Where Does Capitalism Lead?

I’ve established (many times) that I am not psychic. So I won’t spend a few paragraphs guessing where the world economy (or the American economy) is heading. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. We are in uncharted waters. There are a lot of misconceptions about what capitalism is and what it isn’t. One … Continue reading “Where Does Capitalism Lead?”

I’ve established (many times) that I am not psychic. So I won’t spend a few paragraphs guessing where the world economy (or the American economy) is heading. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. We are in uncharted waters.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what capitalism is and what it isn’t. One thing I’ve heard frequently is that the Chinese economy has moved towards capitalism – that is not true. First of all, let’s get a definition of capitalism out of the way. Websters offers the following:

an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

There are three key concepts here – private or corporate ownership and control rather than state (although I think corporate ownership is something altogether different), the use of investments for control, and competition in a free marketplace.

Ownership and Control of the Means of Production
In reality there are four types of economies. Primitive, Command, Market, and Mixed. In a primitive economy the means of production belong to the producer. A command economy gives control of the means of production to the state. A market economy gives control to the market itself and a mixed economy combines aspects of command and market economies – for example – the government controls education and the post office in the USA.

So, capitalism itself in a pure form would be a pure market economy with no government intervention or control. Essentially, capitalism leads to big fish swallowing small fish and small fish trying to get big enough to swallow smaller fish and eventually to swallow big fish. Capitalism may start with a level playing field (in an idealized world) but eventually it leads to Disney owning Marvel, Pixar, ABC, and every other entertainment company while Google swallows every new technology company, Facebook eats all the social fish, and JP Morgan eats all the other banks. In the meantime, the capital itself is consolidated into not just top corporate hands, but also into top tier individual hands – the 1% of the 1%. Capitalism is not about making a profit from your work – all economies are built around that. Capitalism is about mergers and acquisitions of the means of production, distribution, and disposal. It’s fish eat fish until there is only one fish that has nothing to eat and then we have a ‘Too Big to Fail’ situation where government steps in and saves the big fish – at which point, we are no longer talking about capitalism and free markets – we are talking about a command economy with the illusion of capitalism.

This is where capitalism leads. As I said at the outset, I’m not psychic. I can say for certain that capitalism leads here because it is where we are. As the World Bank and IMF sail into the bizarre waters of Quantitative Easing on the winds of salable debt and free spinning currency production – we have left the market economy behind though we still cling to the idea that a free market is running. In truth, the US economy has been a mixed economy for a long long time. We are closer to a command economy now than we have ever been. And part of the reason this has been allowed to happen is because people have this crazy idea that capitalism means making a profit. China is not capitalist. And yet, they make huge profits and have more entrepreneurs than any country in the world. China is a command economy. The US is a command economy with bizarre monetary leftovers of a market economy.

And that leaves everyone who is not in the top 1% vulnerable. The means of production and the power to overcome regulations to production, distribution and disposal exists only at the top of the pyramid. Capitalism leads to vast inequality first and then to an increasingly command economy ruled by corporate or private interests that are dependent on expansion and growth of market share. At a certain point, that expansion and growth can only be achieved by opening new markets through politics and war. And the gross inequality leads to either an altruistic super-state or to genocide of those unable or unwilling to produce for the corporate controlled government.

So where should we be heading? I’m not sure it matters. My personal preference would be a sort of socialist syndicalism market economy. That is, the government controlling certain essential industries (agriculture, medicine, housing, education, security) and worker/user owned syndicates or co-ops competing in a free market for everything else. But the question is moot. We can go nowhere until we see where our current monstrosity takes us.

The Capitalist Conundrum

Capitalism is relatively new and still evolving on the human timeline – going back no further than the Medici of Florence and then modernizing in the Netherlands of the 18th century before reaching full early bloom in London and then in the 19th and 20th centuries in New York – the mantra of capitalism has always been a combination of higher productivity + lower material and labor costs + increased demand = greater profits. It’s no coincidence that material and labor go together. Our work is lumped in with the raw materials because human labor is a raw material. You (or me) are of value to the capitalist in one of three ways – a raw material, a consumer, or a lender. The third may come as a surprise, but the debt that we incur is actually an asset to the lender. Let’s assume that robots suddenly provide all the labor including extraction, manufacture, delivery, and retrieval (trash collection, recycling, etc). Artificial intelligence is also handing marketing, merchandising, stocking, and quality control. The robot/AI work also includes making robots and new A.I. – Okay, so all of us are out of a job. Does that stop capitalism? No way. We are still consumers and at this point, in order to consume the productt produced by the AI/Robot factories – we will need to be borrowers (consumers of loans) and lenders (purchasers of debt to companies and nations through stocks which are loans to corporations and bonds which are loans to governments. Since we will be bored – we will probably be consuming more – just like when you sit in front of your computer for too long, you sometimes end up buying something – usually on credit. So, in the robot/AI society the capitalist gets higher productivity + lower material and labor costs + increased demand which as I mentioned before lead to higher profits which are doled out to the corporate shareholders who buy more shares and presumably diversify their investments with holdings in government bonds which allow the government to dole out to welfare programs which would seem likely to be the largest consumer (as a sort of collective patron of the needy), meanwhile the corporations are consolidated into larger corporations which eventually are all owned by the largest banks which leads to the conundrum which I can’t get my head around – I need help with this. At some point, there starts to exist a closed feedback loop between the banks and the government. The government buys from the banks with money the banks have lent to the government and the government pays the banks with money borrowed from the citizens, the citizens borrow from the banks to purchase the products the banks produce, the banks would seem to eventually swallow the government and the citizen so that we have corporate citizen banks which determine who eats and who starves, who lives in peace and who suffers war, and as we’ve seen in the philosophy and writings of others – at some point – the majority of citizen consumers are no longer a valuable resource but instead become a drain on the scaled up economy – at that point – it would seem – the banks are left with the option of 1) transforming into an altruistic welfare state or 2) genocide machine – It seems to me that a perfect capitalist machine looks a lot like genocide in its final days. As I look at our society undergoing rapid transformation – I can’t help but think that genocide on a global scale is not very far away.

