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Why the economic system in the U.S. no longer works


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FLI_092313_moneyThe economic system we have in this world no longer works … if it ever did. I know, I know … Rush Limbaugh says, “it works everywhere, it’s been tried.” So of course we, who benefit from the system, believe what we are told and on and on the juggernaut marches, killing the world, crushing human spirit and making a very few people wealthy. The problem here in the good old United States and of course, other first world countries as well, is that too many of us are in the “very comfortable” class. We have more than enough of everything and, if the truth be told, too much of many things. We accumulate garages full of stuff, buy or lease new cars every two or three years, have houses that are ridiculously huge given our family sizes, etc. We have more than enough and are the most wasteful society in history, and yet we keep encouraging the proliferation machine … and how dare you even talk about my wages … “I earn every penny I make.” With no further discussion, the machine goes merrily on making more and more and more.

Throughout the last 200 years, the ultra rich in this country grudgingly gave up little tiny slivers of their wealth; when the working class folks rioted for better wages and conditions, for example. People thought they were learning to “play the game” and were exercising their power and the rich folk had better look out! Then the rich gave up another tiny sliver when the workers demanded a little more and so on and so forth. Over the years those slivers have added up to the point that “middle class,” or upper middle class even more accurately, has more than enough income to spend on non-needs. So this group of “middle class” folks is wealthier than most people in the world and is very protective of the small piece of the pie they have been granted over the course of years. The established elite, ultra wealthy class has done very well in cultivating a sense of wealth among the “peons” that work for them — a very fine deception indeed, these people seem blinded by the bullshit. If they stopped to look at things they would realize they have less and less when compared to the massive profits and wealth owned by the ultra rich.

On and on the economic system goes, the hints of what is really happening gets louder and louder, and the wealthy keep the curtain pulled and the noise-muffling headphones on to keep most of them from hearing or seeing the real world. I find it very ironic that the so called “reality shows” that dominate television today are nothing real at all; they are smoke screens to keep the majority of workers occupied with mind-numbing crap day in and day out, so that they do not notice what is happening to them. The machine is on, and the game is played 24/7, so that we do not “see” anything. The few true images that get in are dismissed: “I see those poor people dying in (fill in your favorite third world disaster here), but I can’t do anything from here, I am only one person, and I need my stuff and my car and my hairdo and my ridiculously expensive clothes and my this, that and the other.”

Of course, I know that jumping on the middle class does no good; most are good people, some give to charity every so often and some of that gets to help people and so on. People are trying, and I know that most people mean well, but here is the problem with that thinking: it will never work and things will get worse. The rich will always want more; the machine that powers the game demands spending and consumption … so get out there and shop!

As members of one of the richest societies on the planet, we must make a stand and stop participating in the charade, stop buying stuff and using more than we need and wasting the resources. The only way to really “win” is to take the profit away from the ultra wealthy corporations by refusing to participate in the game, and we do this on behalf of those who cannot play the game or who never get into the game in the first place.

Join us at 10 a.m., Oct. 5 for our next Coffee Talk for a conversation on Money and Ethics. The discussion will take place at Chairs Coffee

Alan Eschenbacher
Alan Eschenbacherhttp://www.allsaintsgather.com
The Rev. Alan B. Eschenbacher serves as pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church.

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Paul Susac
Paul Susac
10 years ago

Here is the thing. Yes, capitalism is a flawed, destructive and exploitative system, but it is also an EVOLVED system. This means that we didn’t make it, any more than surfs made feudalism.

We participate in capitalism because it is the only strategy for survival that our culture affords us.

Capitalism will end (all things end), and something else will take it’s place. Maybe it will be less destructive, maybe it won’t. But we won’t choose that either. It will happen as a result of social movements that emerge out of the choices that we make, just as capitalism did.

This is not to say we are powerless. We do have decisions to make, and we have ethical dilemmas within the capitalist system, but those choices are WITHIN the system.

So far, economic social movements, from communism to free-market fundamentalism, have failed to take control of the market for more than a generation or two. The system will change when it must change. I for one am not smart enough to know what that’s going to look like, or even if it will be in my lifetime.

For right now, I’ll be happy if we can just start arresting a few bankers.

Paul Susac
Paul Susac
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Susac

One thing to add:

Check out the work of Richard Wolf. He’s an economist who’s promoting a different system. It is possible that this alternative system will catch on, but I doubt the owners of the current system will play fair and let it take off. Certainly that has not been their track record.


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