February 26, 2014 by David K. Sutton
An Indefensible Economic System
Someone needs to explain to me why there are so many Americans making average or even substandard wages who continue to defend the capitalistic status quo. I think this is where Robert Reich is correct, that people are simply afraid. In a labor market where employers have all the power, people just feel lucky to have a job.
But this still doesn’t explain why people in an anonymous setting (article comments, online forums), and who say they are middle class, continue to defend the practices of the super-wealthy. Those of us willing to point out the ridiculousness of our current so-called “free market” system do not do so because we have some sadistic need to demonize wealth. If we are vilifying anything, it’s a system that continues to reward wealth for the sake of wealth, while ignoring the increased productivity of the rest of the workforce. We continue to be told the economy is fragile, even weak, yet the stock market has done remarkably well and you know people at the top are the beneficiaries. It seems the economy is quite strong for some. But every time we point this out, some evangelist emerges to sing the praises of our wonderful capitalistic system, and defend the few who are benefiting from it.
The problem with people who worship at the altar of the free market is that their devotion is to a false god. There is no free market. People with the wealth have the power to shape laws and our “democracy” to suit their needs. It might be one person, one vote, but people with wealth have much more lobbying power in Washington than any average American could dream of. But in addition to unequal influence, there is no free market because of the very simple fact that capitalism does not function well without regulation. In the absence of proper checks and balances, capitalism behaves like a parasite, consuming its host (in this case, the entire nation’s well-being), until there is nothing left. We know what happens when we ignore this. We are told need to leave everything up to the “invisible hand” of the free market, but every time we do, we end up with economic bubbles where a few fat cats amass amazing wealth, while the rest of us tread water at best. And then when the bubble bursts, everyone but those fat cats faces a new harsh reality.
So why do people defend this? Why do people have a visceral reaction when we point out the failings of our economic system? Why do some average middle class Americans assume the worst in the people who get left behind, and defend the wealthy powers benefitting from the status quo?