I’m a Capitalist. I’m probably one of the biggest Capitalists you know. I want a boat, a bigger house and I’d like to make money hand over fist so that I can spend, without worry, on fast cars and bling.
And if my capitalist dreams ever come true….I won’t change one word of what I’m saying today about the market, regulations and the necessity of containing the greed, corruption and selfishness that are inevitable byproducts of a free market.
Someone said to me recently that “the liberal economic model has taken over the United States” yet, over the past 30 years the divide between rich and poor has grown to be the largest it’s ever been. The top 10% have increased their holdings by over 250%; the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans has been reduced by nearly 55% since Eisenhower; and Capital Gains have been reduced by 80%. Who’s winning and who’s losing again?
If they were talking about the “neoliberal economic model” (neoliberal economics are not social “liberalism”) they would be right, but we know that they’re not. The truth is that the liberal model, based on “trickle UP” to create the consumerism that propels capitalism forward, has been losing for decades to the conservative model that believes that wealth accumulation at the top trickles down to create more prosperity at the bottom. Neoliberal economics planted that seed 40 years ago and became embedded in our economic policy under Reagan. The Great Recession of 2008 reveals the consequences of that trend.
“When has a poor person ever given you a job?” was the cute, and all too common, retort from my friend. Well…I guess the answer is never. My jobs have all been given to me by entrepreneurs who risked their money…I’m sorry….let me pause for a moment to swallow the vomit rising in my throat…
I can’t even pretend to give validity to that arrogant question. Their point, of course, is that we need to protect the upper class and give them the incentive to create and grow business so that we can have jobs.
This position reminds me of the relationship between Renfield and Dracula; if Renfield worships and protects him, Dracula promises to provide Renfield with an endless supply of blood.
(Wow! When I nail an analogy, I nail an analogy!).
It is without a doubt a sycophantic relationship. Incentives??!! Seriously?? Aren’t they protected and incentivized enough?
As I observe the wealthy class in America it appears that they must have been incentivized along the way pretty well and nicely rewarded by our financial system. But when I look again at their actual tax to income ratio and consider who buys the products that created or increased their wealth, it becomes all too clear that a different incentive must emerge.
WalMart isn’t a billion dollar corporation because rich people shop there; it is the middle class, the working class, that comprise 90% of America and consume the goods and services to create the wealth.
They are the ones that need to be incentivized and protected for our economic engine to keep running and to prosper.
That’s how Capitalism works.
Pause (deep breath)
I look at it this way…I am part of that dwindling Middle Class, but I am healthy, have great friends, and most importantly my kids are happy and safe. I am by the measure my father used in his life, a man with great riches and I don’t begrudge affluence at all, not one bit. I know how important financial success is to the system and, as I said, I’d love to be more affluent myself.
So, if that day comes when I can move into The Ridges and put a Bayliner in my third garage space, I will say, “Thank you America for providing the opportunity that I was able to capitalize upon. I will gratefully pay the taxes that our progressive system has asked of me so that our government can work toward an equitable distribution of resources for others who are less fortunate and who also fuel the engine that allows many others, like myself, to prosper. And thank you government for creating the programs that do the work that I have neither the time nor the ability to accomplish myself.”