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The Days of Warm Prosperity

May 17, 2012

In the days of warm prosperity, it is rather a simple matter to accept as gospel all that you are told. After all, comfort and pockets filled with cash can do much to numb the senses narrowing the vision from our eyes. In those days, I was a happy and heartfelt democrat; I always held some sort of a naive faith in the political process, but as I’ve gotten older and poorer, that faith has evaporated, leaving behind the exposed brutal rocks of contradiction.

This is a common experience for us all, as well after; Bush vs. Gore, 9-11, Ohio 2004, Joe Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate for Pete’s sake. John Edwards was John Kerry’s running mate and those are just the Democrats. In a society denominated only by wealth, the bulk of that society is destined to be ignored, simply because there isn’t any real reason for the political class in Washington, to pay any attention, whatsoever to the populace. It is truly the last days of Rome as the public need is blithely ignored so that the political class might gorge themselves unreservedly.

Our political system is divided between two political parties, both fueled by the same monetary sources having evolved and degenerated into billionaires buying political office, credential only by their wealth. Take for example, One Willard (Mutt) Romney. Romney is the son of a two term Governor and millionaire auto executive. Every story, every revelation about this man child’s character reveals a picture of a prep school bully, a George W. Bush redux, with an over achieving and distant father. The over privileged prep school boy who can have anything he wants, except love and attention. The man child, like a tea kettle raging inside, who puts the mutt on the minivan because he doesn’t want dog hair on daddies expensive new shirt. “Don’t argue with daddy now, you’ll only make him angry.” He is a narcissistic personality, who holds no regard for anyone else’s feelings, save his own. This masterpiece of modern manhood is considered today as Presidential timber in the post industrial, post modern and post democratic America.

We are given a choice in our presidential elections of either being dropped in a volcano or being left naked at the North Pole. This we proudly proclaim to the world, as that American brand of democracy which we so wish to share with those poor third world unfortunates. Unfortunates who, minding their own business just don’t know any better, and forced to pay the price for their ignorance with American boots on their ground. A paid media spectacle, funded by big money for politicians who after having just raised this cash, must return it back into the pockets of mega media corporations, nothing more than a dog chasing its own tail. Faux issues, real wars, real hardship and real blood and treasure.

President Obama’s healthcare reform is nothing more than privatizing the health care system, a back stopping of an industry’s profit. You have doctors who invest their careers trying to heal the sick and who must work for … insurance companies. That is who pays them their wage; that is their piper calling their tune. This is capitalism, they work for those who pay them, and you pay the insurance company to cover your illness when you become sick. Control of a profit driven system has little to do with your illness. In the end its primary goal is to make a profit. Hospitals work for profit and they also work for the elimination of illness. They must purchase the latest big equipment for the largest big charges; and they provide services second to none. Only, fewer and fewer Americans are insured these days and able to afford them. Millions can no longer afford even minimal medical care and so the marble and steel palaces begin to tremble.

Monopolistic pharmaceutical companies develop drugs which don’t cure disease but simply maintain the patient on a drug for the rest of their lives. No different really, than a street corner drug peddler, looking to hook someone on a drug which will eventually destroy their lives and end their days. These drug companies use major universities to do research, major state universities. A privilege first offered to them to train students and to advance science. The drug companies fund university endowments for this privilege/influence. Endowments these drug companies use to justify their huge profits. As the old adage clearly illustrates, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Yet, our health care system spends that money on expensive end of life treatments, rather than on early life prevention. During WWII, Harry Truman was first motivated to work for National health insurance after being shocked by the numbers of American men failing draft physicals due to poor health. But what if, what if hypothetically, we had a preventive model and the maladies of ill health were reduced in our young and then passed on into our adult population? What would happen to those pharmaceutical sales? Who would fill those hospital beds in those marble palaces? In the capitalist system, does Budweiser really want you to know when to say when, or would they rather you drink up?

Why should a health care model be any different when there is less money to be made in prevention and there is no money for politicians who try to make that happen. In a capitalist system, only money matters, money and profits matter, people don’t. A socialized healthcare system without a profit motive radically changes the model entirely. Doctors in Britain’s National Health Service earn bonuses helping their patients to quit smoking or lose weight. Without profit as the goal it simply becomes a matter of improving health. All across this nation Paramedics and EMT’s sit in their ambulances waiting for the phone to ring. Under a socialized system, they could be treating minor injuries in clinics while waiting for the phone to ring as in the Cuban system.

