners, executives exalt in American inequity, "We made it to the top, you did not. Sorry about your luck." In a nation that has become blinded by by its own mind-speak, the workers fight for their prison of servitude and will defend our American capitalism against the evils of socialism, while the elites laugh all the way to the bank in their limos.
With predatory capitalism failing, and it is, we distract ourselves with the panacea of consumerism that the corporations shove at us to numb our souls.
The hopelessness of the lower middle class to crave out a piece of the pie has created a huge epidemic of heroin addiction. And, th heroin/oxycotin epidemic is no longer confined to the ghettos of our cities or the redneck hills of Kentucky. Children of middle mangers and lawyers and everyone else are dying of overdoses in their twenties.
There is mass unemployment which is masked by those working just enough hours so that employers do not have to pay for health care. And, in the richest damn nation on the earth those workers pay around six hundred dollars a month of their small, slim pay checks for insurance that has a six thousand dollar deductibles which is like having no insurance at all.
We, the richest nation in the world (read richest for those at the top) have one of the highest child poverty rates on the planet. 15 million American children live in poverty, fully 21 percent of all our children. That is an abomination. And, remember the gentleman who told me that welfare mothers were the number one burr under his saddle, trust me when I tell you he does not give a damn about that number. As long as he and his family have theirs.
This is predatory capitalism. This is what is infinitely better than those at the top sharing their wealth with the less fortunate. Or, workers sharing in the profits of their companies. No, no, never that! The fruit of their labors should go to the 10 million dollar a year salaries of their leaders. Yes, we are that myopic in America and that brainwashed that predatory capitalism is not only thriving, but righteous and holy.
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil." Albert Einstein
Einstein continues in "Why Socialism?" Monthly Review, 1949:
"The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists...leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.
This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals....The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society."
Today America has abandoned any meaningful sense of labor unions, workers rights, economic equity. Gone. We have even given up on a single payer health care and insanely praise Obamacare with its horrific premiums and deductibles. We gladly accept that the corporate elite rule. We know that congress is bought and sold by lobbyists, that the corporations own the media, that the military had an insane part of our budget and we simply do not care. We aquiese to the idea that predatory captialism is socially responsible in any way. We laud capitalism that has eviserated the middle class and created a huge underclass of poverty, we defend the status quo that gets more dangerous by the day.
How did this happen? How did we get so blind? Much of Europe figured it out, Canada has universal health care and does not have over seven hundred military bases in over 125 countries. Canada does not drop bombs all over the earth.
Part of it is manipulation and distraction. Manipulated by the corporate media into what we should be doing. Which is leading the good life. Go to yoga, make sure your yoga pants are the most hip brand. Get your artisan bread at the local farmer's market. Be sure to hate Donald Trump.
I told you about our child poverty rates in America. Want to know what we do spend our money on? Well, last year we dropped over 22,000 bombs in seven countries.
The National Priorities Project states:
In fiscal year 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. Military spending includes: all regular activities of the Department of Defense; war spending, nuclear weapon spending, international military spending, and other Pentagon-related spending.
Our schools our floundering. Our inner cities are rife with poverty and violence. And, finally, women are beginning to come together to protest. And, what are they protesting? Pay? Nope. Health care? Guess again. Child poverty? Wrong. Free tuition for college? Nah. They are going to march, millions of them, to demand that Donald Trump shows them his little ole tax return. Yep, that's right. His tax return! Who cares? Who cares if the man paid zero taxes or massive taxes. The world is burning down and millions of women are mobilizing to force Donald J. Trump to share his tax return.
Add to this that to make their point the ladies have taken to cutting out vaginas from cardboard, painting them pink and sticking their heads through them to make their point. I kid you not.
In America, the real problems of poverty, the eroding middle class, the out of control military spending, the polluting of the environment, the economic stranglehold of the corporate elites are completely gone from the discourse save for a few commentators like Chris Hedges of Truthdig, Richard D. Wolff, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now). Even the revered Noam Chomsky was deluded into saying he would vote for Hillary over Trump. And, we all know in the end Bernie Sanders, our one light in the darkness, our one almost real socialist, sold out to Clinton.
The population, when it is not wearing pink cardboard vaginas and demanding Trump's tax returns is distracted by popular culture. The corporations with the ad campaigns and their media tell us what we need to buy, and how we need to think. In the meantime, things are going to hell, but we have our cell phones and our yoga mats.
The corporations have created a matrix that we all scramble around in. It appears like everything is wonderful, and it is for the top earners, but for the vast middle class and below ...not so much. It is like a prison that was created just for us to be lulled to sleep in. An inverted dictatorship of corporate rule.
As Ricardo Rezende states:
"The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not dream of escape. A system of slavery where, through consumption (Apple, Rolex, Nike, Johnnie Walker, Armani, Ferrari, Louis Vuitton, BlackFriday...) and entertainment (Marvel, Disney, NFL, Star Wars, Adele, NBA, Pokemon GO, Game of Thrones, UEFA...and in some cases, religion). The slaves would love their servitude (producing dictatorship without tears, a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies). That system is our enemy. It is all around us. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth (a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch, a prison for your mind).
This system organizes our economy, our politics, our habits, our lives, and even provides us with rates and credit cards and gives us the appearance of happiness... Like everyone else you were born into bondage. It seems that we have been born only to consume and to consume... we are auto-marginalized. And many are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.That's how it is with people - nobody cares how it works as long as it work.. Fact is that when we are mesmerized by someone (corporations) we lose all sense of analysis and reflection. It is important to realize that everyone is born with a brain, so I'm being pragmatic by saying no one has the right to be ignorant. Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools.."
Sadly, tragically we have become a nation of fools duped by the corporate elite to drop their bombs, pop their over priced prescriptions, eat their GMO-ed food, watch their propaganda news to preserve the status quo, botox ourselves to their standard of beauty, prop up their income inequity as noble and American, and if we feel a roar or a rage in us, cut out a cardboard vagina, paint it pink, stick our heads through it and chant to Donald Trump, "Show us your tax, or we'll give you the axe!"
Heaven help us.
Nancy O'Brien Simpson
Ms. Simpson was a radio personality in New York. She was a staff writer for The Liberty Report. A PBS documentary was done on her activism for human rights. She is a psychotherapist and political commentator.