U.S. Capitalist Development since 1776: Of, By, and for Which People?

By Douglas Dowd | Go to book overview

5
Income, Wealth, and Power

Who can make a poem of the depths of weariness
bringing meaning to those never in the depths?
Those who order what they please
when they choose to have it--
can they understand the many down under
who come home to their wives and children at night
and night after night as yet too brave and unbroken
to say, "I ache all over"?
How can a poem deal with production cost
and leave out definite misery paying
a permanent price in shattered health and early old age?
When will the efficiency experts and the poets
get together on a program?
Will that be a cold day? Will that be a special hour?
Will somebody be coocoo then?
And if so, who?
1

Capitalism is a system whose vitality is given to it by everyone trying to make as much money as possible, come what may. It is a contest in which for all but a few, the dice are loaded for or against winning. The few are exceptional individuals who, despite all odds against them, climb high on the ladder; or those other few who, despite everything favoring them, manage to fall toward the bottom. The odds are determined by a complex of factors: when and where one is born; the income, wealth, and power--the class--of one's parents; one's color; one's sex; often, one's ethnic or religious identity; and, neither the least nor the most important--although we are taught to believe it is the principal or only determinant--one's abilities and energy. It is an abundance of these latter (plus, all too often, ruthlessness) that allows some few to beat the odds and move to the top; as their lack allows some few among the "well born" to sink toward the bottom.

-209-

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U.S. Capitalist Development since 1776: Of, By, and for Which People?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Notes xxv
  • Acknowledgments xxvii
  • 1 - Economics and Economies, Past and Present 1
  • Reading Suggestions 39
  • 2 - Capitalism 55
  • A Summing Up 79
  • Notes 81
  • 3 - Business as a System of Power 93
  • Reading Suggestion 123
  • 4 - Growth and Development, Prosperity and Depression 137
  • Reading Suggestions 187
  • 5 - Income, Wealth, and Power 209
  • Reading Suggestions 252
  • 6 - Nature and Nurture; Country and City; Waste and Destruction 269
  • Reading Suggestions 321
  • 7 - World Economy and Imperialism 337
  • Reading Suggestions 400
  • Notes 404
  • 8 - The State 419
  • Reading Suggestions 472
  • 9 - Needs and Possibilities 493
  • Reading Suggestion 530
  • Name Index 543
  • Subject Index 549
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