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Cross-posted at Immizen.com

NBC announced in an article today that the World's 85 richest have the same wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest people.

When you bring up the issue of poverty in the US to ardent supporters of capitalism, they come up with the old rhetoric of capitalism vs. communism. Poverty is the collateral damage of capitalism that you have to live with because the alternative is communism. It is their excuse to ignore the issue or to ignore the poor. Where other people see human beings who they can identify with, because their struggles are the same, many capitalists only see numbers. They see the number of people collecting unemployment benefits or welfare checks. They don’t see people like them, human beings who have similar feelings and needs, who are also looking to find love, to start a family, have a respectable job, provide for their children, get access to health, good education, food and housing.

The NBC article cites a report from Oxfam which states that based on its polls conducted across the world, it is believed that there are many laws and regulations designed to benefit the rich.

 

  "A survey in six countries (Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the U.S.) showed that a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich," the report said.

    “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."

Why do capitalists always go to extremes and compare capitalism with communism or Soviet Union socialism to defend the “side effects”, such as poverty? Why not consider a better option that does not reside on either extreme such as “Compassionate Capitalism”? In “The Case For Compassionate Capitalism”, Nick Paleologos, argues that:
   To save capitalism from itself, FDR introduced what turned out to be the crucial missing ingredient: compassion. Roosevelt understood that compassion did not grow naturally in the harsh climate of an unfettered free market. He knew instinctively that fairness — essential to any functioning democracy — was an alien concept to pure capitalism. So FDR gave us a new, improved version. Call it compassionate capitalism. No senior citizen ends up destitute (Social Security). Banks and Wall Street don’t get to gamble with peoples’ savings (FDIC and SEC). Anybody who serves their country goes to college (GI Bill). Everybody who wants to work gets a job that the country needs to have done (CCC and WPA).
When we hear the wealthy defend their views with complete disregard for other human beings who are less privileged, when they cite capitalism with religious ardor, we should remind them that capitalism can co-exists with compassion, that capitalism does not need to be grounded in greed and selfishness, that there is a common bond between capitalists and people in poverty, they are all humans with similar desires and emotions, and the differences that some people create to distance themselves from the poor (calling them losers, lazy, criminals) are artifacts of their imagination in order to not take responsibility for the plight of others.
The reason compassionate capitalism is still hugely popular — Tea Party extremists notwithstanding — is because it works. America’s social safety net was never viewed as the cause of eye-popping deficits until a radical group of political nihilists, led by people like Grover Norquist, decided that the best way to kill the compassion in capitalism was to stubbornly refuse to pay for it — and then blame the resulting deficits on the lie that compassion itself is just too damn expensive.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, hannah, 3rdOption

    Once you vote smart, you never go back. Four more years!

    by healthy on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:31:43 PM PST

  •  Well, it's complicated. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kvetchnrelease

    First of all, communism refers to who owns natural and man-made assets: whether individuals and groups have exclusive control or the assets are shared by a whole community.
    Capitalism, ideally, refers to assets preserved for future use. There's a big difference between ownership and use. Indeed, one of our problems is that owners don't use; they just hoard and keep other people out.
    In reality, capitalism has morphed or been captured by people who engage in what I'd call metaphorical cannibalism. That is, they attack and destroy their own kind, but not directly. Instead these metaphoric or sublime cannibals rely on currency, a figment of the imagination, to incapacitate, exploit and eventually destroy other people to sustain and aggrandize themselves.
    Would it help the victims if the predators felt their pain? I don't think so. Humane treatment in the enterprise we call animal husbandry does not prevent their premature killing. Human husbandry is equally abusive because it violates any number of human rights (sustenance, perambulation, bodily integrity, information, recreation).
    I frequently ask, "if animals have rights, can humans be far behind?"
    On the other hand, while quantifying assets in terms of currency is helpful relatively, fact is that many assets are left out, not just in places where the natural environment is either not owned by anyone or considered without value, but also those assets and resources which are held in common in the most monetized (developed) nations. If we want the accounting to be fair, then what the citizens of the U.S. own in natural and man-made assets should also be taken into consideration. For example, much of our western mountain lands belong to the public. The great lakes belong to the public. All our court houses, post offices, automotive highways, subways and beaches belong to the public. And, for that matter, in many instances, public management of those assets is no more careful and preserving than the privately owned.
    Ownership, we have to conclude, doesn't equate with care. Losts of people claim stuff, but they don't take care of it. So, the whole rationale or theoretical foundation for ownership has been proven bunk.
    Just think, even Australia's leaders are willing to let U.S. warships bombard the beaches for "practice." Which is what the national forest in Florida is used for, as well.
    Dubya famously declared ours an ownership society. But ownership is bunk. It has failed as a motivator for care and provides an excuse not to share. In that sense, ownership is the antithesis of social -- anti-social.
    So, why do we in the U.S. cling to it? First, because the ownership of things has always served as a sop for the fact that people are at risk for being owned (as children still are) themselves. We have been bought off with material goods to disguise that people are treated as if they were mere matter. U.S. culture isn't materialistic because people value material goods, but because people are treated as if they were acquired goods, to be disposed of as the state sees fit. That's the ultimate rationale for capital punishment, you know -- that the state, under the umbrella of the rule of law, can dispose of humans at will (determine when they are to be born, when set off to be killed in war, and when they are to be executed on the spot). Just because we don't actually eat them doesn't mean that the system isn't basically cannibalistic.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 12:12:25 AM PST

  •  FDR didn't "choose" (0+ / 0-)

    and compassion, by definition, is not part of capitalism.  The 20th century synthesis, seen throughout the industrialized world and in its weakest form in the US New Deal, was imposed on capital against its will, by the union and socialist movements, both reformist and revolutionary.  The big reason the turn is so often to Soviet communism is because it represented one of, and the largest, threat to the social hegemony of capital elsewhere.  1917 was a sword of Damocles that hung over the rule of capital, limiting its excesses almost everywhere.  

    Of course, that sword and the other means of non-capitalists to defend their interests depended entirely on the class consciousness and solidarity of working people.  Without those things, the leverage against the power of capital evaporates, as we have seen in the US and worldwide over the past 30 years.  Released from the externally imposed demand that the self-interests of working people be met, capital can return to its traditions, its own rules, of maximized rate of return, the Iron Law of Wages, and accumulation, accumulation, accumulation once again becomes Moses and the prophets.

    FDR NEVER planned on adopting anything remotely approaching the New Deal.  His plan was to balance the budget, and build new post offices, and that was IT.  The "compassion" of the New Deal was imposed on him by social forces unleashed by the Great Depression:  the CIO, the Farm Holiday Association, the Share Our Wealth Clubs, the rising power of the Socialist and Communist Parties in the US.  All of this had nothing to do with the sweetness and light of good-hearted rich men.  It was working people, standing up in unity and demanding recognition that just as much as capital, we have self-interests, too.  That the catering to the interests of capital alone had brought catastophe on the nation.  A lesson our time seems not to have been able to learn with the recent recession.  Apparently it will require something more severe, perhaps much so.  Because compassion has nothing to do with the processes of power.  Never has, never will.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 03:56:09 AM PST

  •  You're the 1% if you make more than $32,000/yr (0+ / 0-)

    Top 1% globally that is.

    if you want to see your percentile globally go to http://www.globalrichlist.com

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 10:26:04 AM PST

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