Capitalism - the Gift That Keeps on Taking

Michael Gene Sullivan

with HTML formatting by Cassiel C. MacAvity

Michael Gene Sullivan is a relatively happy guy.

    Michael Gene Sullivan is an award-winning actor, director, and playwright. As an actor and director his work includes productions with the American Conservatory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Magic, Marin, Eureka, and Lorraine Hansberry Theaters, Theatreworks, and the San Francisco and African American Shakespeare Companies, and has toured nationally and internationally.

    As a playwright, Mr. Sullivan's political dramas, musicals, and satires include 1600 Transylvania Avenue, Mr. Smith Goes to Obscuristan (with Josh Kornbluth), Godfellas, Red State, Too Big to Fail, Possibilidad or The Death of the Worker, the all-woman farce Recipe, and his one person show, Did Anyone Ever Tell You -- You Look Like Huey P. Newton? Mr. Sullivan's plays have been performed at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, the International Festival of Verbal Art (Berlin), The Hong Kong Arts Festival, and in Greece, Spain, Columbia, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and in theaters throughout the United States.

    In 1989 Mr. Sullivan became a member of the Tony and OBIE award-winning (and despite its misleading name never, ever silent) San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he has acted in, directed, or written over 30 productions. In 2000 he became the Troupe's Resident Playwright, and has since written some of SFMT's most successful political comedies.

    1984, (Available from is his critically-acclaimed stage adaptation of George Orwell's dystopic novel of the oppressive present/future, had its world premiere in 2006 at the Actors' Gang, directed by Academy Award winning actor Tim Robbins. After several extended runs in Los Angeles, 1984 has gone on to several national tours, as well as tours to Greece, Spain, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, Columbia, and Argentina. Published in English in 2013 Michael is currently working on the Catalan and Spanish translations of the script.


    Posted April 17, 2009 | 10:04 PM (EST)

    Capitalism - the Gift That Keeps on Taking: Part I

    Part one of a four-part series in which Michael makes it clear why he's never been invited to a corporate brunch -- but he's not bitter.

    What exactly is capitalism?

    Some say it's the highest, most elegant economic structure upon which robust wealth for all can be built. Others say it's a flashy, coked-out thug with an uzi in a dark alley who threatens to shoot your kids unless you give him access to your 401k.

    Personally, I think capitalism is simply a concept that does not, in the long run, work. It's like communism -- it looks good on paper.

    Now, communism doesn't work because it requires people to act, well, not like people. Everybody working together for the common good, common ownership of public wealth, wise stewardship of public resources, respect, justice, yadda yadda that's ever gonna happen. It's hard enough getting roommates to wash their own dishes, let alone getting them to work together to end corporate oppression.

    Remember, these are people we are talking about. People -- the ones who put dire health warnings on cigarette packages so they'll have something to read while they suck hot, smoky death into their lungs. If we as a species can't figure out that voluntarily breathing poisonous gas is a bad idea, how can we manage something as complicated and altruistic as economic equality?

    So let's leave communism to the higher animals, like the bees.

    Capitalism, on the other hand, seems extremely doable, doesn't it? Dog eat dog, survival of the fittest, every man for himself -- I mean, how hard is that?

    Well, first off, dogs don't really eat dogs very often. In fact, they are famous for working together, in packs. Dogs eating dogs is actually kind of a warning sign that something is very wrong with the ecosystem, "Survival of the Fittest" doesn't account for slick marketing and stock manipulation, and the only "every man" who is actually for "himself" is a hermit. Stinky, hairy, and whatever they are making all by themselves, I doubt you want any. It takes hundreds of people -- parents, friends, teachers, clients, employees -- to make one successful person. The only thing self-made about a "self-made man" is his inflated sense of his self-madeness.

    So what, exactly is this economic system that produces enormous wealth for the few, but low wages and cringing debt for the rest; that promises mansions on the moon, but delivers a tenement on a superfund site in New Jersey -- a system that always and only puts profit before humanity, a system that has a history of regularly crashing and burning, taking a chunk of our future with it each time?

