Another thought provoking article from Paul Farrell. I kept wanting to disagree with him, but he makes a solid case. I see the situation somewhat different. Their is a super rich class that use their wealth and power to control the country and further enrich themselves. Their is a moocher class that grows by the day. It’s the broad swath in the middle that are getting screwed by the Super Rich and the moochers. We pay the taxes and we are most affected by inflation and Wall Street criminality. One Super Bowl commercial sure has stirred up a hornets nest of dialogue.
Halftime in America? More like sudden death
Commentary: Did Clint’s pep talk signal end to mutant capitalism?
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Halftime in America, Clint,Eastwood calls it. Halftime? No folks, the game’s in overtime for Wall Street, the Super Rich and their “mutant capitalism,” as Jack Bogle calls America’s out-of-whack economic system in his “Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.”
It’s an economy so distorted we’re creating an ever-widening inequity gap bigger than the one that ignited the 1929 Crash and Great Depression.
Worse, Clint’s game metaphor from his talked-about Super Bowl ad only fits if we shift from games like football to Wall Street’s casino gambling and games like derivatives trading, where the house always wins.
The Game is also not about politics. Politicians don’t work for voters. Both parties are just mercenaries placing bets in a high-stakes casino bankrolled by and for the Super Rich.
Forget democracy, voting, politics. It’s now painfully obvious to all that today billionaires with personal agendas are running American politics. Our votes are irrelevant. The Super Rich bet on both parties. And they get huge payoffs, no matter who’s elected.
No Clint, this is not a game, this is war, anarchy, an out-of-control economic war that’s already rewarded the top 1% with a 265% wealth increase the past three decades, while the incomes of the 99% have flat-lined, killing the middle class.
This is war Clint. You got it right, we are indeed in one of history’s darkest times where “we’ve lost our heart,” and “the fog of division, discord and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead.”
Our darkest enemy
Fortunately, Clint’s not a quitter, he knows that after past “trials, we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one. Because that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times … All that matters now is what’s ahead.” Solutions: “How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And, how do we win?”
Listening to Clint the coach’s pep talk got me thinking: Maybe we’re not really in a war. Maybe America really can make a historic turn. Maybe it really is just “halftime in America. And our second half is about to begin.”
We know Clint is coaching a team of American Optimists. But who’s the opposing team? Not our politicians. Nor special interest lobbyists. Nor economists. They’re all mercenaries for a price, pawns, bag men for the Super Rich who rule America from the shadows.
But our enemy is also not individual Super Rich billionaires, men like Foster Friess and Sheldon Adelson. Yes, their big bucks can easily buy favors from politicians, economists, lobbyists and other mercenaries.
Ultimately, all Super Rich billionaires are linked to and controlled by a mysterious Master Mind, a shadowy collective ideology, a Super Brain directing the richest Americans at a subconscious level, telling each billionaire what to think, say and do.
Adam Smith called it “The Invisible Hand.” Unfortunately, Smith’s original 1776 capitalist economic ideas have been turned upside down and enshrined in the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand, the patron saint of today’s Super Rich.
Capitalism’s extreme solution
In “The Fountainhead,” Ayn Rand hints at the inevitable destiny of capitalism. The leading character Howard Roark is the ultimate individualist, an idealistic architect and archetypal free-market capitalist. Enraged when some second-rate competitors compromise the integrity of his plans for a modern building, he seeks revenge, takes the law into his own hands, sneaks onto the construction site at night, dynamites the construction, destroying it.
“The Fountainhead” is a perfect metaphor for today’s self-sabotaging capitalism. Rand’s commanding voice is imbedded deeply in our collective unconscious, guiding the decisions of the Super Rich, while paradoxically undermining America’s role as the world’s super power.
The polarizing of today’s culture has its strongest roots in another Rand classic, “Atlas Shrugged,” where a capitalist elite engage in a perpetual cultural warfare for the soul of America, waging war against society’s “moochers, looters and parasites,” anyone and everyone demanding government money to solve their problems.
Rand was convinced America was collapsing, from free-market capitalism into socialism: “When I say ‘capitalism,’ I mean a pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism, with a separation of economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as a separation of state and church.”
Why? Because “capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of values possible in practice.”
Unfortunately, in the past generation Rand’s mutant capitalism has drifted far from Adam Smith’s 1776 ideal of capitalism, warping into a narcissistic self-serving conspiracy of the Super Rich, rather than a economy offering equal opportunities for everyone.
Rand’s capitalism hates religion, altruism, social programs, democracy
This self-destructive capitalism was challenged in “Ayn Rand and Jesus,” a USA Today op-ed last year. Stephen Prothero, a Boston University professor and author of “God is Not One,” challenged Rand’s disciples: “Idolatry of this conservative icon should lead to some soul-searching” because “Christian morality has no place in an ‘Atlas Shrugged’ world.”
Prothero warns that “no one seems to be taking notice of just how opposed their two philosophies are.” For Rand, the war is not between “God vs. Satan, but individualism vs. collectivism. While Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor,’ she sings Hosannas to the rich. The heroes of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ …are the captains of industry … the villains are the ‘looters and moochers,’ people who by hook (guilt) or by crook (government coercion) steal from the hard-won earnings of” of the Super Rich.
In short, Rand turn “traditional Christian morality” on its head as well as distorting the integrity of Adam Smith’s economic ideals. Instead, in Rand’s mutant capitalism, “altruism is immoral and selfishness is good. Moreover, there isn’t a problem in the world that laissez-faire capitalism can’t solve if left alone to perform its miracles.”
Yes, in today’s new world, Super-Rich capitalists are miracle workers, creating a perfect trickle-down economy for the 99%. Yes, capitalists are the world’s new saviors.
But can you imagine Jesus ever saying stuff like that? No wonder Prothero says “Rand’s work reads to me like a vulgar rationalization for greed lying on top of a perverse myth.” And it surprised “at how few GOP thinkers seem to see how hostile her philosophy is to conservatism itself.”
Why? There’s nothing Christian about Rand’s defense of a soulless capitalism that not only lacks traditional Christian compassion but also is based on self-serving, narcissistic individualism. And if you don’t like the results, blow it up.
Clint expects a comeback win
Future historians will see Rand as the patron saint of a self-destructive capitalism that’s dominated both political parties for well over a generation. Her legacy will also include the “Death of Capitalism,” as a result of the market collapse Bogle anticipated in his “Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.”
Until recently, Rand’s mutant capitalism has been rapidly metastasizing, eating away at America’s core values, a virus infecting our soul with a toxic belief in a greedy, selfish “every man for himself” economy.
Now a turning point: Clint comes on camera with a new script, that’s nudging Rand’s toxic dogma into the history books. True, we had “lost our heart.” And “the fog of division, discord and blame made it hard to see ahead.”
Rand’s extreme “every man for himself” capitalism is a toxic virus. As it metastasized, we lost the spirit of 1776 that drove 57 capitalists to risk everything — life, family and fortune — when they became one to sign the Declaration of Independence. We must recapture that commitment.
Yes, it is time “we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one.” Time to do what’s right. As one.
Halftime? Overtime? Sudden death? We’ll soon know. Meanwhile, the coach demands more from us: “I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life … times when we didn’t understand each other … lost our heart … when the fog of division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead. … but after those trials, we all rallied around what was right … acted as one … because that’s what we do … find a way through tough times … and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one … All that matters now is what’s ahead. … How do we come from behind? … How do we come together? How do we win? … This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do, the world is going to hear the roar of our engines … Yeah, it’s halftime America … But the fog is lifting … time to rally around what was right, to act as one … come from behind … our second half is about to begin.”