Capitalism Run Amok

I have said many times of late that ours is a system of capitalism run amok.  It’s a system driven by greed, by wealthy corporate giants intent on squeezing every last nickel out of the consumers without taking responsibility for their own product.  The republicans act as if ‘socialism’ is a bad word, but frankly democratic socialism makes a heck of a lot more sense that todays extreme capitalism.  It seems that a very astute mind agrees with me.  Take a look at what Robert Reich has to say on the subject.

Corporations are endangering Americans. Trump doesn’t care

From Boeing to Monsanto and beyond: this week has revealed the tip of the iceberg of regulatory neglect

By Robert Reich

Robert ReichWhy didn’t Boeing do it right? Why isn’t Facebook protecting user passwords? Why is Phillip Morris allowed to promote vaping? Why hasn’t Wells Fargo reformed itself? Why hasn’t Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) recalled its Roundup weedkiller?

Answer: corporate greed coupled with inept and corrupt regulators.

These are just a few of the examples in the news these days of corporate harms inflicted on innocent people.

To be sure, some began before the Trump administration. But Trump and his appointees have unambiguously signaled to corporations they can now do as they please.

Boeing wanted to get its 737 Max 8 out quickly because airlines want to pack in more passengers at lower fuel costs (hence the “max”). But neither Boeing nor the airlines shelled out money to adequately train pilots on the new software made necessary by the new design.

Nonetheless, Trump’s FAA certified the plane in March 2017. And after two subsequent deadly crashes, the US was slower to ground them than other countries.

Last week Facebook admitted to storing hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ passwords in plain text that could be searched by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. The admission came just a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that Facebook shared the personal data of as many as 87 million users with a political data firm.

In reality, Facebook’s business model is based on giving personal data to advertisers so they can tailor their pitches precisely to potential customers. So despite repeated reassurances by Mark Zuckerberg, the firm will continue to do what it wants with personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the power to force Facebook to better guard users’ privacy. But so far Trump’s FTC has done nothing – not even to enforce a 2011 agreement in which Facebook promised to do just that.

Altria (Phillip Morris) was losing ground on its sales of cigarettes, but the firm has recently found a future in vaping. Because inhaling nicotine in any form poses a health hazard, the FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb wanted to curb advertising of vaping products to teenagers.

Gottlieb thought he had Altria’s agreement, but then the firm bought the vaping company Juul. Its stock has already gained 14% this year. What happened to Gottlieb? He’s out at the FDA, after barely a year on the job.

Wells Fargo has publicly apologized for having deceived customers with fake bank accounts, unwarranted fees and unwanted products. Its top executives say they have eliminated the aggressive sales targets that were responsible for the fraud.

But Wells Fargo employees told the New York Times recently that they’re still under heavy pressure to squeeze extra money out of customers. Some have witnessed colleagues bending or breaking internal rules to meet ambitious performance goals.

What has Trump’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency done about this? Nothing. It’s been defanged.

This week, a federal jury awarded $80m in damages to a California man who blamed Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weedkiller for his cancer, after finding that Roundup was defectively designed, that Monsanto failed to warn of the herbicide’s cancer risk, and that the company acted negligently. It was the second jury in eight months to reach the same conclusion about Roundup.

Roundup contains glyphosate, a suspected carcinogen. Cases from more than 1,000 farmers and other agricultural workers stricken with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are already pending in federal and state courts.

What has Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency done about glyphosate? In December 2017 its office of pesticide programs concluded that glyphosate wasn’t likely to cause cancer – although eight of the 15 experts on whom the agency relied expressed significant concerns about that conclusion, and three more expressed concerns about the data.

These are just tips of a vast iceberg of regulatory neglect, frozen into place by Trump’s appointees, of which at least 187 were lobbyists before they joined the administration.

This is trickle-down economics of a different sort than Trump’s corporate tax cuts. The major beneficiaries of this are the same big corporations, including their top executives and major investors. But these burdens are trickling down as unsafe products, fraudulent services, loss of privacy, even loss of life.

Big money has had an inhibiting effect on regulators in several previous administrations. What’s unique under Trump is the blatancy of it all, and the shameless willingness of Trump appointees to turn a blind eye to corporate wrongdoing.

Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress yell “socialism!” at proposals for better balancing private greed with the common good. Yet unless a better balance is achieved, capitalism as we know it is in deep trouble.

40 thoughts on “Capitalism Run Amok

    • Ditto! However, it needs a couple of things. First, it needs the backing of the entire democratic party … the current in-fighting will cost us next year. And it needs to be sold to the public, who are inundated by the republicans shrieks of “Socialism!!!” It’s a big bill … I hope the democrats can fill it.

