How to win in the game of capitalism

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Illustration by John Saringo-Rodriguez/Photo Editor

Illustration by John Saringo-Rodriguez/Photo Editor

Have you ever played the game “How to beat Capitalism?”

No?

Then please allow me to explain the setup of the game, which is rather basic and straightforward:

First, never choose to become poor and always be a puppet for the wealthy, no matter what. If they say jump, you say “how high?” If they say support individualism, you say “screw collectivism!” If they say “equality is just for fools,” you shout loud and clear….well, you get the point by now. Simple, right?

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the most important feature of the game. It is rigged in a way that the probability you will ever become a winner, especially if your last name is not Gates, Buffet or Zuckerberg, is like 0.0000001 percent, no matter how hard you try. Sorry to ruin any dreams here. But hey, that percentage still technically, theoretically, gives you a chance to win the game. But like anything in life there are some crucial rules, or rather ideologies, that you do need to understand and adhere to.

By the way, if you are related to the Koch brothers or any other plutocrats, you can stop reading right about now. The rest of the American population, you can thank me later.

Rule 1.) Capitalism only applies to the poor

Rule number one and perhaps the most important one is to convince yourself that poor people choose to be poor and that any support to them must be reduced, taken away or destroyed.

This rationale explains why primarily Republicans — probably the best players in this game — recently decided to cut funding from the food stamp program while the country is still struggling with the aftermath of the economic recession.

Millions of poor Americans who currently benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, will now face the harsh reality that their hunger will only get worse.

But this is America, God damn it! This is the land of the free (well, we might need to exclude the 2 million prisoners locked up behind bars and immigrants who are put in detention centers indefinitely) and home of the brave..

So really, who else could 48 million Americans blame for the cuts on food stamps but themselves?

Now, one might come to the conclusion that the main reason the number of Americans who receive food stamps nearly doubled since 2007, from about 26 million to almost 48 million people, is due to job losses during the recession in addition to rising costs of living.

But this is just an excuse used by poor people and these so-called Robin Hoods so they can gain leverage in the game and outplay the winners. But the joke is on them now, so don’t get caught in the same trap believing that the government will ever have your back. Unless you pay them, of course.

Instead, the 22 million children who live in “deep poverty” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities need to hold their parents accountable for deciding to become dependent on the government while working a low-paying job.

Don’t hate the game, hate the player.

Poor people could easily get five jobs instead of three or four or better yet, they could also choose to work a minimum wage job and/or further their education.

As President Obama always eloquently points out, the number one key to climbing out of poverty is education. So in reality poor people have the option to attend any elite private school where one can receive a top education in addition to building connections with highly influential people. After all, it’s not what you know nowadays, but who you know.

Sure, attending schools like Harvard will cost you around $50,000 a year but that’s why there are options such as savings accounts, credit cards or student loans, albeit you might be in debt for life. But hey, you only epitomize the American lifestyle of buy now worry later, if at all.

So if you want to avoid the rules of capitalism, do not whatsoever choose to live in poverty.

Rule number 2.) Social welfare only applies to the rich

Do you ever wonder what it is that rich people have and you do not, that allows them to always win the game? Why they always turn out to be the lucky ones who one day decide to play the lottery and end up winning millions, while you have played fairly for years in vain. Don’t you just hate that?

Well, let me share with you some of their secrets, because it is neither magic nor luck.

You see, the rules of capitalism does not actually apply to wealthier Americans, the creators and officials of the game.

While austerity has been inflicted on the most vulnerable citizens in our society, these wealthier Americans have enjoyed tax breaks and increased salaries.

For example, between 1985 and 2008, the 400 wealthiest Americans experienced a drop in their federal income taxes, from 29 percent to 18 percent. Furthermore, as reported by the National priorities project, in the fiscal 2013 year corporate tax breaks will total over $1 billion. Meanwhile, federal spending for education programs will be around $70 billion for the same year.

Furthermore, income inequality, which a new report shows to be the highest in almost 100 years, is also indispensable to the game. Since 2009, the incomes of the top 1 percent grew by more than 30 percent, while the bottom 99 percent saw their income only grow by 0.4, if at all.

American CEOs, who are among the highest paid CEOs in the world, earn about 800 times more than their employees. As the average CEO, making $11,000 an hour, finishes up her/his meeting and uses the restroom, her/his employees must work the rest of the year full-time to earn the same pay.

Now, you might call this unfair or even a crime against humanity. But really, think about it. Just imagine a system where wealth was distributed equally and resources such as education and health care were accessible to all. Think of all of the laziness and immorality it would create.

