Published on March 21st, 2014 | by Todd Smekens0
Richest Capitalists: Are They Our Systemic Problem Solvers?
MUNCIE, IN – We receive lots of communication at Muncie Voice from blog posts, newsletters, to audio and video files which we scan for information our readers will appreciate to help them make informed decisions. We don’t have a capitalist agenda which means we want to represent a true picture of journalism as our founders intended when they granted the free press special privileges.
We are truth seekers. As many people have noted, some of these ideas and beliefs run contrary to the mainstream capitalistic America where profit motive dictates policy.
If you are seeking the truth, you’ll learn we need a strong government with a strong private sector. Anybody who clamors anti-government is actually cheering for fascist rule which is defined by Merriam Webster as “exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”
Sound familiar? As we’ve mentioned in many articles, experts already refer to our existing structure as a corporate fascist state or Oligarchy.
The Tea Party thinks Obama is a dictator despite his centrist rule which looks more center right for those who don’t gather their propaganda from Fox News aka “Echo Chamber”. Therefore, they vote in Tea Party candidates like Mike Pence who attend ALEC functions – all funded by the Koch brothers and several other libertarian free marketers. Their collective misinformed vote hands over our government to be ruled by Oligarchs. In Indiana, we rank #3 for doing business, but our quality of life and personal income ranks consistently in the bottom quintile (40th and below).
When this country was founded, the government was to serve the will of the people through a democratic republic. The economic system we chose was capitalism, but because of the tendencies of capitalism, the government needed to be strong to keep the power capitalists would accumulate in check. The government was to be kept in check by an independent and free press. All of these entities have to be strong and independent to keep up balance.
Unfortunately, we are far from balanced and social unrest is the result.
Large international conglomerates with their financial backers rule the land. Many are so powerful, they tell governments how they’ll work in their country.
Our free press is a joke and we’ve learned that our public broadcasting networks and programming has been influenced by the billionaire tycoons. Our government has been neutered from the state to federal levels. Budgets have been cut on agencies and lack of enforcement have resulted in many negative consequences. Our food supply is contaminated and our environment is suffering. We don’t know how bad it is because the media is either owned or influenced by the same people causing our problems.
It’s at this point, I have to refer to one of our greatest minds – Albert Einstein. In 1949, he wrote an article titled, “Why Socialism?”, where he writes about the ill effects of both capitalism and communism. He essentially predicts our future – his future is now our present. He addresses the individual (self) with our drives and instincts to be both a “social” creäture, but also independent. Balance. He writes about the problem emerging in the late 40’s:
It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration.
As a society, we have accentuated our competition between each other – winner or loser – capitalist or worker – management or labor – republican or democrat, right-left, etc. While we drive to compete against and outdo one another, we lose sight of our dependence on each other – society.
“No man is an Island” ~ Thomas Merton
The concept is flawed. Einstein referred to it as a “predatory phase of human development“. He went on to say that socialism, or a planned economy, overcomes this weakness, or moves beyond the inevitable outcome of capitalism. We need to move past our “negative idea” of socialism, and consider the notion of better planning. While our corporate media avoids even mentioning the word, I bet every corporate boardroom has a strategic plan. They don’t just run in two or four-year cycles like our government.
What Albert Einstein was suggesting in 1949, and both Peter Buffett and Gar Alperovitz are talking about in 2014, is a strategic plan on how best we can manage our society. Not with a goal of maximizing profits or shareholder value, but how best can we use technology and our natural and human resources to help all of society.
Read this closely. Again, Einstein wrote this in 1949, or 65 years ago:
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
The last sentence, written 65 years ago, means the sources of information (press, radio, education) are influenced by the Oligarchs or the Capitalists. We are told what they want us to know. We are marketed to. We are subjects. We are the public. They hire public relation firms to spin the truth so we’ll believe a false image of reality. We are molded for their needs. We are labor. We are a means for profit. Then, we are told blacks are our problem. We are told liberals are our problem. We are told minorities hurt our economy and steal scarce jobs and resources. We are told Russia is our enemy. The list goes on.
We never stop to think who is feeding us all this information.
This isn’t freedom. This is exactly what our founders were escaping when they came to the United States and fought against British oppression. Once victorious, they established a strong government to represent the people – a democracy – which literally means people power. They wanted to make sure the people were in charge of their own destiny – not some ruler, King, Monarch, or Oligarch.
Guess what has happened?
