Capitalism gone bad?
This week Millionaire investor & star of Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary said income inequality is “a great thing because it inspires everybody” to want to be like the one percent. He was responding to an Oxfam report that stated that the world’s richest 85 people had more wealth than half of the world’s populations.
What was interesting is that he had no desire to think deeply about the meaning of a system where income inequality and wealth disparity was a systemic byproduct. Mr. O’Leary’s thought process reflects the thought process of the current masters of Capitalism. Any talking head on CNBC would articulate as much.
Dr. Gar Alperovitz and David Benson visited The Rothko Chapel for a discussion about Capitalism last night. Dr. Gar Alperovitz is a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, and a past legislative director in the House and the Senate. He is a leading theorist in the movement to democratize wealth and build a new, more sustainable and more community focused economy. Dr. Gar Alperovitz included some discussion on his new book “What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About The Next American Revolution.” David Benson is the Director of Programs and Special Projects in the Office of the Commissioner in Harris County Precinct One.
Both of these men are real Liberals, real Progressives. Both were well read. Dr, Gar Alperovitz was the featured speaker though David Benson seemed to connect more with the realities on the ground.
Dr. Gar Alperovitz stated that Socialism (defined by him as state ownership of all means of production) and today’s Capitalism has failed the average human being. After all, he said Soviet type economies desperately failed and America’s economy is failing many. The answer to what comes after today’s Capitalism is somewhere in between he says.
David Benson who works on the ground with real people, the indigent, people looking for jobs, people underemployed believes that a societal change based on a new economy is necessary now. He alluded to Americans being conditioned to be silent sufferers. There is a pent up demand for change that can only come with upheaval of the masses. He provided examples of the type of suffering in Harris County Texas.
These apply throughout the entire country. Harris County farms out its jail population. Because the public and private entities have a vested interest in keeping them filled, communities housing them become feed stocks to imprison for that purpose. David Benson also presented solutions being implemented in his precinct now while some transition occurs. He talks about partnering with local businesses to form public/private alliances to reuse material normally written off or food normally written off or discarded.
Both men agreed that today’s Capitalism is responsible for the current income inequality and wealth disparity. They both alluded to the system being biased against the worker. Both believed that only through some hybrid of collective ownership of the means of production and therein employment can these disparities be mitigated.
The first thing that was obvious was the contrast between two intellects based on how they view the effects of today’s Capitalism on the masses. Dr. Gar Alperovitz, the author and academic had great abstract ideas. He however could not express them in a manner that had a material effect on people’s everyday lives. His approach is above the fray and somewhat ivory tower in that it does not provide marching orders but more a la carte solutions without direction or bias. Mr. David Benson was not only a man that was working within the community, he was putting some of Dr. Gar Alperovitz concepts into action for his particular community. In doing so he realized that a time will come where the coming change will not be as peaceful as Dr Gar Alperovitz alludes to.
Mr. David Benson is correct. The Oxfam report had the following conclusion.
This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.
If one steps out of the ivory towers and examine the ups and downs of the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is evident that when the current order is threatened, the system reacts not as the supposed democracy it is supposed to be but the Fascism that is today’s Capitalism.