Wednesday, November 09, 2005

He has the Right Words!

Greetings America!

Yes, I am referring to Bush. And the word in particular is ownership. That is truly what America needs. More ownership. But that doesn't mean just a house and car, like Bush is meaning. What is really needed is for Americans to own their communities, and the businesses, and the pensions, and the companies they work for. And in many ways, this is happening. There are thousands of employee owned companies. There are thousands of Community Development Corporations that are community owned and are reinvigoration depressed areas. Smart growth is on the move. There is grass roots stuff moving along the line of what Gar Alperovitz would call, a pluralist commonwealth.

I decided a while back that capitalism as it is played out today is fundamentally bad. It needs to be changed. But I am not so certain that I want government owning everything either. I think it should be as Bush says: ownership. That there at least be an equal opportunity to own. Because in the wake of the stagnant wage, declining benefits, the need for more productivity in the same hours, shrinking vacation time, and the need for more household members to work to stay afloat, there is a huge loss of liberty, the freedom to choose. We are driven by need, and in essence, we are slaves to corporations that are paying exorbitant CEO salaries regardless of performance, and ever increasing profits which go to shareholders. Shareholders that make up the top 5% of the population and own more than 50% of all the stock in this country. Those same shareholders who are looking at a reduction in capital gains taxes and a complete elimination of dividend tax while the average homeowner will lose 15% of their mortgage interest write off. That is if the new tax package before Congress passes.

Now you can see why I think capitalism is bad. The above picture is our current state of affairs. In it there is no room to move up for better than 70% of the population. Not with the daily needs costs eating into the money available for higher education, which itself has increased in costs in double digits for several years. Lost opportunity, lost liberty. Lost democracy. When David Crosby said to Dick Cavett back in those days, that the corporations were the problem, this is what he meant.

So lets look at a current issue, community internet access. This action is just one of the many in this country where communities are taking it upon themselves to be a community. They wire themselves together. They provide public access, community development, and universal affordabilty for starters. From the local hub of the city then, rural broadband can reach out to include the country folk, and include them in the community. Towns like Cedar Falls, Iowa, Provo, Utah, and Kutztown, Pennsylvania are establishing mesh networks, hot-spot wireless, and fiber-optic networks. There are many more across the country. They are supported by Senatorial legislation, S.1294, and by Intel Corporation. This is one of the ways that communities are practicing ownership. The local taxes pay for the network, and the benefits are universal connectivity and cheaper prices.

Guess who doesn't like it though. Yes indeed the large telecoms don't like it. The telecoms like SBC, where Texas Republican Pete Sessions used to work, and where his wife still works. So Sessions introduced HR.2726, which would prevent any community in the country from offering internet access if a major provider, like SBC, offers it "nearby." The Senate version of this same malarky is S.1504. Now you will notice in the names of these bills that they sound perfectly fabulous. But go to the Library of Congress, and actually look them up and read them, and you will quickly see that they remove the choice from the community, and give all the power to the corporation that can grant or deny permission. Is that equal opportunity? Is that liberty for all? Is that democracy?

In Gar Alperovitz's book, American Beyond Capitalism, he has a chapter about the regional restructuring of the American continent. He begins that chapter with a review of what the Supreme Court has done in the last few decades prior to Bush to decentralize power. While I was reading this it suddenly became aware to me just what the issue is in the Supreme Court nominees. Since "tort reform" has now made class action suits a Supreme Court issue, and the SC rarely hears them, it has protected businesses. Look at Justice Roberts first ruling: Letting stand the elimination of tobacco company fines for their crimes. It is apparent that the issue is the protection of corporatism. Which is synonymous with fascism according to Mussolini. That's where this court is headed.

Bush had the words right. But his meaning is that the top 5% will own 90% of everything. You and I will struggle to own anything. And that's the way they want it.


Post a Comment

<< Home