The Much Needed Rehabilitation of Capitalism

By Bill Moore

Posted: 11 Oct 2011

A couple years ago I read William Greider's The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy. I found it a remarkable book that not only exposes the causes of our current social and economic discontent as witnessed by the growing "Occupy" movement of frustrated citizens -- the 99% of the nation who are seeing their incomes and standard of living eroded away with their children graduating from college and universities tens of thousands of dollars in debt while facing 50% unemployment rates (which I am told by a professor from Mexico's main university is the same in that country for his graduates) while they themselves are either out of work, under-employed or worried about the status of their own job -- but also offers ways towards a more participatory form of capitalism as experienced by the Mondragon model in Spain, as one example, instead of the current predatory one in which we now find ourselves.

The short essay below is by John Perkins, who came to prominence after publishing his "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" for America's 'powers that be.' I've read both "Confessions" and "The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World." They recount how he and his fellow 'hitmen' used bribery, seduction, and threats of bodily harm to exact crippling economic concessions from individuals, communities and whole countries around the world to the benefit of American big business, banking institutions and the government.

Neither Greider, Perkins, nor I are against the principle of capitalism. It has helped create the greatest level of personal wealth and wellbeing for the most people at anytime in history. If you are reading this, you are a beneficiary of that remarkable system, but it is also a system that is increasingly becoming unbalanced and in danger of imploding in social turmoil unless changes are introduced.

This year, I've read several books on the Middle East in the wake of the 'Arab Spring' and the unrest that led to the toppling of the Mubarak regime in Egypt. What struck me as I was reading John Bradley's 'Inside Egypt' were the similarities between the attitudes of the people and the conditions they were living under and that increasingly can be found here in the United States. No, we here in the USA don't live in a dictatorship nor do we experience the level of corruption prevalent there, but I could see a clear trend of America drifting towards what Egypt had become since its 1952 revolution: a country ruled by a handful of wealthy elite who kept its citizenry inline through a brutal system of military/police repression and violence. The system imploded earlier this year and continues to be rocked by violence and death as witnessed by events in Egypt this week.

What the William Greiders, John Perkins and Bill Moores of the world want is moral capitalism. We don't want socialism, though I have been accused of such leanings. We don't want libertarianism or communism or facism. We want a equitable system that provides reasonable incentives for people to want to achieve and fairly rewards them for that success, but not at the expense of their fellowman.

It's time we rehabilitate capitalism into a system that benefits everyone again. Enough of this trickle down ("pissed on") economic theory of the last 30 years. Want to know how we can fix it? "The Soul of Capitalism" is a good place to begin; and used copies are available from Amazon for a penny.

The Sit-In Heard Round the World

Occupy Wall Street could be the beginning of the end for Predatory Capitalism

Returning from Istanbul where I spoke at a summit of 4,000 communications leaders and was interviewed on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg and by major newspapers about the importance of all the protest movements in the Middle East and Europe, I’m incredibly encouraged by events in my country. The sit-ins and demonstrations to protest the modern-day robber barons and what they’ve done to us are inspirational. We know those with money and power go to great lengths to cheat the rest of us.

In terms of U.S. wealth distribution: The 10 percent at the top of the economic ladder own nearly 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds and business equity and over 75% of non-home real estate. We know these very few exercise undue influence over the rest of us, our Congress and our current President.

During this build-up to the campaign season it’s important to understand that our elected officials – including the President – no longer write the laws; the corporate lobbyists write and pass them through our elected officials, whose campaigns they finance. More important than whom we elect is how we, as citizens, act. Now is the time to rise up and deal a deathblow to the corporatocracy that continuously evades any real consequences to their actions.

We must embrace a cause like that of our forefathers when they fought the British aristocracy. We must demand economic freedom from these modern-day robber barons. Now is the time for all of us to take to the streets or at least support those who do and use our power as consumers to stop this cycle of greed and insane materialism.

Some call for dismantling capitalism, but historically capitalism has proven to be a powerful tool for channeling creative minds into productive uses. However, in its current manifestation (the mutant form known as Predatory Capitalism) it has become extremely dangerous, a disaster—for everyone except those few who cling to the top of the economic pyramid. We must change this system and create a better world for the future.

Instead of the current corporate goal of "maximizing profits regardless of the environmental and social costs," it is essential to insist upon a new goal for business: "Make a reasonable return on investment, but only within the context of creating a sustainable, just and peaceful world."

Needed are a whole new set of rules and regulations to govern and keep in check the corporatocracy responsible for this failed system. We can no longer be lulled into complacency. Or allow indicators of "good news" like temporary increases in the stock market, lower oil prices and payoffs of loans by bailed-out banks to soothe us into believing things have returned to normal. We must reject NORMAL. Normal led us into this disaster, and it continues to propel us deeper into a much worse one.

I call for all of us to take a "SIT" alongside those souls in D.C., New York, Massachusetts, California, my home state of New Hampshire and across the country and the world and demand a true replacement for this mutant form of capitalism. Let us, the voters, the consumers, the ones whose children have to live with the policies implemented right now, insist that our business and government leaders show the courage to truly LEAD!

About John Perkins

John Perkins is the author of bestsellers Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, The Secret History of the American Empire, and the new book, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded – and What We Need to Do to Remake Them, among others.

Perkins is a founder and board member of Dream Change and the Pachamama Alliance, nonprofit organizations devoted to creating a stable, sustainable and peaceful world. He has lectured and taught at universities on four continents.

Perkins’ website is JohnPerkins.org and he tweets as @economic_hitman.

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