The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of us. Or as my father used to say about Louisiana politics, both cream and scum rise to the top. I hope, in the long run, that this is good. We currently exist in an infrastructure of greed. But we can change that.
I am appalled as I watch the grab for billions of tax dollars by very large, successful businesses and millionaires while small, local business are struggling and folding. These are the local businesses that help our communities thrive, employ most of us and express all our local cultures. They are also 95% of the businesses in America. We are saddling future generations with enormous debt and yet our healthcare professionals still do not have adequate protective gear. 40 million (and counting) of us are unemployed, yet the stock market grows. See the imbalance there?
But we’re capitalists! There are winners and losers. The strong survive and thrive and at its best, capitalism rewards hard work and innovation. It’s a good system. But any economic system has a dark side if unimpeded. Unfettered capitalism, more than any economic system, breeds greed. And unlike Gordon Gecko in the movie Wall Street, I do not believe that greed is good.
Now layer in a political climate that thrives on excessive greed. Greed for more money and power to the exclusion of all else. What we now have is the greed of a few legislating the entire country for their benefit. It’s always been so to some extent but now it’s in full view, flaunting the cruelty of its nature. Enabled by well-paid legislators stacking the deck in their favor, gigantic (bigger than big) business execute the largest wealth grab in our history. The titans of industry are not your friend.
Let’s leave Washington for now and return to our communities. The places where we live with neighbors and friends, local businesses, community organizations and more. Take a close look and you’ll see that not all are thriving. Look closer and you’ll see how hard that shopkeeper has had to work to achieve some measure of success because governmental policies written for big business provide nothing but roadblocks. You’ll see how the loss of healthcare has sent a family of four spiraling.
For too long the many have supported the few. It’s time to turn the tables. We live in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. That being so, why is anyone hungry in America while food rots in the fields? Why is a whole generation crushed by student loans? Was an education just to get a better job so you could pay your student loan? Why are we the only developed country without universal healthcare? Why do we maintain a military budget that’s more than the next 11 countries? The next attack isn’t going to come from planes or bombs. It’s coming through the internet via subversion. It’s not because there isn’t enough money.
It’s time for a change. Our country runs on your tax dollars. In fact, government is supposed to exist for the people. There’s even a pretty famous declaration that begins “We, the people.” It doesn’t say “We, the massive corporations.” It doesn’t say “We, the top 1%.” “We” have been working for the top echelon for too long. We need to work for our communities instead. Let’s take back capitalism and redefine it to support thriving local communities filled with locally owned businesses. Invest in Main street instead of Wall Street with every purchase you make and every dime you save.
Originally published on the Intrepid Localist.