    What Is Capitalism?

    Many Americans think capitalism means the right to vote.

    Nope. That's democracy. In capitalism only dollars vote.

    Many think capitalism is in the Bill of Rights.

    It's not. If you haven't read it, do. It's one page.

    How about the rest of the constitution?

    Nope. Nothing in there about buying low and selling high.

    Some think it's all of us working together to improve all our lives.

    Theoretically, that's socialism.

    Or maybe capitalism is just a willingness to work hard, using your brain, brawn, or talent to get ahead? Enriching yourself by the honest sweat of your own brow, or hard earned intellect?

    A "capitalist" is someone who makes a living not from their own labor, but from their money, their "capital." See, that's why it's called "capitalism," and not "laborism," or "hardworkism." Interest, dividends, stock sales -- not work. If you work for a living -- even if it's intellectual work, and you need that paycheck to live -- you are a worker. (Middle class is just a worker with a mortgage.) "Oh, what about the hairdresser on the corner! What about the mechanic down the block!" Well, what about 'em? If you own a business that you have to work at to make a living, you are an owner/operator, a self-employed worker. Let me say that again: If you own a small business that you have to work at you are not a capitalist! Sorry to shout, but for some reason people have a hard time with that one. The hairdresser, mechanic and the rest are owner/operators, living on their labor, and if they stop working they fail. Workers.

    If, however, their "capital" provides enough financial return for them, they are capitalists.

    That's it.

    Most Americans are not capitalists. They might want to be capitalists, but no matter how much you, or that hardworking barista, that well paid techno-nerd, small farmer, or gangsta rapping bank teller may want to be capitalists, you are not capitalists. You are workers.

    You probably belong to the class whose income does not cover all its needs, and who rely on public wealth and services to survive. Government-funded roads, police and firefighters, government oversight for clean air, water, and food. Free public schools, libraries, and parks for your kids -- all those services that capitalists say don't work because they haven't been privatized -- all the things and services we citizens can't afford by ourselves, so we pool our money in the form of taxes to pay for. Actually, when you think about it, all the wannabe capitalists are living like socialists.

    At this point some shiny-toothed twit normally lurches from his barcalounger and snorts "But we've never really given real Capitalism a chance!" That's right, Snuffy. And d'ya know why? Because every time -- every time -- America starts down an unregulated, pure-capitalism road and lets free-market capitalists get all jiggy wid our economy the whole damn country almost falls apart! Historically the closer we've gotten to unregulated capitalism the worse things have gotten, and I, for one, think it would be batshit nuts to let our ship of state hit the easily avoided iceberg of profit-driven stupidity and sink just because crazy old Captain CapitalistPants demands an unfettered chance at the wheel. Thank goodness our parents and grandparents had the wisdom to save this nation from it's own unregulated greed.

    But back to my point:

    Now that we know who is and who is not a capitalist, let's look at why this steaming sack of profit driven demonology is antithetical to common sense, human values, kindness, puppies, Mom, and apple pie...


    Capitalism - the Gift That Keeps on Taking: Part II

    From Part One:

    Most Americans are not capitalists. They might want to be capitalists, but no matter how much you, or that hardworking barista, that well-paid techno-nerd, small farmer, or gangsta rapping bank teller may want to be capitalists, you are not capitalists. You are workers.

    Now that we know who is and who is not a capitalist, let's look at why this steaming sack of profit-driven demonology is antithetical to common sense, human values, kindness, puppies, Mom, and apple pie..."


