Letter: Capitalism is the great con

Capitalism wasn’t always the sacred cow it is today. During the Great Depression, socialism and communism had significant popularity. The Soviet Union moved to a totalitarian form of communism and became the great bogeyman that made the rise of our military-industrial state possible.

We were inundated with propaganda that posed freedom and liberty as dependent on capitalism. Capitalism, an economic system in which trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the state, was seen to be in a pitched battle with socialism, which implied authoritarian control of all things.

Most Americans are still unaware that our system has significant amounts of socialism in the forms of programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that are almost universally popular with the population. Tea party faithful were laughed at for telling the government to keep its hands off their Social Security.

Many countries today have mixed economies and political systems where government-operated entities compete side by side with private entities very successfully. In the U.S., the Postal Service, authorized by our Constitution, competes well with FedEx and UPS. No, the Postal Service, although not without challenges, is not failing. Unfortunately the Republicans, who have never seen a government program they couldn’t hate (except their own congressional retirement and medical plans), have done their best to kill the Postal Service. They have forced it to over-fund its pension plan out of current income by some $5 billion a year.

So the notion of capitalism that we were spoon-fed in our Gerber’s and our pablum has proven to be the five-course meal for the plutocrats who now run the government of the U.S. and much of the rest of the world. How’s that austerity feeling now (to paraphrase Sarah Palin)? Capitalism is the gateway drug to the neo-fascism that has brought us two presidential candidates who are best-known by the majority of people who don’t like them. This is a year when “none of the above” could be elected.

Our two major parties are seemingly oblivious to the catastrophic challenges to our existence. Our Republican Party has the distinction of being the greatest impediment to action on climate change in the world today. Its single-minded drive to increase business profit and the wealth of the 1 percent has put us decades behind. The Democrats talk a better game but do nothing to threaten their campaign donations.

Bernie Sanders lit a fire (did you “feel the Bern”?), but he took a dive in the final round. Nevertheless, things are heating up — 2016 promises to be the hottest year ever. This just could be the kindling for some new politics in this country — social politics for “we the people.”

Patrick Hunter