A cross-posting from my new column on the national edition of examiner.com as a “progressive examiner”. I’ll fill in the links from the original as I have time, the html doesn’t port over w/o errors, grrr! But do check it out, and let me know what you think. ~BD
Michael Moore’s new documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story” is soon slated for nationwide release. It tackles the negative impact of runaway capitalism, especially the recent trillion dollar bailouts for multi-national banks and corporations like AIG. Moore’s social commentary rides the cusp of popular outrage, suggesting that America’s love affair with all things capitalism may be a fatal attraction.
The quickening corporate scandals of the last few decades have been escalating in size and intensity: it hasn’t been a case of just a “few bad apples”. The failures of the S&L crisis, Enron, subprime mortgages, Bear Stearns, Lehman, AIG, reveal a deeper social pathology; an epidemic of self-serving materialism, eating away at the soul of America.
“Capitalism: A Love Story” challenges a morally complacent and slumbering nation unaware that the compound depredations of excessive profiteering and consumerism just don’t jive with our most revered ethical and religious teachings.
“I started out wanting to explore the premise of capitalism being anti-American, and anti-Jesus, meaning it’s not a Democratic economy. And it’s not run with a moral or ethical code. But when the crash happened, it added a third plot line: not only is capitalism anti-American and anti-Jesus, it doesn’t work.”
More people are waking up to this perspective (no pun intended) — that is, the opinion that unhinged capitalism is not only unsustainable, but ultimately, self-destructive. Not so much that markets and competition are inherently bad, but when mega market-players target our political system to ‘buy’ favorable legislation, the inevitable results are disastrous. Multi-national corporations wield billions of dollars to influence and author policy, undermining our democracy. Politicians are bought up one-by-one until all we’ve been left with is a neutered republic, bloated beyond recognition, unable to neither self-correct nor adequately serve the majority of Americans.
Take, for example, our current health care debate. Insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and industry lobbyists hedge their bets by playing both sides of the field, solidifying their control. Over the last two Federal election cycles, the health care industry has “invested” nearly a billion dollars manipulating the political process: $963 million dollars of lobbying and political contributions pumped right into members of Congress. Candidates get sucked into the donor vortex, spun into acquiescence, made dependent upon continued support and consequently, unable to deliver on any significant health care reform.
Dr. James Kimmey (Missouri Foundation for Health) recently commented at former Missouri Governor Bob Holden’s Public Policy Forum, the industry’s returns on this lobbying “investment” are the five health care bills now floating around the District of Columbia.
Hardly a peep is heard from Congress about what happened to calls for single-payer health care, no apologies offered by those in power to the majority of people who need coverage, want a public option. The conciliations and concessions largely all directed toward Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Medical.
Where are the progressive voices protecting the people first?
Political leaders have not been so easily compromised or weak-willed in our nation’s past. President Andrew Jackson bravely fought against corrupt banking powers and Teddy Roosevelt opposed corporate monopolies, promising a “square deal” to everyday Americans.
FDR, godfather to progressives, in a speech in 1936 spoke in no uncertain terms. Roosevelt proclaimed our Revolution of 1776 threw off the tyranny of the British Empire, but as America matured, new forces emerged seeking to reassert servitude and oppression. Through the machinery of modern civilization, “economic royalists carved new dynasties” simultaneously making the argument that anyone opposing their brand of capitalism, was anti-American.
“These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.”
Political courage and conviction are in short supply today, but the natives are growing restless. With Wall Street and Washington in bed together, the ever-increasing bill for this tryst in the trillions, it may be time to summon some of FDR’s strength and resolve to break up this unholy romance. Corporate and government collusion to this level is not progress, but rather turns back the clock to a darker and more socially unjust era.
As FDR said,
“…the resolute enemy within our gates is ever ready to beat down our words unless in greater courage we will fight for them.”
With my ear to the street, I sense a fight like no other welling up in the people. The folks in upper echelons of national power need to honor their commitments and start serving their real master, the American people, or we will find a different crew.