How Corporate Capitalism Is Dismembering America
By Paul Buchheit / commondreams.org
Apr 22, 2013

Too many Americans are unaware of the extreme disparities that have been caused by the unregulated profit incentive of capitalism. Our winner-take-all system is flailing away at once-healthy parts of society, leaving them like withered limbs on a trembling body, even as the relative few who benefit promote the illusion of opportunity and prosperity for all. Concerned citizens armed with facts are not fooled. Instead, the more they learn the angrier they get. And as in revolutions of the past, discontent leads to change. 

Hacking Off the Poor Half of Society 

Some wealthy and uninformed individuals have referred to the lowest-income 47% of Americans as the "takers," who enjoy government benefits at the expense of the high-earning one percent. But their claim is meaningless. The total amount paid out in 'welfare' (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is less than the investment income of just three men in a single year

The monthly TANF income for a family of four is less than what the average member of the Forbes Top 20 made in one second at the office. 

The 47% don't own stocks. They don't own anything. The so-called 'takers' have ZERO wealth. The value of any assets owned by nearly half of the country is surpassed by their debt.

Slashing the Security of the Elderly 

Recipients of 'entitlements' are accused by the uninformed of getting something for nothing. The opposite is true. According to the Urban Institute, the typical two-earner couple making average wages throughout their lifetimes will receive less in Social Security benefits than they paid in. Same for single males. Almost the same for single females. 

Getting something for nothing? Yes, the rich are. Tax expenditures, which are deductions and exemptions that primarily benefit the highest-earning individuals, cost about 8% of the GDP, the same percentage that goes to Social Security and Medicare. 

If just one of the tax breaks for the rich, the $113,700 cap on Payroll Tax, were eliminated, Social Security would be almost entirely funded for the next 75 years

Slicing Up Justice 

In the last few months American citizens, some of them children, have been arrested for:

Looking for Indian arrowheads on federal land. 
Throwing peanuts on the school bus. 
Lying about a home address to get the kids into a better school. 
Sitting on a milk crate.

Meanwhile, not a single banker was arrested for these actions:

HSBC Bank laundered money for Mexican drug cartels. 
Goldman Sachs designed and sold mortgage packages that were meant to fail
Bank of America and Lehman Brothers hid billions of dollars of bonuses and loans from investors.

Severing the Head from the Global Body 

If you could gather together the world's 200 richest individuals, ask each one his or her net worth, get the actual numbers from Forbes, and then add it all up, the total would be more than the total wealth of half the population of the world, 3.5 billion people

The U.S. is one of the greatest contributors to this shameful disparity. It's no coincidence that we're both the third least taxed developed country and the fourth highest in wealth inequality among all nations. It's also no surprise, with so little revenue going to the general public, that our country is the fourth worst in the overall well-being of its children.

Castrating the Taxman 

Corporations have doubled their profits and cut their taxes in half in ten years. The burden of taxes, which Oliver Wendell Holmes called the price of a "civilized society," has been shifted to workers. For every dollar of employee payroll tax paid in the 1950s corporations paid three dollars. Now it's 22 cents. 

Globalization has allowed U.S. corporations to stop paying for national defense and infrastructure and all the benefits of the U.S. legal and educational systems. All of the following companies had sizable U.S. revenues, but they claimed losses here while declaring billions of dollars of profits overseas.

-- Bank of America, with 82% of its revenue in the U.S., declared $7 billion in U.S. losses and $10 billion in foreign profits. 
-- Citigroup, with 42% of its revenue in North America (almost all U.S.), declared a $5 billion U.S. loss and a $28 billion foreign profit. 
-- Pfizer, with 40% of its revenues in the U.S., declared almost $7 billion in U.S. losses to go along with $31 billion in foreign profits. 
-- Abbott Labs, with 42% of its sales in the U.S., declared a $256 million U.S. loss and $12 billion in foreign profits. 
-- Dow Chemical, with 32% of its sales in the U.S., declared a $15 million U.S. loss against foreign profits of over $5 billion.

 

Conclusions

If there's any way capitalism can work, it has to be regulated. Otherwise greed takes over. Blind greed. The sneering head at the top of the body watches limbs being chopped off, but it doesn't seem to recognize that we're all bleeding to death.

 

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

 

3.7 ·
2
Trending Today
How Comedy Can Disarm Bullies
3 min · 5,086 views today · As long as you're funny, it can get you out of almost anything - even getting mugged, as co-founder of Between Two Ferns Scott Aukerman recounts. Unfortunately, not everyone...
How Independent is Hollywood?
4 min · 2,627 views today · A huge number of big-budget Hollywood films, especially those featuring war, conflict or terrorism, are influenced by Hollywood's close relationship with the United States...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 2,506 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Immigrants For Sale (2015)
33 min · 1,872 views today · The detention of migrants has become a multi-billion dollar industry in which immigrants are sold to the highest bidder and traded like mere products. The Corrections...
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 1,725 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,472 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
7 Signs of Tyranny
2 min · 1,451 views today · Consider yourself warned.
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 1,271 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,133 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,041 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 726 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 685 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 587 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 515 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 464 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
Compassion, the Antidote
Martin Doblmeier · 446 views today · Thich Nhat Hanh has published nearly 100 books and is one of the best-known teachers of Zen Buddhism in the world today. In the early 1960s his practice of what he termed...
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 439 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 292 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 231 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 219 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
How Corporate Capitalism Is Dismembering America