The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 28, 2014

Capitalist system breeds inequality

The Mankato Free Press

---- — If you could create a sustainable and just economic system, would it have any resemblance to that of the United States and those of other capitalist countries? Or would it have to be significantly different?

A recent Oxfam International report shows what most of us suspected. We just did not have the specific numbers. According to Oxfam the world’s richest 85 people have the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population. The richest 1 percent in the world hold 46 percent of the world’s wealth or $110 trillion.

In the United States, the top 1 percent received 95 percent of the wealth created since the so-called end of the Great Recession in 2009.

Since then the bottom 90 percent have become poorer. The wealth and income gaps between the rich and the poor have calamitous implications.

From the standpoint of self-interest alone, capitalist leaders should understand that, if consumers can no longer afford to buy their products and services in sufficient quantity, their economies will tank.

These leaders should stop talking about poverty as a pathological condition and admit that it is the structural dysfunction of an economic system which generates and reproduces inequality. Poverty is the product of a flawed economic system.

We cannot blame college students who protest about the ever-increasing costs of higher education and the lack of jobs when they graduate. As a former Italian prime minister put it, students are against “a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones.”

We need to reconstruct a social state that invests in people rather than the rich megacorporations, the prison industrial complex, and a permanent war economy.

Don Strasser