Frank’s Views -3-

Jun 13th, 2012 | By | Category: Opinion, Politics

I’m a two party kind of guy. I believe that a proper mix of capitalism and humanism is the best prescription for life any place on this earth. Each system has a problem inherent within.

Humanism without capitalism can become a pleasant poetic existence but somewhat impractical. With no profit motive, material considerations like food, clothing, health and housing may lessen. The great icon of humanism is St. Francis, a lovely man, who had to beg and lived in a cave. He loved nature and people, but needed a work ethic–in my opinion.

Capitalism without humanism can become a dog-eat-dog mishmash of selfishness and greed where the good of a person is judged by accrued money and expensive goods. The great icon of capitalism is a man with a comb-over in New York City. He achieved fame, but appears to be as hollow as a straw with a soul that defies weight on any humanist scale.

Dix and I both have major capitalists and solid humanists in our respective families. Living by Adam Smith’s doctrine of self-interest, each capitalist invested and provided employment for hundreds of families since 1950. Money became somewhat of an obsession. Each humanist lived quiet lives of service in hospitals, art, schools, military and churches and seems to have enjoyed their, frequently, modest existence. We admire relatives of both persuasions.

To understand the humanist/capitalist split of 2012 we must deal with the economist Milton Friedman whose theories have dominated since Ronald Reagan. I just taught a course on ideology and economics at a U. of Denver extension for elders. I performed as Friedman, gave his theory while staying in role, and answered questions as him. To prepare for that I studied for six months, so I am quite familiar with his theories. I will quickly go through main ones.

He studied government documents and discovered that the cause of the Great Depression was not (according to him) misuse of wealth, lack of regulation, or any difficulties of Adam Smith’s capitalism. Friedman provided empirically-derived graphs which showed that four historic recessions were caused by failures of the central bank in terms of money supply. This meant (to him) that all New Deal programs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt were wrong. He emphasized laissez-faire capitalism and advised Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon before really gaining the ear of Reagan, Ford, GHW Bush, and GW Bush. This meant an attack on all government programs not adding to the market.

Friedman fought against regulation, pushed for privatization in all areas, believed in inherited capital, shunned tariffs and championed Free Trade, opposed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, believed in vouchers for education, pushed for a voluntary army, opposed all drug laws, and was for selling National Parks. (The last two are seldom mentioned by Republican because selling Yellowstone, Yosemite and Central Park would not be good political fodder.) Friedman considered his applications consistent,all-out Adam Smith capitalism.

Confession: I, Frank Morris, disagree with everything he championed in the last paragraph. Still, I think Friedman correct about the wisdom of Adam Smith in terms of basic capitalism. Humans given to market solutions unwittingly do huge amounts of good. Still, as I studied his books, I became persuaded that Milton Friedman became an idealistic absolutist who prepared the way for radical market fundamentalism which is the bane and horror of our time.

With the rabid assault of the un-compromising market fundamentalists (read Tea Party) in 2012, who will keep the balance so Humanists also have a say in how life is to be lived in these United States? Well, for better and sometimes for worse, the only power that can do that happens to be the government. My reading is that the see-saw balance is heavily weighted for the fundamentalists who have the backing of the wealthy and corporations. Poor St. Francis is regularly visited by Right Wing pigeons that leave little white packages on his skull.

In sum, it’s not a good time for the public good. We have five corporatists on the Supreme Court. Most commentators I read think the Right Wing Republicans will win both the House and the Senate. The race for president is about even. State-wise, Friedman’s privatization is growing like crazy in terms of prisons and schools. Teachers are being vilified. Libraries are under attack. The Middle Class is going nowhere. Unions are fading. Money just bought an election in Wisconsin. Romney’s war chest will be a billion dollars and SuperPACs like those of Karl Rove will use additional multi millions. The Congress is at a stalemate. Democrats are timid. The uneducated populace appears to be easily fooled by ads. Right-wingers control radio. A revolution will not happen. Public betterment, infrastructure and good paying jobs are declining. The forces on the Right want omnipotent power where they set the rules. That has been the danger throughout history; it is the danger now with Tea Party right wing types.

So, with my acceptance of complexity, I regretfully know that Adam Smith’s Capitalism has done more to stop hunger, poverty and material want than the entire swath of humanists. Bread, however, is not soulful living. I have observed pure capitalists for sixty years and grieve at the narrowness of their vision. All too often it is life without vitality. Personally speaking, I would not want to live that way. If our country fails to combine humanism and capitalism, the beauty of what made this country great will be lost. So, each of us must ring the bell of freedom.

As for me, I am going to celebrate each day. So will Dixie. I will do my best with the cotton ball power I possess to make the world a better place. If you have a platform, please use it.

As for me, right now I am going to watch the wind blowing through the green leaves as well as enjoy the darting of the hummingbirds. Life is good. Politics stink.

And now…. for your responses…


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