Doing The Right Thing: Our Economic System Should Not Trump Social Values

A recent article on Alternet, "Bill Moyers and James Galbraith: Our Free Market Makes Economic Collapse Inevitable" prompted this essay. Especially the quote of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "A second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, or race, or creed."

FDR's remarks describe social goals. Many people today find no place for social goals. They want to adbicate such concepts in favor of an economic system that favors the rich—capitalists—at the expense of the public. They hate the idea of a corporation being taxed to fund social programs and environmental programs. They prefer to abdicate planning of any kind believing that capitalism will do "the right thing."

Capitalism is foremost an economic theory. But many politicians are determined to give capitalism, and earmarks for their constituency, priority over any political action. Corporate taxes and controls are held to be anathema—how dare you take my money? how dare you tell me what I can and cannot do? Many people think "central planning" is akin to devil worship.

We are urged to let business alone because only then will it do "the right thing." From which we, or some of us, will benefit.

Elected politicians, seemingly en masse, assume their mandate is to screw their constituency in favor of corporations. The only social planning they like to particpate in is the simplistic assignation of social decisions to businesses, who have absolutely no obligation to the public in any form.

I for one am tired of the line of thought that says haughtily—don't worry your pretty little head, of course I'll do what's best.

Feminism is the effort to achieve a society where people's actions and possibilities, both public and private, are sex-blind. Where people are not automatically mistreated because they are female. Where there is no second sex.

We desperately need a similar attitude that grants our economic system no special rights, but insists it be subservient to the private and public needs of the entire population. "Socialism" seems an accurate word to apply to this situation, but it is persona non grata. We need a new label to carry us forward.

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Written: 11-5-2009. Revision: 11-5-2009.