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  1. Excellent post! I think that Albert Einstein nailed it when he said : “Three great forces rule the world : stupidity, fear and greed.” Having noted in one of your comments, I look forward to your post about democratic socialism. It is much needed and I’m sure that you will do it justice. Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My politics for years would have been classed as centre – left. Although my politics haven’t changed I’m probably labelled a socialist. I see the JP Morgan Chief was defending capitalism today, apparently socialism brings corruptions and worse. It’s easy to see today’s world as perfect when you get paid 31m a year and your worth 1,2 billion.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mine too! I am not a registered democrat, but rather an independent, and I have always considered myself middle-of-the-road, leaning to the left. Until Obama, and so many people hated him only because of the colour of his skin that I started moving more to the left. The racists on the right, frankly, scare me. And then came Trump and I have moved far to the left. I’m even considering becoming a registered democrat, for although I have voted for republicans a few times in the past, I cannot imagine ever doing so again. We truly have a system where if you don’t have at least a six-figure net worth, you have no voice, you do not matter. At all. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hello Jill & Single Parent. The fact is the right has gone so far to the right it managed to drag the left past the center and to the right also. What is called the political center today is what was called the far right 40 years ago. Reagan would be too left for the Republican party today. If you think back to Ted Kennedy you will see that the Democratic party use to be far more to the left. AOC would have been welcomed as a regular Democrat. Republicans have hammered that socialist scare tactic for ever, making people more and more afraid ( better dead than red ) and that way driving the country to the right. Today the left has to go far left to even get back to center of the 1980’s. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

        • I dunno on that one, Scottie. It seems to me that as the right has moved further to the right, which they no doubt have, the left has gone further to the left, thus leaving an even greater gap than there ever has been. Just my thoughts, of course. Hugs!!!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Hi. Can’t speak for the US. In the U.K. the main opposition has shifted to the left. Fully behind renationalising industries. The centre is now increasingly been filled with some on the softer right of the Conservative Party. But in effect the centre has become marginalised and ineffective. We watch the Labour and Conservative Parties get further apart.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I said to Cyberspouse as we watched the Boeing story unfold – I know who will be wriitng about this. I am so angry. I am not an engineer, but I don’t need to be, I have been ranting about the awful plane crash since it happened. All lives are valuable, whether a ferry overloaded with poor people sinks on the other side of the world or a plane with ‘important people’ on board crashes. But of course the plane gets more attention because so many nationalities were involved and they were people who had a great contribution to make. This was not an out of date plane owned by a suspect airline. This was a plane the passengers and their families would expect to fly safely. Why take a plane that works properly and alter it so it doesn’t. Most of us go for a flight without a degree in aeronautical engineering, we don’t know which model we are flying on, we have to trust. My answer? Okay, close Boeing down, too many planes in the air anyway, nobody buy a Boeing ever again….

    Liked by 3 people

    • Like you, I am furious and getting more so by the day. From everything I’m reading and hearing, there were a LOT of shortcuts taken with this plane, including lack of pilot training, and two safety features that were not included as original equipment, but were sold “OPTIONALLY” as secondary equipment. Two crashes in 4 months totaling a loss of 346 lives is unacceptable. But what I’m most furious about is that when more oversight of Boeing was mentioned, Boeing executives said that while they were sorry about the loss of lives, they did not see a need for any additional oversight. B.S.!!! And what’s worse is that our present administration is so tied to the corporate execs that they will most likely get by with a slap on the wrist! Frankly, I hope Boeing goes belly-up because nobody will trust them again! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Jill, we should start from the basis our economic system is not pure capitalism. It is fettered capitalism with socialism underpinnings. We have capitalistic governors to restrict things such as insider trading, monopolies, interlocking boards, etc. and socialism such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, and workers comp benefits. The debate worth having is the right balance and the corresponding benefits and cost.

    Zero-sum politics get in the way of that debate. So, rather than analyze, debate and solve problems, we tend to focus on who wins a simplified argument.

    Medicare for All is an option worth analyzing, but it has a cost. But, it need not be an all or none proposition – it could be an option or we could consider lowering the eligibility age to 62, eg.

    The challenges for having good discussion is our largely uninformed electorate, politicians and monied interests that take advantage of that ignorance, and a two party system.

