It’s Just Crapitalism…

It seems as though, everywhere one looks these days in these United States, one finds delay and decay, all in the name of the almighty dollar.

The reason the fossil fuel industry is producing so much nonsense about the damage their products do is simple: money.  It’s pretty clear where technology is headed: away from centralized control over power.  When it comes to providing power, it doesn’t really matter if it’s coal or oil or natural gas.  Either way, it requires big, centralized plants and equipment to make it all go.  A VERY few people have control over those systems and, from time to time, can just turn part of it off and charge the masses for the “shortfall”.  But then comes the sun.

They can’t just turn off the sun or the wind or the waves.  We see the centralized power folks trying to build centralized solar farms and immediately realize those facilities come with their own environmental impacts nobody wants.  The next – the ONLY – logical step is to put the power production onto and into every building that already stands, that is, already produces an environmental impact.  Why exacerbate the situation?

But that move eliminates your local electrical producer.  More importantly, it eliminates their ability to shut down parts at critical times (you know…for “maintenance”…) to keep shareholders happy.

Capitalism says the newer, better technology should, by rights, replace the older, outdated technology.  Build a better mousetrap, the old line goes, and the world will beat a path to your door.  But Crapitalism says otherwise.  Build a better mousetrap, says Crapitalism, and moneyed interests will buy up and bury the technology because they’re invested elsewhere…

We see it in the battle for healthcare, too…well, healthcare insurance, anyway.  Do people REALLY not see that socialized medicine is a boon to the people who have it?  It costs less money to the individuals (who are, yes, paying higher taxes), it costs less to the overall society, and it provides better outcomes.  Of course they see it, that’s WHY they fight it.  They can’t force you to trade your financial life for your actual life if they can’t force you to trade your financial life for your actual life.  (Tautology at its best…)  Crapitalism blames everything – anything – except the love of the lucre for the situation, another sure sign the love of the lucre is the true culprit.

“Free market” Capitalism, they call it but there’s nothing “free” about it.  Where possible, it’s a captive market and the natural progression of the free market is from good to bad and from bad to worse – all in the name profit.  Generally speaking, I can’t think of anything that gets better under Crapitalism, can you?

There’s a reason people capable of understanding that Democratic Socialism is honest Capitalism are embracing Democratic Socialism: because it’s honest Capitalism.  Sure, it has a stupid, misleading name.  It SHOULD be called ‘Social Capitalism’.  But then, ‘Free market Capitalism’ is a stupid, misleading name, too.  THAT should  be called ‘Crapitalism’.

I’ll tell you this: if Crapitalism means I’m forced to live with the very worst of everything for as long as Crapitalists can force it on me, I, for one, am over the “free market”…


On Deregulation…

It looks like we’re in for another round of deregulation coming from the corporate puppets running the country.  We’re told that regulations make it more difficult, more expensive to run businesses and that regulations stifle innovation.  Well, yeah.  They do.  In the same sense that laws make it more difficult for armed robbers to rob people at gunpoint, sometimes rules get in the way.  Do we care that our laws prevent an armed robber from “innovating” by switching from a .38 to a .45?

Despite what you might have heard, there’s one thing that people need to remember about business.  A business exists for one reason and one reason only: to make money.  They are not, by nature, moral or ethical entities and they do not make moral or ethical decisions.  A properly run business will make money by any legal means available.  That’s a key phrase “…any legal means available”.  This means that the society in which a given business is operating not only has the right to regulate business activity, it has an obligation to do so.

A business may consider moral or ethical positions when making decisions but they may not and if the people running the operation decide to put those considerations aside they’re still operating within the framework of what should reasonably be expected of a business.  But declaring business inherently evil is as incorrect as declaring them inherently good.  “A business would never do that” is a false argument as displayed by the many, many times in which business do exactly the things defenders say they would never do.

For example, the Great Depression was kicked off by an artificial housing bubble.  The Savings and Loans crisis of the 80’s was kicked off by an artificial housing bubble.  The most recent economic disaster was kicked off by an artificial housing bubble.  Clearly, business will do things that shouldn’t be done in the name of profit and they’ll do those things over and over again.  But they’re still not inherently evil.  They’re just doing business.

The thing is, when any entity is operating without any moral or ethical compass, it’s behavior will move into immoral and unethical areas eventually.  This is inevitable.  They don’t plan it but they don’t plan against it, either.  That’s not their jobs nor their concern and I would argue it should not be.  That should be, by rights, where society steps in.

For the most part, society doesn’t make rules or laws for no reason.  Somebody has to do something – often unimaginable prior to their doing it – before we react.  Prior to the Great Depression, for example, people mostly didn’t worry about investment banks and commercial banks blending their business because it would be foolhardy to take risks that might damage their own businesses.  But some clever sod saw an opportunity for profit and did it anyway.

Enter Glass-Steagall, the law that prevented such behavior by commercial banks by controlling their behavior.  Commercial banking became stable until President Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.  (Please note, that is Phil Gramm (R), Jim Leach (R), and Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R).  Just sayin’…)  The masses were told Glass-Steagall had mostly been worked around, anyway, so this just finalized that process but it’s notable that the banking industry remained stable from the time Glass-Steagall was instituted until it’s provision were eliminated in 1999.

In the meantime, financial havoc was inflicted on an area of banking called Savings and Loans by a bi-partisan group that came to be known as ‘The Keating Five’ who blocked regulation in that industry in the early 1980’s, allowing financial players to inflate an artificial housing bubble in the Savings and Loans.  The Reagan administration saved the institutions that could be saved, heavily regulated their behaviors, then spun them off back into the private sector as Credit Unions.

Go ahead, take a guess at which segment of banking was spared the ravages of the 2008 meltdown.  Did you guess the heavily regulated Credit Unions?  That’s just one example, of course, and it’s certainly simplified for this purpose but the basic information is correct and the point is, we regulate when we discover we need to, not just to make it more difficult for businesses to do business.

There’s a caveat, here. For several years, now, there have been outside groups writing laws.  Groups like ALEC (I think that stands for ‘Assholes Legislating Evil Crap’ but I could be wrong…) write blanket laws and then work to have state legislatures enact them.  These are literally boilerplate, fill-in-the-blanks-with-your-information type laws.  They rarely, if ever, address actual situations that need to be addressed.  Instead, these laws are typically about expanding corporate powers and/or protecting corporations from interfering government intrusions.  I can see eliminating these rules as quickly as possible…

I’ll tell you this: as we prepare for the coming onslaught of deregulation, it’s important to remember that most regulations are put in place for a reason.  Yes, the regulations might slow profits and they certainly might interfere with innovations but the goal is to protect society and even the businesses themselves from their own avarice – something they should not be expected to do for themselves…