Sunday, October 19, 2008

The wounding of American Capitalism.

Thanks to AIM for this ...

It Can’t Be Done


The front page of Friday's Washington Post said it succinctly under a headline labeled "The End of American Capitalism?" and it led with the declaration that "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is claiming another casualty: American-style capitalism."

If so, then your great-great-grandfather was correct in bringing his socialist beliefs with him from Europe when he immigrated in the 1920s and '30s. The article suggests that national socialism is at the heart of the government's remedy for the financial catastrophe stalking the United States and infecting the rest of the world along with it. And, if true, then it was the perversion of capitalism that is bringing it to pass. No small part is the ideological belief that everyone in America should own a house, whether he has a job, an income, or can read the smaller print in the adjustable-rate mortgage he has been encouraged to sign. That belief is carried forward, by the way, in the "cures" for the malaise now part of government policy. No foreclosures, no evictions; the government will guarantee the banks' rewriting of these little subprime promises. Taxpayer money will take care of it.

That the mortgages were chopped into small pieces and fed among financial institutions, backed finally by so-called "swaps" that made rich men even richer, is dismissed in the zeal to make everything right again. Our only shortage, then , may be government printing presses. American capitalism was doomed not through any intrinsic flaw, but rather by the flaw of greed infecting those who practiced it.

The wounding of American Capitalism is accompanied by another malaise -- the demise of individual capacity for work, for getting things done. This is evident in the failure to accomplish simple feats in the business place such as answering the telephone. Nearly all offices now have a "menu system," that offers a variety of answers to all but the question the caller had in mind. Somewhere at the end of the electronic maize may, or may not be, a means of securing a human being to which the query might be posed. But there is no guarantee that this "real person" has any of the answers, or is inclined to be an efficient helper.

I was reminded of this in trying to order the expensive NBA package for the coming season from my satellite provider. An afternoon of calling revealed several "real people" who had no idea of the subject, to whom a basketball was a foreign object, although the provider has supplied the expensive service in the years past. Ah, but I was forewarned and forearmed.

At the turn of this century, having seen the deterioration of service, phoned, ordered, delivered, you name it, I had some T-shirts printed with the simple phrase across the front: "It Can't Be Done."

One day, waiting for a prescription to be filled, a woman challenged the declaration on my shirt and we chatted a moment. I didn't really need to defend the motto after a clerk finally flagged the woman down to inform her that her prescription could not be filled that day, perhaps tomorrow, but then… She praised the motto, in complete agreement.

I am wearing my T-shirt as I prepare to call my brokerage firm.


Mr. Collins’ comment typifies so many of the ignorant and ill-informed opinions on the AIM site. Very, very few people immigrated to the US in the 1920s and 1930s. Mr. Collins seems unaware of the Immigration Acts of 1920 and 1924, cutting entry into the US to a trickle. On top of that, following the Palmer Raids of 1919-20 and the expulsion of foreign-born radicals from the US, the FBI checks prevented almost all of those left of center from getting visas to the US - even as tourists. He also seems incapable of simple arithmetic: how many Americans had a great-great-grandfather who immigrated 80 or so years ago? If European socialists came to the US in any numbers, it was in the period 1885-1915.
As to substance, He notes what he calls a “perversion of capitalism.” But classic capitalism is without any controls save the market. Usurious or irresponsible lending characterized pure capitalism. Greed was its essence. Hasn’t Mr. Collins read Adam Smith or studied the economic history of either the Italian Renaissance or the English Industrial Revolution? That’s why the US introduced socialism in the 1880s with the Interstate Commerce Commission and reinforced such government controls and intervention under Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Collins seems blissfully unaware of the facts. The US has been socialist since the turn of the century.
He complains about automated answering systems. True, they are a huge pain in the neck. But they also spring from the basic capitalist idea of cost-cutting and increasing profit. In short, Collins is as confused about the nature of capitalism to the degree as the dog-brain, Hansen, is ignorant of the notions that comprise conservatism. Finally, for Collins to accept national socialism as a form of social democracy (which is now the American system) is to accept Hitler’s misnomer at face value. Does he believe other Nazi lies, as well?
Finally, what does Collins propose as an alternative? I doubt he has any - except a return to the misguided policies of Herbert Hoover. Does he want a reprise of the Great Depression? It would appear so.
Brian R. Sullivan

1 comment:

  1. harden the fuck up, I've beaten up tougher preschooler than you