It’s About Money – We Don’t See It
Ted Folkert – August 15, 2018
As we observe ourselves, our activities, and everyone with whom we come into contact each day we don’t really see the big picture, the picture of all the people on the planet, the picture of the economy in which we all operate, how it operates, how it affects each of us and each segment of society, what makes it function to generate production, supply and demand, and the marketplace for goods and services. And we don’t see how we are directly affected by these factors and how it all fits into a long term, stable existence.
We don’t see how pricing is established and we don’t see the outcome of all the participants in the day-to-day workings of the marketplace. We are taught to believe that prices are decided in the marketplace by ready, willing, and able buyers and ready, willing, and able sellers. Well, that obviously is the case sometimes and has its effect, but such pricing decisions are more often not the case.
We don’t see the mass movement of profits and incomes being garnered by the decision makers in industry. We don’t see the collusion transpiring among the producers, the merchants, and the corporate hierarchy. We don’t see the massive increases in corporate managers’ and executives’ salaries, bonuses, and other financial benefits and how those factors affect pricing. We don’t see how political power is manipulated to limit production and competition, or how it enables establishment of assured profit margins and sustained preferential pricing for corporate powers-that-be.
With the continuing demise of workers’ rights and collective bargaining, and the continuing tighter grasp of the business leaders as they strive to make quarterly estimates of earnings to keep their stock value on the upward trend and thus help to keep them in control of their lucrative positions, the workers continue to lose ground and management and ownership continues to gain an ever-growing control of the economy. Income for wage earners declines and that of management continues to rise. Like playing poker with a stacked deck against professional opponents with unlimited resources, clinging to life with every hand dealt, realizing that the odds are unfavorable at best and without equitable recourse.
My hope is that I will be labeled accurately as whiner, a naysayer, and a paranoid schizophrenic sooner rather than later, and that our economic process proves to be fair and equitable and the best possible system in a democratic society which will endure for generations to come. But I don’t believe that will be the case, otherwise this discourse would be unnecessary.
It is easy for our governing bodies and individuals to profess their concern with injustice in economic fairness and their dedication to correcting abusive financial dealings that adversely impact those without economic power. Just today we read that the abusive lending practice applied to those who need help the most has “perhaps” been altered by law to be less abusive. The unconscionable interest rates as high as 135% annually have been challenged by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resulting in the California Supreme Court declaring that rates can be unconscionable and that they are in violation with California law. However, any decision regarding “conscionable” rates was not determined as the case is returned to the lower court. So, it seems the borrowers are still in limbo and at risk of having no source of emergency lending to meet financial obligations of everyday life. And, of course, this applies to those who need help the most – another tax on the poor supported by government leaders under the influence of their campaign funders.
Like Voltaire is quoted as having said: “if they say it isn’t about money, it’s about money.”
Unfortunately, the “War on Poverty” created by Lyndon Johnson in 1964 has now been converted by the GOP to a war on the poor. The members of the GOP are diligently destroying the social safety nets created by the New Deal and the Great Society. After Johnson’s war on poverty the percentage of those in poverty decreased for 22% to 11%. Over the last 40 years that number has rebounded significantly, a factor that the GOP is willing to ignore as they protect and enhance the income of the rich and powerful.
Sasha Abramsky in her Los Angeles Times article tells us that income inequality in America is as extreme as it has been since the Gilded Age (1920s) and that 1.5 million Americans live on incomes of under $2 a day. Tens of thousands live in the streets, which is evidenced every day in downtown Los Angeles as well as many other U.S. cities. She tells us that one in six or seven live below the poverty line, a vastly higher percentage than most other developed countries. Some live without running water in their homes. Some Walmart workers qualify for food stamps. People are bankrupted by medical bills. Some refuse medical care due to lack of funding.
And all the while the rich and powerful individuals and corporations are handed billions of dollars of tax-cuts for which they have no need.
If there was ever time when we need to register and vote, it is now.
Think about it!