First it was ‘Divide and conquer’. Now it’s Divide and rule: “Gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy:” The most often used and effective strategy used by dictators, leaders and wannabe leaders to rule over others throughout the history of mankind. Such is the case in America today.
Until the legitimate “We the People” literally force our federal, state and local politicians to serve in the majority’s best interest, no important issues – ideological, economical or social – will ever be resolved. I spoke about this more than a year ago. If we don’t attack this problem and this problem alone, all else is doomed. It doesn’t matter if you are a moderate conservative, radical conservative, Democrat, moderate Democrat, liberal, radical liberal, progressive, so-called centrist, Libertarian or any other political persuasion, you are directly – and adversely – affected.
Of those different political persuasions mentioned, only one wins under a divided “We the People”. Therefore, “We the People” must bring to a quick halt our attacking one another before we lose the country altogether. But if we insist on the status quo, we will all loose and only the politicians and the upper crust will win. And their “win” will result in our end, and the demise of a Democratic Republic. We can debate lessor issues later but only after the bigger problem is solved. And the only solution is to treat the root cause of the problems.
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Status Quo – An Imperial Death Grip on Democracy
Our politicians have had great success in convincing tens of millions of our well-intended citizens that governing solely for corporate America, Wall Street and the wealthy is indeed good for “We the People”. But it doesn’t take an Albert Einstein to realize that this 30-plus year experiment has failed, and will never work for “We the People”. Relative to the three groups mentioned, simply ask yourself these questions:
- Has my wealth and income risen on an equal percentage?
- Has my life, health and wellbeing been equally blessed?
- Do I enjoy the same rights (i.e. access to government, tax advantages, etc.)?
- Have my social advances been on equal grounds?
“While many American families enjoyed rising prosperity in the decades following World War II, those wealth gains have eroded, leaving the middle-class poorer than anytime since the 1940s.”
Now ask yourself how well politicians have fared compared to those three groups.
Then consider this from 1990:
“During the 1980s, wealth in the United States was redistributed upward. The middle class wound up with marginal gains on federal income taxes but higher state taxes, much-increased Social Security levies and a collateral squeeze on everything from health insurance to tuition. Meanwhile, the number of millionaires tripled, stock markets soared, financiers got rich on everything from junk bonds to now-defunct savings-and-loan institutions and federal data show the top 1% of Americans banking their highest share of national income since the pre-Depression Roaring ‘20s.”
And this 22 years later:
“Since 1980 the distribution of wealth in the United Sates has changed dramatically. The rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten poorer. A recent study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicates what is widely acknowledged to be true: that we are more unequal as a nation today than at any time since before the Great Depression. The data of The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in its “The State of Working America” analysis shows that between 1983 and 2010 the top 5 percent of income earners increased their share of the pie by 74.2 percent, while the bottom 60 percent of us had our share of national income decrease. In other words, the redistribution of national income went from the bottom to the top and not, as the right fears, from the top to the bottom.” [Bold added]
If you like, here’s some easy-to-read graphics about this upward redistribution of wealth over the same period.
But the next graphic is the only one you really need:
Ten people are locked in a room. A pizza cut into ten slices is order with everyone paying an equal share of the cost. When the pizza arrives, one person takes nine slices for himself leaving only a single slice for the remaining nine. That’s the current status quo in America.
Corporate Welfare – Politicians’ Giveaway Program to Corporate America
There are many who deny that corporate welfare exists. Unfortunately they’re wrong. Of all the industries on government welfare, let’s began with the most profitable: The oil and gas (and coal) industry.
Oil companies have set record profits over the past dozen years and are at historical highs today. Yet our politicians expect you and me – the ordinary taxpayer – to continue subsidizing the oil and gas industry to the tune of $4 to $7 billion each year, even as their annual profits reach $93 billion. If you want to add the coal industry, that subsidized number grows to $10 billion per year. That’s just part of the $100 billion each year in corporate welfare.
Having spent 30-plus years in that industry, there’s one unwritten, but often spoken, policy that never leaves my mind — ‘we plan for 30 percent of our employees to be non-productive, contributing nothing to our bottom line’. As a company, how wealthy do you have to be in order to absorb that kind of loss?
But the worst of these corporate giveaways falls under the category of “tax expenditures”, which is basically code for allowing corporations and special interest to pay a zero or near-zero percent tax rate, as well spending tax money already collected and/or future collections (CC charges) on these entities. This welfare for corporations cost taxpayers between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion each year – and that’s just at the federal level.
States also have their giveaways to corporations and the wealthy which cost taxpayers more than $770 billion each year. That means, on average, your state is giving away more than $15 billion each year which you, the taxpayer, has to make up. Prime examples are taxpayers subsidizing billionaire sports owners and college basketball arena’s while laying off 2,100 school employees.
Our governing officials will tell us that these tax expenditures are a good investment because they will create jobs in our state and across the country, thereby paying for themselves. This idea is known as ‘trickle-down-economics’ or, after the former slogan became toxic, ‘supply-side-economics’. However, after a 30-plus year experiment with this ideological boondoggle, reality has shown it simple does not work.
Tax cuts and subsidies never pay for themselves (the study in PDF). In most cases where actual jobs are created, they cost on average is $456,000 per job, with some costing as much as $2.3 million. If you go with the lower number, it would take 14.5 years for a $15 per-hour worker to earn that much. If he paid 10% of his earnings in taxes, it would take 145 years to pay for the cost of the job. Imagine how long it would take to pay for the $2.3 million job. There’s even been one case where a single job cost $3.1 million.
The fact is that states who don’t offer “deep tax cuts” grow jobs at three times the rate of states that do.
Then there’s the greediest of them all on corporate welfare: Wall Street Banks. “We the People” provided them with $24 trillion in capital within the first year after the 2008 Wall Street meltdown (some of which was never returned) earning them $13 billion in profits. In addition, the Federal Reserve keeps the banks and stock market constantly propped up with trillions of dollars in printed money. Meanwhile Wall Street CEO’s get paid top dollar while destroying their company.
With government subsidies, Wall Street banks are the epitome of “privatized profits, subsidized losses”.
Thank you, corporate America-elected government!
(The Cato Institute, who often leans to the political-right, produced a study on corporate welfare back in 2007. It offers a trove of information and details on the subject.)
Campaign Finance – The Disease of American Democracy
Besides a selfish, greedy ulterior motive to govern for Wall Street, corporate America and the wealthy, elected officials do so because the former is the source of their campaign funds. Those candidates who are filthy rich and willing to spend big parts of their own fortune to be elected – like Governor Rick Scott of Florida – do so in order to pass or rescind laws that will benefit them and their friends. As such, campaign funding is out of control, thanks in large part to the GOP’s Supreme Court.
$14 billion has been spent on elections over the past three cycles: $4 billion in 2010, $6 billion in 2012 (including Presidential) and $4 billion for 2014. (You can find the breakdown of those spending’s here.)
So-called ‘special interest’ groups are the biggest contributors. But one has to be careful about these organizations. A large majority are financed primarily by big corporations and/or very wealthy people. And then there’s the outside spending.
The Koch brothers are the primary funder for dozens of outside spending groups, funneling 80% of hundreds of millions to right-wing organizations. Most of this money is referred to as ‘dark money’ meaning it is not disclosed to voters prior to an election. The reason is obvious: They don’t want you and me to know whose buying the election.
Nothing really compares to the Koch brothers’ political empire. They spent more on the 2012 election than the all Presidential candidates spent in 2000. Take a look at the following graphic, and you can see just how vast their political empire is.
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So far, in 2014, they have funded 44,000 political ads, with over $6 million more planned between now and Election Day. And every single one has been promoting conservative candidates. They’ve spent more this year than double what the top ten unions have spent.
The ultimate goal of the Koch brother’s is to take over the entire government. And they have a pretty good start: They’ve become the nations’ third biggest party. And they’ll use any means necessary such as sending out fake voter registration as they did in North Carolina and to dead people in Illinois in order to stifle the vote.
BTW; that American ‘patriotic’ tea party? Created and funded almost solely by the Koch brothers, as confirmed by tax documents.
Lobbying and Lobbyist Writing Legislation – The Government Listens To Lobbyists And The Wealthy, Not You And I
Once the mega-millions of campaign money and perks has done its job, Wall Street, corporate America and the wealthy line up their lobbyist to head over to Capitol Hill for their payback. Naturally they were expected by the newly-elected politician, so when they knock on the door they are welcomed with open arms. It usually doesn’t take long to conclude their business. Many of them bring along expected prepared document(s), easily transposed into a standard bill to be pushed through congress. Deals among lawmakers are quickly made: ‘You vote-for-mine-and-I’ll-vote-for-yours’. Before you know it, the mega-million donors have a huge return on their investment.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is, by far, the biggest name in writing legislation for lawmakers. They certainly influence and work with Washington lawmakers on national issues, but are much more involved in states where they write state laws to be passed – so much so that we’ve practically become the ‘United States of ALEC’. If you Google up “ALEC writes our laws” you will get more than 1.5 million pages on their activities. For example, ALEC wrote similar bills for several states that benefit the oil and gas industry: The legislation “cover[ed] a wide range of issues from energy to taxes to agriculture”.
