In a recent story in the venerable Cracked (which I generally adore, by the way), I ran across this paragraph and got my little danders up:
Hating capitalism is not on the table. This is America. Capitalism defines our history, our economy, and our national psyche And the purpose of this protest cannot be a naive attempt to change the very souls of American businesspeople. To punish businesses for their greed. It’s the wrong message and counterproductive. Call me jaded, but I thought we all just took it for granted that businesses are amoral creatures driven by profit. Being enraged at Corporate America for being greedy is like reading Cracked.com and being enraged by its use of the list format. This is who we are.
I’m constantly bemused but really always annoyed by variants of this claim I just read in Crack’d:
Why punish the greedy bankers?
Maybe it’s the fact that the question is a distraction. It’s a ruse, meant to frame complex issues into bloody solutions.
Maybe it’s the sheer hypocrisy of the statement. After all, rarely do the same people argue that we shouldn’t punish immigrants for jumping a fence and an arbitrary border to allow their families to survive and give their kids a chance in life. Sort of akin to this:
Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m a moralist and supposedly, so are those who usually argue this point. Many are Christians. The Cracked writer self-identifies as a liberal. And yet the very question is antithetical to two basic tenets of Christianity and liberalism.
- Sharing is good.
- Greed is bad.
Any economical, political, and social system based on greed is one that deprives the majority of basic needs.
And while the rich can afford mansions, the shrinking middle class increasingly steal away into gated communities, and the noveau-rich try out sampler McMansions, those of us who question the system are patronized like children.
“But you can’t say what they should and should not make, nor what they should or can buy with those. Besides, they work hard for their money.”
I know many families scrunch together in one measly apartment. We have personally taken in people who would otherwise be homeless for various periods of time, partially because the housing laws and practices are unfair for those with bad credit. But also because people were in between jobs, or were treated unjustly by the system, or recently divorced.
Yet tons of acres of land are currently unused in the barrios and ghettos that could be turned into affordable or sustainable housing, or community gardens and even farms, but landowners don’t want to give up temporary rights.
Families were foreclosed on their homes – even if they were making their mortgages – when the bubble burst. Even though they invested in their properties and lived in them and were finally settling into a place of their own they were told was theirs by the very people who would forcibly take it from them, they were out on the streets and lost their investment.
And their homes.
Let’s view it from another perspective, though. One-fourth of all jobs in the US now pays enough to qualify as poverty-level or below. That is one out of every four jobs that the typical American could have – from the shrinking few that are available – is making less money than necessary to survive on, under an old rubric that needs to change.
The old rubric of poverty is based on food. Because food was a much more expensive portion of the typical American family’s budget, it was estimated to be a third of the monthly cost of living. And that is what the rubric of the poverty level is based on: How much would it cost an American family to sustain themselves on emergency food – and then multiply that by three. Which may be a fine way to still describe who qualifies for federal or state aid, but it’s completely disastrous if, say, it’s no longer relevant.
While the overall prices of food have largely stabilized and not moved much over the last thirty years or so (of course, we are dealing with that cost in other ways), the costs of housing and insurance have bloated far out of proportion. While food used to account for a third of the budget and housing roughly one-fourth, now food counts for a seventh of the typical budget while families are lucky to find a place to live that will only cost them a third of their intake. But at poverty levels, without subsidized housing it’s nearly impossible for a working class family to find safe housing – let alone housing that is easily accessible to their places of work (often, they are across town from their low-paying jobs) that costs anywhere near fifty percent of their wages.
And, again, we are in a recession. And the first cuts during a recession are to social programs of uplift. Programs that would help ease the financial burden of finding affordable housing. Oddly, the very programs that are most necessary during these very times for the most people. But, since those people don’t have access to the halls of power, more of those people are left under the burden of both food and living scarcity.
So, after their regressive payroll taxes are taken out, what little remains for a vast amount of working class Americans is chewed up between child care (if possible), food, clothes, car notes, gas to get them across the city to their low-paying jobs, and rent. Health care may not be an option because they aren’t wealthy enough to afford it and are considered too wealthy to go on Medicaid.
Everything is in a constant state of emergency for a third of US citizens.
This is unacceptable.
And frankly, I’m not interested in blaming landowners, or bankers, or even banks – as a whole (Some are guilty, for sure. But not all). I’m interested in dismantling a system.
An economic and political system that favors a few for the price of the many is an evil system. Greed is EVIL. It should not be the primary motivator of any system.
There are solutions, but I am under the conviction that it would mean changing our entire society’s values around.
To live more simply.
To truly have a love revolution of sharing.
To give control back to community.
To live off the earth and therefore employ everybody who is able to work.
It is called Localism. We’re continuing to talk about that, but I also want to talk about my possible run for a political seat.
My name is JasDye. And I will speak truth to power with the American people. Because, for most of us, the Rent Is Too Damn High.