    We need better governance and regulation constantly challenging and guarding against bureaucracy. Farming out or understaffing policing of things that impact us – airline, poultry, petroleum, chemical industries, etc. – is risky. Just think BP Horizon, Enron, Boeing, Monsanto, Healthsouth, Tyco, Adelphia….

    Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • You make a number of good points. The public, for the most part, do not understand what socialism, democratic socialism or even capitalism for that matter are, but allow themselves to have their opinion formed by politicians who have motives. As I was telling somebody in another comment, if every wealthy person paid their fair share of taxes and perhaps donated a small portion of their wealth, there would be no reason for anybody in this nation to be homeless or go to bed hungry at night. I came across an article in ProPublica earlier today that was like having ice water thrown on my face. I had no idea the extents to which the wealthy are willing to go to keep from paying taxes. It’s rather long, but you might like it: https://www.propublica.org/article/ultrawealthy-taxes-irs-internal-revenue-service-global-high-wealth-audits?utm_content=buffer12ae6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=buffer

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, I was reminded of an album then California Governor Ronald Reagan cut in the mid 1960s against the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. He used words like socialism is to discredit the effort. When people say LBJ’s war on poverty failed to achieve success, that cannot be said about retired people in poverty. These two new programs coupled with improved Social Security made a significant dent in poverty for the elderly. We should remind ourselves of this story as now Medicare and Medicaid are engrained in the US. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello Jill. I was wondering if most people understand the “socialist” policies being proposed? Do they understand democratic socialism? Most of the time the right wing frames the question in terms that make it sound as if the US would suddenly veer off into Venezuela. The people seem to forget that all of the industrial first world countries have a mix of capitalize tempered by regulations and socialist policy to take care of the population. The Democrats need to hammer on that distinction, and basically throw the comparisons in the face of the right wing and make them look foolish. Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

    • No, Scottie, the majority of people in this country have no idea what democratic socialism is, but rather simply take the word of people like Trump who use it as a fear-mongering tactic. Most people, I think, equate socialism with communism, and the two are definitely NOT the same. I actually have a post started about this very thing that I hope to finish soon. You’re right … the democrats need to be explaining what democratic socialism is, or the modified version that we need to implement in this nation. With all the uber-wealthy in this country, if everyone paid their fair share of taxes and if those wealthy ones had a conscience and donated even a small portion of their wealth, there would be no reason for anyone in this country to be homeless or go to bed hungry at night. Sigh. Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hello Jill. Sadly those same uber-wealthy will do everything in their power to poison the well and convince people that any social safety net will result in food shortages and everyone being homeless and worse. I get so frustrated at how easy some people lie to further their own gains. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

        • I agree, Scottie! They dodge their income taxes, whine when we want to raise minimum wage or provide health care to people, and lie, cheat & steal from the consumers who are paying money for their product … their typically shoddy product! I am so disgusted with it all that I’m tempted never to buy an American-made product again! And half of our politicians are in their pockets! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much, and thank you for the link to a well-written, knowledgeable post! I learned quite a bit from your post that I was previously unaware of. You are so right … government and corporations are dancing close together, to the detriment of We the People, and I’ve only recently discovered just how close. Welcome, by the way, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll drop in again!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I had that same problem this afternoon when I was trying to reblog TokyoSand’s post, but I refreshed the screen and then it worked. Another of WordPress’ glitches I guess. Thank you for sharing the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The U.S. was the only Country with the power to tame Monsanto and so they have devastated areas of South America with Roundup instead. If the U.S have defanged the legislation then Monsanto ( now Bayers) will be able to get away with murder…literally, just by not warning people of the carcinogenic dangers of the product .
    Cwtch

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree. My hope is that the successful lawsuits get enough attention that people simply stop buying the product. My new fear is that Boeing is going to get by with murder also, for they are already contesting the recommendations that there should be more oversight. And they have such a monopoly that they may well get by with not much more than a slap on the wrist.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hope that’s not going to happen. The eyes of the world are upon you since many of the passengers were not US nationals. Other countries are going to want to see some serious action taken or Boeing could lose out massively on new orders an that will impinge on jobs.
        Cwtch

        Liked by 2 people

        • I hope it won’t happen too, but given that probably half our politicians are in Boeing’s pocket, I’m afraid I haven’t much confidence in “justice” at this point. I hope I’m wrong. If the U.S. government are too corrupt to hold Boeing accountable, then I hope the individual airlines hold them accountable by refusing to buy their planes. And any airline that continues to do business with Boeing, I hope fliers boycott that airline. But sadly, people have short memories and with the passage of time … sigh.
          Cwtch

          Liked by 3 people

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