After the G20 meeting on April 2, 2009, President Obama, defending the U.S. capitalist system, said Americans “don’t resent the rich; they wanna be rich.”
Hum? Kind of sounded like something Ronald Reagan might have said.
How many of us have family, friends, acquaintances that "wanna be rich?"
Mom and dad had to work hard to provide a decent home, put food on the table, keep the kids healthy. Couldn't imagine them even dreaming of riches beyond a more recent model car, a bigger refrigerator, some fine clothes.
The family doctor, always on call, he couldn't possibly have imagined getting rich by keeping his patients alive and well.
Our teachers, in grades 1 through 12, could any of them have been aiming to get rich?
Think back, were us kids ever taught, by parents, teachers or clergy, besides becoming good neighbors and citizens, to have a goal to get rich?
Our post office workers, any look like they have big money on their mind? Subway workers, bus drivers, firemen, sanitation and parks employees, thousands of honest cops - how many of them are hoping to be rich, except by winning a lottery?
Do musicians practice hard because they want to be rich?
In all professions and dedications, while busy discharging their duties as public servants and taking care of family and self, most don’t have time to get rich gambling in the stock market.
Of course, there are always photos in the tabloids of criminals in handcuffs who wanted to get rich without working.
Does our President wanna be rich? Has hanging out with rich people made him forget his humble roots, and the way working people think?
So many of us are still hoping for a President of the moral fiber of an Albert Einstein, a Nelson Mandela, a Martin Luther King, Jr., a Che Guevara, or any of the innumerable saints and sages who had the welfare of humanity in mind and never looked to amassing currency and possessions beyond personal and family comfort and enjoyments.
Can anyone remember a 'wanna be rich' saint, sage or revolutionary?
Obama describes himself as a Christian, with the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior. Well, Jesus has something severe to say to the 'wanna be rich.'
And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
... Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Also Matthew 19:24)
Giving our 'wanna be richer' bankers billions to protect their investments is making things worse for their souls, not helping them.
"The great welfare scandal of the age concerns the dole we give rich people." --William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
"The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The most astounding piece of sleight of hand ever invented. If you want to be slaves of bankers, and pay the costs of your own slavery, let the banks create money. Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth... take it away from them, for this would be a happier and better world to live in.” --Lord Josiah Stamp, Director, Bank of England, retired, 1937
“Create a government owned bank!” -- Nobel Laureate Joseph Stigletz, at the Ethical Culture Society, New York, 2009
At the time yours truly was born, in the first years of the Great Depression, the respected historian, Charles Beard, wrote caustically about "The Myth of Rugged American Individualism," noting that “industrial and financial leaders were not rugged enough to make their own way in the world and had to be subsidized."
As a little kid in the 1930s, I overheard comments and expletives in the street that a capitalist was a dangerous, despicable, dishonorable, greedy out of control individual bent on deceptively tricking innocent people out of their money, possessions, homes and the fruit of their own labor.
In school books, the fabulously wealthy and powerful 'captains' of American industry were not described as capitalists, though the question, "Were they robber barons?" was put forward in college texts for discussion.
When that kid became elderly, the term 'capitalism' began to be gingerly referred to by TV commentators and op-ed writers in conglomerate owned media, sanitized and justified as necessary, its detractions forgiven, in obvious propaganda that presumptuously credited most of modern human achievement and progress to ‘the capitalism system’.
A dictionary defines capitalism as "an economic system based on private ownership of capital."
The world's cities, miraculous conveniences and artistic marvels are the result of cooperative effort. How is it useful to have nearly all of it in private ownership? How did it arrive to be so in most of the inhabited areas of the planet?
Why in the age of planetary exploration, instant communication technologies and mind-boggling achievements in the biological sciences, does half of mankind live on less than two dollars a day, a billion on a dollar a day, half of whom suffer the pangs of hunger throughout their lives?
Why do wars over energy resources and land take the lives of millions, while most of mankind is blocked from truthful education by a cartel of corporate media actually mis- and dis-educating its audience, pushing a commercialized life style of selfish material consumption resulting in increasing mental disorders of anxiety and depression?
“Rule by financial capital--by money and those who have it--in disregard of all non-financial values, has triumphed over democracy, markets, justice, life, and spirit” --David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World
“The global system will, indeed, probably experience a series of terrible events - wrenching calamities ... before common sense can prevail.” --William Greider, The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism
“In a more enlightened future, a return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional value – that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanor, and the detestable love of money as a possession – as distinguished from love of money as a means to the enjoyments realities of life – will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to specialists in mental disease.” --John Maynard Keynes, credited with molding the techniques of government intervention that saved the capitalist system after the Second World War.
“Perhaps the greatest threat to freedom and democracy in the world today comes from the formation of unholy alliances between government and business.... It used to be called fascism. The outward appearances of the democratic process are observed, but the powers of the state are diverted to the benefit of private interests.” George Soros, creator and manipulator of multi-billion dollar hedge funds credited with sinking the currencies of Asian nations and earlier even those of Sweden and Great Britain.
Hasn't the world long noticed that 'American values' include an unhealthy and undemocratic 'wanna be rich' and 'wanna be richer' drive encouraged by its commercial media, and maybe now by its new and very popular political leader, Barack Obama?
Though Americans might not "resent the rich," they do resent the manipulative power of the wealthy within government. And no, Mr. President, rather than wanting to be rich, most Americans, aware of the warnings in all religions and conventional wisdom, are more likely to feel compassion for those that get caught up in a desire to be rich.
Mr. President, what can we, who want our country and world to be rich, do?
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