Term Paper: Michael Parenti, 'Wealth

Pages: 5 (1344 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Economics  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Michael Parenti, 'Wealth and Want in the United States', begins with a reminder that when most people talk about the political system in the U.S., few of them mention the word "capitalism." At least not in public, and Parenti is on target in that observation. Many people today, young and old, have forgotten that the premise of the United States, of the U.S. Constitution, is to ensure that people have the right to conduct free enterprise in the United States. Those people who today complain about the "corporate greed" of America, would do well to be reminded of the original American war cry, "No taxation without representation." One of interpretation, and one in keeping with the tone of Parenti's article, is -leave us alone to make money, as much money as we can, so that we can acquire wealth - and enjoy it (the pursuit of happiness) - through free enterprise. and, for person who overlooks that America is indeed the capitalist capital of the world, Parenti continues on make the distinction between "the owing class" and the working class. The distinction, for Parenti, is quite simple: The owning class is comprised of the wealthy Americans who run business and industry, and the others are those who labor under the direction of the owning class to bring the merchant ship into port, so to speak.

Parenti gives mention to those corporate shareholders, but distinguishes them from the owning class; and he briefly explores the other class levels; the sports millionaires, the entertainment moguls and stars, and top business executives, who make the decisions for the day-to-day tedium associated with the "owning class'" merchant ships; nothing that these class levels often times have surplus wealth; again, an astute observation. In keeping with the merchant ship concept, Parenti notes that members of the owning class are defined when they either have enough wealth that it excludes them from the hands on labor involved to generate that wealth on behalf of the business that they own; or when your labor generates the wealth, or income, of someone who does not perform the labor such that they are financially benefiting from your labor (never mind that the owning class has to cut what are called paychecks). "Hard work," Parenti notes, "seldom makes anyone rich."

Donald Trump would no doubt send Parenti out as having failed at learning the fine art of becoming a millionaire, because it does indeed require hard work. The many class levels that Parenti cites as having acquired wealth through sports and the arts, would probably beg to differ with Parenti on the suggestion that hard work does not lead to wealth. That is, of course, the second thing that America is about, is that which draws millions - not thousands - but millions of applications to immigrate to the United States each month - not year, but month.

The secret of wealth," Parenti continues, "is to have others work for you." He espouses this idea as if though he is kicking it around to see how it fits him personally. At this early point in the essay one is really wondering where he's going with these observation, especially since his thesis was vague. There is, the thought comes up for this reader, the possibility that he going to begin a socialist or communist rant at some point. It will, in fact, be difficult to read further if he invokes the names of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx (everyone knows how that story turned out).

Parenti continues on, quoting Adam Smith, who in 1776 said:

Labor... is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only."

This is important, because it was crediting the American working class with for the wealth of the owning class; though not quite sharing it with them, as Parenti goes on to note. He says that the value paid to the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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