Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Price of Greed

Take a moment to think about our current capitalist culture that has evolved over time here in the U.S. and reflect on its state of existence. Think about the Wall Streetization of "Main Street," seemingly all of American culture, and a great deal of the world's economy. When I think about it really hard it makes me sick to my stomach. Over the last few years we witnessed the meltdown of Wall Street financial systems and the robbery they committed on the American people to save their sorry asses for falling into their own self-designed trap.

I believe the U.S. is controlled by corporations and that it's big business that we have to truly fear and not big government. Our elected members of congress as well as all our politicians pretty much have been bought and sold by the corporate elite and are working for their best interests and not ours (the people). They have demonstrated this over and over again with corporate loopholes and fine print buried deep in legislation that misleads the public and allows further corruption and corporate control to take place.

These are people with no morals. They will screw over their neighbor if it means making more money. They have outsourced millions of jobs overseas telling us that it's good for business. They have no loyalty to country, whatsoever. They will do anything it takes to make money, period. They will at the same time, trick you into thinking that helping them get more rich is a good thing and is somehow in your best interests also.

They worship money. Money is their God. Some say my discontent with Wall Street greed is an argument for religion because of the doctrines in many faiths preaching against materialistic wealth. Well I don't believe I need faith in God, and all the baggage that organized religions contain in order to agree with them partially that too much greed is no good. Christianity for example says we can't have any desire for materialism: we cannot envy what our neighbor has, even the thought of it is a sin. Without the desire of people to want to succeed, to have more than their neighbor has there would be no investment for the future, and no drive for higher quality. Therefore we need a little bit of greed. Some greed is good.

But where do we draw the line? There used to be areas of our economy that were off limits to capitalism. Many of these barriers have been subsequently destroyed. When I first heard of the "prison industrial complex" I thought it was bullshit, then I looked into it and acknowledged that our jails and prisons are being privatized and a profit motive is being tagged on them. Our health care industry is driven by the profit motive instead of genuine treatment and care for sick individuals. It seems that where ever greedy money worshiping pigs can find a market for something and turn it into a money making cash cow regardless if it has negative effects, they will.

Of course money is the strongest motivation, maybe on par with sex. How can you convince people to make less money? How do you convince people that there should indeed be certain areas of our society that should not be turned into for-profit businesses? This is a tough one. Naturally people will want to resist. Our stock market is run in such a way that businesses have to continually announce increasing profits in order for their stock price to go up. Good is not enough, it always has to be better. This forces the board members and CEOs to constantly find ways to exploit areas they previously hadn't seen or overlooked. That might mean cutting wages, or outsourcing jobs, or using a cheaper material, or come up with deceptive sales tactics.

I'm getting tired of it. I'm starting to embrace aspects of socialism. I'm not a total socialist, I believe in private business, and ownership and innovation. I don't like government owning everything, but I don't like corporations controlling everything either. Where is the comfortable middle ground that I can rest at? Some say that enacting laws and measures limiting the private profits of corporations will hinder and eventually ruin economic growth. There has to be some balance between them. The Tea-Baggers think that government should stay out of big business' pocket because big business (i.e. the rich) create the jobs. Well in order for them to create good paying jobs they have to spread the wealth around a little bit, since good paying jobs here take more out of the companies' profits than cheap overseas labor. So why would they do that? They wouldn't do it. So lifting the tax on the richest 1 or 2% of Americans is pointless since corporate America is all about eliminating jobs not creating them. How much longer can this go on?

I can up with an interesting analogy about how I view greed. What I do is I compare it to sex. I like sex, but I'm not going to have it with everyone, I think it is a good idea to limit the number of sexual partners to a relatively low number. We shouldn't all be whores and fuck everything, but we are human, and sexual in nature and there is nothing wrong with sex itself and liking it. Just like there is nothing wrong with the desire of money, and a better life, but we have to have some personal limitations on it. We shouldn't think of everything as being fair game for economic exploitation. So some greed is good just like some sex is good, but too much with too many people and you start losing a sense of morality. But the opposite of saying that you can never desire money or sex period is just silly and absurd.

So what is the price of greed? How much does it, in the end, cost all of us?

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