SYSTEMIC FAILURES

What the recent race riots in Baltimore or Ferguson or other cities, were really all about is poverty. Ostensibly the riots and demonstrations have occurred because of white police officers killing young black men under dubious circumstances. But in Baltimore, 3 of the 6 officers charged were black themselves, casting doubt about the racial aspect of this tragedy. There may have been negligence, even criminal negligence, but its doubtful that the young man that died in that police van that day in Baltimore, was the victim of a racial hate crime. In the other cities, the cops that shot their young black victims were eventually absolved of any wrongdoing after fairly exhaustive local and federal investigations. So why all the outpouring of often violent demonstrations including the looting and burning of stores and businesses. Some of that could be ascribed to outside troublemakers being bused in to create as much havoc as they possibly can. But most of the violence is due to the fact that large numbers of minorities have to live in drug-infested, vermin-infested, crime and gang-infested slums that are so horrific that most people wouldn’t allow their pet animals to live under similar circumstances. People living in such conditions have generally lost all hope for a better future; and with nothing left to lose, they set fire and go out to destroy the very neighborhoods they reside in. Each slum-infested community is a tinder-box ready to explode with the slightest provocation.

Fifty years after the fall of Jim Crow, the system of segregation and racial bigotry that lasted for 100 years after the Civil War,  many blacks, Latinos and other minorities still find themselves mired in mind-numbing poverty and confined to the filth and squalor of inner-city slums, where gangs, drugs and crime proliferate. The promise of “the American dream” has never materialized for these people. The male black unemployment rate in these slums is over 50 percent. If a black male living there does show promise of succeeding in business and accumulating enough resources to move out of the slums, he is usually derided by gang members as being a “tool of whitey.” A subculture has taken root in these slums that states that African-Americans have always been, and always will be victimized by “whitey”; and especially by white police forces. When one becomes a believer of victimhood, there is usually little opportunity for betterment.

I consider this one of the major systemic failings of our capitalistic society. The fact that a relatively small number of multi-millionaires and billionaires live in the most lavish of mansions and often possess the most expensive cars, yachts, private jets, priceless art collections, etc., while millions of others live in the most deplorable squalor. Yet, for those advocating laissez-faire capitalism, this is supposed to be how the system works. And it’s not just the poverty-stricken. Our so-called middle-class, which is supposedly the bedrock of American society, keeps sinking lower and lower each year. Middle-class family income for the past 6 has been driven lower by our capitalistic machinations.

One of the reasons for dim economic prospects for those that are down-and-out, is that millions of jobs that were being performed by Americans have been shipped overseas. Most of these jobs are what’s considered blue collar work, which would greatly benefit the impoverished community the most. But according to the tenets of capitalism, you go where the product can be most cheaply manufactured. So, if it costs $5 to manufacture a widget on U.S. soil, but only $1.25 to produce it in Bangladesh, or Mexico or China, you put the factory in one of these latter countries. Even if it costs 75 cents to ship this widget back to the U.S., the cost of putting it on the market is $2 versus $5. The GOP once put forth a concept called enterprise zones. Under this idea, the Government would allow generous tax breaks to companies willing to establish factories in the worst inner-city slums. Such factories could have provided tens of thousands of blue collar jobs to neighborhoods with high unemployment. It was a good idea; but somehow it never got off the ground. U.S. businesses just found it a lot easier to ship badly needed jobs overseas where labor is so much cheaper.

Of course, our systemic failures are not limited to economic turmoil. I’ve previously written extensively about how our political operations are totally corrupt and dysfunctional, so I won’t repeat myself. Except to say that every political candidate from dog-catcher on up to president is bought and paid for by the same billionaires controlling our economic system. No one has a chance of being elected if money isn’t pouring into his or her political campaign. Once elected, the candidates are then beholden to those that funded them, such as the Koch brothers. Another way that the rich get to control the way life is allowed to function in the U.S.

Also indicative of our systemic failures is the way that religious fanatics (bible-thumpers) are allowed to influence our society. If a woman seeks to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, it should be a matter solely between her and her doctor. But not according to the bible thumpers, who have made huge strides in eliminating women’s access to abortion clinics in states throughout the bible-belt. The same is true for gay rights. While the Supreme Court will likely strike down state bans against gay marriage, look for the bible-thumpers to undertake a rear guard action against such unions. I mean, didn’t the bible say something really bad about homosexuality. And so it goes.

I think, in the end, that our systemic failures are a result of people being inculcated with various brands of ideology. And ideology is just a $10 word for fanaticism. The ideologue will usually ignore reality and adhere to a craven obedience of some form of a rigid fanatical system. When usually the only thing that works in public affairs, and in private life as well, is pragmatism. Go with what has been proven to be successful time after time. But what would be the fun in that?  If people became pragmatic, you couldn’t watch scenes on the nightly news of demonstrators rampaging and setting neighborhoods on fire.

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