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Capitalism's Injustices

by Gary Sudborough Monday, Sep. 23, 2002 at 7:12 PM

A discussion of the injustices of the capitalist system.

There are numerous and obvious examples of capitalism's injustices, which should make the American people very disillusioned and angry with the system. Large sections of America's manufacturing base have been transferred to sweatshops in Third World countries, throwing thousands of Americans out of good-paying jobs and creating what is called the "rust belt" in America's heartland. America's family farmers are being forced into bankruptcy and replaced with corporate agribusiness. The savings and loan bailout cost every American several thousand dollars in taxes. The frequent IMF bailouts cost the taxpayer even more. In addition, the tax burden is increasingly being shifted from corporations to the middle class and poor. Many corporations pay no income tax by sheltering assets in offshore subsidiaries. The CEOs of large corporations now make about 500 times the average worker's wage. While corporations fatten their bottom line with public money, welfare for the poor is cut and thousands of Americans suffer from hunger and being homeless. The infant mortality rate in some inner cities in the US is equivalent to that of a Third World country. Those of the poor who resort to crime are incarcerated by the prison-industrial complex and put to work for corporations at far less than the minimum wage. The US has the largest prison population in the world. Corporations like Westinghouse buried tons of radioactive waste in cardboard boxes and created large toxic zones around the plants that made nuclear weapons. Pacific Gas and Electric company polluted communities with chromium six. Then, there are the recent scandals of corporations like Enron, Global Crossing, World Com, Tyco and Arthur Anderson. Some employees have lost their life savings in these corporate scandals. Corporations cause wars to protect their hegemony over the natural resources and cheap labor of other countries. One would think that the American people would be clamoring for democratic worker ownership of factories and an end to all these abuses. After all, workers would never vote to send their jobs overseas, pollute their communities, steal their retirement savings or cause wars.

That is not the case, however, and with every war out come the flags and God Bless America signs. Why? I think the answer is an extremely efficient corporate propaganda system and the fact that most people live comfortably in the suburbs and attribute that condition to capitalism, rather than to decades of struggle and sacrifice by workers before them.

At one time in the United States there was child labor, horrible working conditions, 12 hour workdays, extremely low wages and no social security, unemployment compensation or sick pay. This did not change because Rockefeller, DuPont, Morgan, Mellon and the other robber barons decided to be generous. They fought the 8 hour day, the end of child labor and every other progressive reform tooth and nail. They hired goon squads and Pinkertons to bust the heads of strikers and used state militias to machine gun strikers and their families, as occurred in the Ludlow massacre of coal miners in Colorado. Ironically, socialists, communists and anarchists, the people Americans have been taught to despise, were at the forefront of the struggle to attain prosperity for American workers and a safety net if they became ill, disabled or elderly.

Now, reactionary fascists like President George W. Bush are attempting to roll back all these reforms by the magician's trick of diverting attention and emotions to war, nationalism and patriotism, while wealth is redistributed upward and Social Security is privatized as well as schools and public services. It is time for a new generation of Americans to fight back if they have the courage.

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