We need a mass movement for economic change. We need to counter the perpetual propaganda from the commercial media to sell us on the image of an ideal competitive capitalism that becomes, realistically, a Fascist state in the name of democracy, serving the needs of monopoly capital and finance for profit. Money talks loudest where the rate of profit is highest, and media professionals are prostitutes creating cultural ambiance for pay.
The ideal stable system should automatically adjust to a rate of profit that is zero, discounting for inflation and the costs of replacement and risk. With a growing population and developing technology capital should increase accordingly.
But investment for profit doesn't work that way. The real wealth that is created for use, consumer goods and capital goods used for production, does not have the volatility of the investment-for-profit market. We are all both consumers and investors. Our savings, of wealth we will need in the future, is entrusted to banks and investment funds that are driven by the profit motive, using other people's money.
Wealth that is skimmed from the consumer economy into the investment market bids up the price of existing capital investment according to the prospect of profit from owning that equity, instead of investing in new capital. And then the rising stock price demands a higher rate of profit over production, to maintain a competitive rate of profit over investment. Thus the whole economy competes with the most profitable, and least legitimate, businesses for access to investment capital. War production, usurious lending, speculative investment, monopoly markets, Ponzi schemes, and political manipulation to plunder public resources drive the profit rate throughout the economy.
But that's a dead-end street. The private profit at any price fanatics drive a bubble of real wealth, taken from the consumer economy by people who need to save for the future and by capitalists who drive wages down, into investments that have value only from the prospect of profit at an unsustainable rate. When the low wage economy can't support the going rate of profit from loans and retail sales the whole economy stalls out. Resale value of foreclosed property drops and the bubble bursts; the profiteers grab what they can of existing wealth and run. Plants are closed and workers are unemployed because their products can't be sold for the expected profit. The federal "bailout" subsidy is used, at best, to continue an unworkable system, and at worst to pay off a few profiteers and eliminate competitors.
When value that is created for use is priced out of reach of consumers because of unemployment and low wages, and a profit margin demanded by the investment market, the whole economy stalls and investments for profit are worthless. Insiders and profiteers who know what's coming can grab and get out but people who need their savings for future use are left with nothing. Government regulation of financial institutions, and bankruptcy laws, have been aimed at protecting investors against cheating by other profiteers, but we need the regulators to manage the economic system so that it is sustainable for everyone's benefit.
The "expanding economy" measured by stock market prices is not a measure of the consumer economy, but only of the effectiveness of skimming wealth out of that economy. The idea is used to justify profit as a virtue but real expansion is limited by the realities of ecology and resources and population density. The real virtue is sustainability and profit should be regulated for that purpose.
We must wean ourselves away from the private-profit-at-any-price propaganda and recognize the value of public services like education and health care. Since Ben Franklin we don't expect the owner whose house is on fire to pay for the fire brigade, likewise people disabled by sickness should not have to pay to get well. Those are services we all might need, well equipped as only a public service can be. We need to appreciate the value of capital invested in not-for-profit applications and public services that are available to everyone. Also consumer- and employee-owned businesses that exist for purposes other than profit.
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