Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"The Socialism of Idiots"

One of my favorite political quips of all time is "anti-Semitism is the socialism of idiots," spoken by August Bebel, the leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party in the late 1800s. What he meant was that anti-Semites were blaming economic inequality on Jews rather than on the real culprit, capitalism.  These bigots understood that they were getting shafted by the system, but their hate-filled response only made matters worse.

I think a similar phenomenon is afoot today. The financial collapse of 2008 revealed the failure of laissez-faire capitalism, but in its aftermath both politicians and the masses have spent more time attacking immigrants, teachers, the poor, and public employees unions than Wall Street and its political puppets.  Unfinanced wars and tax cuts for the rich have pushed out current deficit spending to worrisome levels, but it is those battered by the recession living on food stamps who are targeted and castigated.  Instead of calling the banksters to account, teachers and other public employees have found themselves savagely assaulted in the public sphere.  

The economic elites who shorted the market, still retain their Bush era tax cuts, and are experiencing record profits could not be more pleased.  Four years after the collapse, they are still bulletproof, even when engaging in the same reckless behavior that got us here in the first place.  Case in point: Jamie Dimon's JP Morgan chase lost billions of dollars in irresponsible trading, but he was still able to go to Capitol Hill and get elected officials to kiss his ring and ass in equal measure.  That such a thing could happen no longer ceases to surprise me.  After all, it's just been revealed that London banks fixed interest rates in the biggest case of financial fraud in history, but that fact barely entered the political conversation.  

We need to get the finger pointed in the right direction before the current crisis can be resolved.  Until then, many people who are already suffering from the immoral behavior of our economic ruling class will only be made to suffer more.

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