Thursday, April 24, 2014

Young Vs. Old: Let's Face Whom The Real Enemy Is

By Manifesto Joe

A recent cover story on the AARP Bulletin focused on the subject of conflict between young and old in America. Other publications, such as the right-wing libertarian "Reason" magazine, would have people believe that the old are ripping off the young. Hey, I want to know where my cut is -- I'm still waiting for all that trickle-down from back in the '80s. (Always felt more like "tinkle-down" to me.)

Anybody who's been unemployed after the age of 50 can tell you that age discrimination is a very real thing in America. If my greed for entitlements is so debilitating to the general economy, and to the young in particular, why am I being pushed toward the door so unceremoniously? At 57, going on 58, death is probably not all that far away, but why am I already being treated like I'm dead? I honestly wouldn't mind retiring now, but I'm too young to get entitlements, and the fucking Republicans are swearing that they are going to repeal "Obamacare," so how am I going to get medical insurance if they have their way?

It's time to confront whom the real enemy is. Corporate capitalism!

Karl Marx was wrong about a lot of things, but I think he was dead-on right about a few. One was the propensity of capitalism, despite repeated attempts at reform, to revert back to its original, primitive, exploitative form. We're seeing it happen now.

The "real enemy" is the plain fact that technology is being used by corporate capitalism to get by with as few living employees as possible, which is probably why our economic "recovery" has been so damned jobless. Every time I try to pay a bill by phone, I'm confronted with an automated system. I often end up having to talk to a real person, but I have to circumvent the automation to have access to one. And that person is usually some poor slob at a phone bank in Bangalore, the cheapest person the outsourcing corporation could get.

I can't see corporate capitalism, in its current form, surviving into the 22nd century. And this has nothing to do with age. Those of us who are over 50 merely expect to be able to collect on a system we've been paying into our whole lives. Those under 30 may resent having to carry us, if you buy the argument of the likes of Texas Gov. Rick "El Pendejo" Perry that Social Security is merely a Ponzi scheme. But there's a hideous irony here. I'm perfectly willing to keep working past 65, if I'm physically able. But can I get a job? Let's go back to the age-discrimination issue again.

After being laid off, I eventually got a job -- after putting out 58 resumes. It took over 6 months, plus the Texas Workforce Commission essentially stealing from me on a legal technicality. I sympathize entirely with the plight of unwanted under-30s. But what is going to happen when you one day become an unwanted over-50?

Let's get down to whom the real enemy is. It's the system, the way it is now. I am well aware that the Soviet model of socialism didn't work, and that the Maoist model fared little better. But the day of change is coming soon. It has to. I don't expect to live to see it -- my generation is too engrossed with the ideological baggage that has brought us to this. But the day of the throw-away workforce will end at some point. When people can no longer buy what they need, they will start taking it. That day is not far off.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Anonymous said...

I'm increasingly doubtful as to whether the U.S. is even a "capitalist" system these days.
We saw in 2008 just how "capitalist" the U.S. is when the government bailed out the crooks on Wall Street with trillions of our tax dollars.
Just how "capitalist" is the U.S. economy?
Take Walmart, for example. Does Walmart really have anything to do with capitalism and free markets?
This is a company that imports all of its products from a state-controlled economy (China). While some aspects of China have moved toward the free market in recent years, the overhaul economy is still heavily controlled by the Communist Party (which still, to this day, guides the economy via massive "5 year plans," just as it did in the days of Mao).
Anyone who believes that China is a "capitalist" nation is fooling themselves. This, after all, is a nation where not one square inch of land is privately owned.
Walmart pays its workers a crappy wage which is heavily subsidized by the taxpayer, via food stamps and Medicaid.
Meanwhile, the overall U.S. economy and the dollar are propped up with trillions of dollars in foreign capital, mainly from China and Japan.
The dollar's dominance, via the "petro-dollar" standard, itself has little to do with the "free market."
The whole jerry-rigged, Ponzi scheme upon which the U.S. economy rests has little to do with the system that was described by Adam Smith. And the whole system is on a shaky foundation, primed for collapse.
China and Russia, for example, have already expressed a desire to replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency. And they have the clout to bring onboard other nations, as well.
At one time, the U.S. was strong enough to resist such a move. But we no longer are.

Marc McDonald said...

Speaking of Marx, this new book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," by Thomas Piketty is a update of sorts to "Das Kapital," (updating Marx with modern economic data).
One might think that a 700-page-book written by a French economist would find a limited U.S. audience. But amazingly, the book is currently No. 1 on the Amazon bestseller list.
Predictably, wingnut radio has been going apeshit and urging listeners to flood Amazon's rating system with bogus one-star "reviews."
I've read the book myself and found that it makes a solid case that current inequality trends pose a threat to democracy. I'm not sure that anything will be done to address this, but it's nice to see books on this topic finding an audience these days. At least we can't say we weren't warned.

Jack Jodell/ said...

Right on, Manifesto Joe - you have made many EXCELLENT points here! Capitalism (ESPECIALLY the Corporate variety) has been exposed for what it truly is: an immoral, bankrupt failure run by greedy wealthy libertarians FOR greedy, wealthy libertarians. It fails the needs of the overwhekming majority completely, and should be replaced by a far more egalitarian system as soon as possible!

Manifesto Joe said...

Anon: If you define capitalism as a "competitive" system, I would be inclined to agree that the system we are seeing now doesn't meet the definition. I would be more inclined to define it as private ownership. It's pretty much always been the case that it's a rigged game. But when the property is in private hands, it cannot be held publicly accountable, and is usually anti-democratic.

Manifesto Joe said...

Jack, thanks for stopping by. I've been remiss about checking out other blogs amid serious personal burnout. But I've aways kept you on my reading list.

mycue23 said...

Keep up the good work, Joe.

Anonymous said...

Question: How many free-market economists are needed to change a light-bulb?

Answer: None. They just wait for the invisible hand to do it.

Manifesto Joe said...

Always felt more like a fist to me.

Old Scout said...

Our economic system is a mixed system, loosely based on a financial model from post WW-I Germany. We socialise costs with our tax system, writing off losses as deductions or exclusions, using cost + defense contracts and bankruptcy to walk away from it all. We then privatise profits, shipping them off-shore to investment and tax havens. We then marginalise employment and aggregate demand by having local governments distribute food, rent subsidies and states compensate businesses by paying the unemployed to remain unemployed.

Anonymous said...

Perry is facing a criminal investigation for potential bribery, coercion, and abuse of office. This hasn't really been reported much in the media.
Incidentally, Perry's defense lawyer is getting paid $450/hour (the bill is footed by Texas taxpayers). The tab thus far has been around $60,000.