Politics Magazine

Capitalism Must Be Regulated Or Discarded

Posted on the 13 August 2013 by Jobsanger
Capitalism Must Be Regulated Or Discarded Most people in this country think the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. fought only for the rights of African-Americans to be treated equally under the laws of this country. But while that is undoubtably true, it puts Dr. King in too small a box. Toward the end of his distinguished career, Dr. King made it clear that he also supported the economic rights of all people -- regardless of color. Consider the following quote from Dr. King:
“One day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two thirds water?’ These are questions that must be asked.”
He asks a very relevant question. Who does own this world's resources? There are a finite number of the world's resources. How are they to be allocated? Should they be shared? The answers one gives to those questions determines the economic policy he/she believe in -- and the answers that societies give determine economic policy and economic fairness/unfairness for the entire world.
Here in the West, it has been decided that these resources (land, minerals, water, etc.) are not to be shared among all. Instead, they are to be allowed to be owned (hoarded) by a few individuals and/or corporations -- and further, those individuals and corporations are to be allowed to exploit the labor of everyone else to make themselves rich through that hoarding of resources. This is called capitalism (or free enterprise).
We have known for decades now that an unregulated capitalism does not work. It will make a few individuals rich, but the masses will be unable to share in that wealth. They will remain poor and dependent upon the scraps provided by those wealthy few through an exploitation of the labor of those masses (who will be played against each other to keep wages abnormally low to perpetuate the exploitation). This is nothing more than economic slavery.
Most Western nations have cured this to at least some extent by creating a regulated form of capitalism (commonly referred to by many as socialism). Under a regulated form of capitalism, there are rules which limit the amount of exploitation by the owners of those resources -- like a minimum wage that must be paid, the creation and maintenance of unions allowing workers to bargain for wages and benefits, free public education, progressive taxation (where those who benefit the most pay the largest amount), and free or low-cost medical care.
This regulated capitalism worked fairly well for most citizens, but still left a small portion of the population in poverty. This was taken care of through government programs to provide the poor and disadvantaged with a minimum standard of living and a helping hand to better themselves. It wasn't a perfect system, but most people accepted it -- because while it didn't cure all problems, it did provide many with at least some social mobility (an ability to climb the economic ladder).
Unfortunately, there are those in society who want to go back to the bad old days of an unregulated capitalism (many of the rich and their lackeys in Congress -- mostly Republicans). These people tell us that whatever is good for the rich is good for everyone, and if we allow the rich to get even richer then some of those riches will trickle down to everyone else. But that has never worked and it is not working now. The rich, as always, are just hoarding that new wealth -- and once again, the gap between the wealth and income of the rich and everyone else has grown to become a wide and ever widening gap (now larger than the gap that existed before the Great Depression).
They have done this by cutting funding for education, keeping the minimum wage at an abnormally low (and unlivable) level, weakening the power of unions, eliminating benefits, lowering worker wages by playing workers against the desperately unemployed and the low-wage workers of third world countries, and by removing the regulations on corporations and financial institutions (to allow more easy exploitation of workers and consumers).
This cannot continue, because in an unregulated capitalist system there is no room for everyone to benefit. The system benefits only those who own the resources (and the mechanism to exploit those resources for monetary gain). Everyone else (the 99% of society's people) are left out in the cold.
The greedy rich may be operating under the illusion that this kind of unregulated capitalism can continue forever. They are wrong. History has shown us over and over that when things get bad enough, people will rebel -- and the masses will always win in a rebellion against the few (even when those few are willing to use violence).
We are not yet at the point of rebellion, but we are coming closer to that point with each passing day. Right now, there are still many among the masses who buy into the "trickle-down" lie. But as they get poorer, more and more of them will see through that lie and discard it -- and there will be a day of reckoning.
It does not necessarily have to be that way. At this point, we still have a choice -- of whether to return to a well-regulated form of capitalism or not. Will we make that choice, and will we make it in time to save our country? That's the real question, and frankly, I don't know the answer.

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