Monday, January 24, 2011

That perfect petri dish of capitalism

Almost three years removed from island life, I still try to keep up with the happenings of my old home of Saipan, and when it comes to island political affairs, few people nail it as accurately as my friend Zaldy Dandan, who is an incredibly bright guy and the voice of reason on CNMI politics with his clear-headed, reality based insight into CNMI shenanigans. For someone so on the money about CNMI politics, it's confounding to me that he can be so wrong in political philosophy.

About once a month or so, Z rails about liberalism and touts the virtues of the American Right, a group that is a virtual celebration of stupidity, oligarchy and fear mongering. While I can certainly understand his not being impressed by the Democratic Party, I'm completely confounded that someone as bright as Zaldy aligns himself with anything as moronic as the American Right Wing and its “the jury is still out on evolution” ethos, which is intellectually embarrassing, or should be, to anyone who takes thinking seriously.

In his latest column he comments on the famous, "perfect petri dish of capitalism," notion that the Republican jailbird Tom DeLay boasted about regarding the CNMI, which Zaldy feels is inaccurate. I disagree. Yes while the CNMI is, in part, incompetent government run amok, it is also pure capitalism. When the garment industry owns the government, and corporate control of government fits a definition of fascism, and can pay quasi indentured workers a mere $3.05 per hour to work in sweatshops and dump its waste into the ocean for someone else to clean up with no rules, no oversight and no restraint, that is pure capitalism. Given their druthers, and they've already made advancements by shipping jobs abroad and demonizing labor unions, the American Right would have that type of system everywhere, which is why DeLay spoke in such awe of the CNMI. He, a high ranking leader in the American Right, loved a place where business could do anything and workers had no rights and made meager wages.

The real canard today is that there are so many working class stiffs that just witnessed and are currently feeling the joys of deregulation, of just letting banks and businesses do whatever they want, and yet they still subscribe to this “government is the problem” philosophy and do the bidding of big business, even when their interests are so divergent. Government is the problem because while it is supposed to be the police and put some brakes on corporate excesses, these police are bought and paid for by these criminals through campaign contributions that give them excessive influence. Government is essentially paid not to do its job, paid not to act in the interests of the masses, but of a privileged few. The results is what we've seen from Worldcom, Enron, Citibank, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and all these other corporate criminals: hubris, bailouts and profit privatized while loss and risk is transferred to the public.

Big business has no natural predators left. The carcass has been picked clean and there is very little left for the rest of us other than high unemployment, upside down mortgages, stagnant wages, and the cost of gas, medical care and higher education rapidly outpacing inflation. For them, corporate profits aided by their control of the U.S. Treasury continue to soar. For us, it's all backwards. The top 1 percent now owns 25 percent of national income, yet fear of a president with a funny name or of illegal immigrants or of some bogeyman who might take our guns foolishly drives the blue collar into the arms of these Right Wing grifters, who have managed to create silly controversies as a distraction while they are robbing the store.

Some benefit financially from this setup, some don't know better, but Z, you must know the deal. I'm not saying be a Democrat, but how you can be on that team?

Editors Note: Back in the day I used to meet up with a group of divergent Saipan thinkers, including Zaldy, and argue about these types of things over copious alcoholic beverages. How I wish I could do that again.