When one has close friends of all classes, occupations, education, and social status, it is hard during times of flux not to see them all as dependent variables in an equation, even as some of them genuinely believe that they are solely independent variables. To be clear, as I have grown more socially aware, I realize that, in the social equation, each person functions as both a dependent and an independent variable. While we would need an as-of-yet undeveloped supercomputer to compute the permutations that decide the direction of society based on these variables, we can make good guesses based on past behavior relative to policy.
Recently I met with two dear friends for a late dinner, one a retired executive, the other a current executive. While they are supporters of my activism, they continue to be wedded to our failed economic system. They continue to make excuses for it, even though we are living through its results. It is no longer just theoretical, but is observable in real time.
It is clear that after our discussion, the subject was still on the mind of one of my friends. He sent me the following in an email.
Our government-managed Postal Service even gets right wrong. I got impeccable, second to none, 2 day service on some shipments to Dallas area. The lady that helped me asked me to leave a comment but the postal website is either broken or too complicated for me to navigate. I don't have those problems with companies that are governed from within instead of by political appointees.
Two of my brothers were life time postal workers and were very proud of it. They were happy for the job security and the pay was sufficient to cover their needs and with a little extra to provide a few wants and the college tuition for all their children. I know they gave their best as employees because, like me, they were still trying to please my Mom even though she was long passed away.
I feel 100 percent that the postal service should not be privatized. This is because its top priority should be meeting the needs of the community. Whereas I think corporations are best when allowed to operate as an individual within the community and allowed to succeed or fail and die as long as it operates within governance which should ultimately reflects the needs of the community.
My friend's email gave me the opportunity for a necessary mini-rant.
None of my compatriots will disagree with what you said, I told him. Where we disagree is the delineations: what belongs in the public/government/we-the-people sector, and what belongs in the private sector.
Folks like me want private doctors, but health care paid for by one payer, our government, funded by a progressive tax. We want social services we all pay for progressively. We want to isolate services that should be rights in a civilized society and remove them from the profit motive. A country with the above policies places all companies on an even level to compete in the private sector, without coercing employees’ actions with programs all should have equal access to throughout their lives.
I want a well-regulated free enterprise system in which people earn their income, and not a system in which some profit off of the backs of others under bought legislation. In other words, I want a private sector that does not inflict harm (such as the current one, in which an oil company can charge $2.30 for gas because it is the point of maximum profit). Capitalists succeed in the present system because they have purchased politicians to prevent regulations that protect the air, water, and soil. That system does not take into account externalities that should be reflected in the price of every gallon of gas: the healthcare cost of the person living next to a plant (insurance premiums, copays, and deductibles); the price for deeper water purification to make it potable. The Pasadena, Texas, area is a cancer alley, but that fact is hushed up because all the local corporations are complicit, from the media to the polluting companies. And who are the enforcers? Executives.
My goal, I told my friend, along with that of many others who have taken on this very, very tedious endeavor is to educate. When you and our friend talk about people not thinking about these things, you are absolutely right. The reason is that there has always been a concerted effort to prevent people from learning anything detrimental about a corporation unless what it did is so outrageous that it must be exposed. It is the subtleties that are killing and impoverishing us, because they are slow and methodical. And as long as we have those who are benefitting just enough to be complicit, it makes the job of those trying to make a difference that much more difficult. But as I tell all millennials and enlightened Boomers and Gen Xers I speak with, the system has not yet come up against those of us that don’t mind being knocked down a few times because we intend to win for the masses in the long run.
I was inspired when I read my friend’s email with that little crack about not wanting the postal service privatized, and how he spoke about competition. It tells me some of the wards of the plutocracy are not yet lost, but can still be turned.