I’m not really a political animal, mostly I don’t get it all & I don’t have the time or inclination to change that, however I recently read the book The Myth of Being Normal by Gabor Mate & it really fired my mind as it is a thought that I’ve had for some time but had not crystallised.

In October 2020 the Swiss bank UBS reported that during Covid-19 the market turmoil the international billionaire stratum had grown their fortunes to over ten trillion dollars between April & July alone. The world’s richest individual at the time, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, had increased his wealth by over $74 billion; Elon Musk of Tesla increased his by up to $103 billion. The top 20 of Canada’s richest billionaires became collectively $37 billion richer (reported by the Toronto Star). That’s in the midst of an economic crisis that left millions of Canadians unemployed or working reduced hours & struggling to pay their bills, with governments borrowing to fund emergency financial aid for individuals & businesses to stave off even greater hardship.

The notion that capitalism is meant to provide equality & opportunity for all must be taken on faith, since history & material reality provide no evidence of it.

In the realm of political decision-making, a widely circulated US study showed that the views of ordinary people make no difference to public policy: a lack of control on a mass scale. When a majority of citizens disagree with economic elites or with organised interests, they generally lose. Even when fairly large majorities favour policy change they generally do not get it.

‘Why do rich people have so much power?” Asked the New York Times. Because the USA & UK are less a democracy & more like an oligarchy. This makes the leading parties ‘one corporate being wearing two heads & different make-up.’ In many countries, behind the democratic facade the real power is wielded by the moneyed few.

In 1972, the spirited Scottish labour leader Jimmy Reid gave an address that the New York Times called ‘the greatest speech since President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Reid may not have studied the psychology or neurobiology of stress, but he understood everything about uncertainty, loss of control & conflict in lives of the people he represented. ‘Alienation is the precise & correctly applied word for describing the major social problem in Britain today’ he declared. ‘People feel alienated by society…Let me right at the outset define what I mean by alienation. It is the cry of men who feel themselves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. It’s the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision-making. The feeling of despair & hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies’.  

Reid’s speech was given at the tail end of a brief post-war era of relatively enlightened social programs at a time the system he excoriated was exhibiting its most benevolent face. What might he have to say today?

Capitalism is not working, it is making the rich, richer and the poor, poorer, plus it is creating a mindset that fuels poor health; job security fears, money worries etc.

(Gabor Mate; The Myth of Being Normal)

#capitalismisfailing #socialdemocracy #moneyhealth

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