Saturday, July 08, 2006

Free Market

God explains ...

In the United States, the top one and a half percent hold more wealth than the botton 90 percent. The net worth of the richest 834,000 people is nearly a trillion dollars greater than the poorest 84 trillion people combined.

You Americans tend to see class status as a function of individual effort. Some have 'made good,' so you assume that anybody can. That view is simplistic and naive. It assumes that everyone has equal opportunity, when in fact, in America just as in Mexico, the rich and powerful strive and connive to hold on to their money and their power and to increase it.

They do so by systematically eliminating competition, by institutionally minimizing true opportunity, and by collectively controlling the flow and the growth of weath.

This they accomplish through all manner of devices, from unfair labor practices which exploit the masses of the world's poor to good-old-boy network competitive practices which minimize (and all but destroy) a newcomer's chances of entering the Inner Circle of the successful.

They then seek to control public policy and governmental programs around the world to further ensure that the masses of people remain regulated, controlled, and subservient.

In most cases, it isn't rich individuals who do it; it's the social systems and institutions they represent. Those systems and institutions were created by the rich and powerful - and it is the rich and powerful who continue to support them.

By standing behind such social systems and institutions, individuals can wash their hands of any personal responsibility for the conditions which oppress the masses while favoring the rich and the powerful.

For example, let's go back to health care in America. Millions of America's poor have no access to preventive medical care. One cannot point to any individual doctor and say 'this is your doing, it is your fault' that, in the richest nation on earth, millions cannot get in to see a doctor unless they're in dire straits in an emergency room.

No individual doctor is to blame for that, yet all doctors benefit. The entire medical profession - and every allied industry - enjoys unprecedented profits from a delivery system which has institutionalized discrimination against the working poor and the unemployed.

And that's just one example of how the 'system' keeps the rich rich and the poor poor.

The point is that it is the rich and powerful who support such social structures and staunchly resist any real effort to change them. They stand against any political or economic approach which seeks to provide true opportunity and genuine dignity for all people.

Most of the rich and powerful, taken individually, are certainly nice enough people, with as much compassion and sympathy as anyone. But mention a concept as threatening to them as yearly income limits (even ridiculously high limits, such as $25 million annually), and they start whining about usurpation of individual rights, erosion of the 'American Way', and 'lost incentives'.

Yet what about the right of all people to live in minimally decent surroundings, with enough food to keep from starving, enough clothing to stay warm? What about the right of people everywhere to have adequate health care - the right not to have to suffer or die from relatively minor medical complications, which those with money overcome with the snap of a finger?

The resources of your planet - including the fruits and labors of the masses of the indescribably poor who are continually and systematically exploited - belong to all the world's people, not just those who are rich and powerful enough to do the exploiting.

And here is how the exploitation works: Your rich industrialists go into a country or an area where there is no work at all, where the people are destitute, where there is abject poverty. The rich set up factory there, offering those poor people jobs - sometimes 10-, 12-, and 14-hour a day jobs - at substandard, if not to say subhuman, wages. Not enough, mind you, to allow those workers to escape their rat-infested villages, but just enough to let them live that way, as opposed to having no food or shelter at all.

And when they are called on it, these capitalists say, 'Hey, they've got it better than before, don't they? We've improved their lot! The people are taking the jobs, aren't they? Why, we've brought them opportunity! And we're taking all the risks!"

Yet how much risk is there is paying people 75 cents an hour to manufacture sneakers which are going to sell for $125 a pair?

Is this risk-taking or exploitation, pure and simple?

Such a system of rank obscenity could exist only in a world motivated by greed, where profit margin, not human dignity, is the first consideration.

Those who say that 'relative to the standards of their society, those peasants are doing wonderfully!' are hypocrites of the first order. They would throw a drowning man a rope, but refuse to pull him to shore. Then they would brag that a rope is better than a rock.

Rather than raising the people to true dignity, these 'haves' give the world's 'have-nots' just enough to make them dependent - but not enough to ever make them truly powerful. For people of true economic power have the ability to then impact, and not merely be subject to the 'system.'. And that's the last thing the creators of the system want!

So the conspiracy continues. And for most of the rich and powerful, it is not a conspiracy of action, but a conspiracy of silence.

So go now - go your way - and by all means say nothing about the obscenity of a socioeconomic system which rewards a corporate executive with a 70-million-dollar bonus for increasing sales of a soft drink, while 70 million people can't afford the luxury of drinking the stuff - much less eating enough to stay healthy.

Don't see the obscenity of it. Call this the world's Free Market Economy, and tell everyone you are proud of it.

Yet it is written:
If thou wilt be perfect,
go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor,
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.
But when the young man heard this, he went away,
sorrowful, for he has great possessions.


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