We can now see capitalism’s last crash, and indications are that it will be a spectacular disaster.
To understand what’s happening, let’s use an analogy comparing our capitalist economic system to a sleek, snazzy race car. Every time the racecar drivers (the bankers and corporate managers) rev up the engine and head it down the wealth-production track, it crashes.
That’s the boom-and-bust cycle for which capitalism is so famous.
The reason the race car crashes is that it’s poorly put together. It’s got faulty brakes. The engineers (economists and financiers) keep insisting the rules and regulations that could rein in corporate excesses aren’t necessary. It’s also got a faulty steering gear. The engineers reject using a balance between pursuing self-interest and caring for society’s well-being, the better to rake in more wealth, sooner and faster.
Just since our nation was founded this race car has crashed more than 30 times. It always heads for the grandstands, too, where it kills and maims huge numbers of spectators (the people). And this isn’t the “nature” of either capitalism or markets. It’s reckless endangerment.
Why do I say we can see capitalism’s last crash from today’s vantage point? It’s not just that the capitalist race car is faultily fabricated. Elites throughout the U.S. global economic empire are using it to hang onto their power and their wealth and build more. They see both demographics and climate change poised to ruin their parade.
In the U.S., people of color are gathering strength in numbers and political power, while climate change threatens everyone with decreased lifestyles at best, possibly extinction. So the one percent is betting they can buy their way to survival while everyone else perishes.
They might win. Elites are gamblers, always have been. Gambling is traditionally how aristocrats get what they want. They call it “investment,” but it’s betting that something will happen to make them wealthier than everyone else. They gamble on fracking, strip mining, genetically modified foods, social media and a host of other ventures. And it works pretty well, even though the fruits of investment come at Earth’s expense and on the backs of the working classes.
What frightens the one percent, however, is instability, uprising, dissent. Any change makes the conditions under which they gamble harder to predict and therefore frequently less lucrative.
Hierarchy and authority need to be kept in place. Labor and raw materials costs must be continually lowered, while rapid growth is imperative at any cost.
This is why the corporate-owned media dilute the news and distract us with so much noise. This is the reason we have a surveillance system and a racial caste system to remove from society those who object, just like a police state. And it’s why the radical right fabricates myths about “creationism,” denying the reality of climate change, or “free market economics,” saying our “new era” doesn’t need regulations on enterprise.
But instability is on the rise. Climate change is already affecting much of the developing and underdeveloped world with rising seas and volatile weather. The peoples of these nations are seeing their lives and livelihoods destroyed. They are rightly demanding compensation for the dallying and delay of developed nations, who continue to benefit from polluting the environment with greenhouse gases.
So at this point, it looks like the bankers and corporations will keep stalling, denying responsibility and stiff-arming attempts to work out just solutions that seek economic justice.
As confrontation gives way to conflict, the elites’ economic race car will tumble over the climate change cliff to its last crash. Hopefully, we’ll see capitalism severely overhauled or replaced at that point. But how many more crashes must we endure between now and then?
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