Monday, July 23, 2012

But I thought private enterprise was more efficient and more innovative than government control... (by Peter Brown)

Yes, and who’s been telling us that for the last hundred years?  The truth is that corporations, or private enterprise, are very efficient at doing what is most important to their shareholders.  They are not at all efficient at doing what’s good for families and communities if it doesn’t fit in with their prime mission: maximum profit (it’s the Law!).  

Think about it. Over 2 years ago, PG&E blew up San Bruno.  For the last two years, we have seen almost daily articles in the SF Chron revealing constant, ongoing mismanagement, corruption, sloppiness, and downright criminality by the same company that brought us the Hinckley disaster (remember “Erin Brockovitch”?), which, by the way, is still going on after 20 years!  

Yet, this company is still allowed to do business!  Where are the outraged stockholders, demanding that PG&E right its many wrongs and transform its management?  Why has our government not revoked PG&E’s corporate charter, seized its assets and made it a public utility for the sake of our safety?

Government is, in fact, very efficient at serving the needs of some people, but not all people in our country.  It’s a poorly kept secret that we have economic classes in the United States. Some people have a great deal of power because they own so much productive property (factories, banks, all kinds of corporations, but especially banks), while most of us own at most a home and a car, none of which brings us any measurable power over government.

Today, government, any government, serves the ruling class.  The “1%”, actually the “.001%” who control the biggest investment banks and hedge funds are the ruling class; they have their hands on the steering wheel of this country. 

We may have the illusion that, because Bill Gates or some other billionaire CEO wears blue jeans and behaves in an easygoing, informal manner that they are just like us, but it is simply that, an illusion.  It’s more relevant to ask what one of them can do with a signature (affect millions of lives), and what you or I can do with a signature (maybe pay our bills).  These folks do not act alone, or without plans.  They are in touch with others of their class and confer regularly to set or adjust their strategies to carry out their needs.  That’s what the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, the Group of Eight, etc. represent: they are the strategic bodies of the 1%.  They have nothing in common with our needs.

Government can be very efficient for us, the “99%” who actually make everything work, but only if we create a new kind of politics to reflect the real needs of people instead of needs of corporations. The 99% need to become the ruling class in this country.

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