- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Gasoline? What an appropriate symbol for capitalism!

Posted by: Stoller on December 20, 1999 at 13:49:50:

In Reply to: I am not on glue, I choose to huff gasoline. posted by garloo on December 20, 1999 at 00:43:08:

: The problems people seem to have with capitalism result from when government oversteps its boundaries and interferes with business leading to coercive monopolies through subsidies and grants which it has no business promoting. I understand that these are bad things but it is not laissez-faire capitalism to blame. It is the lack of it.

Thank you for the inspiring Chamber of Commerce speech.

'Laissez-faire' capitalism, as almost everyone over the age of fifteen knows, is socialism for the rich, AKA business with its hands on government (i.e. the worker's taxes).

There are some tasks that are TOO BIG to be accomplished by a single firm, even a cartel of firms. Firms, needing certain MEASURABLE amounts of capital on hand, cannot accomplish such gigantic tasks as BUILDING INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS.

Did you know that 80% of the New Deal's expenditures went to roads and construction?(1) Which, of course, paved the way for the assured success of Ford, General Motors, etc.

Another example is, of course, the MILITARY. The function of the military, amongst other things, is to PROTECT OVERSEAS CAPITAL (such as Exxon's oil refineries). Again: no one firm or cartel of firms could ever hope to cough up the capital needed to protect their overseas capital themselves.

Or domestic capital, for that matter...

Capital is predicated upon the minority monopolization of the means of production. This means that the MAJORITY of people have no access to the very stuff of life. In order to address the numerical advantage working people have over the capitalist expropriators, capital must add to its capital expenses an apparatus of 'defense' from the domestic working class (police, National Guard, etc.).

How perverse it is that the working class themselves (as tax payers) pay FOR capital's defense---against the claims of the working class!

: Now set your sights to America, the land that raised the standard of living to the highest the world has ever known, tripled the life span and brought unprecedented amounts of wealth and prosperity to its people.

You give capital too much credit. Just because capital owns the mode of production that creates such abundance does not mean it created it. Most technological developments were the result of scientific teams of salaried employees working FOR capital. The capitalists didn't invent squat; they just profited from the work once it was done.

Another 'service' working class taxpayers provide for capital is investing in much of the very innovation that capital takes credit FOR. Did you know that 40% of all research & development in our economy at present comes from government (i.e. taxpayer) expenditures?(2) This helps capital MINIMIZE its risks in new product creation. The tax-paying working class 'investors' receive no dividends, 'of course,' but they DO get to buy the fruits of their own investment later on when capital so kindly SELLS IT to them.

: Would you like to know what I am due to capitalism? I am exactly what I want to be. It allows me and every one else who is fortunate enough to live under it the gift of doing what they are good at.

How interesting that so many people 'just happen' to be good at NOTHING but the most monotonous, low-wage work imaginable. And how expedient, too---since capitalism creates SO MANY MONOTONOUS, LOW-WAGE jobs. Did you know that 75% of American jobs require NO skill above a high school level?(3) No wonder college tuitions are so high that only 23% of the American population acquire a B.A. or above.(4)

When you sound off about 'what [people] are good at,' you simply echo the Spencerian clichés of the 1900s. We will never know what people 'are good at' UNTIL everyone is permitted to have an education. Rationing skill JUST BECAUSE capitalism promotes degrading, mind-stultifying work can in NO WAY 'prove' that 'some people'---over two-thirds of the country---are fit for nothing better.

To say otherwise is to adopt a hateful, aristocratic untruth as a sibboleth.

Do so at your own peril.



1. Holtz Kay, Asphalt Nation, University of California Press 1997, p. 199.

2. Kuttner, Everything For Sale, University of Chicago Press 1996, p. 215.

3. Business Week, 1 September 1997, p. 67.

4. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1996, table 243, p. 160.

Follow Ups:


The Debating Room Post a Followup