Republicans are today’s anti-capitalists,
and they are destroying the world’s greatest economy
Capitalism, as it has been sold to the American public, is an economic system that benefits the wealthy, the middle class and the poor. It has lasting qualities because it benefits a total society.
It not only allows individuals to rise from poverty to affluence, but it also enables most citizens to achieve a decent standard of living relative to their station in society. The U.S. was progressing in that direction from, roughly, 1932 to 1980. Roosevelt’s New Deal and a succession of progressive federal governments gave our capitalist system the necessary tools for success.
Since 1980, however, Republican and conservative Democrat politicians have been doing their short-sighted best to destroy this system. Their motivation is to maximize corporate profits and investor returns by keeping a lid on labor costs, and they have been incredibly successful. In effect, they have created a pseudo-capitalism, or what has become known as “vulture” or “crony” capitalism.
Taxes, entitlements and regulations are essential to capitalism
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not “socialist” programs. They are essential ingredients of a capitalist economy that works as intended. Entitlements such as these compensate for the unavoidable disasters of fate and the inevitable failures of a free market to adequately reward honest work.
In the same way, minimum wages and government protections of the rights of labor to organize and collective bargain are not “communist” actions. They are essential to the development and maintenance of a thriving middle class in a capitalist economy. Labor legislation, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, gave more balance in the power relationship between employers and workers. Workers actually were enabled to get a fairer share of their own productivity. Result: less money was hoarded in bank accounts and more money entered the economy.
Regulations of the financial industry restrained the ruinous risk taking of overly ambitious bankers. Federal minimum environmental standards prevented corporations from transferring some of their costs of production onto the taxpayer (toxic waste cleanup and loss of natural resources). Progressive income taxes ensured that those who benefitted most from our country’s economy, infrastructure, and federal fiscal policies also paid the most to support them.
Closet aristocrats and pseudo-capitalism
Throughout our entire history closet aristocrats have used “capitalism” as a cover for their support of an economy that creates a business class of royalty. Their pseudo capitalism always comes at the expense of everyone lower on the economic ladder. Since 1980 they’ve been increasingly successful, and their plans to “save” entitlements like Social Security are to fundamentally change their nature.
When progressive Democrats talk of reforming entitlements, they’re talking about eliminating fraud and waste, and making sure the programs benefit the citizens they are supposed to.
On the other hand, when Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats talk about reforming entitlements, they are talking about reducing or eliminating benefits, even to those who need them. In other words, they want to eliminate the entitlements’ historical roles in making our capitalist system successful. In their view, entitlement expenses (taxes) lessen their ability, and divine right, to enjoy their royalty status.
If the voting public was ever confused which politicians actually believe in true capitalism (one that works as it did for most of the past century when America built its middle class)—and which ones are closet aristocrats—recent Congressional debates should have removed all doubt.
The much ballyhooed fact that the richest Americans pay the most tax is close to irrelevant. How could it be otherwise if it were not for the fact that they make the most money and the bottom half of the population is broke, or worse, after meeting the expenses of daily living? What is most relevant is how much wealth people have after they have paid their taxes. And who, incidentally, caused the government economic policies that favored the wealthy and powerful, at the direct expense of everyone else?
At this point, anti-capitalist Republicans are still winning, and it’s way past time to replace closet aristocrats with genuine capitalist Democrats.