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Communism vs. Capitalism

"Under capitalism man exploits man; under communism the reverse is true."

- Anon

"Corporation, n., An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility."

- Ambrose Bierce

"There is one and only one responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game."

- Milton Friedman

"Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."

- John Maynard Keynes

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."

Mahatma Gandhi

The future is calling. Are you listening?

I challenge you to ask yourself this question: "Who ever decided that the only two options were exploitation by a entrenched political autocracy or exploitation by an entrenched economic autocracy?"

Both are morally bankrupt systems and both are, in 1997, economically bankrupt systems as well. Capitalism is caught in an endless series of cycles which spiral downward. Each time we hit the low end of a cycle, it is lower than the last and the highs are laughable in that they are regarded as highs.

This last cycle downward started in 1989-1990, just as the communist world was falling apart. We didn't recognize it then and we still don't acknowledge it now, but the two systems entered their death throws at the same time. One - capitalism - is just taking a little bit longer.

Six years of economic devastation for people - six years of economic consolidation and record profits for most large corporations. Every week there is a report "we're about to begin recovery, but every day - still - the real news is more closures, more restructuring, more people out of work. A hundred here, a couple of thousand there - it all adds up.

The situation has become so laughable that we find Alan Greedspan, The Federally Reserved Chairman, in the uncomfortable position of having to issue a wake-up call because the exuberance of the stock market does not reflect the dismal economic reality of unemployment, under-employment and an economy that will not be jump-started. Millions of formerly middle-class families have lost their homes, their pensions, their futures and find themselves working for low incomes for predatory corporations whose goals are to increase profits at any cost.

We live in a dying economy but death is not an end - it is a call for re-birth, for re-creation. We need a new economic model that is less artificial, less arbitrary and based on concepts other than greed - you know, he who dies with the most toys wins - and all that kind of crap. Because that kind of thinking may sound funny, but it is the road to extinction and it is the road we are currently traveling.

We - all of us - are being exploited and for what? Greater profits. Greater profits are supposed to produce investment and job creation. Where are the jobs? We hear about all the jobs that have been created, but they don't equal the number of jobs that have disappeared. Worse, the new jobs are mostly minimum wage and part-time - the kind of jobs we used to think of as student jobs, but now students and young people find themselves competing with middle-aged and (formerly) middle-class people for those jobs - because that's all there is.

Why are we accepting all this? We are told it is "the new economic reality", a result of "globalization". Now there is no doubt that we need a new economic reality and globalization is an unavoidable fact of life, but does all that by definition result in all this?

Hardly. There are many roads to a new economic reality. One option is to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator. That is the road we are currently traveling - at breakneck speed. What that means in hard terms is that we produce economic leveling by pushing the middle class down rather than by bringing the poor up. What it results in is a situation where the wealthy get wealthier and everybody else gets poorer - globally. Which is exactly what is occurring.

And while this is occurring we - people - walk around shell-shocked. Most don't have money to spend and so they don't. Those who still have jobs (and income) are afraid to spend it because they know it could change - maybe tomorrow. We think there is nothing we can do about it so we do nothing about it. We're all very busy, working our butts off hoping that will secure our jobs when the ax falls, trying to stay afloat - or trying to get a job in a very crowded field. We're so busy that we don't have time to think about it all and we accept as fact what we hear on the news - which is that this is reality, implying that we can't do anything about it.

And I tell you that is wrong. You don't have to sit back and wait for an ax to fall and you don't need to fall into the arms of Pat Robertson or some militia group. The last thing we need to do is increase the number of victims in the world by pointing fingers at other people who are also being victimized. If we're going to point fingers at all, let's point them in the right direction. Who benefits (profits) from this economy we live in? Read the business section of your newspaper. At least part of the answer is there: record corporate profits in a time of economic depression (oops, we used the word everyone avoids, as if not using it will change the reality).

You may say "I don't have a choice"

What you could do is recognize that you are alive and you have power. I'm not talking about the minimal power to vote every few years for an endless series of useless candidates from which we choose what we hope will be the least harmful option. I'm talking about natural power - the power that derives from being a creature of whatever creator or evolutionary force you believe in; the power of being a citizen of this planet with a right to have a say in the kind of world we live in.

The question is not "Do you have power?"

The question is "When are you going to realize it?"

The question is "When are you going to use it?"

The question is "When are YOU going to reach the point when you say "I've had enough. I'm not going to take it anymore."

And (finally) the question is "Will it be too late?

A few years ago, (some) women's groups coined the phrase "Take Back The Night."

I thank them and I offer you this:


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