Let's start off with dispensing with an old, tired set of labels which have been so abused and bitch-slapped around that they no longer mean anything. These words will not feature in any further discussion in this essay:
Instead, let's look at what is at the heart of any theory of economics should address, head-on, first thing: Value.
An economy functions because two people decide that the thing one of them has, and the other wants, is of some value. I think that is a fairly neutral statement that can't be disputed. The two parties may not agree on the value of said thing, but they can usually come to some sort of accommodation where both sides get more or less what they want.
My employer, for example, thinks that my skills are of some certain value. Therefore I am paid to arrive at my place at a prescribed time five days a week, and perform that service. The convenience store down the street has no use for my skills, but they do have gas, bottles of Starbucks' and donuts that I find valuable enough that I give some of the money my employer gives me, to them. They in turn give some money to the cashier who rings me out, who in turn finds her home valuable enough to pay rent, and so on. in turn, the suppliers and owners of the convenience store may need the services of my company. Money goes AROUND.
That is a more or less an economic loop of the kind that sustains communities.
What if, however, someone was going around 'selling' something that was worthless?
That turns out to be a drain on economic activity. People who buy fake items, whether they be used cars that don't run for more than 10 minutes off the lot, or bad business investments that are doomed to fail, don't have that money to spend on things of actual value, and in some cases have to buy an item twice, or some items not at all. For example, back in the early part of my career I used to spend a few tens of dollars a month on health insurance. My premium at least most of the time seemed to buy more or less full coverage of medical expenses. I was young and healthy, so I didn't make much out of it. As I got older, my premiums rose quite dramatically, and to my chagrin I found that instead of buying coverage for my insurance, I was merely buying a very expensive guarantee that I could possibly be allowed to see a doctor from time to time. If the insurance company so desired. In the meantime, hundreds of dollars of premiums were useless, and not spent on something of real value. Doctors didn't get paid because increasingly, I DIDN'T GO TO SEE THEM.
That's not economic value. It's a fraud.
Mitt Romney is a perfect example of someone who is merely a drain on our economy. Mitt's business model (entirely legal and entirely useless as an economic driver) is to find a company with something of value, buy it, ladle it down with insane and unnecessary expenses ("management fees" in the rMoney parlance) borrow money against the company, and then leave, while the company dies under the massive weight of debt it didn't need to incur, to pay fees for people who effectively added nothing to the transaction.
I don't have a phrase for that that ends with -ism. It's theft. It's fraud. People who used to spend money in their communities were unemployed, investors with actual morals lost their shirts, and Bain walked away with tons of cash.
Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds.
I've seen a statement here on the Vine that employees don't take the "risk" that a company does, and therefore should not benefit in the reward.
I can't think of a single less-useful and imbecilic thing to say to America's working class. We absolutely DO take the risk. We eat the risk and the loss when the investors flee, shtting our jobs, our livelihoods, ruining our communities. We also have, and will continue to bail out failed industries, or rather industries that are "too big" to fail. These same businesses will be happy to claim a profit when it suits them, but when as they've done numerous times just since the 1980's a large business fails and threatens to swallow a whole city/state/nation with it, we run to their rescue as taxpayers. So, let's dispense with this notion that big US businesses are "risk" takers. Please.
The fundamental issue here is that we as a working class have been sweet-talked out of our own value by decades of pro-business propaganda and horseshit poured into our ears daily. A fat man in a suit and tie is always taken as a more credible representative of "hard-working" and "honest" even when his little pink fingers are as fresh as the day his umbilical cord was cut, and a disheveled-looking individual who puts in 12-hour shifts to make ends meet is suddenly a lazy freeloader when his position is eliminated by an overseas contract, and he can't find one that pays anything close to it.
Work has value. Without us working, none of these very comfortable wealthy men would have money to collect on their revenues, product to ship, service to provide, customer to please/displease/screw. I have seen a shocking display of disrespect, specifically emitting from the political right, for the efforts and value of the working American. And I've seen that con-artist schemes and flim-flam programs are wildly proliferating in our economic space, sucking up all of the oxygen in the room, starving our economy of any actual useful activity.
As I've exhaustively pointed out for like two years running, corporate America has something in the neighborhood of two trillion in cash they've banked from the Bush tax cuts. We're told repeatedly that this nation is so desperately in debt . . . well, it's a sham folks. We are not broke. We're just infested with greedy little cockroaches who have nothing to contribute to our economy. They know it, and they are terrified of what will happen when enough of us know it to actually band together and do something about it. And in the main, the people fitting their lips over the outflow pipes of our economy to suck in ridiculous amounts of cash are more and more con artists with no real value to offer to our society. It is not a sustainable condition, no more than the French royalty of the 1790's were. And a thing that cannot be sustained, will end.
Now, if our system is to be labeled "capitalism" it is definitely on a path to extinction. But calling the US economy "capitalism" is giving it rather the benefit of the doubt. It increasingly looks like a giant, rigged con-game to me.
And this is where I get to part 11 million. This is not a new story. This is not a recent development. Throughout history, when a good thing gets going you can depend, pretty shortly, on the freeloaders and con-artists to show up and figure out how they can rook themselves a share. There is no need to imagine, defend, or dispose of vast intricate conspiracy theories. This is how people are.
I think the quote goes something about how the best lack their convictions, while the worst have all the passion and intensity. People who are about making illicit fortunes are very dogged and relentless, whereas the rest of us would just like to go about our day, and when a real wave of con-artists gets going in this world it takes awhile for us to be shaken out of our stupor, and realize if we don't stop the con game, we won't have a game to play at all, as the little shits will ruin it for the rest of us.