    Part Two:

    Let's start with that barista, shall we? The wannabe/thinks she is a/capitalist, smiling while she serves up hot joe to a morning rush of caffeine-craving tension bombs. There she is, sweating over extra cinnamon froth, hurriedly steaming free range milk, and doing it all for minimum wage. Think about that: Minimum wage. Until recently many of our wealthiest publicly-traded corporations boasted about the begamajillions they showered on their CEOs, while simultaneously paying many of their hardest-working employees the government-mandated, rock-bottom amount they legally could get away with. Now, in the spotlight, some of these companies have cut back on their more obscene compensation packages, but if you think that money got shifted to those hard-working folks who actually need it, think again. And why would America's favorite high-value, low-price, supermarket to the world, we bring good things to light, 40 billion burgers sold, every corner coffee companies pay as little as they can without breaking the law? Because capitalism dictates that Labor costs be kept as low as possible so the greatest possible profit can be returned to the Investors. The workers do all of the work, and the money people get all of the profit. And profit only comes from raising prices and/or lowering wages. Corporations are legally mandated to return dividends, not pay reasonable wages to the people who do the actual work. So when that Barista can't make rent, get a winter coat, or buy school supplies for her kid it isn't because she isn't working hard enough, or that there isn't enough money. She's working plenty hard, but the extra money the corporation makes from her hard work is going to the capital investors, not her -- though a little is spent on her for propaganda to keep her believing that Capitalism works for her.

    Myth: Capitalism Creates Wealth

    No. Labor creates wealth. Capitalism simply profits from the labor.

    Here's a test: A guy with no money on the beach. With his bare hands he builds a sand castle that is so beautiful people pay him to take their picture in front of it. All he invested was his labor, and he will have more money than he started with.

    Labor = Money.

    Another guy. Same beach, $100 in his pocket.

    And that's it. Unless he does something. or pays someone to do something, that $100 is not going to increase. "Oh, he could invest it." Hold on, there, Sparky. Wherever the guy would invest his $100 his return would rely on someone's labor to turn it into profit. Starbucks is a profitable corporation, but if a laborer didn't pick the coffee beans, roast the coffee beans, grind the coffee beans, or add hot water to make overpriced, hot bean juice, Starbucks investors would never make a profit. Labor is the essential ingredient to profit. So why aren't we all proud Laborists, rather than wannabe Capitalists? Propaganda. And what kind of economy do you get when a nation convinces itself that money breeds money, investment alone creates wealth, and that labor is irrelevant? Look out the window.

    Myth: Capitalism Is Self-Regulating

    This is the statement made each time the market crashes -- that the real problem is that there are regulations at all, and that if left alone the market will fix itself. If your car ran like Capitalism -- some days humming along great, other days needing a government tow truck to get it to a shop where the mechanic can only promise more booms and breakdowns after it's "fixed" -- you wouldn't call your car "self-regulating." You'd call it junk. You'd give it away on Craigslist for parts and start looking for something that worked. But the mechanics of Wall Street -- the same mental minnows who two years ago insisted the economic engine was just warming up when in fact the damn car was on fire -- when these sleazy, used car-selling felons tell us this is how the car of capitalism is supposed to run, we consistently fail to trade it in for a better model.

    Myth: Capitalism Fosters Competition

    Okay, that's just insane. The object of any corporation is to dominate its market, not joyfully share it. It's not about building a better mousetrap, it's about lowering labor costs so the competition's price can be undercut, while building enough investor capital so that all the competing, and perhaps better, mousetrap companies can simply be bought. And anyone who says something different is trying to sell you on tossing out some anti-monopoly regulation. The goal of capitalism is profit. Market dominance equals greater profit. Monopoly insures dominance. The enemy of monopoly is competition. Capitalism always tends toward monopoly.

    Myth: Capitalism Works Best with Fewer or No Restrictions

    Really? Remember the Recession of 1981? Most serious economic slump since the Great Depression? And what preceded it? The Depository Institutions Deregulations and Monetary Control Act of 1980, which ended many of the regulations on how banks invest your money. Regulations gone, and so they played in the stock market, speculated in Real Estate, lost our dough, and the Federal Government had to spend $870 million to bail them out. Is this sounding familiar? And that was when $870 million could really buy something! And how did these cash-sucking colon worms follow that? With the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, which further deregulated banks, and also the...wait for it...Savings and Loans! By 1983 the FDIC listed 540 banks on the verge of failure, and then the S&L crisis popped. Who didn't see that coming? Another $160 billion! All this during the Reagan "Recovery."

