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Archive for September 6th, 2012

Who Built That?

Much has been made, and will be made, over President Obama’s statement to the entrepreneurs of the world that “You didn’t build that.” The context- that no one is successful in an isolated way, that the whole of one’s history contributes to that success, that the infrastructure of society makes it possible- shows that Republicans attempting to paint the president as antibusiness is a bit of a stretch. And it is a bit strange that Mr Romney, who has himself looted federal funds when the circumstances warranted it, would have a problem with what the president said:( http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-federal-bailout-that-saved-mitt-romney-20120829)

But what no one is mentioning is that there is another way that the producer is dependent on others for his success: he or she cannot make a dime without the workers to make the product or provide the service that he proposes. This is what is called in Catholic social teaching the priority of labor. Here is Blessed John Paul II: “…we must first of all recall a principle that has always been taught by the Church: the principle of the priority of labour over capital. This principle directly concerns the process of production: in this process labour is always a primary efficient cause, while capital, the whole collection of means of production, remains a mere instrument or instrumental cause. This principle is an evident truth that emerges from the whole of man’s historical experience.”

From this principle, that labor has primacy over capital, flows the whole concept of the rights of workers and their right to a fair share of the fruits of their labor.

This is the opposite of the Randian idea that on one side there are the producers and makers and the other the parasites and takers. Indeed, the “makers” are really the takers, taking the hard work of their employees. When those employees are ill treated or poorly paid it is pure exploitation.

It is a shame that I haven’t heard any Democrats- the party traditionally of labor- make this point.

Someone should say to the capitalists: “You didn’t build that. Your workers did.”

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The Rich Check Out

A remarkable article; it is not until the end that you would have any idea that a conservative wrote it, were it not for the context, The American Conservative:

At the end of the Cold War many writers predicted the decline of the traditional nation-state. Some looked at the demise of the Soviet Union and foresaw the territorial state breaking up into statelets of different ethnic, religious, or economic compositions. This happened in the Balkans, the former Czechoslovakia, and Sudan. Others predicted a weakening of the state due to the rise of Fourth Generation warfare and the inability of national armies to adapt to it. The quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan lend credence to that theory. There have been numerous books about globalization and how it would eliminate borders. But I am unaware of a well-developed theory from that time about how the super-rich and the corporations they run would secede from the nation state.

I do not mean secession by physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that happens from time to time—for example, Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved his company (renamed Xe) to the United Arab Emirates in 2011. What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot.

Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

Read the rest here: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/revolt-of-the-rich/

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