As kids, many of us learned that capitalism is the most superior economic system ever developed. Schools bombarded us with this message, but it also permeated society.
The solid middle class had stable jobs, houses, family vacations, and financial security. People could retire comfortably, and kids could go to college for a reasonable cost.
It’s Not The Same
Capitalism’s glory days have come to an end. The floundering middle class can barely afford to put food on the table, and younger generations, burdened with substantial student loan debt, can’t afford to buy houses.
The jobs promised don’t exist, as most jobs created in the past decade are low-wage service positions lacking benefits and stability.
What is Happening?
One user came to the internet lamenting the new flavor of capitalism destroying society.
“What’s causing this?” they asked, pointing to the reintroduction of child labor, removal of human rights, horrible treatment of workers, and outrageous price surges on necessities.
Users had many thoughts.
Reagonomics and the trickle-down economy of the 80s destroyed the middle class. The system was all about lining the pockets of the wealthy while expecting everyone else to beg for scraps.
Although we’ve had 40 years of evidence that trickle-down doesn’t work, the rich constantly sing its praises and maintain it as the status quo. Why wouldn’t they, they’re benefitting from it.
If Reagonomics started the decline, Citizens United accelerated it. The Supreme Court ruling put even more money into politics, declaring that corporations are people and money is speech.
With the law, corporations could fund politicians who would loosen regulations and allow them to do whatever they wanted at the expense of everyday citizens.
Calvinism and the Religious Right
Calvinism preaches the prosperity gospel, which, contrary to Christ’s teachings, says wealth is a reward for the godly. The religious right took it and ran with it to consolidate power.
Now, the religious right and the super-rich joined forces to introduce a new Christian theocracy to the once-free people of the United States. The wealthy can do whatever they want in pursuit of profits because, apparently, that’s “godly,” while the deeply religious get to enforce their worldview on everyone else by stripping people of their rights.
Meanwhile, the biggest winner is the capitalistic machine, which gets more bodies for its insatiable hunger.
Some users pointed to the collapse of Communism as the reason for Capitalism’s decline. The system had to check itself and do better to show it was the best option.
Now that it has no competitors, it can do what capitalism does best: grow unchained, unfettered, and unstoppable.
Checks and Balances
Capitalism worked because of common sense checks against unfettered growth. We had antimonopoly laws which prevented one company from becoming too powerful. Those laws may still be on the books, but they’re getting harder to enforce in the age of technology.
We also had regulations protecting the working class and the environment from capitalism’s clutches. The anti-regulation crowd rolled these safety precautions back.
Now, we have unfettered capitalism, which cares about nothing except the endless quest for more profits.
Greed and Work Culture
Automation was supposed to usher in a golden age for humanity. People wouldn’t have to work to get their basic needs met, so they could focus on other things, like creating art, building community, and unlocking the secrets of the universe.
Unfortunately, the ruling class couldn’t bear to give up a smidgen of their wealth to make this utopia a reality. Our culture can’t shake the propaganda surrounding work; that is, if you don’t work, you’re inherently wrong and don’t deserve to live.
Humanity can’t evolve if we can’t get past our animalistic instinct to hoard resources.
Is There a Path Forward?
There’s a path forward, but far too many people refuse to see it. They think they’re benefitting from this system that sucks every bit of profit from someone before discarding them. The rich spend billions on culture wars and propaganda to keep the regular people fighting amongst themselves for scraps.
Until we realize there’s a better path forward and unite to make it a reality, we’ll continue to suffer under capitalism’s iron grip.
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