By Dr. Bryan Van Gorp
Myth #1 – Capitalism has lifted millions out of poverty all around the globe.
Reality – The majority of people lifted out of poverty were not in capitalist economies, China for example. The myth ignores the fact that government programs such as social security lifted people out of poverty in capitalist countries. The myth also ignores the impact of scientific advances, education, empowerment of women, lower birth rates, etc.
The reality is that unregulated capitalism maximizes exploitation. Exploits people as in child labor and slavery. Exploits the environment as in externalizing the cost of pollution and eroding 50% of farmable soil. As John Maynard Keynes put it, “Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all.”
We need a hybrid system of strictly regulated markets, strong safety nets, and a hand up for the chronically disadvantaged.
Myth #2 – Trump derangement syndrome is about hating Trump.
Reality – Trump derangement syndrome is not about hating Trump, although many of us do dislike corruption and people of low character. It is about loving our constitutional republic, respect for facts and science. It is about desiring integrity and competence in elected officials. Trump and his entourage are unconstrained by reason or morality.
Our country has had the worst response to coronavirus of any country. We used to be a scientific and medical leader. One in four Americans has lost their job in the last few months. We have millions demonstrating in the streets against racist policies. The president and his minions ignore congressional subpoenas and fire inspector generals responsible for oversight. America has lost its moral authority around the world.
Are you sick of winning yet? Is America great yet?
Myth #3 – I have not benefited from white privilege.
Reality – White privilege does not mean that as a white person you have had an easy or always privileged life. Many of us have worked hard for whatever success we enjoy. White privilege means never being held back by the color of your skin. Inheriting a business, wealth, position isn’t likely if your ancestors were slaves. It means not being treated as less than when applying for a job, a loan, or being pulled over by the police. We know these differences exist and they favor white people.
Myth #4 – Police reform is about additional training.
Reality – Training will not solve the problem. Police already know what is right and acceptable as evidenced by people of privilege rarely being abused. Of course police officers must be accountable to the same legal standard they enforce on others. Of course not all police officers are bad. Nobody wants to eliminate the police. Of course there are times when use of force and even shooting someone is appropriate. Every citizen has the right to self defense.
Recent video evidence proves there are more than a few bad apples and no one should want them weeded out more than good officers whose jobs are made more difficult and reputations are being damaged by these bad actors.
Myth #5 – The demonstrators are rioting and looting.
Reality – Most demonstrators are peaceful and thoughtful. When people turn to rioting it is because demonstrators demands are ignored. Racial oppression has 400 years of history.
What about the real looting that is considered acceptable in America? 40% of wealth in 1% of hands. 60% of wealth inherited rather than earned. Companies polluting to lower costs. Politicians accepting bribes to create laws that favor the already wealthy. That is real looting.
The main contradiction of our democracy is that it has largely been shaped through a history of illegal civil disobedience against entrenched power structures, including our Revolutionary War. Such civil disobedience is (retrospectively) seen as justified, and people committing it are (retrospectively) seen as heroes. But each successive generation is asked to believe that further civil disobedience would be unreasonable.