Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

5 Ways a Winner-Take-All Corporate-Ruled System Destroys Democracy

Politics

We Americans have been deceived by the notion that individual desires preempt the needs of society—by the Ayn Rand/Reagan/Thatcher aversion to government regulation; by the distorted image of "freedom" as winner-take-all capitalism; by the assurance that the benefits of greed will spread downward to everyone.

We Americans have been deceived by the notion that individual desires preempt the needs of society. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Our current capitalist-driven inequalities will only be rectified when people realize that a strong community makes successful individuals, not the other way around.

Here are five of the ways we would benefit with a social democracy:

1. The Super-Rich Wouldn't Make Our Decisions for Us

Decisions about higher education should be made by everyone, with public tax dollars allocated in a democratic fashion. But our tax dollars have gone away. The Reagan-era "government is the problem" attitude led to dramatic tax cuts and a resulting decline in government funding for public universities. Instead of paying for all the societal benefits heaped upon them, billionaires keep getting richer—just 14 individuals making more than the entire federal education budget two years in a row.

As a result, as noted by Larry Wittner, "campus administrators, faced with declining income, are increasingly inclined to accept funding from wealthy individuals and corporations that are reshaping higher education to serve their interests." The Koch brothers have spent millions funding universities and stipulating the kind of education that should be provided.

We're left with philanthropy instead of democracy. The philanthropists, not we the people, are beginning to make these vital decisions. Said Charles Koch: "I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington."

Education is not the only area where we're losing control. Bill Gates' contribution of $2 billion toward alternative energy solutions is admirable, but energy decisions should be made by society as a whole, with tax money, through our (well-chosen) representatives, and with the complementary support of private investors. Gates himself admits, "DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] money is very well spent, and the basic-science money is very well spent. The government ... should get about four times as much money as they do."

2. We Wouldn't Spend So Much Money on Security for Rich People

Nationally, we spend more than $1 trillion per year on defense. Not just the half-trillion Pentagon budget, but another half-trillion for veterans affairs, homeland security, "contingency operations" and a variety of other miscellaneous military "necessities."

But that's not enough for the relative few at the top of our outrageously unequal society. The richest Americans build private fortresses to protect themselves from the rest of us, as they scoff at the notion of a 1950s-like progressive tax structure that would provide infrastructure funding for all of us.

3. We Wouldn't Give All the Credit for a Tech Product to One Person

In the extreme capitalist mind, Steve Jobs started with boxes of silicon and wires in a garage and fashioned the first iPhone. The reality is explained by Mariana Mazzucato:

"Everything you can do with an iPhone was government-funded. From the Internet that allows you to surf the Web, to GPS that lets you use Google Maps, to touchscreen display and even the SIRI voice activated system—all of these things were funded by Uncle Sam through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA, the Navy and even the CIA."

That's true of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk and every pharmaceutical CEO. They may be brilliant leaders, and they certainly deserve compensation for their roles, but the main accomplishment of each was to assemble the parts provided by years of public research.

4. Public Sentiment Would Prevail Over the Demands of Lobbyists

Society's needs are often ignored in our individual-oriented capitalist system. More than 90 percent favor laws on clean air and water, but Congress has proposed to weaken them. More than 90 percent want background checks for gun purchases, but the NRA constantly bullies more than 200 million Americans. And 80 percent of us want to take on Wall Street.

5. Our Jobs Wouldn't Be Held Hostage in Tax Havens

The great majority of Americans—including many millionaires—want to end overseas tax loopholes for corporations. But Fortune 500 companies ignore the rights of the public. They owe more than $600 billion in taxes on their tax haven hoardings.

That's a job for all 8 million unemployed Americans, at the nation's median salary of $36,000. For two years. But our greedy super-capitalist system allows much of society to be deprived of opportunities to work.

A Social Democracy

Social-oriented economic systems are not incompatible with small business entrepreneurship. In a social democracy, similar to those in Scandinavian countries, with elements of both capitalism and socialism intact, the worst abuses of a winner-take-all corporate-ruled system are avoided. The result is a land of opportunity. As Harvey J. Kaye put it, with supporting references to Thomas Paine, FDR, Martin Luther King and Bernie Sanders, "Social democracy is 100 percent American."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Stephen Colbert’s Hilarious Takedown of the GOP Debate

Hillary Clinton Calls for Federal Investigation of Exxon

12 Tweets Worth Noting on GOP Debate on Climate and Renewables

Paul Ryan’s Poisoned Chalice

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Critics charge the legislation induces poor communities to sell off their water rights. Pexels

By Eoin Higgins

Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.

Read More Show Less
People enjoy outdoor dining along Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach, California on July 8, 2020. Keith Birmingham / MediaNews Group / Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

California is reversing its reopening plans amidst a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Read More Show Less
A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less