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24 Hours, Bulgaria

The Pillars of Capitalism

By Christopher Karadjov

Translated By Mila Alexandrova

1 December 2012

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Bulgaria - 24 Hours - Original Article (Bulgarian)

A couple of weeks before the election in the U.S., a TV commercial featuring Thomas Peterffy was running. In the commercial, the millionaire of Hungarian descent shares his unfortunate experience of growing up in a socialist state and explains to the viewers what socialism looks like. Initiative is stifled; everyone is poor. After showing a series of carefully chosen images, he comes to the unjustified conclusion that America is on its way to socialism, that people with money are despised and that this will not lead to anything good unless the voters choose Republicans. Peterffy mentions neither Romney nor Obama, but it is crystal clear what he has in mind. The video is available on Youtube.

Although Peterffy’s message failed to prevent the victory of the Democrat, the president’s second term in office will not bring a dictatorship of the proletariat. Capitalism is doing quite well in the U.S. despite the fact that some people still believe that Obama is a communist. Usually, these are the same people that gather signatures to secede from the union; by rule of thumb they live in states that receive more money from the government than they give. Nevertheless, they flaunt their independence (yes, Mississippi and Alabama, I’m talking about you).

Only a few weeks after the election, the fury of the campaign show is fading away. Poor Romney is probably setting a record for the candidate most quickly forgotten and ignored by his own party. The career-ending love affair of General Petraeus turned out to be a one-hit wonder. Its quick disappearance from the public space is possibly due to the fact that Americans were immunized against this type of scandal during the Bill Clinton era. Besides, when you have someone’s hand in your pocket — which could be the case for everyone after New Year’s Eve, if the White House and Congress decide to jump off the fiscal cliff instead of reaching an agreement — other events become less and less significant. Even the political juggle with the truth about the September tragedy in Benghazi failed to stir a fervent public response, despite Fox News’ best effort. What is the importance of exactly how Susan Rice formulated her statements on TV when the previous Rice, Condoleezza, had lied through her teeth about Iraq in 2002 and 2003?

On the other hand, the yearly Thanksgiving shopping hysteria brought $55 million in revenue and revitalized the hope that the American consumer will once again push the boat out. This is good news for the economy, which is so dependent on the spending mood of the consumer. As if it meant to confirm that the idea of socialism has no ground in America, the gigantic chain Walmart fervently refused to raise the minimal salary of its personnel to $25,000 a year. What a shame! Walmart is the biggest private employer in the world, with more than 2 million employees. The increase would have raised the prices of their merchandise some 10 to 15 cents. Six of the members of the Walton family, who own more than half of Walmart’s stocks, are collectively wealthier than a third of the American people. This is not good capitalism.

Besides the labor conflict, Walmart managed to put its name into bad news headlines twice in the course of a week. First, 112 workers burned in a factory in Bangladesh in which clothing sold by Walmart was manufactured (Walmart says that there are no official sanctions for this type of product provided by suppliers). A little after that, three vigilant employees of the store chain in Georgia followed and caught in the parking lot a man trying to steal two DVD players. The store employees pressed him to the ground so roughly that he died. That is not good capitalism either.

The way things are going, Americans may get a feeling that a spoonful of socialism (the Swedish type of socialism, not the Hungarian one) could be a relish. Here we go — step by step Obamacare is turning from a curse to a working program. The introduction of a new, progressive taxation of revenue above half a million looks more and more likely to happen. America is shifting to the left although it is still very far from European egalitarianism.

Peterffy is not right about the hatred toward successful people in the U.S. Just the opposite — the American dream (or illusion) sells pretty well. Still, most Americans do not want Romney and Walmart to be the only pillars capitalism relies on.



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