Capitalism – certainly the brand of capitalism practiced in the US – encourages greed, selfishness and a general disregard of the well-being of others.
I don’t often quote any Pope, but Pope Francis is certainly right about this:
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting…. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.
In his fifth State of the Union address last night, President Obama just reconfirmed my belief that we’d be so much better off if only he were the Socialist Commie that the angry right wingers consistently say he is.
Although, in fairness, he did say some things that I appreciated (executive order to raise federal minimum wage, called on Congress to restore the Unemployment Insurance they just killed, women deserve equal pay for equal work, close Guantanamo Bay and a few others), he also showed just how out-of-touch, misinformed, and just plain wrong he is about others – a call on Congress to pass the TPP via fast track or “trade promotion authority,” his refusal to definitively reject the Keystone XL pipeline, his insistence that climate change is real and a threat while promoting increased oil production and fracking for “natural” gas, his reluctance to differentiate between the Democrats who are working to make things better and the obstructionist Republicans, etc.
And, to add insult to injury, President Obama made good on his practice of capitulating to his critics by not using the term “income inequality” once (letting Cathy McMorris Rogers use to criticize him it in her “official” GOP response instead), in favor of the GOP-preferred nonsensical term “ladders of opportunity.” I kid you not.
I paid no attention to the four – yes FOUR – GOP responses (the official one from Cathy McMorris Rogers, the TeaParty response from Sen Mike Lee, the Spanish language response from Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and the Rand Paul response from Rand Paul). But the one response you should listen to, but probably heard little to nothing about, was from the newly-elected Seattle city council person, Socialist Kshama Sawant .
I was also deeply offended by the use of Sgt. Cory Remsburg as a prop– a veteran who suffered horrific injuries in Afghanistan on his 10th deployment. Yes, you read that correctly. His 10th deployment. Instead of a 2-minute standing ovation, this country should be apologizing for sending him into battle a sickening 10 times.
Of course, there was the usual SOTU side show. This year's Joe "you lie" Wilson, Paul "nasty tweeter" Broun, and Samuel "not-very-objective Alito award is split between two recipients.
Formerly unknown Congressman Randy Weber of Texas would have won hands-down for his pre-speech tweet:
On floor of house waitin on "Kommandant-In-Chef"... the Socialistic dictator who's been feeding US a line or is it "A-Lying?"
— Randy Weber (@TXRandy14) January 29, 2014
But he was upstaged by another neanderthal Republican Congressman Michael Grimm, who threatened to throw a NY1 reporter "off the fucking balcony" because he dared to ask a question about the DOJ inquiry into his 2010 campaign fundraising.
Here's the transcript of the off-camera exchange, as transcribed by NY1:
Grimm: "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f-----g balcony."
Scotto: "Why? I just wanted to ask you..."
Grimm: "If you ever do that to me again..."
Scotto: "Why? Why? It’s a valid question."
Grimm: "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."
I guess these people just can't help themselves.
On the show today
In addition to more SOTU analysis, I spoke with Crooks and Liars' Susie Madrak who was as unimpressed by the speech as was I, but pointed out more damning news for Chris Christie, courtesy of this piece in today's New York Times.
In the second hour, I was joined by self-described Communist Jesse Myerson, of whom I've been a fan since following his Occupy Wall Street arrest via Twitter. I invited him on the show after reading his fascinating and controversial Rolling Stone piece titled "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should be Fighting For".
To continue the exploration of alternatives to Capitalism, tomorrow morning I'll speak with one of the editors of a new book, Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA. Stay tuned..
The Nicole Sandler Show is live Monday through Thursday mornings, 10-noon ET at radioornot.com, with the podcast posted each afternoon.