The Regulated Society

I remember having a conversation with a ‘gun nut’ friend who insisted that she should be able to carry and shoot her gun anywhere she likes. I disagreed. I found it astounding that she couldn’t see that 1) her gun created a power inequality between her and anyone without a gun and 2) that unless she could guarantee that her bullets had a certain trajectory and stopping point, she was impinging on the freedom of others to move about without concern over being hit by stray bullets. She, on the other hand, was bothered that I thought there should be regulations in place to protect people who she had no intention of threatening – her problem with my arguments could all be boiled down to “Who is given the power to enforce these regulations?” and further that anyone given that sort of power is almost certain to use it for their own advantage. Why should she have to give up power to someone else in the interest of unknown others? Why should she have to give up her own best interest to the interest of others with uncertain motivations? We were at loggerheads – I tried to argue that it wasn’t her, a person with presumably benign motivations, that the regulations were protecting society from, but from people with darker reasons for having or shooting a gun. Her counter-argument was that criminal person wouldn’t be swayed by regulations so all the regulations were actually doing was dis-empowering her while empowering an enforcer class that would create more regulations thus depriving her of more power and beefing up the power of the enforcer class which would eventually come to be controlled by those without an altruistic intention. I tried to argue checks and balances, protection of the weakest members of society, representative government, and more – and left the table pretty sure that I was right and she was wrong – and a part of me still wants to believe that – but in my heart, I know she was right. I don’t like it because I want to believe in the hallowed institutions of self-governance and U.S. style democracy – but damn it – she was right. Or at the very least, we were both missing some ‘right’ middle ground.

The regulated society is a disaster. It’s a disaster that most people are completely blind to. As humans we made a bad turn- this idea of disempowering individuals for the betterment of all is a terrible idea – like lowering test standards to increase the average score. The regulations are not working. All the gun laws we have did not stop any of the mass shootings (or individual shootings) that happened anyway. Speed limits do not stop people from driving fast. Food regulations do not keep companies from selling poison as processed food or using dangerous pesticides – yes, if they get caught they get penalized – which is what the regulated society is when it comes down to it – the penalized society – or the penal society – or the prison society. We live in the Prison Society. There is no freedom except that you are allowed to have from the enforcer class, the guards, the regulators, the power elite. We have willingly given up our power and they have willingly taken it.
I have never wanted to live in the Prison Society, but here I am. There are ways out, but none of them are easy. My world travels and travels within the United States have shown me that the Prison Society is a worldwide phenomenona – there are different flavors, but no escaping it. The Prison Society lives on enforcement and bureaucracy and the illusion of the common good. A dictatorship can offer more freedom than democracy, or less – it depends on the levels of enforcement, bureaucracy, and regulations. The only way out of the Prison Society is self-empowerment – we must re-empower ourselves and refuse to give up that power to anyone – and the only way to create a society that is good for all is to create a new way of thinking about power and wealth and humanity. My friend was right about the regulation society and that we should not give up our power to an enforcer class and she was right about the need to arm ourselves, but I think she was wrong about what we need to arm ourselves with – we don’t need to be armed with guns, we need to be armed with knowledge. The Knowledge Society is the only path that leads to freedom from the Prison Society.

Nobody likes to be faced with hatred

It’s a good thing to keep in mind in the world as it is today. If you are staring into the eyes of someone ordered to do their job and looking at them with hatred – that hatred is going to be returned.

Hatred has never put an end to hatred. Only love has or can accomplish that Herculean task.

We may be asked to fight against evil, but if we can find compassion and the ability to love our enemies (even while we fight them) then we just might have a chance at defeating them.

These are not just hollow words. When you are faced with all of the awfulness that the world can muster – you will need to fight, I’m sure of it, but you will only win if you fight with love.