    And what legislative Crap-o-rama landed in 1999, right before the latest daylight robbery of our future? The Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, overturning the bank regulating Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had separated commercial and investment banking. Result? Again, look outside! Go! Now! Look! Every bust is proceeded by a natural disaster, a war, some investment bubble, or the loosening of some regulations. History shows that capitalists, like wars, earthquakes, and floods, will always wreck our country -- the only difference being natural disasters don't also rob us in the process.


    Capitalism - The Gift That Keeps On Taking - Part III

    From Part Two:

    "Every bust is proceeded by a natural disaster, a war, some investment bubble, or the loosening of some regulations. History shows that Capitalists, like wars, earthquakes, and floods, will always wreck our country - the only difference being natural disasters don't also rob us in the process."

    Part Three:


    My friend John, who has been in the financial sector for 29 years (most of them at the largest bank in the United States), says people in the business of money are always, always looking for ways to steal, and that fewer regulations simply give them fewer laws to break while they try to separate you from "their" money. The system is set up for bankers, stock brokers, money managers - anyone involved with "Capital" - to view personal and corporate profit as their only goals, any regulation as the enemy, and whatever pain and economic destruction their undocumented crimes cause along the way as collateral damage, and the societal price of doing Business. AIG, Lehman Bros., Countrywide, UBS, GM, GE, Monsanto, Exxon... Hey did you hear the quote from Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical corporation? ""We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business." Remember Enron? The pack of Texas-sized dickwads who manipulated California's energy market, ripped off their own workers retirement funds, and giggled like little girls about grandmothers freezing in winter? Why did grown men think that was okay? Because the philosophy of Capitalism told them that anything done to get a profit was okie dokie. Enron was not the exception of Capitalism- Enron is the rule.


    No, Capitalism engenders an accumulation of wealth, high-stakes financial crimes, and an economic aristocracy. Democracy and justice engender freedom.


    While Capitalism was a huge leap forward in the struggle against Feudalism, in the end it has simply replaced an aristocracy of blood and money with one of money and blood.


    Capitalism is compassionate if there is a profit in it. If they can make money saving your life, Capitalists will do it, and if the profit is in letting you die, you're dead. Remember the Pinto? Ford Corporation knew the cars could explode, but calculated it was cheaper to pay for good marketing and the wrongful death lawsuits than recall and fix the cars. Merck knew that the drug Vioxx could kill you, but with $2.5 billion in annual sales and almost $50 per share, they reckoned their profits would more than take care of paying your surviving relatives for your fatal stroke. Corporations are not designed to provide goods or services in exchange for money; they are designed to make money, while grudgingly providing as little service, or the cheapest product possible, while giving the profit to the investors. Capitalism would let the cutest baby in the world starve to death on it's doorstep... unless there was a profit in saving it.


    Oh, Christ! Aren't you paying attention? Remember the whole minimum wage thing? The Barista? It was in Part Two! In the name of Free Trade/Anti-Protectionist/Bottom Line crap these Friedman spouting blowholes pay as little as they can to the very people Capitalism relies on as customers! Henry Ford - the Capitalist hero who, at the time, was accused of being a Bolshevik for paying his workers so much - even he knew it was flat out dumb to pay your own employees too little to be the consumers the economy needs. Such blind greed should have been rebelled against decades ago: villagers with torches, workers with hammers, farmers with sickles, let-them-eat-cake capitalist swine chased naked and screaming through the streets, and high paid corporate heads high on sticks held aloft by gleeful children. But for some reason the underpaid workers didn't rebel. Why? What, besides long-running sit-coms, could make them forget their dwindling wages and spiraling debt? What magnificent invention kept Capitalism's gears oiled just enough to allow it to lurch on?

    Credit Cards!

    The great Faustian gift of the Capitalists to the Working Class - Buy now, pay for the rest of your life! Easy credit helped push those lowest wages even lower, since the workers only have to make low, low monthly payments stretched out into an infinite future. Easily obtained credit cards allow ever-increasing deficit spending. No longer did the working class have to decide between buying this or that with their dwindling paycheck - buy both! Result - consumer credit debt has skyrocketed. The underpaid, deeply in debt American worker is now responsible for 70% of the economy because of our purchases and payments... but not for long. With American wages depressed in the name of Capitalism, payments will not be met, and Credit Card companies, unable to cover their own debts, will start falling from the sky like banks. And what's left of the economy may fail.

