Are Capitalism and Social Justice Mutually Exclusive?

As North Africa and the Middle East erupt in turmoil and popular discontent, so is the United States, if in a milder, more pacifist way. 

It’s not democracy, nor freedom, nor rebellion against tyranny… nor the desire for more jobs and better economic conditions that our Arab brothers and sisters are fighting for. It is, in most cases, all of those things meshed into one. It is the desire to have social and economic fairness, respect for human rights and dignity; not be part of societies where the few with political and/or economic power abuse the many, no matter who happens to be in charge.

And that is also what is starting to happen in the United States. Americans may think of the confrontation in Wisconsin as an issue having to do solely with the dismantling of labor bargaining for teachers and public employees, but it’s much more than that. It is the beginning of the realization that the knights and squires of capitalism by pitting one group against another get their own way, siphoning the wealth created by the middle and lower classes into their coffers. And, that is something which has been far more evident in the last three decades than ever before in the history of this nation.

Governors and mayors have been elected to deal with the economic realities created from a two-headed societal culture of greed and ignorance. The US has been led by a government, both executive and legislative branches, corrupted by special interests… one as far removed from democracy as water is from air. So now the excesses and stupidity of the past must be dealt with, and it is the mandate of the budget that allows these elected political executives to take draconic action at times, or other times band-aid compromise. Either way, the real problem is seldom, if ever, addressed.

And why isn’t the real problem addressed? Unfortunately, we have been educated in a system that is held to be sacrosanct. It‘s in our make-up to accept that compromise, equitable compromise, is something which exists somewhere in the middle of where two factions stand… but we resist the idea that it could be totally outside, in the realm of what is fair for society, not just those two groups in society. We look at the squabble between two groups without considering the party most often affected in the negotiation, one that is seldom if ever sitting at the table: the public at large, the rest of society.

So here we are dealing with the aftermath of decision-making by public officials, elected or selected, who found it expedient to give away the ship, creating new economic casts and tiers of special interests. You need to look no further than the pension system of the military, something that no one will dare discuss, to know that our economic troubles have barely begun. And that applies to the pensions of policemen, firefighters, and other holders of public-favored occupations.

The degree to which Americans have been, and continue to be, brainwashed is clearly evidenced in the incredible fight that Obama and a Democratic congress had to endure to improve slightly our second rate medical healthcare system – still second rate. Neither the government, nor the progressive voices in the country would deal with the problem of healthcare costs in all its facets – where its share of the GDP is obscenely 50 percent to 100 percent higher than that in other developed nations with universal and more comprehensive coverage – only taking to task the health insurance industry. The other “monster,” the American Medical Association, which is allowed to control the supply of physicians, thus determining not only their salaries but the salaries of those in all the allied professions, was never portrayed as an issue. Again, because of their enormous unchallenged power in running their profession (i.e., dictating their numbers), as well as their psychic power over our health, their contribution to “excessive” costs is probably at par with the multibillions being gifted to the health insurance companies.

What’s happening in Wisconsin, and in other parts of the country, as the march is on to cut not only costs, but the rights of workers, will soon become, certainly in the next couple of years, a stage where we’ll see the emperor (capitalism) naked. At that point, whoever resides in the White House will be seen no differently than deposed autocrats Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia), Hosni Mubarak (Egypt); on the way to be deposed, Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria), Brotherly Leader Muammar al-Gaddafi (Libya) and Ali Abdullah Saleh (Yemen)… and, of course, the majesties that rule Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

It may be difficult to imagine that people in America will take to the streets as our Arab friends have done. But don’t count Americans out. As the standard of living for 60-70 percent of Americans continues to deteriorate, it won’t be long before that option is on the table. And, when that happens, the assertion won’t be: It’s the economy, stupid! It will likely be: It’s the system (capitalism), stupid! 

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Capitalism, at least in the predatory form allowed to operate in this nation, is in no way, shape or form a free enterprise system, but truly a freak enterprise system. And that stands at odds with social justice!