U.S. unemployment rate as of November 2009:
The percentage swells to 17.5% if you consider the underemployed. To me, this is the most damning indictment of capitalism I could ever read, as well as the socialist band-aids (socialism being the bastard offspring of capitalist and communist ideologies) we try to apply to it. Maybe I'm just incredibly stupid, but how is a system wherein nearly 1 in 5 people that want to work have no opportunities to be productive a good system? And furthermore, how is giving those same people an unemployment check or putting them on welfare a smarter solution than just giving them a paying job to perform? Surely, it would be for our collective betterment if we were all put to productive uses as opposed to just 80-90% of us? When I look at the natural resources and technology available to us, I don't see why it wouldn't be possible. The idea reeks somewhat of common sense if you ask me, well formulated counter-arguments steeped in classical economics theory be damned. I'm sorry, but our current economic situation and the public debate swirling around it makes me feel like I'm having a cup of tea with the "Mad" Hatter and the March Hare from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's simply madness, like repossessing a family's home so that it can sit empty for years and decay.
The Hatter: A home is a derivative you can buy and sell!
Alice: A home is where you live!
The Hatter: We'll see about when the value of your home drops $40,000 and you failed to buy real estate derivatives before it all happened!
Alice: I'm afraid I don't understand...
[Excerpt from Alice's Adventures in Real Estate]
There's a reason people, especially us Americans, think capitalism works well. It's true that for well over a half-century it allowed for unprecedented growth in the American middle class and in the American economy as a whole. However, we have to recognize what allowed this. The reasons are twofold: One, are largest competitor for global resources in the early 1900s, Europe, destroyed the bulk of their infrastructure by starting two world wars. Each bomb dropped on a European factory was a victory for American corporations. By the end of World War II, we had free rein over the global economic markets. Two, modern transportation allowed us to export the dreaded dirt-paying factory jobs of 19th century muckraker legend to the third world, where we wouldn't have to be exposed to them on a personal level. Now that Europe has completely redeveloped itself and the Third World has become more savvy (former Third World countries, like Singapore and South Korea, now brush shoulders with countries like Germany and the United Kingdom in the Human Development Index), we are starting to see the realities of capitalism washing back up on our shores, and it's not pretty. A look at this month's unemployment numbers will reveal that much.
America's top politicians, a frothing pack of wealthy corrupted suits, have good reason to support capitalism. The free market ideal allows for the unchecked accumulation of personal wealth. We are deceptively told that this makes America the land of opportunity, where you, YES, YOU!, can become fabulously wealthy if you just work hard enough. The reality is, unfortunately (and isn't reality always unfortunate?), that regardless of how hard we work, most of us will never be wealthy. You're a workhorse 'chasing the carrot' dangling out of reach in front of you, so to speak. The top 1% of the U.S. population controls roughly 40% of the nation's wealth, and the distribution of wealth has been growing more top heavy for decades now. Incomes for the middle and lower classes have stagnated as personal debt soars. The banks practically own most people at this point.
Yes, it's true, America is fast becoming a plutocracy, rule by the wealthy. This won't change until we stop mindlessly electing Democrats and Republicans and stop relying on centuries old economic systems they champion (hell, the idea of a republic is stale as well, dating back to at least two millenniums ago). The Donkeys (Democrats) and the Elephants (Republicans) have run the White House exclusively for the last 150 years. If you don't think that's enough time for some serious collusion to occur, then you're dangerously naive to the nature of politics.
Now, I'm sure you're thinking, if capitalism and socialism isn't the answer, then what is? To be truthful, I don't know. With our world rapidly changing thanks to our incredible technological advancements, I just think that it's time for us to work together towards developing more sensible, modern economic and political systems.