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Friday, October 7, 2011

American Spring?

Allow me to compare the "Arab Spring" to the "American Spring". Thousands of protesters, most of them peaceful, take to the streets to demand a better life that would allow them to pursue their dream. Cairo, Tripoli, Damascus, Athens? No, it's New York and dozens of important cities in the U.S. It's corporate greed versus Joe the Plumber, Main Street versus Wall Street.

Come on! Ever since the last economic downturn revealed the dirty laundry of financial wizards, the shenanigans of major banks, and the sloppy oversight by the government, a growing anger has been simmering inside ordinary people who call themselves the 99%. Millionaires and billionaires pay less in taxes than 99% of us, because they can take advantage of numerous loopholes through their high-powered lawyers. Republicans refuse flatly to close these unfair advantages for rich people and for corporations, calling it a disguised tax increase. But don't believe that Democrats in Congress are any better; they may fume and rant against their opponents for saying no, but they are just as much "bought" by special interests. Just as the Greek philosopher Diogenes hunted in vain for an honest man with his lantern, we the people hunt in vain for a congressman who is not in the clutches of powerful lobbies.

Becoming rich is not a sin; look at all these TV preachers who live in luxury, sitting on gold-stitched Louis XIV chairs while asking for more money from their "captured" audience. OK, that was pure sarcasm! Let's instead look at "honest" and compassionate wealthy Americans such as Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. They share their treasure with the less fortunate through their very important charitable foundations. They have more than they could spend in five generations, because money attracts money.
File:Warren Buffett KU Visit.jpg Warren Buffet, a compassionate wealthy icon

The Wall Street protesters often have no idea what they want; they just know that something is not working. The media is unfair when they ask a young man what economic system should replace the present-day capitalism. They try to portray the chanting crowds as ignorant rabble rousers, forgetting that not everybody can graduate from Princeton. And yet, the great minds of this country have failed to rally in support of the nascent movement that some commentators baptized the "tea party" of the left. If that's the case, good for them; we need a balanced political system in which all of us are represented. While the very rich can buy influence and votes, the rest, the 99%, can only take to the streets and voice their discontent with politicians who are in bed with corporations.

Interestingly enough, President Obama recently mentions the 99% manifestations as having a serious impact in 2012 elections; did he mean in his favor? And why does everything have to relate to elections? Would any congressman (woman) gladly sacrifice reelection if such act guaranteed a return to prosperity for most Americans? 99% of them would say yes (assuming they are capable of giving a straight answer), while thinking just the opposite. I hereby suggest that every politician should be hooked to a lie detector machine when giving interviews; the upshot would be a suddenly very busy senator unable to grant CNN his/her views on the most pressing matters.

Yes, capitalism has many positive facets because it appeals to a very human trait: greed; through greed people invent new gadgets, take more risks and create more jobs. Do you know of any CEO who can retain his job if the bottom line says "We have not increased our profits"? But capitalism, through greed again, is also tremendously destructive as people will sell their grandmother to make a buck.

 

What is the alternative? I turn my attention to Germany, where unions sit on the board of major companies with the bosses to decide on a course of action that will benefit shareholders and workers alike. Their welfare safety net protects the weak, the handicapped, and the sick. If you work hard, you gain hard. If you are lazy, a quality abhorred by most Germans, you'll "suffer" until you perform. The result? An economic and industrial powerhouse that has become the engine of the European Union.


Why be afraid of copying what works in other countries? Why sully the political environment with stupid accusations of being a socialist? Do they even know what the word means?

We could also change our political system into a Parliamentary Republic, just like the Germans!


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

My friend says that she cannot post her comments

Jacques said...

My friend wants to post a comment

Elena said...

"American Spring" in my opinion should be required reading for everyone. All of the articles written by my "Compadre" Jacquws Spenger are eloquently written in an English so understandable that even politicians should follow and become educated to the idea of sensible and responsable leadership and bury the lies and deceitful behavior of the still present. "We the people" are not willing to continue as up to today nor are we willing to turn a blind eye to the "greed mongers" Our voices need to be loud and clear. Thanks "Compadre" for being a leader and revolutionary! Elena

Elena said...

"American Spring" in my opinion should be required reading for everyone. All of the articles written by my "Compadre" Jacques Spenger are eloquently written in an English so understandable that even politicians should follow and become educated to the idea of sensible and responsable leadership and bury the lies and deceitful behavior of the still present. "We the people" are not willing to continue as up to today nor are we willing to turn a blind eye to the "greed mongers" Our voices need to be loud and clear. Thanks "Compadre" for being a leader and revolutionary! Elena

Anonymous said...

The Germans also gave us the Nazis, so let's be careful of what we wish; let's imitate without becoming alienophobes like them.

Elena said...

Alienophobes? This coming from someone who would have all means for immigrants(legal, illegal or otherwise) compromised by the "great wall of China" or worse. The Germans brought forth unto the world not only "Nazis" on the negative side(which was successfully dealt with), but a world of wealth in as far as scientific, medical, educational, philosophical, etc.

fwordsblog said...

Interesting post, Jacques. The trouble with capitalism is that for it to succeed, we have to produce more and more, consume more and more, in order to create ever-growing profits for corporations. It’s simply not sustainable. In the west we have, on the whole, everything we need materially – we don’t need to consume any more, so we have to be persuaded and marketed into buying ever more unnecessary gadgets and luxuries that we don’t really need, and that most of us can’t afford comfortably. Here, the capitalist model leads to waste, greed, unfulfilled aspirations, debt and resentment. Meanwhile, the corporations have run out of natural resources so they need access to the developing world’s resources to maintain the momentum of consumption.
In the developing world they need more but can’t afford to buy it. And their own economies are ruined because their natural resources, which should be traded to benefit their own people, have been appropriated by the Western oil companies. The capitalist model leads to poverty, hardship and resentment of the West, which leads to what we call terrorism – they probably call it fighting back against the invaders on their own turf.
The gulf between the haves and have-nots everywhere is growing. It’s always been there – we’ve always had poverty - but I think what’s changed is that now the middle classes in the West are starting to realise they’ve been stuffed. The middle classes work hard, go to college, pay their taxes, don’t make a fuss. Now they’re realising the massive cuts being made in public services, to pay for war and to subsidise corporations, are going to hit them right where it hurts. We’re all in this – hence the growing impact of the 99% movement. No-one should fall for the mass media rhetoric that the 99% are unwashed hippies – we’re all the 99%, we’re all taking cuts in our own standard of living, through cuts in healthcare, child benefit, education and other public services, to fund the lavish lifestyle of a few.