January 14, 2016

Capitalism is not the problem, it's the solution

Last December, Mark Zuckerberg Vowed to Give 99% of his Fortune to Charity, or at least that is the headline everyone wanted you to believe. Last June, Donald Trump Announced his Plan to Run for President, and we all know what a circus that has turned into. Kanye West has just announced He Will Give Away One Free Song Every Friday for One Month. We all now know that Donald Trump is worth about $10 billion, Mark Zuckerberg is worth about $35 billion, while Kanye West is worth somewhere around $150 million. Together, these three men are worth a combined $46 billion, give or take a few million. One last footnote for numbers, just yesterday three people each won a portion of a $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot, giving them roughly $520 million each to use in any way they like.

It would cost roughly $10 billion to build a high speed maglev train from Baltimore to Washington D.C. Everyone who is anyone is demanding the federal government hand over that money to local state and city governments. Already, the Department of Transportation has granted $27.8 million to the State of Maryland for a "feasibility study". Most of that money will wind up in the pockets of private companies in Maryland who have friends working in the State Legislature. Those private companies will spend a few weeks doing surveys and then write a nice long report about their findings. If they are smart business people, half the money will wind up in the pockets of five or six survey company CEOs who will in turn use the money to build bigger houses and buy fancier cars, and just maybe send their kids to college (although it far more likely they will have the kids get student loans, off-loading that cost onto the government as well). Some portion of that money will then be given to a variety of NGOs and NPOs who will take the survey report and use it to develop an environmental impact statement. From the money they receive, about half will wind up in the pockets of the NGO/NPO leaders who will use the money for NetFlix, online games, and porn.

If Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, Kanye West, and the three Powerball winners had any genuine capitalist ideas in their shallow, narcissistic minds, no one would be demanding money from the federal government to build a high speed rail. Mark Zuckerberg out in California would create a private interstate rail company, solicit the others for contributions, seek the Donald's help in organizing construction, use Kanye West's connections in Japan to bring in experts from Sony and NEC, and within five years we would have a transcontinental high speed rail line that would endanger the future of domestic airline profitability, run on pure solar power, and provide millions of jobs for everyone from janitors to engineers. Everyone who invested in the new rail company would make even more money than they already have, money which they could use to finance solar power companies, wind power companies, private schools for inner cities, free clinics in poor neighborhoods, and so on.

The reason we have such huge problems in our country and around the world is not because of capitalism. The reason we have such huge problems with poverty, drug abuse, ignorance, and even terrorism is because all of the current crop of millionaires and billionaires are not capitalists. They never once stop to consider the positive changes they could bring to our world simply by directing their investments into profit-generating enterprises that also improve lives, clean the environment, and educate the next generation. Instead, they whine and moan and cry to the government to please increase the tax burden on everyone except them and then use that money to do the things they themselves should be doing! This is crony capitalism. When people who command the resources demand government solutions to problems they create, problems that would earn them even more money by correcting, and problems that don't impact them directly but make them feel bad when they watch the evening news, then we have moved from capitalism into an oligarchy that holds the seeds for a revival of isolated aristocratic families who pick one of their number and crown him king.

When people are asked what they would do if they won the lottery, their inevitable reply is self-centered. "Build a new house", "buy a new car", "quit my job", "move to Hawaii", etc. If I were to ever win a lottery jackpot that put me immediately into the ranks of the super rich, I would build a factory making musical instruments that were both high quality and relatively inexpensive, I would fund rebuilding and reequipping inner city schools, I would build rehab clinics in every major city, I would invest in robotics to help the disabled, I would fund research into solar roadways, and most important of all, I would be looking for other rich people to help me build an interstate high speed rail system between all of our major cities.

What is the real problem with the world today?
This is the real source of all our problems: