Sunday, September 12, 2010

Vital Issues, Part II -- Corporatocracy

The United States was founded on the premise that "...governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." (Declaration of Independence)

There should be no "rulers" -- dictators, monarchs, emperors, etc. -- but, instead, elected officials should represent the will of the governed. Hence, such principles as "one person, one vote" have been established and perpetuated.

However, there is evidence that large corporations are exerting ever increasing control over government by means of large contributions to campaigns, the pressure of powerful lobbying groups, lucrative consulting and other employment offers to retiring legislators, not to mention possible out and out coercion and blackmail. The outgrowth of this corporate intervention has been termed "Corporatocracy."

Corporatocracy has no party. Businesses hedge their bets by contributing to candidates of both major parties. Citizens complain that there is little difference between candidates -- at least in matters which would affect the fortunes of the corporate donors. Consequently, party platforms have degenerated to so called "hot-button" issues which have little impact on the lives of voters, but which generate great water cooler conversation. The concentration on these non-issues obscure discussion of complicated, but much more meaningful issues.

Corporate influence over our elections threatens our entire way of life. Corporations have no nationality. Stock from publicly held corporations may be owned by other corporations, foreigners, foreign governments. In short, if you have cash and have no easily identified, direct link to terrorism or some other criminal element, then you can own stock in a "US" corporation. A 2005 analysis estimated that over 13% of US corporate stock was foreign owned. This percentage has almost certainly grown, if not skyrocketed.

So... who is being represented when, say, Giganticorp funnels a huge contribution into the campaign of Farly Hotaire. It's hard to know. But it's easy to say that it is certainly not the will of the governed. If not representing actual foreign interest, then it is at very least the interest of a small group of inordinately wealthy corporate high rollers.

The challenge -- how do we reverse this, particularly since the problem is in charge of the problem! Is the answer term limits? Is the answer publicly financed campaigns for all federal offices? How do we limit the collusion of corporate owned media outlets, an obvious conflict of interest? (Do you notice how much air time is given to items that obscure real news and public debate?)

We ignore this problem at the risk of our freedom... Corporatocracy is simply Neofeudalism, and believe me, you and I are NOT the nobility. We need to be thinking of this... not Mosques near Ground Zero, not Gay Marriage, not Birth Certificates.

No name calling, no talking points, no party lines -- no "isms" of any kind. But think about it... and contribute. Email your congressman.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

VITAL Issues, Part I

This is the first installation of my Vital Issues -- that is, issues that are too important to allow our politicians a free pass. These are NOT answers... just questions with some footholds for comments. Please... contribute your comments, get your friends involved... TALK ABOUT IT NOW. Write your opinions -- and then send a copy to you congressman or congresswoman.

The rules -- no name calling, no finger pointing, no buzzword, no talking points. Let's work together to solve some problems and demand that out legislators do the same!

OK... here goes:

The problem: Our mounting national debt.

We would not run our personal lives this way -- why do we allow our government to operate with this incredible debt, currently $13.3 TRILLION and growing. We spend over 9% of the Federal Budget servicing the interest on the debt.

Do you think this is only the Democrats? Republican talking points would have you believe this. But when George Bush inherited a budget surplus, the Republican congress balked at paying down the national debt, instead choosing the politically charged options of sending tax rebates to citizens. I wrote Texas Senator, Phil Gramm, author of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act of 1985 (a bi-partisan initiative, by the way), asking WHY we should not pay down the debt. This outspoken, courageous budget hawk wrote back with some idiotic talking points obviously authored by some ideologue -- Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich or whomever. Notice that Phil Gramm opted to retire soon afterward... could he not stomach this hypocrisy?

Our indebtedness has a grim underside... in the shadows lurks our debtors. China owns something like $800 Billion of the debt. Do you think this entitles them to a say in our foreign policy? I'll be THEY think it does! How do you think they would react if there was a chance we'd default on a nearly $1 Trillion debt? I think they might try to come collect their assets!

So... what do we do about the deficit?

Raise taxes? If so, what taxes? Lot's of Americans already feel overtaxed, particularly if they don't like how their tax dollars are used. Would they support tax increases if the revenues were pledged to lower the national debt?

Cut spending? What spending --keeping in mind that you can't balance your personal budget by promising to buy cheaper bread... it takes BIG cuts. Would Americans agree to decreased services if savings were pledged to lower the national debt?

How about it? What can we do... no name calling, no finger pointing, no buzzwords.

Friday, September 3, 2010

S**t or Myth? Or Both?

Are you one of those who believe the mid term congressional election doesn't matter? Folks... believe me... it is potentially the most important event in our lives. You might be like me -- I have a hard time being enthused by the likes of Harry Reid. He's condescending, two-faced -- in other words, a professional politician. However, if you find yourself believing what Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and the other Fox minions continuously spout, then you have a very short memory, and you're allowing yourself to be dangerously deluded. I just want to help you remember... here's some of the dangerous myths being circulated.

MYTH #1: President Obama is responsible for the TARP bailout.

REALITY: 100% false. TARP was proposed in September 2008 by Henry Paulson, George W. Bush's Secretary of the Treasury. Congress passed the Emergency Stabilization Act on October 3, 2008. The intent was to allow the Treasury to buy troubled, mortgage-backed securities, thus creating liquidity. Paulson wound up purchasing equity in nine major banks and using none of the money to buy the troubled assets. Just like with the invasion of Iraq, Representatives and Senators of both parties allowed themselves to be swept along by fear.

MYTH #2: Obama is a socialist -- and socialism is BAD!

REALITY: Well... by any definition, Obama is NOT a socialist. I don't think Obama wanted to acquire ownership in General Motors. I think either of  the George Bushes -- even Ronald Reagan -- would have done the same thing. It was a difficult decision. Personally, I don't know what the right thing would have been. It's all speculation. But Obama did not take office thinking, "Oh boy, now I can seize an automobile company!" He and others in charge did what seemed to be the best for our country... it was patriotically motivated, whether we like it or not.

Besides, not all socialism is bad. Shared community resources are all socialist: libraries, police departments, fire departments, trash collection, sewer systems, roads... the internet, itself, is fundamentally socialist. Institutional Socialism -- like most fundamental views -- is not what we're addressing here.

Think of it this way -- say you belong to the Rotary Club. The membership votes on a proposal to donate a certain amount of money to a local charity. This donation will be taken from membership dues. Some members support this use of funds, and some don't. However, all, by dint to their agreement to membership in the Rotary Club, accept the decision of the majority of members. I suppose those that simply can't accept it become Odd Fellows.

The Government is OUR organization. If we use our membership fees (taxes) to fund libraries, clinics, food drives, public health care, then this is NOT fundamentally evil. It is our organization, after all.

What has demonized socialism is the linkage of DICTATORSHIP and SOCIALISM. Stalin in the USSR was a dictator. Hitler was NOT really a socialist... but he was a dictator. Most modern democratic nations incorporate some socialist institutions. Socialism is inherently democratic -- the majority determines use of some public funds for the common good. Don't like it?

So... if you don't like socialism in any form, then you tell that to the fire department as your house burns to the ground. Then, get a time machine a go back to Feudal society... you should be happy there.

MYTH #3: Obama is a lot like Hitler.

REALITY: What???

Obama is NOTHING like Hitler, except that he's a dynamic public speaker. Sarah Palin, in fact, has more in common with Hitler... her distrust of immigrants; her morbid fear of "communism"; her over the top chauvinistic nationalism.
  • These ideas were held true by Hitler. See if any sound familiar in today's political debate:
  • Linguistic diversity is bad for society.
  • Democracy is bad because it grants power to ethnic minorities.
  • Great nations grow from military power and keep order in the world.
  • Communism is the enemy. (Hitler also thought Capitalism was the enemy... go figure.)
Hitler was dominated by his hatred and distrust of Jews. He was fixated on Race as the cause and reason for everything. We'll never know how much he was really the philosophical mastermind of the Nazi movement... he could have been just the deranged figurehead, much like a Germanic Glenn Beck, foaming at the mouth in his rabid dogmatism.

MYTH #4: Obama is responsible for the still faltering economy.

REALITY: The Republican contradiction is overwhelming: 1) government is incapable of restoring the economy, but; 2) the President is the reason the economy has not recovered!

There is an old business adage: a bad plan well executed is better than a good plan, poorly executed. The Republican minority has used the congressional filibuster for virtually every tiny bit of business -- from major initiatives to minor business such as innocuous staff appointments. The plans for economic recovery may not be the best -- however, the Republican have done everything possible to impede effective execution of these plans. These cynical politicians would happily see America suffer, if it means that Obama and his administration and congress appear to fail. It's about power, not policy.To doubt this sabotage, is to be politically naive.

MYTH #5: The bailout (TARP) was corporate socialism... a republican would have just let them fall.

REALITY: Well... yes it was corporate socialism -- but I don't think that's what was going on. The toxic assets were regulated primarily by gambling laws, not banking laws.

We don't know who was left holding the bag for the majority of these assets. I do have a guess. Here's a hint... they have a ton of money on deposit in the USA, and we owe them a lot of money. Answer 1: Saudi Arabia. Answer 2: China.

What do you suppose the reaction of China might have been to a call from Henry Paulson that went something like, "Uh... you know those credit default swaps that we used to secure a trillion dollars we borrowed to wage war in Iraq... well... gee... it seems that money is gone. Turns out that no one really understood how they were supposed to work... and... well... we can't pay you back... I'm sure you understand."

I've long wondered about the 911 bombing... all the bombers were Saudi... the only airplane allowed to fly after the bombing carried members of the Bin Laden family out of the US to their homes in Saudi Arabia. We let Osama Bin Laden slip though our fingers? I don't know... I'm just sayin'....

What I am saying... this is NOT Obama's fault... you can bet that no one will ever tell us the truth.

MYTH (shoot... I've forgotten what number we're on.. who cares by this point.) Obama and the Democrats are the problem.

REALITY: The problem is a handful of the ultra rich, heading up multinational corporations who would LIKE us to believe the Government is the BIG BAD WOLF. Do you know why? Because the US Government is the only institution with the clout to keep them from running roughshod over the rest of us. They would like to cripple the US Government... and they don't care if it's Republicans or Democrats. The fact is, they've found bunch of more willing stooges on the right side of the aisle. Those stooges have found a gullible constituency who are easily motivated by innocuous hot-button issues (e.g., Anti-Flag Burning Amendment) to vote against their own self-interest in favor of these super-rich few.

I find it likely that the same banks that were the recipients of billions in bailouts are now hoarding their funds, refusing to give loans to the small businesses that need money PURPOSELY to keep the economy from recovering -- hoping this will help their favorite stooges to win elections. Keep in mind that 80% of employment is from SMALL BUSINESS! Keep small business poor and the economy will NOT recover.

MYTH: Obama is Muslim... he was not born in the US... Michelle wants to abolish Christmas...

REALITY: Get real... we have BIG problems. Try to pay attention...

MYTH: Just about everything your hear is manipulation.

REALITY: Wait... this is true! It's ALL disinformation.

Here's the reality... electing a bunch of Tea Party right wingers will NOT fix things. Our next two years will be spent with the Birthers trying to subpoena Obama's birth certificate. Trying to dismantle the Health Care bill will result in the waste of THOUSANDS of hours already devoted to implementing the system, and general havoc. Two years (maybe 20 years, even) from now, we'll still be wallowing in recession, looking for someone to blame.

I can't tell you who to vote for... but I can tell to be very skeptical. Don't believe their rhetoric. (By the way... the one's that claim to be Libertarian, ask if they will, if elected, energetically support the legalization of marijuana.) Think hard, read all you can from every source you can find. Act as if your life -- and your child's life -- depends upon your intelligent, informed voting decision. This you can believe... it's not a myth!