lunes, 24 de agosto de 2009

Black Welfare Moms are Socialist Slaves?

Hey folks. I was asked to respond to this missive by Star Parker, a black capitalist ideologue who, in a nutshell, says that blacks on welfare are slaves trapped in the socialist government program and will never get rich like all non-welfare recipients do... because since they get something for nothing, why work? Right, we've all heard this argument before. She then goes on to say that banks are now taking the place of black welfare recipients by accepting the government dole. Hmmm. Here are my thoughts.

First of all, Parker confuses capitalism with socialism. Capitalism is "to each according to his ability to steal (exploit others)", and socialism is "to each according to his work"... though both systems are most often only encountered in mixed (not pure) form. It is really ironic that she thinks socialism is slavery--i.e. working for no pay above bare subsistance, as the master exploits your labor... again, that is capitalism (in its most extreme form), not socialism.

But, semantics aside, her main point is that welfare gives people (she singles out urban blacks) no incentive to work (I'll talk about banks later). I think there are a lot of disincentives to work in the U.S. welfare system. That's undeniable. It could be improved by making sure that when these people decide to look for work (again) (and assuming they can get a job), they will actually be financially rewarded for that decision.

Clinton's Welfare to Work program, which Parker claims some credit for, was a disaster, essentially setting up the "Government Death Panels" Republicans love to hate now, which sentenced countless previous welfare recipients to premature death due to destitution. Basically anyone who couldn't find a job--those exact people who need welfare--were told to go fuck themselves--those who did find work were mostly hired as below-minimum-wage scabs by corporations which the government subsidized (thus pushing the full-minimum-wage demanding, wealthy capitalist success stories, out of employment).

Mainly, Parker fails to understand that capitalism requires a reserve labor force, i.e. unemployed people, in order to keep general wages down. I think 6% unemployment (which is really about 12% unemployment due to the way it is calculated (not including people who haven't looked for work in the last month or 12 months, depending, plus all kinds of other traps), is what capitalist economists consider a normal level of unemployment. If the unemployment rate falls too low, wages spiral out of control, leading to reduced profitability and high inflation. So, in the end, a capitalist society must find some way to take care of its reserve labor army, or it will collapse in on itself (thanks to Marx for that wisdom).

U.S. capitalist society has made poverty a statistic that goes along with race and stays within families/localities through generations. Other capitalist systems like in "social-democratic" Europe, & especially Scandinavia, do a much better job of retraining/educating/re-educating workers, so unemployed people are not as likely to face extended periods of unemployment (those extended periods of unemployment produce a "scarring effect" which discourages people from looking for jobs after years of no success in the search--and imagine the effect of growing up in a family in which everyone has been scarred by long-term unemployment). Because U.S. unemployment is correlated with race and geography and families, it is easy for hater capitalists like Parker to claim that unemployment is caused by race, geography, or family... but correlation ain't causation, we all know that.

Now let's talk about the banks becoming welfare queens after the $13 trillion spent on bailouts (mostly by the Fed, secretly). Ralph Nader also calls this "socialism for banks," so I'll let Parker slide on the semantics for now.

The question is, when have banks not relied on governments to make a profit? How much profit would banks make without the legal right to create money out of thin air (fractional reserve banking)? Sounds like a great business opportunity... too good to be true, except it is true, if you qualify. I looked into starting my own bank, but it turns out the requirements are that you already be a millionaire and/or you have a bunch of buddies who are also millionaires and will finance you and you all can pass an FBI background check. And we wonder why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?

If Parker is serious about ending what I am dubbing "socialism for banks, not for you," how about making non-profit, democratically run credit unions the only legal banking entity? And of course, abolishing the stock market and its cousins is essential as well, if we are to incentivize work as opposed to theft by fat cats who get free government protection from thugs, called "police," who are ready to shoot you if you demand your money back from the white collar criminals. Obviously, there is a long list of things we would need to do to incentivize work. Let your imagination go wild.