Monday, January 6, 2014


I love the word ‘clear.’ It gets right to the point. ‘Clarification’ on the other hand sound like something you could be arrested for.

“You are charged with three counts of clarification. How do you plead?”

“She led me on, your honor. She backed into me.”


“The sheep—and it was dark—cold and dark and windy.”

“The sheep was under-age. Guilty as charged. Take him down.”

The obvious alternative word is ‘explanation,’ but that sounds apologetic—and I am certainly not apologizing for being critical of the current U.S. Economic System (AKA Business Model). Not only is it not what we pretend it to be—which is unfettered capitalism—but it is not delivering for most of the U.S. population. Statistical growth of GDP—which does not translate into increased earning power for most of the population—is no good for man or mouse. Don’t confuse statistical growth with progress.

You’re anti-capitalist.  You’re a communist. You’re engaging in class warfare. You’re being un-American. You could even be French! You’re de-Spockable. You’re almost certainly a Liberal.

Names, names names! They don’t constitute an argument.

I’m endeavoring to present a nuanced critique of the current U.S. Economic System on the grounds that most Americans are not being well served by the existing one. I’m not anti-capitalist—I’m a serial entrepreneur and proud of it—but I’m also completely clear that many other countries, who are practicing other forms of capitalism—are kicking our butts.

In a sentence: We need to do capitalism better.  They do so already, and what they are doing is working. As a bonus they get job security, pensions, better education, longer vacations (which they actually take) superior healthcare at lower cost, more investment in infrastructure—and they live healthier lives and longer (about two years). And, by the way, they are subjected to less propaganda, and there is less money in politics. Ah yes—and they are involved in significantly fewer wars.

Apart from all that, their cities are cleaner, their public transport vastly superior, their doctors make house calls, there is less violent crime, and their prison population is a mere fraction—proportionately—of ours.


But corporate profits have never been higher!

What good is that to most of the working population whose household income is actually declining?

What good is that if millions of workers are now so badly paid that they need government assistance to make ends meet.

What good is that if poverty is rife?

What good is that if our infrastructure is crumbling through lack of investment?

What good is that if there aren’t enough jobs, pensions are vanishing, and the social safety net is being eroded?

But the stock market has never been higher?

Since the top 10% of the population own most of the wealth, and since the capital gains and dividends go to them, that is irrelevant as far as most Americans are concerned.

But rising income inequality and unemployment are the inevitable consequences of globalization and other market forces. We’re forcing wages and salaries down because we have to remain competitive.

That is pure propaganda and the biggest lie of all. If that was the case, highly paid Northern Europe could not compete—yet it does. Where advanced economies are concerned, we are the outlier. We all practice a form of capitalism, but some get a great deal more out of it than others.

You are nothing but a troublemaker!

I truly hope so—and to have lots of company—because more and more Americans are, quite rightly, just plain fed up.

But, by the way, I do have French ancestors. They were part of the 1%. They were rich and privileged at a time when most of the population was poor and struggling.

The French economy had been hijacked by the aristocracy. The French population responded with the guillotine.

If the French Revolution hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here. All in all, with all due respect to my executed ancestors, I’m rather glad the French Revolution happened—and the American one. And lets not forget the Irish.

You can make a strong case that revolutions—preferably by the ballot box—are a good idea every now and then. You can make an even stronger case that they are inevitable in the case where an economy has been hijacked, and where economic injustice is rampant. Greed has consequences.




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