We can’t even carry on a serious, honest discussion of these issues, before they’re hijacked, hyperbolized by well funded hubristic media potentates attached at the hip to the current system. Death panels, terrorist, terrorist, terrorist, necessary national security measures, the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security and this list goes on and on until what we fear most are those things designed to protect us. In the old Soviet criminal justice system, promotion and advancement were based solely upon the number and the severity of the charges and confessions. It created a system which incentivized employee misbehavior with confessions achieved by torture and brutality which could only escalate to maintain the system

After forty years of drug wars, outsourcing and globalization, American capitalism has created a permanent underclass in the US population. African American teenagers face an unemployment rate of 41.3 percent. The Initiative for Competitive Inner Cities reports inner city unemployment 20 percent higher; poverty levels one and a half times the rate of their region with median incomes half or less than half of their regions. Living in this capitalist wasteland what answer should we then expect to be devised by its political leadership?

Americans are imprisoned at the highest rate of any nation in the world. In the United States today, 1 out of every 142 Americans are now actually in prison, 1 out of every 32 of us are either in prison or on parole from prison. Mandatory sentences are forcing prison systems to provide health care for elderly inmates. There are close to 20,000 inmates working today in one hundred and nine Federal Prison Factories. These inmates make office furniture, clothing, electronics and metal products. They offer logistic services and assemble wiring harnesses for Patriot missile batteries. They supply products and services for The Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, Social Security and the General Services Administration.

“The growth of the BOP [Bureau Of Prisons] inmate population and the corresponding need to increase inmate employment while minimizing FPI’s effect on private labor and business continue to be FPI’s major challenge.” Federal Prison Industry – Report to Congress

Paying wages of up to $1.15 per hour, what actual motivation would there be to ever limit incarceration? Inmates are additionally tagged with Federal fines, meaning those workers actually earn only canteen money in a canteen run by? The growth of private, for profit state prisons hides the story from public scrutiny and releases it from public accountability further hiding abuses. In this capitalist system, the only goal of these prisons is to earn a profit. Obviously, there are only two possible means of achieving that end: either cutting the amount of support given to each inmate or by adding more prisoners. So lobbyists for this industry prowl the halls of Congress advocating for tougher sentencing. Not because it works or because it is necessary, but only to pad the bottom line.

Criminal justice becomes a profit center; there is an old business axiom which says: You’re either growing or shrinking; you can’t stay the same size. Imagine a justice system based on monetary profit, in an industry fueled on indentured prison labor and employing more workers than General Motors. The poor and disenfranchised impressed into service on the Government plantation. Add in, drug testing, DUI schools, court ordered divorce seminars, court fees, attorney fees and you have a profit driven justice system which works not for justice, but for profit.

We debate the affairs and practices of Wall Street but this is capitalism, this is how it operates, this is what it does. It sets up jungles of wolves and sheep, predators and prey and then builds a mechanism to monetize the process. It is the source of that which afflicts us today in this system of ours as the predators only get hungrier and the prey become unsustained. The well being of a whole people, of their overall success or failure is no longer even a serious consideration; thus creating a morbid society which advocates for war because that is where the money is. Without the wars, the inventories of tanks and guns can never be expended and without your children culled from the ranks of the working poor, there is no one to drive those tanks or to fire those weapons.

This is it, this is how capitalism operates. In a time of economic retrenchment the first things called for to be cut from the budget, are the needs of the people. It is our government telling us that it does not have the resources even to sustain its own people. It is Pharaoh telling us there is no grain in Pharaoh’s granary for us. In a time of economic distress government turns it back; nothing personal, it’s just business, it is just the way unfettered capitalism behaves. It’s an era of insanely bloated military budgets based on an insane world domination based strategy, laden with billions and gazillion dollar weapons systems that either don’t work or are far too valuable to risk. A multi trillion dollar toy store filled with museum pieces of horror, built upon the nightmares of the murderously insane. An every last dime of it, of those billions upon billions of dollars were spent to protect the capitalist system, a system so elegant in its design and so wonderful in its operation that it must be defended and enforced around the world at the point of a gun.

In the days of warm prosperity it is quite a simple matter to accept as gospel all that we are told. Easy enough, riding on the sunny quarter deck admiring the flags flutter, but to those in steerage there is only a dim porthole of life. It is oily, gritty and jarring being kept awake nights by the roar of the machinery.

“They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?” – Fidel Castro


David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, The Servants of Pilate.



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