Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

I’m not one who indulges in conspiracy theories. I don’t consider myself particularly paranoid. I do believe that people conspire against me all the time. All I need do for confirmation is pick up a magazine, watch TV, use the Internet, or just go shopping.

The conspiracy is to separate this fiscal fool and anyone else from as much of our earned income as possible.

Many will say that’s government’s chief objective, second only to impeding business and hindering investment. Taxes and regulations, however, are able to be influenced. That both have been consistently influenced to favor big business and the wealthiest among us, methodically over the past 50 years, is seldom conceded by government’s accusers. That it’s a rare everyman who even has significant investments, and prices overall always seem to be increasing despite supply, demand or distribution, is also quieted by those still championing an unfettered marketplace like that which caused the recent near complete ruin of our economy.

The difference between government and free enterprise is that government only demands some of your money and enterprise wants all of it. Taxes can be progressive or regressive, but “free enterprise” competes wholeheartedly in trying to leave you penniless.

America is all about consumerism. It’s what we have come down to. Even investment is consumerism. Saving is something we simply can’t afford, personally or collectively. At least not today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe when we retire. Maybe when manufacturing and corporate patriotism return.

Wages stagnate, purchasing power keeps falling, yet prices rise. Big business ethics serve the bottom line, serving citizens only if they’re shareholders.

We were sold an American Dream and now we’re being rudely awakened. The 1 percent have steadily priced it out of what once was many a worker’s believed reach.

The sales pitch used to have some credibility. The harder you worked, your reward increased proportionally. Instead, capitalism has now become more and more of a crap shoot in which the middle class is disappearing. Now, profit is everything and maximized profit is its own justification. If you can’t afford the price tag then it’s your failure to successfully position yourself in an economic game where fairness has become irrelevant. More and more people are stuck living paycheck to paycheck and borrowing as much as they can to live a semblance of the lifestyle most are convinced is still the dream they should chase.

Business today is all about finding any and every way to get one to make yet another frivolous purchase or avail themselves of another nonessential service. Our new e-economy constantly profiles our likes and dislikes to influence us to buy what our “friends” “like” and therefore we must have. Behind it all is the necessity of the market place to continually market an obsession to consume. We’ve become a nation captive to a retail addiction, spending most of our time working so what time remains can be spent spending more than we earn.

What remains of manufacturing stands equally adversarial. Labor cost being the major wild card in overhead expenses is why workers are devalued and played against each other in a cutthroat race to the bottom. Employment must always enhance profit, whatever the cost.

Tellingly, international trade agreements are roundly supported by those that oppose unions as being anti-capitalist. Why are workers so often treated as an enemy of the bottom line and the bane of management? Sadly, the greatest business lesson learned from this recession is that nothing cows a worker more than the job insecurity of an embattled economy or ownership eyeing outsourcing.

Apple Inc. says it only outsources labor overseas because that’s where the greatest skillset lies. Yet, when their product continues to be sold at exorbitant prices not reflective of that greater skillset’s coincidental lowest cost and highest profit margin, some might wonder if the truth doesn’t lie elsewhere.

The truth is that displaced workers here at home are essential consumers that keep finding their wallets quickly emptied.

Our economy is now dangerously driven by a dependence on want based on desire rather than need. We make money so we can spend not only all of it but that which we borrow, hopefully earning enough down the road to pay back the interest on what is spent today.

Knowing full well that few can actually save enough for retirement, we are told to invest, which often means gambling on a more and more dubious long-term return while paying ongoing fees to do it.

America’s economic house of cards remains upright only as long as its constant dependence on earned income being kept in circulation keeps on keeping on.

For way too many, without the government reaching into their paycheck and providing a “socialist” safety net there would be no assured income at the end of one’s work life. Unfortunately, those fully earned “entitlements,” Social Security and Medicare, do a far too inadequate job of bailing out capitalism’s failed promises.

American workers need to tell every Republican presidential candidate, and Hillary Clinton, that championing the status quo isn’t a winning ticket to the White House.

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Gary Anderson lives in Bath.


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