Posts Tagged ‘greed’

Soft Capitalism (Capitalism 2.0)

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

How about this for a New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn’t do for money. The United States always defined capitalism, but it didn’t used to define us. But now it’s becoming all that we are.

Did you know, for example, that there was a time when being called a “war profiteer” was a bad thing? But now our war zones are dominated by private contractors and mercenaries who work for corporations. There are more private contractors in Iraq than American troops, and we pay them generous salaries to do jobs the troops used to do for themselves ­– like laundry. War is not supposed to turn a profit, but our wars have become boondoggles for weapons manufacturers and connected civilian contractors.

Prisons used to be a non-profit business, too. And for good reason –­ who the hell wants to own a prison? By definition you’re going to have trouble with the tenants. But now prisons are big business. A company called the Corrections Corporation of America is on the New York Stock Exchange, which is convenient since that’s where all the real crime is happening anyway. The CCA and similar corporations actually lobby Congress for stiffer sentencing laws so they can lock more people up and make more money. That’s why America has the world;s largest prison population ­– because actually rehabilitating people would have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Television news is another area that used to be roped off from the profit motive. When Walter Cronkite died last week, it was odd to see news anchor after news anchor talking about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkite’s day. I thought, “Gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it.”

But maybe they aren’t. Because unlike in Cronkite’s day, today’s news has to make a profit like all the other divisions in a media conglomerate. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to see the CBS Evening News broadcast live from the Staples Center for two nights this month, just in case Michael Jackson came back to life and sold Iran nuclear weapons. In Uncle Walter’s time, the news division was a loss leader. Making money was the job of The Beverly Hillbillies. And now that we have reporters moving to Alaska to hang out with the Palin family, the news is The Beverly Hillbillies.

And finally, there’s health care. It wasn’t that long ago that when a kid broke his leg playing stickball, his parents took him to the local Catholic hospital, the nun put a thermometer in his mouth, the doctor slapped some plaster on his ankle and you were done. The bill was $1.50, plus you got to keep the thermometer.

But like everything else that’s good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they’re run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They’re not hospitals anymore; they’re Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America’s largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it’s not a right, it’s a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they’re always pushing the Jell-O.

Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like “recision,” where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you’ve been paying into your plan for years.

When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what’s in it for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

If conservatives get to call universal health care “socialized medicine,” I get to call private health care “soulless vampires making money off human pain.” The problem with President Obama’s health care plan isn’t socialism, it’s capitalism.

And if medicine is for profit, and war, and the news, and the penal system, my question is: what’s wrong with firemen? Why don’t they charge? They must be commies. Oh my God! That explains the red trucks!

Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher

The irony of money…

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Isn’t it ironic how money affects people? It can make your best friend or business partner plot your demise. It can provoke your spouse to slowly poison you for insurance money. It can make you suspicious of everyone around you. It can be a hereditary tool used to force you on a path you would otherwise avoid. It seems the more you have, the more you grow stingy with it.

People with very little money–give without hesitation to churches, to the beggar on the street corner, to charities, to the girl scouts selling cookies. They give thoughtful gifts and enjoy in festivities without financial concern because they know it is about enjoying life and the people you care about–not about the bottom line on your bank account. Give these same people more money and they ask to split the check and can’t find a spare dollar for the beggars…its just not in their budget to give this month…they have bills to pay. No mention to the bills they always had to pay before…

Give that person even more money and suddenly giving is a tax write-off and nothing more. They stop seeing the beggar altogether. They rarely, if ever, take notice of the girl scout or her cookies. They begin to think in terms of what they do not have rather than what they do have. They grow irritated at the thought of parting with their money at all. They do not want to eat out with their friends. They stop throwing parties. They think in terms of money lost and their vernacular reveals their monetary obsession.

Why in the town of Plenty in Wealthy Land do the paupers celebrate with nothing and give without thought–throwing parties for all to share their loaf of bread and water but the rich hold tight their purses begrudging even the beggar’s presence?

The English have had enough!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Some 4,000 marchers were outside the Bank of England in protest for “Financial Fools Day.” “This is about making it shameful to be a banker,” said Annabel Acton, 25, a consultant. “I’ve come here today so we can engage in a peaceful protest and vent our anger against the greed of the financial institution.They are dealers in death…”

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I wanted to share this news story because it is worth sharing. The English have had enough of the greedy banking institutions leeching them poor. It is disgusting that they have gotten away with it as long as they have. I commend all those people standing up for justice—standing against the financial tyranny. I know this would not work in the United States because our government carries big guns and they are not afraid to use them against us (or anyone).

Thank you for having the courage to stand up for all of us who cannot stand with you. The elderly who saved all of their lives and are now destitute. The parents who worked hard to save for their children’s educations who are now scrambling to pay for their children’s college just to keep up in this failing economy. Thank you for standing up against the greed—the corruption. You are doing the right thing—no matter how the media tries to paint it. Enough is enough!