Unless we know all this and understand it, we are not voting as an informed collective. We end up voting against our collective interests. To paraphrase Ian Haney Lopez, we think we are voting against minorities or liberals, welfare queens, young lazy bucks, but we are really turning over the country to a handful of very wealthy people. As Einstein warned 65 years ago, too much power concentrated in a few hands is a recipe for disaster.
So, what is being done about it – solutions?
Muncie Voice has promised some solutions in 2014. We’ve discussed the fascinating happenings on the journalism front. New journalism models are forming outside the typical capitalistic structure and so far they have crushed our government with revelations of the NSA and the private sector colluding to invade our privacy.
Also, we have many organizations springing up to create community wealth replacing the corporate wealth extraction models of our modern-day. One of the leading actors on addressing community democracy and wealth building is Gar Alperovitz. According to a variety of sources, he’s a longtime advocate for a transition to a more just, fair, and sustainable economic system.
Here’s an interesting point, since Gar is discussing alternative structures to the ones which are so obviously flawed, he’s literally been banned from corporate media sources in this country. While most Americans realize things are not right, and they disagree with the direction our government is taking us, the media refuses to explore alternative ideas. So, Gar has been discussing the problem and proposing solutions, yet his ideas are not accepted in the mainstream media because he’s deemed controversial. RED FLAG.
Well, Gar had an opportunity to talk with Peter Buffet, the son of multi-billionaire, Warren Buffett. Last year, Peter wrote a scathing opinion piece in the New York Times that called out traditional philanthropy for treating symptoms while ignoring the underlying systemic issues.
In his NYT piece, Peter writes:
As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.
But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.
Take a look at who is leading the “reformation” of the education system?
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Eli and Edythe Broad; and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field.
How about the Kochs’ influence over state government?
They’ve created a giant web to influence state and local government through academia, think tanks, lobbying groups and corporate retreats lined up with government official retreats. Corporate executives get to meet one on one with legislators who are handed legislation written by corporate lawyers with the help of ALEC. The legislators head back to their home state and sign their name to the bill, and off it goes. Does this sound like a democracy? Where are the people in this process? Indiana republican lawmakers are one of the top offenders for this undemocratic process.
We are hearing and reading about poor Bill Gates running around the country trying to salvage the billion dollar Common Core standards he pushed through our president, the department of education and state governors association who then pushed it on schools, teachers, students and parents.
Now, those people are pushing back.
As Peter Buffett writes, “It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.” There’s the reference to ground up…people power.
He goes on to write, “What we have is a crisis of imagination. Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Foundation dollars should be the best “risk capital” out there.”
Peter and his wife run the NOVO Foundation:
NoVo Foundation is dedicated to catalyzing a transformation in global society, moving from a culture of domination to one of equality and partnership. We support the development of capacities in people—individually and collectively—to help create a caring and balanced world. We envision a world that operates on the principles of mutual respect, collaboration, and civic participation, thereby reversing the old paradigm predicated on hierarchy, violence, and the subordination of girls and women.
A couple of Gar’s projects are the Democracy Collaborative and Community Wealth. I’d highly recommend them to folks who are interested in seeing what is happening at the ground level across the country. From Community Wealth website:
Across the United States, democratic, community wealth-building institutions have begun to multiply dramatically in number in recent years. Although many ventures are small in size, a number have already become a major presence in their communities and have implications for longer-term community change.
As you can see, the solutions are already in place and moving forward. They run contrary to what we read, listen to, or hear in the media because they are focusing on the capitalists who have acquired their wealth from the communities and now want to impose their will on us again. It’s going to fail.
The capitalist billionaires represent a system which has failed to be useful for the majority of Americans. Einstein referred to capitalism as evil, and now the billionaires want to use their “accumulated wealth and influence” to influence us more and tell us what is best for us. Will you listen?
Here’s my recommendation. We know exactly what capitalism has done for us. The economy and political structure is a mess and there is no fix in sight. Greed and corruption rule the day while millions are insecure about their future and worry about how to provide for their families. Hope is fading.
Now, go read what Peter Buffett and Gar Alperovitz are working on and you decide which sounds better. Which system sounds more practical and workable. Does it sound like a something you want to be a part of, and which one would you like to see in place for your kids future?
In closing, during the conversation between the two gentlemen, Gar says, “We need to make this shift manifest for the people. This is a different time in history, and this is really the moment. People are beginning to adopt a frame that the next two to three decades count and that we need to be thinking about movement-building, project-building and idea-building.”