Millions of Americans are wondering why Bad Things have happened to them, to their families, or to their friends and acquaintances. Billions of people world-wide are no doubt asking more, but I’m more familiar with America, so I’ll stay home on this one.
Why is it that I studied hard, went to college, got my degree, and I still can’t find a job that will ever pay off my student loans?
Why is the bank that my parents and grandparents took loans from refusing to work with me to let me keep my house?
Why can’t I get a car loan when I never missed a car payment the last two times I had one?
Why don’t Dish Network and Direct TV tell me what I have to pay on the second year of my two-year contract?
Why are grocery prices going up?
What’s up with gasoline prices fluctuating the way they do, anyway?
Why does the government spend so much money fighting wars overseas, but they can’t even fix the pothole on my street?
Why can’t Congress get anything done?
Why can’t President Obama get anything done?
How come none of the Wall Street criminals went to jail?
How come the long range weather forecasts are always wrong?
They’ve been saying we need alternative sources of energy since at least Carter was President. Why do I still have to put gas in my car to get to work? I can’t AFFORD an electric car, dammit!
I read that the minimum wage has lost purchasing power for decades. Why is that?
I’m making the same I was five years ago. I work hard. Why can’t I get a raise? How come everything costs more than it did?
There’s all these homeless people. There’s all these vacant houses and buildings and apartments. Why don’t they just fix them up and let people live in them?
Somebody I know just got back from Europe and said they didn’t see any aerial power lines. These things get knocked down here every time the wind blows too hard. Why don’t they just bury the damned things?
Why do my prescription meds cost so much? Why does Grandma have to choose between her meds and eating?
Why can’t the police stop crime in my neighborhood?
Why did my favorite sports team’s stadium name get changed to some company a) I’ve never heard of or b) some company who ripped me off?
Why are state and local governments giving money to corporations to move in and create jobs? Where are the friggin’ jobs, anyway?
What happened to my pension fund? It’s GONE! Now I can’t pay my rent or mortgage or property taxes! Dammit, they PROMISED!
Why do they want to cut my or my parents’ Social Security? Why do they want to cut Food Stamps? Why is it that they can’t pass a Farm Bill and the milk I need for my kids might go up to $7 a gallon? What’s gone WRONG?
I’m sure you can think of far more questions like these that, if you haven’t asked yourself, you’ve heard others ask. And they all have the same answer: Capitalism. Capitalism is very easily defined: the economic, political, and social system that has only one objective–to maximize profit as soon as possible by any means available.
It’s positively monomaniacal. It is, in fact, insane. The details of the answers to all of the above questions always boil down to either, A) Because somebody powerful is making money, B) Because somebody powerful would lose money, or C) Because somebody powerful wouldn’t make any money.
More and more people, not only in America, but around the world, are slowly discovering the one, logical answer to the questions I listed and thousands more besides. The hazy shades of the dawn of the next enlightenment are getting brighter. And our ruling classes, who have built their wealth and power within the capitalist system, know this, or at least sense it. They LIKE capitalism. It gave them wealth and power, after all, so they want to preserve and advance it so they can keep their wealth and power. Unfortunately for them, it just can’t work forever. No system can expand forever, and expansion is something that capitalism demands. To use an analogy, the bubble has been inflated almost as far as it can go before its skin bursts and the air escapes with a bang.
So, our ruling classes are falling back on old, pre-capitalist formulas used by ruling classes throughout history to preserve or advance their power as long as possible: Propaganda, repression, spying, military or police power, patriotic fervor for foreign wars. It didn’t work for any previous system that was failing, not forever. It won’t work for ours.
Capitalism is doomed. It can’t last. Radical change is coming, and there’s nothing our ruling classes can do to hold on forever. When will the change come? What will it be? All I know is that every day brings it closer, and I don’t know what it will be. But it CAN be better than what we have now, if most of us can agree on just a few basic things, like justice, fairness, and just treating everyone with some measure of respect.
Call me an optimist. But I have a dream, and I can imagine.