    Capitalism is self-sustaining like a cancer - it sustains itself as it kills it's host.


    No, no it doesn't. It has failed repeatedly through it's brief history, each time because of speculation and rampant greed, each time absconding with a huge chunk of wealth.

    The Crash of 1857. Cause: Land Speculation and embezzlement. Federal Government sells revenue bonds to revive markets.

    Panic of 1869. Cause: Gold speculation. Federal government sells gold to lower prices.

    Long Depression of 1873 - '79. (Known for decades as the Great Depression... alot they knew!) Cause - Railroad speculation. Federal government issues land subsidies to lower prices, stabilize markets.

    Panic of 1893. Cause: Railroad speculation. Federal government.... no! Gold strike in Klondike buoys market! Let's hear it for the exploitation of Mother Earth!

    Panic of 1907. Cause: Copper speculation. Federal government passes Federal Reserve Act to help regulate bank credit.

    Great Depression of 1929 - 1940's. Cause: just flat out speculation across the board. Federal government does flat out spending across the board to revive economy. And that includes WWII! Who do you think paid for that, Rockefeller?

    At this point the big depressions and panics kinda taper off. Why? American know how? The victory of our style of Capitalism? Gumption?

    Nah. Every other industrialized country in the world had their factories bombed from 1939 until 1945, so there was no competition for American goods. That's it. America became the economic powerhouse of the world simply because we could still make stuff to sell while everyone else was digging themselves out of rubble. Cars, refrigerators, watches, whatever - jobs a plenty, and foreign cash flowed in while "Made in America" flowed out. Not because our Capitalism kung fu was good or better or right, but because we weren't bombed. And that worked until the rest of the world rebuilt. Then suddenly everything was made in Japan, Taiwan... and slowly the dough started to dry up. Result? Crash of 1973. But this time the Federal Government does... nothing. Politicians had forgotten how to save the economy . Markets stay low for 20 years.

    Which brings us back to the Reagan Recession/S&L Crisis of the 80's, and the new approach to economics: trickle down.

    This is not a complete list of crashes, by the way. Huffington Post does have a word limit, and I'm way over already! I only included the big ones. But the pattern is clear. Each time millions, billions lost. And each time - except for the Gold Rush - each time the Federal Government rode to the rescue. That's right - our hard earned tax dollars, all that money that should go to making our collective lives better instead is repeatedly sucked away and fed to the freshly dead zombie corpse of Capitalism as it is once again dragged from it's too, too shallow grave by Corporatists and Corporate Politicians, and resuscitated before our very eyes. And it is never, ever a strong dose of more Capitalism that is injected into this tottering, thieving, crack head of the Undead. Oh, no! What saves Capitalism each time, giving it enough life to kill more of our hopes and dreams? Government spending! Regulations! Socialism! The very things the Capitalists tell us are the problems are always used by the Capitalists to prop up the nightmare illusion we call the Free Market. How did Reagan work his recession out? By increasing public spending... on the military! Biggest increase in history! The Left was horrified, but the Market was thrilled! Lockheed, GE, GM, Raytheon, Dow... all our money spent on overpriced crap. Conservatives like to blame the government for wasteful spending, but since the mid-80's the U.S. military budget has been the longest running, most expensive corporate bailout in history.

    And after the Nasdaq Crash - why do you think Capitalists were pushing so hard to get Social Security money into the Stock Market? Because they cared about our retirements? It was because they knew the latest bubble had burst, and Market was going to fail, once again, without a big infusion of public dough. The didn't get their hands on Social Security, so instead they went after high-risk, unsecured loans - anything to get our money flowing to them, keeping them afloat. Capitalists have reduced Adam Smith's vision of economic liberalization to a simple Ponzi Scheme, which can only run with a constant inflow of cash. Capitalism feeds off the public sector because it cannot stand on it's own.


