whom to elect, again

October 26th, 2008 by Romeo Anghelache

I found the 3rd party presidential debate very instructive, thanks to the Free and Equal Elections group, Chris Hedges, the moderator, to the CSPAN as the technical backing, and to truthdig as the (re)publisher, as well as to democracynow, for the interviews taken to the alternative presidential candidates.

That said, the whole presidential package is clear for me now: Nader as president, Obama as vice-president; whenever Obama would get too soft, I’m sure Nader would slap his wrists.

Returning to the capitalism and free market fundamentalists, I think there’s a basic fallacy at work in these people’s reasoning: ‘people pursuing their own interests’ solves everything.

It does, in between some limits, but it works against themselves beyond or under those limits: first, a person has to define what’s its own interest; at some moment, some person will think its interest is to get a heroin shot, and thereafter even more, until death. That’s because that person wasn’t aware of the consequences of pursuing its own interest. And one becomes aware through education. But you can’t learn much after you become chemically dependent. So there’s a place where a limit should be imposed. By whom? By the State (which is not a universal scare, but our common social agreement that we are civilized and agree to live with each other instead of hunting each other), if not by friends.

Pursuing one’s own profits, without a limit imposed by the law, hurts even corporations: a corporation is not a biological person, it’s an assembly attempting to get profits for its shareholders, but not all shareholders have the same right of decision, therefore, even the CEO’s own interests are different from the corporation’s interests. The CEO wants to improve his own profits first, and then the rest, if there is any room left. If it weren’t so, we wouldn’t have these periodical Wall Street events.

In a medium with scarce resources, one’s pursuit of one’s own interest is in direct competition with its neighbor, and it looks like money is always a scarce resource.
So the freedom to pursue one’s own interest goes against the rest of the world if it’s not limited socially.

Mr. Baldwin (Constitution party) was surprised that the mainstream media doesn’t do its job as a watchdog. Well, Mr. Baldwin, in a free market environment, the job of the media is to make profit, not to watchdog what you expect it to.

And more, in a free market environment healthcare is a for-profit industry, so why should this industry make you healthy if the profits come from your disease? It’s bad for ya (Carlin). The doctor is there to make a profit, not to heal you. That’s why healthcare should be a service ensured by the government, who will be there at all times, whether you’re healthy or not.

The same goes for the education: in capitalism,the teacher is there for the money, not for teaching you critical thinking. That’s why education should be a public service, the job of government, our common agreement that any newborn should become a human and not a monster. This common agreement is the reason why the education should be mandated for all young persons, not the profit, or one’s own interest, although anyone’s own interest is well-served too by creating critical thinkers all-around.

The same goes for research: if it’s done for the profit of some particular group, like a private company, that research won’t further humanity’s knowledge, will only provide a way to get the money from the rest of the world, and ultimately will finance maintaining the ignorance of the rest of the world so that it would continue paying for the private group. In the long run, private research goes against itself or gets lost.

The same goes for pensions: a for-profit pension fund will do its best to attract reserves aimed for pension, but the managers will take the lion’s part and then will leave the pension fund bankrupt; no guarantee that what you’re putting there today will get back to you in 40 years. That’s why pensions should be the State’s responsibility. It’s the institution least likely to go bankrupt.

How about justice? Justice-for-profit is already understood as outright corruption. So that stays among the State’s responsibilities.

So healthcare (including sanitary services), education, research, justice, as well as pension administration, should be public services, provided by the State. Alternative, private, for-profit initiatives are free to exist, but the State is the social net, always there when needed. If the state doesn’t function like that, it should be fixed, but the free market can never provide a reliable alternative to these services. If you need further examples, watch this presentation: Why We Should Abandon the Free Market, James K. Galbraith, 2008-10-20.

From this perspective, it is obvious that anyone who insists the State should not be involved in the people’s affairs is either a person in ignorant pursuit of its own interest or a stupid (uneducated) one.

Remember that the State doesn’t come out of the blue, it’s made of people we choose and it’s only to be controlled by us. So we have to improve our methods to tune the State and to monitor the State’s affairs: this is one serious reason to have a people’s media channel, which should keep an eye on the State activities, as a public service.
Beyond providing those public services, the State intervention in the personal lives should be minimal indeed. Free market is therefore bound by the State (which abstracts the rules of civilization as we learn to choose them).

Of course, these public services have to be paid through taxes. That’s why paying taxes is not only justified but it is also your instrument of power to monitor the State’s activity. The State is our common, social, agreement, therefore we don’t control more or less of it by the absolute amount of taxes we pay, but by our equal efforts (percents of our wealth), therefore opaque lobbying is a form of State corruption. Democracy is a bottom-up process.

And for the life of me I cannot understand why, when McCain says that Obama wants to redistribute wealth, people at the republican rallies boo. It’s their wealth Obama wants to redistribute? Are they so rich? Or are they so poor that McCain’s campaign had to pay them for the booing per day? The only alternative left is an abyss of stupidity I’m afraid to look into. And to those christian republicans, are you aware that Jesus was a communist? If you vote with capitalists, how can you live with your own beliefs?

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