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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Socialism - Capitalism

The "news" has just covered one of the most curiously mundane subjects imaginable. Miriam Webster, the dictionary people, have kept track of the most looked-up words since their online dictionary started. This year, they tracked two words, in combination, as the most looked up definitions. It seems that the two were most frequently looked up together. Oddly enough, the Rethuglicans made great strides toward redefining both during this election cycle. In our defense, we tried to get tot he bottom of what they were talking about rather than taking their word for it. Strangely enough, fascism didn't make the cut.

I have lived in communes, so I have first-hand knowledge of what shared ownership of the means of production looks and feels like. In fact, the highest standard of living I have ever experienced was living communally. I may not have had a lot of capital, but my needs were always met and the extra value of feeling part of something greater has not been available in any other economic system. What powerful elites do not want us to know is that having them in charge will always cost society more than they are willing to give back to it. Just look at the current "fiscal cliff" and you will realize that the poor are paying more to keep the ship of state afloat than the wealthy. Fairness would require the rich to pay at least as much of their income as the poor and middle class do, but they are fighting tooth and nail to continue benefiting from both the corporate welfare that they have become used to and the tax shelters that they have concocted to line their pockets at our expense.

What really upsets me is the large number of people who belong to cooperatives or buying clubs who claim that socialism is bad. Farmers, across our great land, cooperatively buy feed and seed, store their agricultural products or throw in together to market their products. This is just one example of the good of others and the good of individuals being wedded to one another. Socialism.The prize-winning stupidity that flowed from a Republican mouth recently was that, "We do not want to become Greece." This shows two different ignorant opinions wrapped up in one. Greece, no matter what you think of the country itself, is not an example of what we would become if we accepted more socialist policies. The problems that Greece is facing have come about because of capitalistic approaches to investment and money lending. A significant portion of the Greek's means of production, is based on debt. Owned by foreign interests, not society. Much of this debt has piled up because of the fast money, "loaned" to them by the GDR. The threat posed by this debt is owned by capitalists, not socialists. Capitalism, foisted upon the Greek people from outside their boundaries has resulted in instability and unsustainable cuts to the fabric of life for Greek people. The turmoil that is taking place in Greece right now is because those who believe in the "free market", mostly capitalists, saw a chance to extract more money from Greece than they were able to pay. again, the costs are socialized, but the benefits flowed only one way, out of the country. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have operated the same way for decades, extracting wealth and leaving the burden of governing civil society on the backs of those who are struggling to pay off debt for things that they probably never wanted in the first place.

Private interests love to socialize the costs of their behaviors and allow us all to languish in the cesspool of pollution, exploitation and squalor that they think we deserve. This leaves them free to reap the benefits of our labors. In the case of Greece, their economic turmoil has come about by being hung out to dry by the international bankers that loaned them billions when times were good. Now that the tables have turned and times are tough, the money lenders are facing losses, but their feathered nests will always need more fluff and they have defined both the terms and re-payment plans to benefit themselves, not Greek people or society. In many ways, Germans are more socially inept than we are. They may call themselves a Democratic-socialist country, but capital is front and center, making choices for the entire EU that are bad for people, bad for society and I contend, bad for the planet.

The "resources" that capitalists base their decision-making upon are deemed to be there for the taking, regardless of the negative impacts on society that their exploitation will result in. when the "resources" are people and the exploitation of larger and larger groups of people are required to sate the capitalists thirst for profit, I believe that we have sold ourselves short. It is not bad enough that our land has been despoiled for the profits of the few, now we are extracting even more from those people who had made a social contract to help their fellow countrymen, allow their culture to flourish and by being classified as debtor nations, put themselves in the awkward position of trying to pay for the largess of their most wealthy and powerful elites by further stripping the population of whatever social security net they had. Ultimate power, it is said, corrupts absolutely and we are now seeing the mayhem that can be created when dollars (or euros) matter more than people.

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