5 Ways a Winner-Take-All Corporate-Ruled System Destroys Democracy
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
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.
Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.
- 10 Little-Known Shark Facts - EcoWatch ›
- 4 New Walking Shark Species Discovered - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Incredible Species That Glow in the Dark - EcoWatch ›
FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.
- Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? - EcoWatch ›
- Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High Despite Lockdowns, UN ... ›
- 1.8 Billion Tons More Greenhouse Gases Will Be Released, Thanks ... ›