Monday, December 22, 2014

If I get rich it'll help everyone.

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Sumi Krishnan writing in is pleased to announce that though odds are still against them in general, “There are now more women entrepreneurs than ever.”  She wants entrepreneurial women to take the bull by the horns and “step up” to the next level and be, “…role models for future women entrepreneurs.”

“It’s certainly an exciting time to be a woman business leader.”, writes Krishnan pointing out that, “In 2014, women entrepreneurs pulled in $1.4 trillion in revenue — up from $819 billion in 1997.”  Isn’t the market swell?  See, what happens is individual greed and selfishness is good because the act of rising to the top pulls the rest of the group with you, in other words, this news is good for all women----women unite.

Well, not so fast buddy. While the US poverty rate overall fell in 2013, women, as Bloomberg BusinessWeek points out don’t “have much to cheer about.” After all, the gap between women and men’s medium income is still considerable:

 Last year, women made 78 cents to a man’s dollar, up 1 cent from 2012.  Big deal.  And in 2012 there were 5.1 million more women in poverty than men according to the US Census Bureau up from 4.3 million in 2003.

Here’s a few more statistics re poverty for women:
“In 2012, over five million more women than men were living below the poverty line; and two million more women than men were living in deep poverty. For women aged 18 to 64, the poverty rate was 15.4%, compared to 11.9% for men of the same age range. At 11%, the poverty rate for women aged 65 and older is almost double that of men aged 65 and older—6.6%. Families headed by a single adult are more likely to be headed by women, and these female-headed households are at a greater risk of poverty. Almost 31% of households headed by a single woman were living below the poverty line—nearly five times the 6.3% poverty rate for families headed by a married couple. For households headed by a single male, 16.4% were living in poverty.”

And the disabled suffer the same fate:

Over one-fourth of adults with a disability live in poverty.
In 2012, the poverty rate for Americans aged 18 to 64 living with a disability was 28.4% (4.3 million) compared to 12.5% (22 million) of Americans aged 18 to 64 who did not have disability.

Ms Krishnan attributes her success to having a vision.  She could have allowed the sexism she faced on the job to knock her down but the vision was the answer. She praises Ronald Reagan for his words attributing his success to having a vision. 

Well here’s some news for the entrepreneurs, we all have visions. If it was simply having a vision there’d be no sexism, no racism and no damn poverty because everyone I know who is poor has this vision about not being poor.  Pretty much every woman I have known in the workplace or in life who have talked to me about the workplace have all fought against the same treatment MS Krishnan describes.

So how come Ms Krishnan is successful?  Hard work and a vision is that it?   She says about herself that, “I started my own company when I was 19 years old, while attending University. Since then, I’ve grown that business, K4 Solutions, into a $20 million company with over 200 employees.”

It’s that simple?  I tried to find out some information about Ms. Krishnan’s background but I will hazard a guess that she had some help, we all want to give our kids a boost up in an extremely insecure and ruthless environment.  But this is a part of the history of entrepreneurs or the successful CEO types that is absent from their, “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps” version of history.  Donald Trump’s dad didn't like work and amassed a huge fortune as a landlord and the young Donald had some $30 million handed to him.  You can’t accumulate that amount of money through productive labor.  The source of Donald’s free lunch came from the labor of others. He has turned that in to $3 billion without having to work. That’s what capitalists mean by freedom.

Warren Buffet’s son Peter is the one that is said to have not been given the silver spoon. His dad told him that as a parent, and indeed, all parents, should give their children "enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing."  And Warren stuck by that.  When Peter turned 19 in 1977, he received his meager inheritance of $90,000, the proceeds from the sale of a farm that his dad converted to Berkshire Hathaway stock.

It’s staggering that anyone can write a book with a title like that who received $90,000 as some start up money. According to my research, $90,000 is worth $360,385.05 in today’s dollars. Not a bad little nest egg.  I think most people could work the bootstrap angle with that.

I just read a moment ago about the new relationship with Cuba, and Business Week is boasting about how important the development is as capitalism can really help now.  I agree, as the piece says, that Cuba is an undemocratic one-party state. We are at least an undemocratic two party state. It also supports “abusers and tyrants” BW writes, unlike the US I gather.

But this is the answer to the world’s problem from the theoreticians of the capitalist class----more capitalism.  But the opposite is the case in the case of nations and individuals. Ms. Krishnan enriching herself will not help working class women lift themselves out of poverty, only the collective struggle against capital and the likes of Ms. Krishnan can do that.  The same goes for Trump, Buffet or any of them. It is the same for black capitalism.  They all make the argument that their personal enrichment benefits everyone in their group.

This does not mean that Ms Krishnan or equally a person of color, doesn’t face discrimination in the world of business and workers must oppose this.  But what lifts all boats in the collective struggle against capital is a united working class movement. The 1% and those climbing that ladder dread nothing more than a united working class movement that genuinely fights racism, sexism, and all the attempts of the 1% to divide us in our struggle for a humane future for ourselves and our children.

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