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Sat

08

May

2010

Socialism? Un-American? I Think Not!
Saturday, 08 May 2010 16:26
by Tim Gatto

The mood in America couldn’t be darker. I’ve noticed that many articles that bemoan the current state of affairs, i.e.; the corporate control of the two major political parties and the media, the outsourcing of American jobs overseas, the waste fraud and abuse of government and the unbridled military spending in support of major military adventures overseas that cannot be justified by logic, just to name a few, are accompanied by a persistent comment. Many readers of these articles have a comment that basically says “I know what problems we face, why aren’t you suggesting solutions?

I can understand why many political writers hesitate to put their views on what they think would offer solutions to the problems Americans face. I believe that many writers feel that it is more important for the people to understand what is happening than to offer their opinions on how to solve these issues.

I too felt this way until recently. I now believe that the majority of people that will read this article truly understand what is happening. In fact, I briefly stopped writing about what I see happening across America because I felt that I was “preaching to the choir”. I found myself writing about the same things over and over again. The details may have changed, but the basic underlying causes of these problems like corporate control of the government and the mainstream media were still the same. Since 2004 I have written hundreds of articles that all expressed the same opinion. I now find myself reluctant to sit down and write another piece about it, after all, how many different ways can you tell the same old story?

I believe that those that comment about articles that identify the problems but put forth no solutions may be right. I had always thought that the job of a political pundit was to make people think. I now believe that this job has been accomplished. I can remember how many readers called me a radical and insinuated that I was half-crazy just a few years ago. It’s amazing how that has changed. Now I hear “OK, we know what’s happening; now what do we supposed to do about it?”

There are solutions. In 2008 the United States decided to intervene to try to avert the financial sector from a giant melt-down due to their malfeasance. This didn’t sit well with the people that understood that they were laying out taxpayer money to prop up a financial sector that had made a fortune preying on the people that were now asking to pull their feet from the fire. People still hold resentment over this, witness the tea-party movement and the uproar from almost everywhere.

I think that far from being such a bad thing, the intervention by the government illustrated just how capitalism works. Time and time again, when the economy contracts as it did in 2008, America has had to resort to socialist methods in order to save capitalism from imploding, but once the problems were solved, once our government put these bankers on solid financial ground, they gave them back to the very people that had run them into the ground in the first place. The question I would like to ask is why?
 

I’ve noticed that many of our most popular political writers on the progressive left are socialists. Some of these writers have publically acknowledged their political affiliation and some have not. As a card-carrying socialist, I can generally tell who has socialist leanings by what they say. I can understand why some prefer not to divulge their political identity. In this nation we have a tendency to disregard socialists and socialism because of the cold war propaganda that equated socialism with communism and repressive regimes that operated under the “socialist” banner. Even though the communists never embraced true socialism as it was originally laid out, decades of anti-socialist propaganda is indelibly etched upon most American minds.

America has a golden opportunity to change the way we have been doing business for the last two centuries. We can see, if we care to look, exactly where our form of capitalism has gotten us. The Middle Class in America is vanishing according to our governments own numbers. We have seen the median income decrease by almost $2,000.00 per year. We have arrived at a point in our history where we practically have only two economic classes, the rich and the poor. In 198, this country had the top 1% holding 42.9% of the nation’s wealth. The next 19% had 48.4%. The bottom 80% had 8.7% of this nation’s wealth. That seems horrific, does it not? That’s nothing, in 2007, the top 1% had 42.7%, and the next 19% had 50.3% and 80% had only 7%. Eighty percent of the people had only 7% of the wealth! Is it any wonder that there is a strong undercurrent of resentment in this nation today?

We are fed the same nonsense from cradle to grave with platitudes such as “You can be anything you want to be in America.” “There is always room at the top for hard workers.” “Everyone has the same opportunity for success.”

That is pure, unadulterated, crap. The other old adages certainly make more sense: “It takes money to make money” “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

Since Uncle Sam owns something like 97% of the mortgages in this country, maybe it’s time to show some “brotherly” love to our citizens. Why are so many Americans defaulting on their mortgages? Just look who is still in charge of the accounts receivable at the banks. You would think that the Federal government would demand that banks try and work better deals to stop foreclosures, after all, the same people they are foreclosing upon were the same people that bailed them out of bankruptcy! It is said that “The business of America is business”. Does this mean that the banks have an unwritten rule that in order to survive they must be predators? Is it written somewhere that “If you can’t pay, hit the road”? We can do better than that. It should be mandated that Americans be given a second chance to keep their homes if the financial distress they are in is through no fault of their own. After all, the banking industry got a second chance, why not the people that gave it to them?

There are so many in the GOP are railing against the concept that government should not be part of a larger “community”. Where do you think that came from? They decry “generational welfare” and suggest that any government program that aids citizens in time of need is a “hand-out”. Yet the financial sector just received the largest “hand-out” in U.S. history. The prevailing view in America is that “Corporations are considered to have the same rights as people”. I claim that corporations have more rights than people in this country today. Thanks to the Supreme Court, corporations can effectively “buy” their very own politicians by paying all of their election bills. Our elected officials will now have outright corporate sponsorship with no restrictions. Just who will they be representing, the people or their benefactor corporations?

Socialism works from the bottom up. The banks we bailed out should be run by the citizens that bailed them out, not the people that helped create the mess we had to bail them out of. Oversight committees that represent the interests of our citizens should have been in place by now. The same story for GM and Chrysler, since the government bailed them out, they should have sold the companies to the workers. Instead, unions have to force pay cuts upon their members and take responsibility for funding their major medical insurance. GM says it paid the government back with interest. Before you start believing in miracles, let me tell you that they just paid America back with another loan.

I’m not arguing that the United States should adopt socialism overnight, but I’m sure that we could develop an American style of socialism that would work better than the predatory capitalism we have in place now. I can see a system where small businesses and individuals remain under the capitalist system, but that banks and other financial entities and companies “too big to fail” should be under citizen controlled socialism. I’m sure the Republicans and conservatives and all of the people that believe in “American exceptualism” will have a field day with this article. Still, readers asked for solutions and I put forth mine. If you can’t count on the people to run things the right way, just stick with the wonderful “corporate model” that has been rammed down our throats since our inception. Take the power out of the hands of the corporations and give it back to the people. Is that un-American? I don’t think so.

timgatto@hotmail.com
Read Tim's book "Complicity to Contempt" and Tim's new novel "Kimchee Days".

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