Most of you know that I am a child of America in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I graduated from high school in 1964. Although I had good grades, I did not have the money to attend a good college, so I heeded the words of my late, beloved president, John F. Kennedy, and enlisted in the United States Air Force. Six months later, I was discharged for a medical condition I had reported, but my recruiter had not.
Confused about my future, I signed up for classes at Santa Monica City College in the evenings, and found a job for the daytime hours.
Throughout high school and my college years, classes such as ‘business,’ ‘finance,’ and ‘economics’ informed me about our nation and how it had flourished during the Industrial Revolution thanks to ‘capitalism.’
Capitalism: “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.”
Here’s the problem; capitalism creates greed, and eventually a separation of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots;’ in other words extreme income inequality.
“Capitalism is against the things that we say we believe in – democracy, freedom of choice, fairness. It’s not about any of those things now. It’s about protecting the wealthy and legalizing greed.” Michael Moore
Let my explain how capitalism is failing the American people. I will begin with what I was taught in those classes 50 years ago.
A successful business experienced annual profits of 30 percent. This was an average based on the fact that reinvestment of part of the company’s profits helped it grow, and increased the number of employees. This is the basis of true capitalism. CEO’s were rewarded with salaries in the tens-of-thousands of dollars for their efforts, and employees received pay increases based on their effort which assisted in the company’s growth. That was then, this is when and how it changed.
Even with the Vietnam War in progress, America’s economy was growing. The challenges of a post WWII economy were fading away. As profits increased, major corporations became greedy. No longer did they reinvest profits for the purpose of growing their companies; instead they increased the costs of their goods and services, forcing consumers to pay for their growth, while they placed their exorbitant profits in off-shore accounts. Republican presidents who believed in “trickle-down economics” were proven to be sorely mistaken.
CEO’s of the larger corporations experienced salary increases of 1,000 percent. Consumers witnessed cost increases which were not supported by their income. I remember two commodities which increased in price nearly 200 percent. Consumers were told that limited crops, and other costs forced the industry to increase the costs of coffee and sugar enormously; they lied. It was merely a ploy to raise profits for the sole purpose of increased profits.
Fast forward to 2007. The economy was ‘booming;’ but it was an illusion. We were engaged in two unwinnable wars; “war is good business;” and unemployment levels were low. I was employed in an electrical warehouse. Construction in Northern Nevada was non-stop.
What we didn’t know was that many of our friends and family had been given ‘sub-prime’ loans by the large and small banks. It all fell apart in 2008. Capitalism had influenced Wall Street to use any means possible to increase profits. The Bush administration removed all oversight, and criminal practices began to be the norm.
I kept my home, but was laid off by my company. Construction on new homes had suddenly ceased to exist. I was the oldest, and first to be let go. (We’ll discuss the lies about age discrimination at another time.)
Reaching near ‘depression’ levels, the economy of the richest nation in the world crashed; but not for the one-percent. Profits of the largest corporations actually grew as they laid off tens-of-thousands of men and women across the nation. Foreclosure signs were visible on every street in the nation. However, not a single member of the banking industry was charged with fraud, or any other violation; they simply became wealthier.
When President Obama took extreme measures to repair the damage of eight years of the Bush administration, companies began to rehire. The problem was that jobs which once paid well now offered only minimum wage or little more. Tens-of-thousands of manufacturing jobs had been moved overseas where employees were paid far, far less than American workers. Your illegitimate president continues to have 12 factories in foreign nations, and his daughter’s clothing line is made in China.
Thanks to capitalism, these conditions exist today. Income inequality is widening, and every day hundreds of American families fall into the poverty level.
Our government is dysfunctional. One entire political party is devoted to protecting capitalism and the bloated profits of the CEO’s and Boards of Directors who actually received salary increases and bonuses after the ‘great recession’ of 2008.
During the 2016 campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders advocated a form of ‘democratic socialism;’ was he right? He was 100 percent correct, and the support of younger Americans supported the elderly senator’s ideas; and so do I.
No longer do employees share in the 300, 400, and 500 percent profit margins experienced by the largest corporations.
Capitalism always fails the majority over time. Now, with a billionaire who hires other billionaires to run the government, we can expect the situation to further decline. Trump has no respect for the American people, and few of us have any respect for the immoral man who calls himself a great leader.
A final note about capitalism. Trump has been allowed to spend at least 30 million dollars of taxpayer money in just over 100 days in office to maintain his lavish lifestyle, while his hypocritical party was working to take away healthcare from tens-of-millions of hard-working Americans. His tax plan has been proven to be a gift to the super wealthy, and a disaster for low-income and impoverished Americans. The income gap will grow exponentially, and America will soon become a ‘third world nation.’
“Profit before people” is the new policy of the American government.
by James Turnage
Follow me on twitter; @jamesturnagenov