Perhaps more importantly, who will be responsible for boosting the economy and then unexpectedly creating recessions, exploiting workers, destroying mother nature, all the while arguing for morality and the right codes of ethics in an immoral capitalist society? It sure isn’t the lazy, immoral, poor people who have the audacity to steal and resort to crime in order to survive, trying to revolt against the game. No, we need to show our gratefulness to corporations who keep the game alive while maintaining the perfect status-quo.

As Mitt Romney once said: “Corporations are people, my friend … of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.”

No, we don’t need any crazy Marxist ideas influencing the game. We need the American people to work harder and longer so they too can one day become a wealthy CEO because the 0.0000001 percent chance is out there and don’t you dare believe otherwise.

I know what you are thinking by now. Thank God for the rich and powerful manipulating the system or else everyone would know how to beat the game and become a CEO. Or even worse, no one would ever repeat their stupid mistakes when they chose to be rags in a land of riches.


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  • DirkDiggler_at_csun

    Mona, you write “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the most important feature of the game. It is rigged in a way that the probability you will ever become a winner, especially if your last name is not Gates, Buffet or Zuckerberg, is like 0.0000001 percent, no matter how hard you try.” Were Gates or Zuckerberg born into great wealth because of their names? I thought Bill Gates made his money by starting Microsoft, a company that invented software that allowed us all to be able to use computers without having to get a degree in computer engineering first. I thought Mark Zuckerberg made his money by inventing Facebook, which is a very popular social media site. They aren’t wealthy because of their last names. Mona, even the least informed among us are aware that Zuckerberg is a self-made billionaire from the film “The Social Network.” Mona, could you possibly be more ignorant than you are?

  • Shirley Svorny

    Mona, here is the deal. I agree with you on three counts (the inequities of tax breaks, the importance of education and access to healthcare) but wrong about the big picture. Education and healthcare are screwed up because there is so little “capitalism” going on in those sectors.

    A private company, CVS, is in the news for taking advantage of consumers. The corporate entity and CVS shareholders, operating in a capitalist market, will take a big hit for this (consumers won’t like it and can shop elsewhere). A capitalist economy sets up incentives to discourage this type of behavior, there are huge penalties.

    In contrast, another large organization, in this case public, the California State University, is also taking advantage of people–taxpayers and students, failing to focus on instruction, instead shifting funds to other uses–but the CSU will not face any consequences. Unlike CVS, the CSU does not sell its product in a competitive market (alternatives cost $30,000 a year). Imagine how differently you would be treated on campus and how the nature of your education would change if you had a voucher you could use elsewhere instead of a subsidy tied to the California State University System.

    If you take ECON 370, Economic Development, you would learn that people in the U.S. are not stuck poor (or protected as rich) over time. There is a great deal of mobility, more than in most countries. You would learn why so many people immigrate TO the U.S.

    In less market-oriented economies unemployment rates for young people are very high. This is not good. Market reforms bring individuals OUT of poverty (most recently in India and China).

    The best way to achieve your goals for society (you mention wealth, education and healthcare) is to figure out what economic policies will actually get you there. Start with ECON 156, Introduction to Economic Analysis and Policy. I think you will love it.

  • Arman Gosparini

    Methinks the author doesn’t know a thing about capitalism, nor has the author ever bothered to read or study advocates of Capitalism like Thomas Sowell or Milton Friedman.

    This article doesn’t actually address a single real argument that Republicans or Capitalists have. As George Will once eloquently stated, “You’re a pyromaniac in a field of straw men.” The best Op-Eds attempt to honestly address the opposing opinion’s arguments, not construct artificial arguments that are easy to defeat.

    I’ll take being poor in a Capitalist society over being poor in an anti-Capitalist society any day.

  • M2000

    Never saw such a poorly written article. First of all, both the Republican and Democratic parties supported bailing out companies that didn’t need to be bailed out which explains why we’re spending so much money.

    Secondly, if a Democrat were so much against corrupt CEOs, how come Obama has appointed some of them to be within his cabinet? He hired a former Fannie and Freddie CEO such as Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae was responsible for lending X amount of loans and mortgages toward families that couldn’t pay it off. That’s how the housing crisis started and why it’d continue again today.

    Third, Obama has no problem or issues with cronism in the auto industry, does not check for any sort of corruption which makes me concern about where the healthcare exchanges might go.

    Gee, you almost think Democrats are like saints, well they’re just as corrupt as their Republican counterparts are, deal with it, live with it. It is reality you can’t change that bud.

    See, most of you who are brainwashed into this mindset is thanks to mostly your professors whom mostly would vote Democrat and would not think badly of their party but if their students go into reality again and can’t find a job, even when a Democrat is in charge, and the Republicans are in the minority who’s to blame? The minority? You kidding me?

    A rational person would have accepted that the bi-partisan shysters should have been charged day one after the financial mess after 2008, didn’t happen and sadly I believe we’re heading down the road toward another financial mess even greater than the last one.