So, under the current status quo, you may have marked your ballot at the pols for certain lawmakers but once elected he / she no longer works for you.
BTW: Who’s America’s top corporate lobbying group? Answer: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce holds that title, but it’s with the U.S. Supreme Court. And they often get what they want, winning 77 percent of the cases they bring before the court.
The Revolving Door – Revolving Door: Methodology
So, when a lawmaker decides he’s had enough of “public service”, what is he or she to do? In most cases, it on to the road-to-riches. It’s called the ‘Revolving door”. And it often spins more than once, with many passing through the door several times: From public service to private sector then back to public service, with some going right back to the public sector. And they get paid top dollar.
There are 419 former members of Congress who have walked through the revolving door, with most taking jobs where they can use their influence on Congress to benefit their new employer. Hundreds of former staffers do the same thing. Dozens of current staffers came through the revolving door from public service.
Maybe the most famous for this was Representative Billy Tauzin (R) of Louisiana who, with the drug and insurance industry guiding him, wrote the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 when George W. Bush was President and Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress. It was this act that brought about Medicare Part D, a prescription drug plan, for those on Medicare – which included the infamous and hated “donut hole”. The bill became known as a “sweetheart deal” for the drug industry because of the giant windfall they’ve enjoyed from the law.
Two months after the bill was signed into law by Bush, Tauzin resigned from Congress to accept a job as President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Salary? $2 million a year — his “reward” for being such a ‘faithful servant’ while an elected lawmaker.
Many in his own Party were shocked that Tauzin pulled such an obviously-planned stunt, and expected a vicious backlash from the public. They braced for the impact, but — — — nothing happened! Hardly a ripple. Probably because the main-stream media totally ignored what Tauzin had done. It was detailed on some websites, but that was it.
That ‘care-less, do-nothing’ attitude was received as a big, giant green light by elected officials on both sides of the isle. So the revolving door grew bigger, in the comfort that the media and constituent just did not care. GOPer Eric Cantor, former House Majority Leader, is the latest.
A small glimmer of hope surfaced earlier this year when a junior Democrat from Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet, introduced a bill to kill the revolving door. But don’t hold your breath; it’s given only a 3% chance of being enacted. The Old Man gives it a zero percent chance: Lawmakers are not about to pass a bill that takes away their ‘entitlement’ to a ‘just reward’ for serving their masters.
You should also be aware that state officials play the same game. Simple Google up “state officials revolving door”.
Unelected Biased Media / Pundits’ Influence – Obama says Republicans privately tell him they’re scared of Rush Limbaugh
None can deny that politicians flock to media outlets that share their own ideological views. Democrats head for MSNBC while Republicans make a beeline for Fox. They go to a lot of effort to avoid those who they think might ask the tough questions. They seek out only the ‘friendlies’.
For example, Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst of Iowa shunned the press in her own state, but was very happy to appear on Fox. That isn’t the democratic way, but in today’s world, it’s what we’ve come to expect. However, when elected officials start allowing those same unelected people to set agenda and make policy, it’s time to step in.
In January of this year Sean Hannity announced he was going to outline the conservative solution agenda for America. In other words, he was going to instruct elected officials on how to govern (to hell with the voters), and, using the power of his television and radio show, he intended to make life a living hell for anyone on the right that didn’t conform to his demands. Hannity also played a huge role in pushing elected officials to shut down the government last year. That was okay with many conservatives across America, but they wouldn’t have be too happy if Democrats played by the same rules.
These are the major contributors to our political, economic and social problems. There are others; however once we force our elected officials to govern for “We the People” rather than the select few, most other problems will simply fade away. Wall Street, corporate America and the wealthy deserve representation — but they most certainly do not deserve 101 percent of the representation.
You can check out some additional headlines that support this post which you may find interesting. But before you leave, you will certainly want to read about another root cause: The bunker protecting our corrupt elected officials: The News Media.