Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why Capitalism in its Current Form Needs to Die

In 2007 alone, the chief executive officers at these companies collected combined total compensation of $118.6 million—an average of $11.9 million each. That is 468 times more than the $25,434 an average American worker made that year.
-from a report by HealthCareforAmericaNow.Org
When your economic system produces outcomes like this, where the executives of a protected (read: functionally monopolistic) industry make exorbitant amounts of money for figuring out ways to not provide the service which is their companies' reason for being, something is broken and needs to be fixed.

Now don't get me wrong. I am pro-capitalism. I agree with the market fundamentalists that it's the best way to drive innovation, which makes everyone's life better, or at least should. But when the rules are gamed such as to produce outcomes like this (or, worse, outcomes like Goldman, Sachs' current balance sheet less than a year after they helped nearly drive the economy over a cliff, taking themselves with it), then the rules need to be changed.

Myself, I favor the installation of both a ceiling and floor to compensation. I think that, until the entirety of humanity is brought into the twenty-first century in terms of access to education, health care, and economic opportunity (which would solve at least half of the world's problems right off the bat), that anybody being allowed to make more than, say, half a million dollars a year is, quite frankly, obscene.

Yeah, yeah. I can hear the grumbles already, that I don't really believe in capitalism, that I'm nothing more than a dirty fucking Marxist bent on redistributing wealth away from the productive class towards the great unwashed, and hey, to you maybe I am (I consider myself post-Marxist, personally, but opinions being like assholes, everybody gets one). But I'm really a radical democrat (note the small d). I believe that every American citizen, upon paying their taxes, ought to get to say what those taxes go towards paying for. So by all means let corporate boards compensate their executives as richly as they like. They'll take home a half mil and they can decide what the rest should be used for, and that can be their reward for being so high-powered and smart, or whatever justification it is they offer for their ridiculous and obscene compensation packages.

But that's beside the point. The point is that the system we have is broken, and will doom us, both as a nation and as a people (perhaps even as a species) to the inevitable slide into Imperial Senescence and Banana Republic-hood, and if we don't fix it we'll deserve every bad thing that happens as a result.

And no, I won't be happy about it. Schadenfreude's not my thing. I love this country, and all the good things it stands for. It's too bad the fuckers making all that money denying coverage and preventing competition don't feel the same.

1 comment:

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