Brilliant Manipulation – Shocked and Awed

I have a strong suspicion that we, the citizens of the United States are being brilliantly manipulated. It’s not an original idea – the evidence comes from hundreds of articles, Facebook posts written or shared by friends, and conversations with people who are at the very least, somewhat like-minded.

If you are of a similar mind – the past two weeks have been utterly exhausting on an emotional and mental level. Beyond that, the past 18-months were also oftentimes traumatic. Yes, I’m talking about the campaign, the election, the inauguration, the first days of Il Douche’s presidency – but I’m also talking about the events of the world which most Americans have been hearing as a sort of background or sideline noise. To use a sports metaphor – we thought the action was happening on the field, but then we realized that there were fistfights going on the sidelines, and finally we have started to notice (some of us) that the real competition was happening all around us in the stands. This was not an election about two flawed candidates – which is what we were told again and again by the corporate owned media. It was not a match between red and blue. Nor was it a power struggle between the liberal and corporate wings of the Democratic party or the conservative and racist wings of the Republican party. That was the sideline match designed to distract those of us who saw that the game on the field was already decided. The actual battle/struggle/fight/war was being waged in the stands among the spectators as we were indoctrinated with artificial ideologies, bombarded with contradictory ‘new’ stories, and emotionally drained with a shock and awe campaign that has left us ripe for manipulation.

The billionaire masters (because that is what they are, don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise) are getting very close to a world where automation can take care of their needs. They will not need the masses to cook, clean up their mess, drive them around, build their products, deliver their products, or do much of anything. 8 billion people is a huge drain on the resources of this planet and the crowds are getting a little too close to their walled estates. As technology eliminates the need for low skilled workers(and increasingly workers in high skilled fields like medicine and law too) the billionaire masters are left with a question – “What do we do with all these useless people?” It’s nice to think they will focus on altruism and try to create a world where everyone has food, shelter, security, medicine, and the ability to be a unique and wonderful being – but somehow, when I look at the billionaires – even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet sitting comfortably on a stage and telling us everything will be fine – I have a very hard time believing they have our best interests in mind.

Here is the question they are asking.

What do we do with all the people we don’t need anymore?

I can only come up with a few possible answers.
1) Take care of them all (which seems very unlikely)
2) Kill them all (which also seems very unlikely)
3) Ignore them all (which is not only unlikely but impossible)
4) Use them as tools to increase power, security, etc for the Billionaires
5) Get them to kill each other
6) Take care of some (useful) and find a way to eliminate the rest (not useful)

That’s as much as I can come up with.

This election wasn’t about politics. It was about the billionaires taking control of the most powerful country on the planet. If you think any billionaire on the planet has more in common with you than with another billionaire, you are deluding yourself. Right now, the billionaires are in control and it is very likely that they have already decided what they are going to do with us. Everything else is just theater to keep us from seeing the truth.

If you are one of those they consider useful you are lucky. We can already see what is happening to those they do not consider useful. Just look at the poorest and least protected people in the world – and then look at how we have slammed the door in their faces and will be building a wall (or many walls) to keep them out. Everything that happens from this point on, has already been decided.

All Hell Is Gonna Break Loose … And We All Know It

2017 is going to be an interesting year. I’ve given up on trying to predict what is going to happen – or at least that’s what I tell myself. I can’t help it though…playing the predict the future game is too much fun. It’s like a slot machine, you usually lose, but when you win – even a little, you want to do it again. And when you win big…well, that’s when you are in danger of losing it all. So, here is my prediction… in about two weeks all hell is going to break loose. The enemies of the USA (and we have lots of them because of the way we’ve been meddling in the affairs of the world for the past 75 years) are going to hit us from all sides shortly after Trump is inaugurated. Since Trump has more or less fired every Obama appointee from the moment he takes the oath, there has never been a moment when we have been more vulnerable. Since he has not been getting security briefings and has refused to acknowledge the reality of our national security, he is uniquely positioned to fuck everything up in a crisis. Within days of his taking office we can expect attacks within the US and upon US interests outside of the US. We can expect cyber attacks that will cripple our banking, electric grid, and information systems. The economy is going to get slaughtered. Foreign enemies will use this state of confusion to undermine the goals of the USA abroad in places like Ukraine, the South China Sea, Iraq, Europe, and the Korean Peninsula. And then….well, isn’t that enough? So there is my all in prediction. If it doesn’t happen, I’m happy wrong. If it happens, I’m psychic and right (but not happy). Either way, there it is. Here are a few more predictions for 2017 – Dick Cheney will come out of the shadows. A nuclear bomb will destroy an urban area. The internet will let us know it is awake and aware (I believe it already is, but is keeping it from us). A billionaire will be kidnapped and murdered. A virus will wipe out the entire US chicken supply. A millennial movement advocating violence towards baby-boomers will shock the internet and go global. And finally, a cat will record a grammy winning song with Yanni.

That’s it. Have a great year. Be safe, be cool, don’t be surprised. See ya later.