Bad Capitalist

Philosophy, Politics

DNA moneyWhat is a capitalist? You hear the term thrown around a lot in the media and on blogs. It is often defined as someone who has a powerful nose for the dollar; someone who is always looking for ways to make money.

There is good capitalism; the type of capitalism that grows, innovates and improves our lives. There is bad capitalism which seeks to degrade, exploit and leave nothing behind. The latter, I believe, has been given too much reign over the American economy.

I feel this way because everywhere I look there is an example of some CEO or venture capitalist wrecking companies for profit, selling stocks short to make money off a market crash or finding creative ways to skim profits from those who actually work for their salary.

Who are they?

They care for nothing except currency, capital. They do not have any loyalty to God, country, family or anything else. They sure as hell don’t care about their workers. Everything is expendable when it comes to profit. One cannot underestimate this particular aspect.

They don’t want steady growth. They want volatility. They profit off the constant up and down. I attended a seminar full of energy traders and a woman giving the keynote speech said as much. She took a marker to a dry erase board and drew a steady line going up and then she drew a zig-zagging, jagged line that trended up. She pointed to the second one and said, “This is what we’re looking for.” There were a lot of nodding heads in the crowd. My jaw was on the floor. An economic crisis wasn’t a crisis for these people, it was an opportunity to make even more money.

They feel because they’re smarter, richer and more educated that it really makes them better people than the rest of us. They believe that somehow those three elements are literally part of their DNA that other people just don’t possess. This fuels an extreme sense of entitlement.

So what? Someone might say. Who cares? These people make money that also goes into 401(k) accounts and hedge funds, which benefits the lowly investor. That’s true. Except when things go south, like they did in 2008, the investors pay for it while the capitalists come out smelling like a rose, as usual.

They spoon feed the public nonsense about ideas such as the “invisible hand,” “a rising tide lifts all boats” and “war is good for the economy.” They want everyone to think that their fortune and our misfortune is due to causes beyond anyone’s control. In truth, extreme capitalists are the invisible hand. A swelling tide lifts their boats. War is good for them.

In 2008 oil companies were making record profits off the ever-increasing price of fuels. Their product had tripled in cost over the span of a year while demand was dropping. Executives told Congress “this is just how the market works.” Financial experts got on TV and said the same thing. They were doing their damndest to convince people that they’d stumbled upon all of these price increases like Jed Clampett.

As it turned out, oil prices were skyrocketing thanks to the clever trading methods of speculators working for investment banking firms. It wasn’t the end users of the oil who were buying the product. It was financial institutions buying and then selling oil as if it were a stock. Guess who turned out to be some of the masterminds behind the increases? Former traders from Enron.

CEOs earn more than 300 times more than most employees. According to the laws of capitalism, that would mean that they’re somehow offering 300 times more value than workers. Which isn’t true. Workers have their title for that reason, they’re doing the work. CEOs and managers make decisions and select the person best-suited for the work. That’s an equal partnership regardless of what the CEOs say about their leadership. Their value is not inherent in their salaries, it’s just what shareholders are willing to pay them.

Personally, I have no problem with capitalism. It has served me well. It has served America well. However anyone feels about capitalism, any objective look at America’s situation will see that it has fueled this country’s greatness.

But the capitalism and capitalist I speak of is unhinged, financial sociopathy.

Capitalists working in the government shroud themselves in conservative cloaks. The only thing they understand is cutting taxes regardless of spending levels or government excess. They do their best to choke government agencies through budget cuts or legislative restrictions to force a public sector necrosis. As the government fails under the pressure of reduced revenue and toothless authority, the capitalists point to the ineffectiveness and say “You see? Government doesn’t work!”

Government is ineffective. It is mired in bureaucracy. It doesn’t work because the capitalists don’t want it to work. They want the roles now served by government to be disintegrated so either the private sector can take that role over or that role ceases to cost taxpayer dollars.

They care nothing for equality or social progress. By nothing I mean they don’t care if equality improves or worsens, so long as it doesn’t affect their bottom line. Once lawsuits happen, then you begin to see business pushing back against added discrimination standards.

