Is Trump Imploding Capitalism?

The Trump Administration is promoting corporate interests at an unprecedented and shameful rate, literally selling our heritage and legacy to the purse strings that now control our “democracy.”

So you’re forgiven if the title above seems paradoxical.

Yet, it’s not. And here’s why.

Capitalism needs plentiful goods. More and more to sell, sell, sell. That is how corporations sustain themselves, how the fat cats get richer, and how the economy “grows” (a euphemistically positive phrasing that seems to be founded in the long debunked trickle-down theory ).

Consumer spending is a primary marker of a strong economy, apparently, yet the Trump Administration is giving money to the wealthiest (through tax breaks, for example) and taking it from the poorest (through cutting tax credits, food stamps and other programs, even recently delaying disability payments for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.)

Will CEOs making 300x their workers’ wages continue to buy America’s future through political lobbyists? Photo: Drew Beamer on Unsplash

What is utterly bogus about this approach is that wealthy people don’t need more stuff. They will invest “extra” money in the stock market, save more for retirement or contribute to their kids’ (or even grandkids’) college funds.

When money is given to those in the lower income brackets, it is spent, and often right away. I know I have a backlog of items waiting for funding, everything from sneakers to several car repairs to the expensive, single-serving wax-wrapped cheese my kid wants, but I keep telling him we can’t buy.

Politicians know that capitalism depends on having a steady stream of products to sell, and customers to sell them to. And checks and balances have kept the US, at least in some degree, from irreparably plundering the resources we need to ensure future accumulation of profits.

Not anymore. Now we have a businessman in the White House, and most businessmen are accustomed to looking at quarterly earnings, rather than how they’ll fair over the next decade or two (and beyond). They think they will innovate themselves into a new profit sector once all the timber/oil/fish/you-name-it is gone.

So, with a businessman making policy decisions, and in an administration which refuses to comply with the established system of checks and balances (ignoring subpoenas, withholding information that legally must be provided, and gaslighting every single attempt to point out the President’s moral, ethical, and legal shortcomings) we are the unfortunate witness to an utter disregard for the future of capitalism.

Public lands — the trust fund of the entire American population — are being opened to private interests, for private profits. Nearly a hundred roll-backs of environmental policies that protect our water, our air, and our soil, threaten innumerable resources, both immediate and future. As water becomes more polluted, the fishing industry is threatened. As soil is further nutrient depleted, crop yields decline.

When air quality declines, water quality declines, and soil quality declines, human health declines. More and more people become too sick to work, and mortality increases as lifespan decreases.

These are the human beings who comprise both the American workforce and the American consumer base.

Wealth inequality is greater than it’s been in five decades, and yet the Trump Administration continues to act in the interests of the wealthy, enacting policies that are literally killing the very population needed to ensure the future of capitalism.

And the remaining survivors? We’re getting poorer and poorer, ensuring capitalism will wilt as we can afford fewer and fewer goods and services. Additionally, the birth rate may continue to decline, as fewer people can afford to have children.

Fossil fuel companies receive $5.2 trillion dollars in subsidies (including $649 billion from the US in 2015, according to the IMF) and yet Trump opts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, giving them not only absolutely mind-boggling amounts of money but also carte blanche to desecrate some of our most treasured natural resources (this being just one of innumerable examples).

Unleashing corporate interests from any semblance of accountability, any form of regulation to ensure that both the American people and they themselves have resources to use in the future? Well, that’s a lose-lose situation.

And when industries fail because they’ve used up resources too fast in the name of quarterly profits? The government will probably bail them out, because, as Ralph Nader has said, “capitalism will never fail: socialism will bail it out.” (And, of course we’ve seen this in recent history with the auto industry and banking.)

The GOP is fond of decrying the “dangerous” socialist-leaning policies proposed by some of the Democratic presidential candidates. And yet they are also fueling the fire pushing capitalism to the brink of extinction (along with thousands of animal, insect, and plant species) by killing off the workforce and consumer base and appropriating resources at unprecedented rates.

The possibility of expansion is crucial for capitalism to persist. Where will corporate interests expand to when you’ve churned, burned, and overturned everything?

America will NOT regret conserving an endowment of resources for our future. A future we will only experience, in fact, if we save these resources.

Writer for hire, for fun, and from the necessity of untangling my thoughts. The adage I cling to lately is "the first 40 years of childhood are the hardest."

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