Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Elephant in the Room: Capitalism

The Justices of the United States Supreme Court Today (2015): Front Row, l-r,  Clarence Thomas,  Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Back row, from left, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan.
The economy. Income disparity. Spending. Taxes. The debt ceiling. Defense. Terrorism. Unemployment. Health care. Immigration. Education. The Environment.

The issues in the upcoming 2012 U.S. presidential election are legion. The dozen I’ve enumerated could be greatly expanded.
But, until the elephant in the room is acknowledged, there’s little-to-no chance that the United States and its people can move forward toward true prosperity.

The elephant in the room (in case you haven’t noticed) is capitalism.

Capitalism is a broken system. It simply doesn’t work in the long run. It can be modified, but it can’t be fixed.

Under capitalism as we know it, corporations are endowed with super powers. They are far more powerful than any citizen. The laws of incorporation grant corporations eternal life and protect their leadership from personal responsibility for their actions.

Today’s activist United States Supreme Court has sounded the death knell for capitalism by its Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission decision that corporations are “persons” who may spend a limitless amount of money to influence our elections in the name of “free speech” for these “persons.”

Corporations, of course, are not natural persons as our country’s founders clearly understood. Corporations, under law, are required to put profit above all else. As mentioned, corporations are eternal; natural persons are not eternal.

The biggest problem with capitalism is this: It requires that corporations put profits above all else -- and that is supported by corporate law. This means that if General Electric or Exxon or Bank of America makes $40 billion in profits this year they must (to keep increasing the value of their stock) make $50 billion next year and $60 billion the year after -- and on and on and on until they make $100 TRILLION and then even more the following year. This escalation of profits demands more and more mergers and acquisitions and is, ultimately, unsustainable! Corporate America will soon end up with ALL THE MONEY there is -- and nothing will be left for anyone else!

A movement is under way to amend the U.S. Constitution not to end capitalism but simply to reverse the present court’s outrageous decision. Amending the Constitution is a long and arduous task and fraught with roadblocks, but there have been precedents for success in such an endeavor.

A Constitutional convention would be another option, which I would oppose because of the likelihood that such an effort would be expanded to seek further amendments that would be detrimental to our democracy.

Still another possibility exists to correct the injustice forced upon us by the present politically biased Supreme Court. That is, the eventual presidential appointment of new Supreme Court justices – and their confirmation in the U.S. Senate – who recognize the disastrous consequences of the present court’s unwise decision.

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The Roberts Court, 2012 Above:
Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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