However, since pursuit of self-interest is the essential ingredient in a market system, it is understandable that individuals and corporations are free to act as greedily and selfishly as they can within the law, absolved from any moral obligations.
Gordon Gekko (from Wall Street movie): “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”
That quote clearly sums up our current state of capitalism in America. Capitalism has gone extreme due to pure, unadulterated GREED. Those that “have” (the 1%) want more for themselves and less for the “have-nots” (the 99%). All in the name of money and power.
Our congressional representatives have been “bought and paid” for by the rich to protect their interests, at all costs, including cuts to welfare and food stamps for the poor and needy; deregulation of business oversight; tax cuts for the wealthy; privatizing everything; and providing government subsidies to some of the most profitable corporations in the world.
Government Subsidies to Corporations
In a report titled “Subsidizing the Corporate One Percent,” from the taxpayer watchdog group Good Jobs First, it shows that the world’s largest companies aren’t models of self-sufficiency and unbridled capitalism. To the contrary, they’re propped up by billions of dollars in welfare payments from state and local governments. These subsidies might be a bit more defensible if they were being handed out in a way that promoted upstart entrepreneurialism. But as the study also shows, a full “three-quarters of all the economic development dollars awarded and disclosed by state and local governments have gone to just 965 large corporations” — not to the small businesses and start-ups that politicians so often pretend to care about.
In dollar figures, that’s a whopping $110 billion going to big companies. Fortune 500 firms alone receive more than 16,000 subsidies at a total cost of $63 billion. Some notable recipients include Intel with $3.8 billion; IBM with $1 billion; Google with $632 million; and Yahoo with $260 million in subsidies. Large financial firms like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup receive tens of millions of dollars in subsidies, even though they received never-ending bailouts from taxpayers due to their illicit business practices. Yet we can’t find a $1 billion to support our poor and needy!
All of these handouts, of course, would be derided if they were going to poor people. But because they are going to extremely wealthy politically connected conglomerates, they are typically promoted with cheery euphemisms like “incentives” or “economic development.” Those euphemisms persist even though many subsidies do not end up actually creating jobs.
A prime example of corporate welfare is Wal-Mart. As one of the world’s most valuable companies and one of its biggest private employers with 2.2 million globally, the family-run business brought in revenues of $469 billion in 2013 and generated profit of $27.8 billion over the same period.
Alan Grayson, in a Huffington Post column on Nov. 24, 2012, argued that Walmart employees are paid so little, they often seek government programs for help. “In state after state, the largest group of Medicaid recipients is Walmart employees. I’m sure that the same thing is true of food stamp recipients. Each Walmart ‘associate’ costs the taxpayers an average of more than $1,000 in public assistance.”
In nearly all 24 states in which a study was completed, Grayson’s point proved accurate, according to a list from Good Jobs First. Philip Mattera, Good Jobs First research director, pointed to two simple reasons for it: “Wal-Mart pays relatively low wages and is the biggest employer in the country.”
Walmart is the largest private employer in the country, by a substantial margin,” Grayson wrote. “Even if 100 percent of the employees of the second largest employer were on food stamps – an unlikely scenario, to say the least – Walmart employees would still be the largest group.” He added: “Given the similarity between qualification rules for Medicaid and food stamps, if Walmart is #1 in a state for Medicaid, it’s very likely that it is #1 for food stamps, too.”
Wal-Mart (and others) have learned to “game the system” by keeping wages low and restricting the number of hours that can be worked. By doing so, Wal-Mart does not have to provide costly benefits (healthcare, retirement) because their employees are qualified to receive a variety of aid and assistance from the government (Medicaid, food stamps).
How many times have you heard someone say “you should just be thankful you have a job?” Possibly a lot, thanks to the current state of the job market. With so many unemployed and a majority of the jobs that are available are low-paying, you are certainly thankful you have a job and you want to keep it.
You have got to know that the greedy 1% know this and will use it to their advantage. They understand that worker insecurity will keep you in your place. You won’t risk your job by asking for raises, better benefits (if any), healthier working conditions, or trying to unionize.
While worker’s pay has stagnated, benefits are disappearing, and job insecurity is a constant threat; corporate profits, productivity, and CEO pay continues to sky-rocket at a record-setting pace. Fortune 500 corporations are hoarding billions in cash, sitting unused on their balance sheets. Billions in capital is also sitting passive and un-invested at private equity funds.
Thanks to extreme capitalism, we now find ourselves in a society where no amount of wealth at the top is enough and no amount of suffering at the bottom is too much.
Sources: Huffington Post, International Business Times, Salon.com, Capitalism.org