Take a CEO in America. When someone dies due to their product, a CEO’s first though isn’t, “How do we fix the problem to keep it from happening again?” They first think, “How do I keep this from costing the company revenue? How do I keep the public from finding out about this? How do I fight this in court to prevent hemorrhaging cash?”

They claim these principles are part of a philosophy. They say that they believe in the private sector’s ability to be efficient. They claim that their companies’ profits support their employees and their families. They claim their success fuels the success of other businesses. They pontificate about the multiplier effect.

Don’t be fooled. At the end of the day their goal is simple: they don’t want to pay taxes and they want more opportunities to make money. They don’t care about anything else. They don’t care about taxpayers. They don’t care about customers. They don’t care about responsibility. They don’t care about the environment. They don’t really care about the quality of their own goods and services. They don’t even care about their own company. They care nothing about these constructs unless it serves the purpose of generating profit. They don’t care about any system of social justice, government or civilization. They only care about themselves.

That is their mind.

They’re always around us and we can do nothing to rid ourselves of them. But we do need start recognizing who they are as opposed to the effective capitalists. We have to stop lionizing them and rewarding their exploitative behavior.

This begins with identifying them.

Walter White: Republican

Philosophy

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Breaking Bad fans are eating up the last episodes of their beloved show and its Nietzschean protagonist Walter White.

Walt has taken us on a wild ride through his transformation as a beleaguered, terminally-ill chemistry teacher to a hell-on-wheels drug kingpin.

Despite the fact he runs his operation in the politically blue state of New Mexico, I personally feel Walt would back the Red candidates in the ballot box.

Now I don’t mean he’s from the new breed of Tea Party Republicans. I’m saying he’s one of the old-school, establishment, Capitalist with a capitol ‘C’ Republicans. Here’s my argument.

 

1. Imperialist-minded

“I’m in the empire business,” Walt tells Jesse.

Long before he tried to dominate the meth market and taught chemistry, Walt had a stake in a biotech firm called Grey Matter. When his back was against the wall financially, he was bought out by his partners for a paltry sum. After that, Grey Matter took off and Walt missed out on millions.

The meth path gave Walt a second chance at creating his own personal empire. The only difference is now he doesn’t have partners, only alliances.

 

2. Expects others to save themselves and allows the weak to die

When he faced his own mortality with lung cancer, his pals at Grey Matter offered to help him by paying for his chemotherapy. Repulsed, Walt rejected their charity and chose to come up with funds in his own way, whether it was illegal or not.

When he saw Jane Margolis violently throwing up in bed next to his partner Jesse Pinkman, he let her drown in her own vomit. He justified his act of omission because he felt Jane was dragging Jesse down with their mutual addiction.

Then when Victor and Mike Ehrmantraut had Walt cornered near the meth lab to kill him, Walt urged Jesse to kill Gale Boetticher. Eliminating the timid Gale would leave Gus Fring without a blue meth copycat and Gus would therefore need Walt to continue the operation.

 

3. Makes uneasy alliances

There are several examples of this throughout the show where Walt needed others’ help either to stay alive or build his empire. Much like a neocon who props up a dictator like Saddam Hussein or funds a rebellion like the Sandinistas, Walt will partner with people who serve his best interests.

His first major partnership is with Jesse Pinkman, a former student in Walt’s chemistry classes. Walt needed Jesse to learn about meth and guide him through the business.

Walt then pairs with Tuco Salamanca in order to get a foothold in the meth market. Once he builds his reputation, Walt works with Gus Fring to mass-produce his blue meth. He would later convince Tuco’s uncle Hector to kill Gus when the reserved kingpin pushes Walt out of the lab. Once Gus is dead, Walt starts his own relationship with cop-turned-criminal Mike Ehrmantraut.

In his latest alliance, Walt employs the help of white supremacists to silence Mike’s men in jail.

Of course there’s a deadly trend with all of those who choose to work with Walt. Eventually they all become his enemies. Thus far, only Jesse has survived.

 

4. Locked and Loaded

One of the first scenes of the pilot is Walter holding a handgun waiting for danger to come after him. Even before he can see who he’s aiming at, he’s cocked and ready to fire.