    Capitalism - The Gift That Keeps On Taking: Part IV

    What Is Capitalism?

    Unregulated, it is a Ponzi Scheme. This is a term that's been tossed around quite a bit recently, and not everyone knows what it is. A Ponzi Scheme is like a Pyramid Scheme: Someone promises a return on an investment ("Give me twenty bucks, and I'll pay you a dividend of one buck each week for a year"). $52 for a $20 investment? How do they do it? (It's a secret! I have special investments that have great returns!) So you give them your money, and when the dividends start rolling in you tell two friends, who rush to be a part of the bonanza, and in turn each of them tell two friends, etc...and, just like that old shampoo commercial, a pyramid grows. But the truth of the Ponzi Scheme is there are no special, ultra-secret investments, or even cleaner, silky hair. The first investors are simply paid off with the money from the later investors, who are in turn paid off with the money of the latest investors. Ponzi Schemes, just like Pyramid Schemes and Multi-Level Marketing Schemes, require an ever-expanding pool of investors to keep going -- which must grow geometrically. (Hence the term "Pyramid.") But when the inflow of cash stops -- and it always does with a Ponzi/Pyramid scheme because at some point you simply can't find enough new people -- the whole thing collapses...normally right after the people who started it have cashed out and flown the coop.

    And so it is with the Market. It's all about fast talkers and greedy suckers. A broker says "Hey, I've got a hot property! It'll go through the roof soon!" So a bunch of people buy it, which pushes the price up. Other people see the "value" going up, they want to be part of the bonanza, and when they buy the price goes up even more! Mind you, during all of this frenzied buying the actual company may not have changed at all -- nothing may have actually changed except the Capitalist's manipulation of the public perception of the value of the stock. Then, when the Capitalists think the run is over, they sell. Remember, the Capitalists make money buying low and selling high -- selling you stock after they've driven the price as high as they can. And when they sell, the price starts to drop. Seeing the price go down, other people lose confidence and sell, which makes the "value" go down even more. People who bought high are selling low, and the latecomers are wiped out. It's like when those people at the top of the Pyramid Scheme top out, or the early investors in the Ponzi scheme cash in, leaving everyone else wondering where their money went. The only difference is Capitalism's victims never want to believe that the underlying scheme, Capitalism, is the actual scam.

    We were all told real estate values would never go down. Buildings, land, location -- nothing had changed, but suddenly everything had more value, and low interest rates meant this was a chance for everyone to own a piece of the American Dream! Despite the fact that real wages had been going down for thirty years, while prices for everything have gone through the roof, we were all encouraged to buy! It was Bush's "Ownership Society" (remember that?) Buy now, and watch your equity grow! It didn't matter it was a 50-year mortgage you'd die before paying off -- you would have a house that only increased in value, and the Ponzi scheme would have a new stream of cash.

    And who were the last invited to this particular round of Ponzi-mania? High-risk loan applicants. Make no mistake, they were a tiny, tiny drop in the actual financial slop pot, but the Capitalist Bankers scanned the financial horizon, and realized they had expanded their pyramid as wide as they could with people who could reliably pay. Again, a Ponzi scheme must grow, or collapse. But finally workers in underpaid, minimum wage America just couldn't even afford the freakishly low payments on monstrously overpriced homes, and the money stopped flowing. Properties were sold, prices dropped, and the whole thing collapsed. There simply wasn't enough money coming in to keep the Ponzi Scheme going. And now, with promises of change and lessons learned, the Capitalists hope all the wannabe Capitalists will blame a few bad players, and not notice it was the Scheme itself that caused the misery. And after the bailouts and pardons, they hope they can start it all over again.

    Capitalism Works!

    Didn't we go over this? No, no it doesn't! And despite what Obama, Clinton, Summers, or any of these brilliant fools think , it cannot be fixed. It's like bailing out a boat that has proven itself no longer seaworthy, and repeatedly sinks. Capitalism was created in a different age, to solve different problems. It did it's job, but society has evolved past it, and it cannot be "fixed" to catch up with our current needs.

