Monday, January 27, 2014

The Ten Cannots That Lincoln Never Said

The 10 Cannots, sometimes referred to as the 10 Commandments of Capitalism. Falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln, these are often quoted by conservatives to prove that Lincoln was a conservative. This somehow ignores the fact that Lincoln was universally regarded as an extreme liberal around the world. He was praised for this and condemned for this, but there was no doubt that he and his Republican Party were extremely liberal in their day, so liberal that conservatives around the world were terrified of them.

It occurred to me that conservatives would believe the 10 Cannots even if they were aware that Lincoln was not the one who said them. So I decided to take a look at each one and analyze its impact in the real world.

 * You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

Unless you're a wealthy banker. Then you encourage people to take out mortgages they cannot possibly afford, place bets that they will fail to pay the mortgage, and then collect the money when they are unable to pay the debt that you encouraged them to incur. They get poorer. You get richer.

* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

Unless you're a slaveholder. Then your own physical and intellectual weaknesses vanish as you exploit the strength and power of those you have enslaved. This also applies to those who exploit the desperation of workers by forcing them to work for substandard wages simply to stay alive. This is not slavery, although it does operate on a similar general principle

* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.

But you can make help big men grow even bigger by tearing down little men. If  you tear down a few hundred million of them, your bank account grows exponentially.

* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

But you can make the wage payer obscenely wealthy by half starving the wage earner.

* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

But you can make the rich richer by destroying the poor.

* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.

But you can establish sound security by buying your own personal congressmen.

* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

But you can win the class war by saying that those who agree with Jesus that there should be social justice are inciting class hatred. (Now that one's clever!)

* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.

Which is why rich people should always be sure that the poor class is kept near starvation. That way they won't have any money to spend on things like political campaigns.

* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.

What you can build is your own vast wealth. There is nothing more certain to keep you wealthy than keeping millions of your fellow citizens so desperate and poor that they cannot build initiative and independence.

* You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

But you should give hundreds of billions of dollars every year in government subsidies, tax breaks, and welfare for the wealthy to those who are already billionaires.  After all, that's something they can and should do for themselves through the congressman they have bought.

The Decalogue is from the link below.  All comments are mine.

--variously known as the "Industrial Decalogue," the "Ten Don'ts," the "Ten Cannots," "Ten Things You Cannot Do, "or the "American Charter" --


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