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The extremist cult of capitalism

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  • Romi Elnagar
    The Extremist Cult of CapitalismBy Paul Buchheit (about the author)        OpEdNews Op Eds 1/21/2013 at 13:10:59 opednews.com A cult, according to
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2013
      The Extremist Cult of CapitalismBy Paul Buchheit (about the author)       
      OpEdNews Op Eds 1/21/2013 at 13:10:59


      A 'cult,' according to Merriam-Webster, can be defined as
      "Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work..(and)..a
      usually small group of people characterized by such devotion."
      Capitalism has been defined by adherents and detractors: Milton Friedman
      said, "The problem of social organization is how to set up an
      arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that
      kind of a system." John Maynard Keynes said, "Capitalism is the
      astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most
      wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."

      Perhaps it's best to turn to someone who actually practiced the art:
      "Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class." Al Capone
      said that. 

      Graffiti on Factory for Sale (flickr image By Ann Douglas)

      Capitalism is a cult. It is devoted to the ideals of privatization
      over the common good, profit over social needs, and control by a small
      group of people who defy the public's will. The tenets of the cult lead
      to extremes rather than to compromise. Examples are not hard to find.

      1. Extremes of Income

      By sitting on their growing investments, the  richest five Americans  made almost $7 billion each in  one  year. That's $3,500,000.00 per hour. The minimum wage for  tipped workers  is $2.13 per hour.

      Our unregulated capitalist financial system allows a few
      well-positioned individuals to divert billions of dollars from the needs
      of society. If the 400 richest Americans lumped together their  investment profits  from last year, the total would pay  in-state tuition and fees  for  EVERY college student  in the United States.

      2. Extremes of Wealth

      The combined  net worth  of the world's 250 richest individuals is more than the total annual living expenses of  almost half the world  - three billion people.

      Within our own borders the disparity is no less shocking. For every one dollar of assets owned by a  single black or Hispanic woman , a member of the Forbes 400 has over  forty million dollars . That's equivalent to a can of soup versus a mansion, a yacht, and a private jet. Most  of the Forbes 400 wealth has accrued from nonproductive capital gains. It's little wonder that with the exception of Russia, Ukraine, and
      Lebanon, the U.S. has the highest degree of  wealth inequality  in the world.

      3. Extremes of Debt

      Up until the 1970s U.S. households had virtually  no debt . Now the total is  $13 trillion , which averages out to $100,000 per American family.

      Debt appears to be the only recourse for 21- to 35-year-olds, who have lost, on average, 68% of their median net worth  since 1984, leaving each of them about $4,000.

      4. Extremes of Health Care

      A butler in black vest and tie passed the atrium waterfall and entered
      the $2,400 suite, where the linens were provided by the high-end bedding
      designer Frette of Italy and the bathroom glimmered with polished
      marble. Inside a senior financial executive awaited his  'concierge' doctor  for private treatment.

      He was waiting in the  penthouse suite  of the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

      On the streets outside were some of the  26,000 Americans  who will die this year because they are without health care. In 2010,  50 million Americans  had no health insurance coverage.

      5. Extremes of Justice

      William James Rummel  stole $80 with a credit card, then passed a bad check for $24, then
      refused to return $120 for a repair job gone bad. He got life in
      prison.  Christopher Williams  is facing over 80 years in prison for selling medical marijuana in
      Montana, a state which allows medical marijuana. Patricia Spottedcrow
      got 12 years for a $31 marijuana sale, and has seen her children only
      twice in the past two years. Numerous elderly Americans are in  prison for life  for non-violent marijuana offenses.

      Banking giant HSBC, whose  mission statement  urges employees "to act with courageous integrity" in all they do, was  described  by a U.S. Senate report as having "exposed the U.S. financial system
      to 'a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist
      financing'" in their dealings with  Mexico's Sinaloa cartel , which is considered the deadliest drug gang in the world.

      HSBC  received a fine  equivalent to four weeks' profits. The bank's CEO said, "we are profoundly sorry."

      In the words of Bertrand Russell, "Advocates of capitalism are very apt
      to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in
      one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of
      tyranny over the unfortunate."

      Accurate to the extreme.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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