Thursday, January 29, 2015

Amoral Capitalism or, So What Else is New?

With the vicissitudes of the stock market a given, and the world's economy still foundering in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-8, one inescapable fact has become highlighted in stark relief.

Capitalism, the engine of the world's economy, in democracies or in dictatorships, can no longer support the myth that it's unfettered application is the best engine for improving the well being of the people of the world. Capitalism has become a self sustaining, self protecting entity that is now used to funnel wealth to the one percent that control the levers of the world's economy, at the expense of poor and middle class people.

Capitalism has soundly beaten competing economic systems. Communism is only a memory now, alive in name only in a few dishonest countries now. Socialism is in constant danger of being (inevitably) subsumed by the gaping maw that is unrestrained capitalism.

The world is awash in crude oil supplies at the moment. Prices are plummeting, and lower gasoline prices are hailed as a "gift" for consumers. What does this odd and welcome turn of events show?

Let's look at the major players, and what the new status of oil supplies means. Crude oil, long the blunt weapon used by the countries of the Middle East to gouge the world for its oil and using the proceeds to supply aid and comfort and financial help to all manner of terrorists is dropping in value because of slower world demand and increased world supply.

The repressive and corrupt regimes of the Middle East face a very frightening future if they can no longer supply their own populations with the spoils of oil that they've become accustomed to. Political unrest and revolution won't be far behind if the dictators can't continue to buy off their terrorist clients or their soft and spoiled elites.

Russia and Venezuela, totally dependent on oil exports, face similar problems. Systemic corruption means that they will be unable to continue their attempts at enlarging their spheres of influence, and providing a domestic economy that is stable enough to support their own citizens. Russia's Putin, in particular, may find it exceedingly difficult to justify foreign adventures, like Ukraine, to a population that is experiencing the recessionary effects of lower oil income.

Iran, enemy of Israel, and crude oil dependent, could find it harder to cope with sanctions from the west and dwindling oil revenue.

This all sounds like a happy set of circumstances, a win-win situation for the United States.

Well, not exactly. Setting aside the environmental effects of cheap oil, and the pressure it brings to bear on alternative energy technologies, the are major segments of the U.S. economy that will be suffering as well.

With the globalization of state economies over the past few decades, multi-national corporations have arisen to the top of the economic heap. These corporations have less and less allegiance to any one country, and the only ideology they recognize is increasing their profits, at any and all costs.

It's a disheartening situation when the same set of circumstances that challenge the petro-dictators of the middle east and the nuclear dictators of Russia, also serve to weaken the balance sheets of what used to be American companies, like Exxon Mobil, Ford, Walmart or Boeing. When stocks on the New York Stock Exchange decline because one time US companies are suffering from reduced global demand, and may impact the domestic US economy as a result, we are left to conclude only one thing.

The Capitalism that thrives when dictators thrive, that recedes when these global players decline, is not operating from a moral position. If the fortunes of US based companies depend on wars, confrontation, refugee displacement, and international corruption, how can this country continue to allow these corporate structures to continue as is?

It's time for this society to wake up to this reality and begin to reign in these amoral corporate entities and regulate them in a way that is aligned with the principles that this country was founded upon.

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