Then when things between him and Gus Fring turn south, the first thing Walt did was to buy a revolver and plan to take Gus out. When he runs over the two drug dealers about to kill Jesse, Walt picks up one of their guns and finishes off a dealer who survived the collision. Walt also killed the guard keeping Jesse hostage inside the meth lab at the end of season four.

The opening of the first show in season five shows Walt buying a run-down car with a machine gun in the trunk. We can only imagine what he’s going to do with it at the end of the series.

But we do know that he’s not afraid to arm himself which definitely makes him a proponent of the Second Amendment.

 

5. He isn’t big on regulation

While there is no direct evidence of this but I’m pretty sure if he had a say in industry regulations, he’d back the less-is-more perspective. No self-respecting Republican would do something to help the drug trade but the Laissez-faire theory still applies, Walt would not want the government in his business.

 

6. Walt is enamored on the idea of family

Republicans hold dear “family values.” The main reason Walt kicked off his meth career was to ensure his family’s future once he’s gone. Since that time, his imperialistic nature has emerged, which has been nothing but destructive both for his family and his protege Jesse. After finally earning a storage room full of cash, he decides to back out because he’s secured their future.

There’s also been several times where he’s saved Jesse from reckless decisions. He allowed Jane to die (because she exacerbated Jesse’s drug use), Walt used his relationship with Gus to help stop a war between street-level drug dealers and Jesse. When he couldn’t prevent the fight, he outright killed the drug dealers when it looked like they were going to off Jesse.

Jesse has returned the favor including killing Gale and standing up to Gus when Gus wanted to end his affiliation with Walt.

As Mike once said, “What is it with you two?”

 

7. He supports illegal immigrants

When he had a hard time cleaning up Gus’s meth lab after a solo cook, Walt enticed a group of undocumented workers to help him. After they whipped the lab up spic and span, Gus deported them in revenge.

 

So there you go. While Walt’s meth is as blue as New Mexico politics, he’s red at the polls— with a straight ticket.

Not Mine

Uncategorized

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Not long ago I saw something in the news about a village in India where men vastly outnumbered women. Seven out of 10 residents in the village are male.

I don’t want to delve into how a village got to be that way. The motivation certainly isn’t new. Societies throughout history in all corners of the world value boys more than girls and some are not afraid to weed out those pesky XX chromosomes.

The practice is despicable. It should go without saying that ALL life should be valued, not just those with a penis.

Something struck me though in the news report about the Indian village. The reporter asked one mother about her home and whether her fellow villagers understood that women are needed for a community to survive

The woman said of course families understand the serious mathematical issue with having nothing but boys, but they just don’t want the girls in their own house.

That kind of thinking has always stuck in my craw. That idea of Sure we should all make sacrifices, but not my family.

It’s just infuriating how, when we know there’s a problem, we refuse to make the necessary changes as a person and family unit to deal with it. There’s a sort of refusal to think collectively for a community rather than just your loved ones and relatives.

I watched another news report about autism and vaccines. Despite the fact there is no credible evidence of their being a link, some people insist there’s a connection. The problem is, when more and more children are not vaccinated, they affect those around them who are still susceptible to contrating those diseases.

The families who don’t vaccinate their children say they understand the problem, but they only care about their child. They would rather risk the lives of those around them than to risk their child getting autism (which again, is NOT A RISK).

A love for family is strong and that is a good thing. Homes, communities and cities are built on that simple nucleus. The beauty and tragedy of family is that it can make people who are ordinarily carefree about their own well being become emotionally committed to their loved ones. The downside to that is many take on a passive-aggressive selfishness and justify pretty despicable acts in the name of but not my family.

The solutions to all of our problems must start with the individual, then the family, then community and then society. We must realize that while our families are paramount in our lives, we all still share the same communities. The condition of that community affects the condition of family.

If we don’t learn to start with ourselves and ours, nothing will ever change and our societal ills will grow worse.

I have a young daughter. It is my mission to ensure she has a good, productive life. Part of that goal is keeping her in a community where that’s possible.