    It doesn't work anymore. Not by itself.

    Here's the thing: we now live in a three-part society.

    One aspect is Capitalist: people with money making investments in companies that produce consumer goods and services. (Michael says this while checking out the new Huffington Post app on his for-profit produced iPod Touch!)

    One aspect is Socialist: Commonly owned resources -- parks, schools, libraries, clean air, clean water, etc., and commonly provided services -- education, law enforcement, etc., which we collectively pay for and provide for ourselves. (Michael takes a deep breath of federally regulated, cleaner-then-it-would-be-if-left-up-to-Wall-Street air.)

    One aspect Communist: Self/Worker owned businesses. (Remember -- all that Stalinist shit wasn't communism. That was Totalitarianism, mixed with "For the People" slogans. Communism simply means the workers own the means of production, and Marx said the Communism without Democracy was unthinkable. Michael thinks Stalin was a punk who gave every worker-owned barbershop or art collective a bad name.)

    The big problem of modern societies has been the battle between each of these important aspects for primacy. It's like the movie "Highlander," and the life and death struggle between immortals because "There can be only one!" The battle between Unregulated Capitalism vs. State Socialism vs. the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Some countries have worked towards a balance, but in the United States Capitalists have fought long and hard against common ownership of anything (except their debts), and in the 1980s the Free Market Zealots started going freaky maniacal against anything that did not turn a profit.

    The fact is we all slide fairly effortlessly between each of these seemingly incompatible economic systems each day. We check our Capitalist 401(k)s while driving down publicly financed streets to get our kids to our essentially Socialist schools before we go to the Communist owner-operated/worker owned coffee shop on our way to a corporate cubicle. Even the biggest Capitalists in the country, who blast Federal spending on services, rely on the Socialist network of roads, schools, environmental protections to keep their workers or consumers from rising up in rebellion. What we need, and the only salvation for our society, economy, and our children's future is to stop the battle, and create a new system in which each of these philosophies is responsible for its aspect: A well-regulated market to generate investment in innovation, a government big enough to provide all the services (and that includes Health Care, Transportation, Energy, and Basic Nutrition) a modern society needs for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and an intercommunal spirit of worker-ownership and responsibility.

    How about CapiCommieSocialism? The cool thing is you can put them in any order, which ever you prefer. CommuSocialCapitalism! SocialCapiCommunism! Your turn! The point is we need and use all three all the time. The Stock Market should never be the dominant factor in any nation's economy - it should be a component. A limited, regulated market has it's place, but that place cannot be at the front.

    What Is Capitalism?

    It is a system of investment in which profit is shared among those who invest their Capital, while those who invest their Labor are considered an unfortunate cost.

    What Is Capitalism?

    It's the siren song of the Free Marketeers, who've repeatedly crashed our Ship of State on the rocks of Capitalist Greed. And each time the Captains of Wall Street have struck up a new song, convincing the surviving galley slaves to rebuild the ship with their own money and row again -- row -- as they sit in filth, row -- as their homes sink, row -- as their children starve, row -- to a fantasy tomorrowland where all their suffering and sacrifice will be forgotten because they, too, will share in the Capitalist Dream!

    What Is Capitalism?

    It is a bankrupt casino. And if we bail it out, try to "fix" it without evolving it to our actual needs, our country will be saddled with it's lies, crimes, and mob bosses until it breaks down again, next time sucking the money out of our children's economy.

    What Is Capitalism?

    As the dominate force in the economy, it is a failure. Milton Friedman was wrong, and I hope somewhere Karl Marx is sitting on Friedman's creaky chest, flicking beard fleas into Milton's dry, cracked piehole. I'm not saying we should spit Capitalism out like the mouthful of rabid maggots it clearly is... okay, I kinda am saying that. But I'm also saying we need first to understand and acknowledge it's failures before we can start to create a new system that addresses the needs of the working many rather than the Capitalist few. Then we need to move on.