Friday, December 31, 2010

Protecting Capitalism

In reading a review of a recent book by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on the subject of why the rich are getting richer, I note some interesting statistics. “In the past 40 years the average income of the top 5% of wage earners went up, while on the average everyone else’s income went down.” In other words there’s been a shift of wealth from those who do the work to those who are at the top end of the economic scale. To clarify the picture, the share of total income going to the top 1% of Americans has increased from 8% in 1960 to more than 20% today. Our economic system has caused a tremendous concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people to the detriment of the majority of people in America.

I am a capitalist. I believe in the capitalist system, that it works best to benefit a majority of the people. However, what I see happening given the statistics presented, is that our system of free markets is slowly eroding to the place where it will eventually be destroyed. It has come to my attention that our markets are no longer free. Some members of society have access to insider information while most of us who have small investments do not have that benefit. When the financially elite are free to raid the market, it is no longer a free market which is essential to a healthy capitalist based economy.

When one business entity is able to restrict others from entering the market, capitalism is weakened. For example, when Microsoft requires purchasers of its products to pledge not to use their competitors’ products, we no longer have a free market or true capitalism. When managers of investment banks make risky bets with other people’s money and get multimillion dollar bonuses even if their business fails, we no longer have a true capitalist system. In response the government tries to regulate and protect the ordinary investors from being victims of fraudulent behavior on the part of the bankers. The business community squeals in agony at such regulation.

Without question too much government regulation weakens our capitalist system. However, if government regulation seems oppressive just wait till you are caught in the clutches of corporate policy. There is no due process or free elections to throw the bums out when you’re dealing with an American corporation.

From my perspective, our capitalist system, which includes free and open markets, is the most beneficial to most of the people and is the reason why America is the most productive nation in the world. That is soon to disappear if left in the hands of corporate moguls who are bent on enriching themselves regardless of the effect on the rest of the nation. The one most important goal for our government in the new year is to find a method of protecting capitalism from the destructive behaviors of corporate America. If that can be achieved much of the rest of the nation’s needs will fall into place.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Reason for the Season

From my perspective, the tradition of Christmas celebration is an important aspect of American culture. However, Christians should remember that the reason for this season is to commemorate the birth of Christ who is the founder of our religion. I would suggest that we, His followers should give careful consideration to his teachings about how to react to other people. Reading the three chapters in the book of Matthew which document His famous Sermon on the Mount, one can hardly find justification for an in-your-face response to those who are nonbelievers and object to public observance of the religious holiday. There are specific instructions about turning the “other cheek,” loving our enemies, and even praying for those who treat us poorly.

Further, the depiction of the judgment day given in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s tome should be instructive to Christian believers. Here Christ identifies the things which are most important in terms of behavioral norms for the Christian. All of them have to do with how we treat other people, especially those who are at the lower end of the social scale. “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto Me,” is the standard to be applied on that fateful day. Some conservatives decry this as “social gospel,” and so it may be. However, any true Christian believer would be well advised to integrate this gospel in their daily lives.

Now, I’m not talking about anything related to politics or the Church, or any other organization. What I am suggesting is that true believers treat others as the Christ of Christmas has suggested. This is an individual mandate, more than one that’s to be carried out by the government or some other organization. It is the reason for this season that in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ we would be brought back to his basic teachings while He was here on earth. The world would be a much better place if more people would follow the tenets of Christianity as taught by Jesus.

Here is wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stockman Repudiates Reaganomics

In 1980 I made a feeble attempt to enter national politics when I was candidate for United States Congress in Michigan’s fourth Congressional District. My opponent, David Stockman, was very popular, well-financed, and had a national reputation as a congressman. It was a losing battle but I had a lot of fun and met a lot of interesting people. Stockman overwhelmed me in the election and soon afterwards was chosen by President Reagan to be his budget director. Stockman assisted in the development of the doctrine of Reaganomics. At the time I thought it was just voodoo economics as George Bush had claimed.

Imagine then my interest last night when Stockman was interviewed on national television. When asked about Reaganomics he surprised me by stating frankly, “it didn’t work.” When asked about the current situation especially regarding the Bush tax cuts Stockman said, “they should all be repealed.” “But,” asked the interviewer, “don’t tax cuts generate more revenue?” “No they don’t!” Stockman replied. That’s partly what’s responsible for getting us in the mess we’re in right now, he indicated.

So, there you have it. One of the architects of Reaganomics has repudiated the work of his own hands. He’s no flaming liberal, just a commonsense conservative. From my perspective, the conservatives who are attempting to impose their will in Washington should pay attention to what David Stockman has to say.