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Off With their Heads

For decades there never was a question. If asked, it was only by incredulous misfits, their sight and senses dulled by years behind the walls of unpatriotic ideology. How much should a Captain of Industry, a product of Capitalism, a “Master of the Universe” be allowed for his hard work and religious devotion to free markets, cars, and cash? No Question. As much as he can get.

Good Times.

But that was then, and this is now. What started as a murmur, a loud voice way in the back, a rustling amongst the suburbs and the shuttered factories that surround them, has grown into a chorus rising from the “Fear and Loathing” of America. The Masters of The Universe are no longer masters of themselves, in a world turned upside down and inside out… and right to left. The unasked question has been asked; “Should there be a limit to what a single person can extract from the system, or should the system itself govern who lives, who dies, and how well?”. The mob wants blood, and there is just no talking to a mob. Like 300 million Robbespierre’s, the voices of truth, justice, and The American Way are screaming, “Off with their heads!”, decapitating Capitalism in an orgy of looting and burning which will bring the whole mess down. Or at least that’s the plan.

The basic unit in the free market system, the “Lego” of the toy box, is the Business. A business is nothing more than an agreement amongst men of free will that they should work together towards the common goal of profit. While there may be disagreement after that, there has never been any question that the sole purpose of the Business relationship was that of gain, and nothing more. It is also a fundamental principle of the Business relationship, (and a law of nature), that he who bears the most risk in the adventure should be compensated for the courage. No reward, no risk, no business, no Capitalist system. A beautiful and formless law of human nature, set absolutely free inside a bubble constructed specifically for the purpose. The gears of the free market system are greased with the oily potential for profit. Limiting that profit is the system itself, whereby the market sets both cost and revenue, the wily entrepreneur left to risk his all on the fleeting space between.

A further law of nature is that humans are, by nature, risk averse; not everybody is willing to take a chance on dinner by wrestling the alligator naked. The greater the risk, the fewer the takers. Of course, the law of risk then steps in and gives the yummy reptile to the few who tried…and won, while the rest, who cowered on the shore… can eat cake. Finally, the last law of the economic jungle states that having risked his bits on a feast fit for a King, the badly bitten victor is under no obligation to share. The business relationship enters the picture when a number of such risk takers band together, divvy up the risks and rewards to mutual satisfaction, buy a trawler, and fish the river dry, shipping the delicacies to high end eateries around the globe at a 250% operating margin. It works wonderfully.

The CEO’s of our modern International Business complexes are charged with only one objective – turn a profit. They can do no other, according to all the laws of nature. Success is measured directly by profit, where bigger is always better. Bigger profits are related to bigger risks. Bigger risks carry larger rewards. Larger rewards attract more risk takers. More risk takers demand more rewards… . Of course, it is also true that our modern Businesses are also ruled by law and statute, these being the providence of the state, by another set of laws of nature. In free market economies, Democracies set the rules under which business operates, the two natural forces working together harmoniously and self limiting, orbs around a sun.

And this is how it works, exactly; The free market, left unfettered by the state, will seek to concentrate as much gain as possible in the hands of the highest risk takers. The more gain (wealth) is concentrated, the less there is for everyone else. When the system begins to take too much away from too many, the democratically elected people of the state regulate the size of reward to limit concentration of wealth. Limiting reward greatly aids the wider distribution of wealth, but it also limits the amount of risk – and risk takers – willing to participate in the market. Half an alligator just doesn’t look worth it to about half the would be risk takers, willing to fight half naked, for a crappy half a prize. But that is the natural right of the elected, the voice of the people. It is entirely within our right, as members of good standing in a Democratic world, to demand a change of “Principle” in the way the system works. We have every right to limit the reward our CEO’s can expect, and they in their turn have the right to limit their own risk  – which keeps the laws of nature on their useful course.

For us, stuck in the young maelstrom of 2009, where the immutable laws of risk blew commensurate rewards off wide screen monitors in tall glass buildings, and invisible profits poured onto hard drives by the gigabyte – the gluttonous porn of a filthy age, our choice is one. Do we decapitate the system that brought us to this point by putting an absolute ceiling on the amount of risk our society’s risk takers are willing to take, or do we do nothing, and let the system work the way it has, harvesting riches until the entire edifice collapses? It’s a mean choice between change, and revolution.

Change, and rewrite the International Financial Architecture of the world, upend the last 60 years of the “traditional” system, end the generation of excess, gluttony, and rape. Cap the profits of the “Masters of the Universe”, and work to bring some balance to the world,…and an end to Capitalism as we have ever known it to be. Or, in the only other alternative, stay the course, pump more oil into the gears, give our financial risk takers unlimited ability to reward themselves….and watch the whole damn creaking mess implode into chaos and confusion. In either case, it will be the right of the people to decide, and each and every one of us has an equal say. The fate of our own Ancien Régime hangs in the balance.

If it’s change we want, then “off with their heads!” There can be no better way to destroy the system than decapitating the risk takers whose brilliance at weighing gain built the only world we know. With their current assets melting away, and no incentive to fight for them, a balance will return as risk takers accept less risk in exchange for less reward. “Less” will be the mantra of the coming generation, and “more” just another nasty word, a question only uttered by incredulous misfits, their sight and senses dulled by years behind the walls of now, “unpatriotic” ideology.

Main Site: ScreamBucket.com




1. Eugene - March 19, 2009

Again, enchanted by the style, but down to the issue – what high risk are the enthroned CEOs et al taking in today’s business machine? Any at all? We saw it right on the ‘wide screens’ as you nicely put it.
For decades they claimed their ‘compensation’ (another euphemism) is nothing but a fair share of the profits their brinkmanship brought in for the shareholders. Now they are (practically) all in the resultative dump, their brinkmanship sank their ships. Does it matter to them, on the bottom line, I mean? They still claim (and get) multi-digit sums only now bagged more silently, without fanfares.
So the risk-taking concept is … I do not know, probably you have something in sight which I do not.

aetiusromulous - March 19, 2009

Risk taking was always a part of the American mystique, what with the covered wagons and all. Risk takers built America and the dream. These folks are more of the same, but in an age of unintended consequences. What they built was a clearly inflated world which we all participated in, and while the going was good for us, we were just as happy to let them, be them. My spouse is a fan of 90210, the TV show. Watching a few minuted with her the other night I thought – this is a relic of a different age, where excess was captivating and a thing of envy. I wonder what their ratings are like now?

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