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.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:
“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."
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.