Thursday, April 2

Time for new Progressive Meme: Social-Capitalism

Ok, we've been hearing it since the election and the first appearance of Sammy-Joe the (Un)Plumber: What Obama (and by extension his supporters) want to "Change" about America is to make it "Socialist".

The ridiculousness of this claim is so extreme that hardly anyway has responded to it anything besides snorting up their sleeve, but it's well past time we Progressives and Liberals rather started to define ourselves rather than allow ourselves and what we desire to be defined by people who don't know or care what we really stand for.

To that end I suggest we consider a completely new meme to describe that strategy we support for tackling America's problems. No it's not communism, or socialism, both of these are dusty 20th Century terms best applied to the Soviets or Red Chinese of by-gone years.

No, I think what we want is a Fair Market with Social-Capitalism.

The idea came to me based on a couple of interesting Tweet exchanges. The first with California Rep. Maxine Waters.

@maxinewaters: Barney nails it. This is exactly what I've been saying in all my tweets: $$ doesn't belong in private hands. Capital=evil.

Vyan1: I wouldn't say "Capital=Evil" - more like Unlimited Greed = Evil Capitol is a tool, it's a matter of what you do with it!

maxinewaters: The Capitol is not a tool! Or did u mean capital? No, capital=private ownership=evil. Only govt. can be trusted w/ $$ all else unfair

Vyan1: i meant money=tool for doing things. Unlimited Greed is the problem. (am constituent btw) Monopolies are a problem too!

maxinewaters A DM: "Only 1 source of jobs: companies/people who want to make $!" No, that's the problem w/ USA. We SHOULD work for justice, not $$. #TCOT

@maxinewaters: We need Michael Moore to do documentary how Bush set up the financial system via $GS & Paulson to fail to make Dems & #Obama look bad. #TCOT

Vyan1: Lots of footage of Grover Norquist on that MM film. This is the final result of the 30 year "Starving the Beast" strategy

Vyan1: the plan was loot the treasury and drive the deficit so high all entitlment programs would *HAVE* to be cut to the bone.

maxinewaters: That's why we're cutting deficit

I still disagree with Rep Waters premise that "Private Ownership=Evil" or that only the government can be trust with our money - I frankly don't trust either one of them but in our country we still need both private enterprise and government - the trick is making sure both of them keep each other in check.

However the comment that caught my eye is this one :"We SHOULD work for Justice, not $$"

Why can't we do both? Why shouldn't we do both?

If you disconnect the goal of becoming rich, what we so are often told is "The American Dream", from engaging fairly with your common man and from trying to install some for of social justie in the world - you wind up with what we've seen over the past 8 years. Unbridled Enron-inomics.

Time and time again, bankers and business have used the leverage that money gives them to cut corners, overhype and inflate prices, and use legalistic fine-print to squeeze more and more dollars out of their customers, and out of their employees to place in thier stock value.

It's become one big game of "Whose got the biggest Stock Gain this Quarter!?"

That's what drove Enron, Aldephia, Global Crossing and now Bear-Sterns, Lehmann Brothers and AIG over a cliff.

Raw, unrestricted, unlimited, Naked Greed.

As a result the government has been forced to step into the picture - which leads me to my next Tweet exchange, this time with MSNBC's Contessa Brewer

contessabrewer Why can't gov't budget be more like a wise family's. Live within your means, save for the unexpected, use debt only 4 true investments.

Vyan1 @contessabrewer Most American Families live off their credit cards and their home equity - just like the government.

contessabrewer @Vyan1 Well, that's why I said WISE families.

Vyan1 @contessabrewer Hard to be that "Wise" when wages have remained stagnant (for those that still have wages) for 10 years while prices rise.

Rather than "Supply-Side" economics, maybe it's time we began to consider the "Demand-Side" of things. Businesses can thrive when consumers have buying power - the problem has been in the ever more dramatic drive to cram down prices, we've also crammed down wages and salaries. Price inflation has still continued (Remember $4 per gallon gas!), but wage inflation hasn't. What you could buy for a dollar last year, only gets you 80 cents this year - so how did people fill that gap?

With their credit cards.

Or by borrowing against their mortgage.

Here's a little audio on this from Thom Hartmann on the Mortgage Crisis.

Hartmann: (From the Wall Street Journal) As middle-class incomes are being wiped-out, manufacturing incomes are being wiped-out, people can't pay their mortgages. And the Financial Times points out that Banks are starting to lose money are the result of this.

What we've seen over the last 26 years is a dismantling of the core of the United States, and it's been done for a specific purpose. To dis-empower the Middle class.

When the credit golden goose ran out of eggs we landed right where we are now. It wasn't simply a case of the Wall Street incompetence and Main Street over-reach. Yet again, It was both!

The failure Bush years has opened up a window. It's becoming more and more common to hear "Too Big to Fail - is Too Big to EXIST!" from not just people on the fringe, but mainstream Economists and even Members of Congress. (Such as Senator Bernie Sanders, the only "Socialist" in Congress)

Sanders: We need to have the United States Government play a role in protecting the people against the greed of multi-national corporations. If a company is too big to fail, it's too big to exist!

We are not headed into a system where government owns and operates our entire economy. We are not headed into Communism, Socialism or Marxism - however we certainly can not maintain a system where corporations run completely Amok! If consumers and employees are passenger cars on our economic highways, attempting to navigate on a road filled with Super-Giant Corporate Semi-Trailers, we need to have some Rules of the Road to prevent the smaller cars from getting run into a ditch by the trucks. We need to have some guidelines, to keep traffic flowing, and some speed limits to prevent those massive trucks from Jack-knifing and creating a Million Car Pileup.


Therefore, maybe we do need to embrace a new form a capitalism. One that doesn't simply serve the selfish self-interest of investors and share-holders but also includes the idea of being a good neighbor and a responsible co-habitant in our society.

Maybe we need to move from the Dog-eat-Dog Demolition Derby model of capitalism to a cooperative one - to Social-Capitalism.

Maybe we should work and toil not just from financial reward, but also - for Social and Economic Justice.

Certainly there are time when "Justice" doesn't really pay well. And those may be the time where, for the sake of justice and the sake of our national well-being, Government has to step it with subsidies or not-for-profit options.

Maybe we need to realize that the "Free Market" alone, CAN NOT solve everyones problem in that what we really should strive for is a "FAIR Market" that allows everyone a chance to compete, even the little guys, without being crushed into powder by well entrenched interests.

Maybe it's time we starting defining ourselves, rather than letting other hurl their epithets our way.

Maybe that time is Now.

What say you?

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