How is it that while we demonize North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, the Europeans tell pollsters we ‘re the demons?
I think the answer may lie in a debate we’re not having. We’ve come to see democracy and capitalism as synonymous, but it may be that only a certain kind of capitalism, the kind we don’t have, is compatible with democracy.
I think the corporados who are gleeful about the growing gap between the rich and the poor—gleeful that they don’t have a smart and well-off middle class to contend with—are driving an agenda that is not wholly good for the American republic.
They regard our superb military as a business support group. They regard our government as a convenient disguise for what is in effect a corporate oligarchy. They don’t give a fig for civil rights, medical care, education, or the pursuit of happiness. They have a slaveholder’s mentality.
Did we prevail over godless communism for such godless capitalism?
Didn’t we suppose that we would all in some way share the prosperity?
In the 1970s some thirty-five percent of our labor force was unionized, but even then some of us noticed that in labor-management disputes the press never raised the question of defining a moral profit margin. I think that omission foreshadowed the kind of greed-driven public policy we are pursuing today.
Google is a fine gauge of the Zeitgeist. When you Google “profit margin” you come up with all kinds of technical definitions, but you don’t come up with our mouthy preachers and politicians talking about how much of the profit should be shared with wage earners. Preacher and politician alike go on and on about abortion, homosexuality and family values, but why isn’t sharing the nation’s wealth one of those values? I’m not talking about communism, I’m talking about human decency. I’m talking about finding ways for all of us to have decent lives, not just inside traders and mortgage con artists. Where is the moral indignation about screwing the middle class and the poor?
If our definition of a corporate profit margin is “all the corporate officers can get and to hell with the shareholders, the employees and the environment,” then democracy as we have envisioned it all these years is not compatible with the kind of capitalism we practice. If the corporate officials get everything and the shareholders and employees get less and less, we will have surrendered the republican ideal to piratical capitalism.
If that is what Teddy Roosevelt knew and what Dwight Eisenhower warned us against, why have the lies about trickle-down prosperity fooled us? The only thing that is trickling down is injustice and fraud.
Djelloul (Del) Marbrook was the editor of six daily newspapers and held editorial posts on several major metropolitan dailies. He is the winner of the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize of Kent State University whose press will publish his book, Far From Algiers, next fall. For more information www.djelloulmarbrook.com or www.myspace.com/delmarbrook.