When I read what people occupying Zuccotti Park are saying I tend to nod my head in agreement, except when it comes to those who would — with the help of dei ex machina, presumably — overthrow the entire system, which, I’m afraid, we’re stuck with.
No doubt, capitalism can be exploitative, which is why, though not in a union myself, I’ve always supported them. If there had been no unions — and thus no middle class — this country would have seemed like a third world one insofar as income inequality is concerned far, far sooner.
But the unions have been bashed for years, and people have bought the snake oil, beginning with Reagan, that wealth will lift all boats, rather than scuttle 80 percent of them, as has been the case.
Since wealth has been redistributed upward through overgenerous fiscal policies during the past 30 or so years, why can fiscal policy not be adjusted so as to re-redistribute some of it in order to achieve a semblance of fairness, which, along with individual freedom, is also a hallmark of this alleged democracy. I doubt that the C.E.O.s who have made away — and continue to make away — with obscene salaries and payouts vastly in excess of what their employees make would miss it.
How much money does one need, anyway? No less a patriot than Ben Franklin once suggested that once a man had provided sufficiently for his family he should give the rest back to the government whose laws enabled him to amass his fortune. Warren Buffett has said, in effect, it’s the luck of the draw. Had he been born in Africa, things would have gone differently for him.
And on the subject of patriotism, the ducking of taxes by myriad corporations seems to me no less than treasonous. Where’s their patriotism? Somebody has to pay for our wars, our maimed, and for our terrorist drones that know no borders and incinerate at will — innocents as well as those on our hit list, which, because of our enormities, promises to be ever-expanding. Like octopi we’ve occupied the world.
I peeled from my office wall the other day a column written 20 years ago at about this time. And, frankly, I see no reason to alter what I said, to wit, that we needed “a consensus economy aimed at maximizing the well-being of the land and its people rather than profits.”
And I went on to say (I always go on to say!) that “if there were indeed peace and fellowship in the land, there wouldn’t be the huge gaps between rich and poor that capitalism spawns, there wouldn’t be racism and the ghettos it spawns, and people wouldn’t feel . . . that things were so out of control that only divine intervention could make a difference, whereas we, the people, have within us the wherewithal to effect change.”