A Rock and A Hard Place

At heart, I seem to be a Socialist.  If hearing this sets off alarm bells, please bear with me.  I define “Socialism” as “Free Enterprise with a Conscience.”

Conservatives say Liberal social programs kill individual initiative.  I agree.  Arguably, to survive too many lower middleclass and poor Americans depend on unemployment checks, subsidized housing, Social Security, food stamps, and other government programs.  Farther down the income scale this is more apparent. 

At the same time, buried in arcane legalese and regulations a host of schemes and grafts exclusively benefit the rich.  Precious few of us know of the handouts thousand-dollar-and-hour lawyers, shrewd MBA’s, lobbyists, and legislators have crafted to ensure that the fortunate five percent do very well indeed!  Tax breaks and loopholes allow millionaires, billionaires, and billion-dollar corporations to minimize and dodge taxes, leaving an overstressed middle class to pick up the tab. 

An unarticulated corollary to the Conservative view is the poor need various forms of government welfare because they are innately stupid and lazy.  As I see it, the money we “earn” and have is decisively determined by where we draw that first breath!

As a kid, I sometimes felt overworked and underappreciated.  Today, I see how incredibly lucky I was!  I was born to hardworking people in a hardworking culture; I learned to work!  Born in East L.A., Southside Chicago, as one of 50% unemployed on our 326 Indian Reservations, physically or mentally handicapped, who would I be today?  Food stamps, subsidized housing, on the street, in a gang, prison, dead?  

In my meager understanding, Socialism encourages Free Enterprise while looking after those who, mostly through no fault of their own, cannot “earn” their way in the marketplace.

Under Capitalism financial profits must always prevail.  Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, corporations maximize profits while appearing to serve their consumer’s and society’s “general welfare.”  Those who doubt this, don’t understand Capitalism, don’t believe in Capitalism, or lie.

Of uncounted examples of Capitalism putting profit over people, two: First, Big Tobacco’s putting profit above public health, at enormous social costs is open and notorious.  From “42 Facts About How Smoking Effects Your Health,” a couple: Smoking is America’s leading cause of preventable death, disease, and disability.  Smoking costs America $300 billion a year for medical care and lost productivity.  And 40 more.  Questions?

Second: Before a Senate subcommittee, former Facebook data scientist and whistleblower Frances Haugen cited internal company documents revealing, among other facts, Facebook curries young users despite knowing of detrimental impacts their health, sows division and undermines democracy in pursuit of “astronomical profits,” executives misstated and omitted key details about what was known regarding Facebooks and Instagram’s ability to cause harm!   

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