anyone ever tells you to support free market capitalism
and oppose regulation of corporations, make sure you think
long and hard before you respond. Think
even longer if you are tempted to respond “Okay.”
Ayn Rand theory of “letting the free market police itself”
has been criticized for decades. It’s been lauded by conservatives
and demonized by progressives. Where qualified judgments
are to be made are in the fact-based evidence. In a civilized
democracy like the United States, the common
good is the determinate factor of how we execute free market
market capitalism consists of a free-price system where
supply and demand are allowed to reach their point of equilibrium
without intervention by the government. Productive enterprises
are privately-owned, and the role of the state is limited
to protecting property rights.
course, I am of the mind that every existing entity that
is set up as a for-profit entity to sell and trade products
and/or services to the general public, should be subject
to oversight and accountability. That methodology works
for the common good. In contrast, there are those who believe
that regulation of markets is overbearing and an affront
to the concept of free market capitalism. Those in the contrasting
camp are the ones destroying this country.
we have allowed “the market to police itself,” it has failed
to do that very thing. It runs wild - and costs the American
working class an arm and a leg. From Enron’s price collusion
schemes - a violation of one of capitalism’s chief tenets
- to the April 2010 West Virginia coal mine disaster, in
which the owners skirted government regulations to maximize
profits and consequently caused the largest mining disaster
in U.S. history, I know that unbridled capitalism kills
(it dashes hopes, dreams, aspirations). And, let’s not forget
the BP oil spill…the capitalist principle of laissez faire
- to leave alone - allowed BP to bypass safety regulations,
causing the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.
corporate CEOs to be paid exorbitant salaries has been a
major cause of employee layoffs. A chief executive officer
of a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index company was
paid, on average, $9.25 million in total compensation in
the same time, millions of workers in that company, and
others like it, lost their jobs, their homes and their retirement
savings in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
pay has taken center stage since the $700 billion government
bailout of financial institutions. Americans expressed outrage
as big banks helped create the financial crisis, took billions
in taxpayer bailouts, paid out billions in pay and bonuses
and are now lobbying against financial regulatory reform.
But people still support capitalism.
theory is that people have embraced the “Oprah Dream.” That
is, they will work as hard as they can, be compensated accordingly
and get rich in the process. What they fail to realize is
that in a country of 330 million people, the number of U.S. households with
a net worth of $1 million or more - excluding wealth derived
from a primary residence - is 7.8 million as of last year.
That comes to just over 2% of the entire U.S.
population. Most of the millionaires that Black people know
are singers, talk show hosts, politicians and athletes.
Simply put, if it can’t run, jump or act, you’re a worker
bee. The “Oprah Dream” is just a dream.
not discouraging anyone from dreaming, but what I am saying
is that in an overtly racist country, the “Oprah
Dream” is unrealistic when working class people
- the overwhelming majority of U.S. residents - must fight
for access to equal education, more affordable housing,
and the right to collectively bargain for wages and benefits
(don’t forget the unemployment rate is just under 9%). Currently,
14.3% of all Americans live below the poverty rate. That’s
beside the fact that over 25% of this country’s Blacks and
Hispanics live in poverty. “Getting Oprah” is a sliver of
all should profit from the production of our economy.
Many of us put our money in Bank of America (BOA) accounts.
BOA makes money off our deposits. The tellers make between
$9-$14/hour dealing with the ground-floor customer, yet
BOA CEO Thomas Montag made $29,930,431 in total compensation in 2009.
Many of us struggle to fill up our gas tanks, as gas is
averaging $3.67/gallon. There’s no oil shortage and ExxonMobil
profits rose 53% or $9.25 billion - on our backs! Its CEO’s
recent annual salary was between $22-$25 million. Capitalism
works…if you’re the one capitalizing.
those facts in mind, we cannot continue to act like crabs
in a barrel, clawing at each other, as we race for the imaginary
top. The system is designed to keep the privileged class
in the top percentile of wealth holders. This is a product
of capitalism. Every now and then, they’ll create an Oprah.
This equation will only change if the masses of Americans
are properly educated on the topic, but those that benefit
from capitalism are the ones who approve the lesson plans.
Their well is tainted. We must get our information from
a different source. In the meantime, don’t drink the kool-aid
’cause capitalism kills.
Redd, is the former Executive Director of
the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of
the on-line commentary, “The
Other Side of the Tracks.” He is the host of the internet-based
talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC.
here to contact Mr.