There is Also No Accountability for Poor Decision Making
During my ten years of playing in the field of journalism, I’ve learned that most of what I do as a journalist is asking the question, “Why?”. I believe this is also the underlying principle of empirical research or scientific inquiry. It’s the essence of progress or reform from the present moment to what’s next. Can we settle on the status quo? No, we can’t. I believe this is confirmed by the Laws of Physics; I’m not a scientist, but I remember that a body in motion stays in motion. Also, the Buddha famously said, “All things in life are impermanent.” meaning that everything is changing. The Buddha was a student of suffering. He also asked, “Why do we suffer?” or “What is the root cause of suffering?” He was the son of a wealthy family; he was a prince and didn’t need to bother himself with foolish questions like this, but he was driven to find out, so he left the palace life to meditate.
This isn’t an article about Eastern Philosophy, but it could be. It’s about economics and politics, sociology, and planning for a society. As a few others have concluded, the system we built for U.S. citizens wasn’t really meant to be run by all of us to benefit us all; that would be a Democratic Socialist model like they have in Scandanavian countries. It was about a few wealthy white men who wanted to make the rules. The “we the people” part of the document was their marketing pitch to get farmers, immigrant workers, and peasants to agree that these men could be trusted to run things for all of us. The average citizen equated money with nobility and Godly reverence. “Only a man kissed by the Gods would have all that money, so they must be good and honest.” Not too far from that delusional belief was another Calvinistic belief that if we made good choices, worked hard, and trusted God, we too would be rewarded in this life and the everlasting one.
Capitalism Chosen by Wealthy Oligarchs
The problem was it was just propaganda. We had white men owning slaves working for nothing, building wealth for the few invested and passed down to their children. Immigrants worked long, hard hours for barely enough to survive. The working class was taken advantage of by the same oligarchy that owned slaves. Profiteers used Chinese immigrants to amass fortunes building railroads. The money changers were always in the background, making sure they got their cut. They’d pool together deposits and make loans charging a spread to keep for themselves. Money meant power and influence. Power and money would buy our political class, which would yield more money as the government was bent to help them keep more of what they made. A recent ProPublica article showed the amount of income our oligarchy avoided paying taxes on while the middle class pays more taxes as their income increases through payroll deductions. It’s absurd.
Through all of this excitement in building new cities across the land, we stole from the indigenous people (colonialism) who were dirt poor because they didn’t know about the abundance brought about by believing in Jesus and God; we gave them bibles and taught them the way of the Lord almighty. We told them they were underutilizing the land and taught them farming techniques from the old country. We were so busy growing and building that we forgot that we were all connected as human beings. It was right there in the bible. Jesus laid down the law, but we weren’t even paying attention, or our human egos got in the way.
What Are Externalities
To me, one of the greatest misunderstandings in Western economics — capitalism — is the concept of externalities. According to the International Monetary Fund:
Consumption, production, and investment decisions of individuals, households, and firms often affect people not directly involved in the transactions. Sometimes these indirect effects are tiny. But when they are large they can become problematic—what economists call externalities. Externalities are among the main reasons governments intervene in the economic sphere.https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/basics/external.htm
Corporations are formed with the specific goal of maximizing shareholder profit without considering their social responsibility. This has been the goal of universities who have been teaching MBA students – maximize profits. Wall Street analysts drill quarterly profits causing stock prices to fluctuate based on current performance. This is what drives the CEO’s decision-making.
Government Serves the Oligarchy – Not the People
In the same paragraph, the last sentence, the IMF tells us the primary role of government — regulating externalities. And remember, the government is made up of “we the people.” However, as I’ve also proposed a thousand times in article after article in Muncie Voice, and stated by Albert Einstein in 1949, and proved in a 2014 study by Princeton and Northwestern Universities, we are an oligarchy. As an oligarchy, the owners control the politicians in government to ensure they don’t “intervene in the economic sphere” or regulate their businesses.
Well, luckily for us, our Founders built another layer of protection for the people so the oligarchy couldn’t take advantage of the people/workers/voters/taxpayers, and they gave this Fourth Branch of Government unlimited powers, calling it the free press. The First Amendment of the Constitution says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution
Fourth Estate is Owned by the Oligarchy
As I’ve also stated and proven a thousand times, and confirmed by Albert Einstein in 1949, and later by Noam Chomsky in the 1980s, the oligarchy also owns the free press or at least 95% of it. What they don’t own, they use their influence to marginalize and censor. Think Facebook and Google’s “algorithm.” If you are guilty of doing your job as a journalist, the government will place your name on a list, and it’s handed over to the Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world, and you fade into black.
As you can surmise, when the oligarchy controls the government and the free press, nobody or nothing is holding them accountable. They can write the tax code and the laws to benefit themselves and their friends. They can appoint judges who will rule in their favor. It really becomes a lawless situation. Furthermore, as the IMF identifies, the negative externalities really start to build upon the people:
In the case of pollution—the traditional example of a negative externality—a polluter makes decisions based only on the direct cost of and profit opportunity from production and does not consider the indirect costs to those harmed by the pollution. The indirect costs include decreased quality of life, say in the case of a home owner near a smokestack; higher health care costs; and forgone production opportunities, for example, when pollution harms activities such as tourism. Since the indirect costs are not borne by the producer, and therefore not passed on to the end user of the goods produced by the polluter, the social or total costs of production are larger than the private costs.https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/basics/external.htm
Without Negative Consequences or Accountability…
The people see compounding negative issues that ripple across the entire planet, like climate change. Sportspeople used to travel to the Mississinewa River in Indiana to go Smallmouth Bass fishing. For decades, they stopped coming because the river is polluted. In Southern Indiana, the air quality is so poor, and it is called “Asthma Alley” due to all the children and elderly suffering from asthma and other breathing problems.
We are all interconnected. You can’t decide in a vacuum. Still, when the oligarchy isn’t being held accountable and doesn’t have to answer for degrading the quality of life for others, they will continue making decisions for short-term profits and turn their backs on the negative externalities they create. Neither the government nor the press will be holding them accountable. Case in point, I’m working on an article where the Governor of Indiana and 23 other Republican governors stopped providing federal unemployment benefits to workers. Essentially, this was a coordinated effort by the United States Chamber of Commerce to force these workers back into fast food, restaurant, hotel, leisure, and other low-paying jobs without benefits during a pandemic. However, before doing that, the same governors granted blanket immunity from prosecution by employees who caught Covid or a variant while at work. And, you thought you elected the governor of Indiana to work on behalf of you, the voter.