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A Dream Deterred: The False Lure of Capitalism

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

November 30, 2010

By Perry Redd

The dream is still alive.  Not the American Dream…that died years ago with the attack on Affirmative Action movement.  Not Martin Luther King’s dream…that died with the re-invent of conservatism with the Republican Revolution of 1994.  I’m talking about the on-going, never-dying dream of capitalism: making as much money as you can and getting rich in the process.

So why do people chase the dream of capitalism?  Glad you asked…let’s first define it.  The proper definition might be “an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.”

The up-side with capitalism is that everyone is a participant, but the problem with it is that not everyone is a beneficiary.  Means of production and distribution are controlled by a select and exclusive few, then it can’t be an all-inclusive system.  Let me share a parable: Someone must be the mule, and someone must be the mule driver.  It’s not like a football team where there are trade-offs.  A quarterback gets all the glory, but the linemen make that glory come to be; in contrast, linemen don’t get sacked, and they also don’t have to put their passes on target every throw.  But in the end, everyone gets to enjoy the championship trophy.  In capitalism, the owner or controller of the means of production and distribution takes the risk of investing and possibly losing his/her profits, the line worker doesn’t have those worries.  In contrast, the owner will drive the shiny new Mercedes-Benz and the line worker drives the repair-prone GM car—but the line worker doesn’t have to pay outlandish insurance costs either!  So, it’s a fair trade off, right?  Wrong!

Don’t get it twisted, no one wants to be relegated to choosing between the clunker and the repair-prone GM product (which might be one in the same).  The worker doesn’t have the luxury of choosing the Mercedes.  They can work hard as they damned-well please, but they won’t own the means of production.  Working hard has virtually little to do with prospering within the systemic confines of capitalism.  To gain true wealth within capitalism takes substantial investment capital, which 99-out-of-100 Americans don’t have. 

That’s why in the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth.  How do you think they got that 34% of the entire country’s fiscal resources, hard work?  Hell naw…it came chiefly through inheritance.  Those that have great access to resources do what primal creatures do: pass it down to those whom they spawn.  The only hard work was making those babies!

The second most prevalent means of gaining that 34% is based upon who you know.  Close relationships are how people get access to the most coveted resources.  It’s better know as gang mentality or clanship.  Whether a fraternity/sorority, a trade association or a Masonic lodge, people who clique get access to the resources.  All else are left out.

Sure, there is the middle-class, but neither do they control the means of production; leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers) to fight over. That’s no dream…actually, it’s a nightmare.  So, with that said, all that chase after a dream wake up wet.  The run is exhaustive.  You must re-define the mission and the definition.  Kill those that manufacture false hopes.  Decimate those who purvey bogus antedotes of success.  The scales are not equal, nor are they designed to be.  An Oprah Winfrey, a Michael Jordan or a Tyler Perry are one in a million.  There are hundreds of thousands who talk well, jump high and write creatively, but their dreams remain deterred by the lying monster called capitalism.

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