Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Casino Economy. . .

Today, in response to a question, the interim leader of the NDP vaguely floated the idea of capping the salaries of CEOs in private corporations. Needless to say, rightwingers jumped on the idea and branded it some kind of crazy communist notion. It is, of course, not a particularly radical idea. In theory, we cap the minimum salary in our society to ensure that no one is too poor; it is not a wild idea that we could cap the upper end of salaries to ensure that no one is too rich. Now even though I don't agree with the rightwingers that this idea is radically leftwing, I agree that it is not a particularly substantive idea. Such a move would do little or nothing to actually address the real problems of poverty and inequality in society and would largely be a purely optical policy.

But the rightwing has bigger problems when we, as a society, begin to talk about issues of poverty, inequality, and a democratic deficit. The problems are that a) the rightwing, generally speaking, doesn't actually want to address these issues. Rightwingers are generally ignorant enough to believe that the inequalities in society are a result of a meritocracy and that these inequalities reflect what is basically a real inequality between people's value and abilities. Thus attempting to address these inequalities is perceive, by many on the right, to be morally objectionable. People's wealth, they figure, reflects their ability and therefore, that is the way it should be. b)the continuation of policies that ensure corporate wealth and maintain a system whereby the wealthy are the only ones that can get decent educations continues a system of inequality that the right basically believe should exist. c) The rightwing is entirely aware that any real moves toward genuine democracy would undermine the social and economic relations that they hope to maintain. and, perhaps most importantly, d) any solution that we offer in public discourse, no matter how modest, that attempts to deal with a society of radical inequality will be condemned by the right as a wacko, leftwing, nutbar idea.

The fact is that capping CEO salaries will do little to address our social problems. We live in a society where large corporations earn billions in profit while paying little or no tax. This is true of the US, Canada, and most of the Western world. And while they earn billions and billions in profit, more and more people are falling into poverty, unemployment, underemployment, and complete desperation. The only way to address this issue is to force corporations wherever they operate to pay proper taxes and reinvest in communities. Furthermore, we need to begin to put an end to currency speculation and market futures. We need to tax all financial transactions (the so-called Tobin Tax) and bring the casino economy to an end. Then we need to invest properly in education so that everyone has a good chance to enrich their life and create a guaranteed income program. Though this list is not exhaustive, it is only through such efforts that the inequality that has inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement will begin to be solved. But for all the rightwing condemnation of the NDP and its radical solutions, none of these things are even on the table. But just as the ignorance and arrogance of the French Aristocracy led to the Revolution in 1789, so the ignorance and arrogance of today's capitalist elite will lead to conflagration.

The reality is that our society has become like a person addicted to gambling with all the same negative effects on a grand scale. Its time to put a stop to the massive system of legalized gambling and create a society which serves all of our needs. Pure and Simple.

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