Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
If you really want to start an argument about fundamentals of U.S. identity, forget the predictable and stale “my dog’s better than your dog” (even though the dog and we have the same master) Duopoly games. Instead, question the claims of a class-less, “all men are created equal” society; question the claims of capitalism and our corporate culture; question, in other words, the way Occupy and related movements are doing.
What follows are thoughts from people doing some of that kind of questioning. Agree or not with the analysis, or with conclusions, the fact that the questions are being asked is essential. And doing it for a little over six months (the life of the Occupy movement) without changing the System is much less a sign of a weakness of the movement than it is of the entrenched, unlimited financing, Corporate / Duopoloy / 1% System. Along, of course, with the fact that lots of non-1% people really, really, really don’t want to question a System that is so fundamental to how they define themselves as U.S. citizens.
There are many philosophical justifications for favoring the wealthy and powerful. The Gospel of Wealth, Social Darwinism, Manifest Destiny, God’s Will and ‘trickle-down economics’ are but a few of the rationales … (which) assert the inherent superiority of those who are wealthy, powerful and privileged by appropriating God, Destiny, Darwinism or Capitalism in a profoundly self-serving manner. …
Pointing out such things will, of course, not go unchallenged. In Stemming the tides of protest:
As the living conditions of ordinary people inevitably worsen under capitalism and as its wars cause increasing devastation, tides of protest rise up from the population. The ruling elite then seek to stem these tides before they reach flood state.
The role of giant corporations in US and world economies is, of course, a key factor. At AlterNet:
Historically, corporations were understood to be responsible to a complex web of constituencies, including employees, communities, society at large, suppliers, and shareholders. But in the era of deregulation, the interests of shareholders began to trump all the others. How can we get corporations to recognize their responsibilities beyond this narrow focus? It begins in remembering that the philosophy of putting shareholder profits over all else is a matter of ideology which is not grounded in American law or tradition.
For the past three decades, top executives have been rewarding themselves with mega-million dollar compensation packages while American workers have suffered an unrelenting disappearance of middle-class jobs. … As the Occupy Wall Street movement has recognized, concentration of income and wealth of the top ‘1 percent’ leaves the rest of us high and dry.
How well is all of this working for the Corporatists? U.S. Corporations are sitting on an all-time-record $3.6 trillion in cash:
Corporate America’s $3.6 trillion behemoth pile is not a sign of success, it’s a sign of failure. It’s a sign that policymakers and regulators have abdicated their role as ‘free market’ referees and simply thrown in the towel giving the deep-pocket guys everything they want.
And how well is it working for the “99%”? Bank ‘Persons’ Preferred Over American Citizens:
Between 2006 and 2008 the collapse destroyed nearly $12 to $13 trillion of household and nonprofit organization assets or net worth. … Then ‘job creators’ destroyed 8.5 million jobs between December 2007 and December 2010 … .
And by the way, even among those at the top, things aren’t equitable: Study: Corporations Pay Women CFOs 16 Percent Less Than Men.
Robert Reich looks at what’s happening, and asks, Whose Recovery?:
Luxury retailers are smiling. So are the owners of high-end restaurants, sellers of upscale cars, vacation planners, financial advisors, and personal coaches. For them and their customers and clients the recession is over. The recovery is now full speed.
But the rest of America isn’t enjoying an economic recovery. It’s still sick. Many Americans remain in critical condition. …
And at the NY Times, Steven Rattner states, “The Rich Get Even Richer.” Read it for details, but one stat: In 2010, the bottom 99% averaged an $80 increase in pay (adjusting for inflation). At the 1% top, the 11.6% increase was $1,019,089.
If you’re interested in how some of those at the top spend their increasing incomes, check out 10 Most Obscene Lifestyles Choices of America’s 1% Elite.
That corruption is a part of all this is so well-known it’s easily ignored, or simply accepted as a fact of life. One example of asking questions, though, is in Congress and Legalized Corruption.
As long as the “legalized corruption” continues, there’s no reason to think things will significantly improve for the 99%. In Capitalism in US runs dry, economics professor Richard Wolff responds to the question, “Where do you think the US economy is right now?”:
The crisis that was bad in the US, then became bad somewhere else (in Europe), is heading back to America to give us as many problems now as we see the Europeans having, but we will have them a little bit later. …
(“Evil Corporation” Flag via Addicting Information)