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Sunday, July 25, 2010

A few thoughts on Corporatocracy and inheritance

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French political thinker and historian, observed in his 'Democracy in America' (1835), published after traveling in the United States, "Among a democratic people, where there is no hereditary wealth, every man works to earn a living...Labor is held in honor; the prejudice is not against but in its favor."  And this brings to mind the thought that at some point in our future, we must abolish hereditary wealth and inheritance of wealth.  I know that it's not a popular theme and is often considered socialist or even communist, but think it through to its logical conclusion.

Today, we have about 6.8 billion people on the planet, already overcrowded beyond the point of sustainability, according to many scientists, by a factor of 5 or better.  Wealth accumulates in the hands of a few.  The world's wealthiest families are secretive about their wealth and well understand how to spread it so that no one family member draws too much attention.  But, the real power that that wealth buys rests in the hands of one or at most a handful of that family and that power allows their wealth to continue to grow and accumulate.

In the West, we commonly hold the mistaken belief that if you own stock, you own part of a company.  That's true only in the most remote of senses.  In reality, only those people with preferred or "blue chip" stock own the company.  The rest, the vast majority of stockholders, own common stock, which vests the owner with precisely....nothing.  A common stock owner has merely loaned that company money to grow, or fail, at very low interest rates.  Again, the real power rests in the hands of the few who hold preferred stock and are the real owners of the company. Everyone else simply has loaned them money to gamble; they're far too smart to gamble with their own.

Recently, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling that overturned legislation which prevented corporations from contributing money to political campaigns.  It will allow other entities such as labor unions to spend freely, too.  The age of the Robber Baron has returned, ushered in by a conservative court bent on invalidating anything that smacks of restraint or moderation in campaign finance reform.  Conservative political organizations are already mobilizing, smelling progressive blood in the water.  Who benefits from this ruling?   The very same wealthy people who own the corporations - Corporate America, the Corporatocracy that's been in place for years just got free rein from the highest court in the land to influence politics in America as they see fit.  And they see fit to insure that laws are enacted and taxes are lifted so that they can rake in profits unlike any ever seen. Even if this ruling had direct impact only on labor unions, it would be just as disastrous.  While it allows both corporations and labor unions to finance campaigns directly, it is going to result in mudslinging of the like that hasn't been seen in a century.  Voters will be so inundated by half-truths and outright lies from both sides that finding the truth in between will be virtually impossible, and that's exactly what the conservative-biased Supreme Court wanted; conservative organizations already control the airwaves while simultaneously labeling mainstream media as liberal.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  All of this is precisely what the real powers of wealth desired - media control that keeps the pot stirred, the subservient workers too busy with petty quarrels to look into where these problems came from, and too distracted to notice the man behind the curtain.

Congressional Republicans have stuck together on one thing:  The attempt to thwart any legislation that comes from anyone other than them, regardless that it might do good for everyone.  They would rather see the nation fail along with the Democrats than work beside them for the good of the country.  It's the politics of greed, nothing more.  They have proven to be the spoiled brats on the playground who refuse to play at all if they can't have everything their way.  And despite the FACT that Republicans have absolutely no concern for their constituents beyond getting their votes in the next election, a misinformed, duped public continues to vote for them.  The powers behind the conservatives know this.  They know that they can do anything and get away with it because the vast majority of their voters are people who would rather believe what they're told than think through thorny issues.  It's not a matter of trust; voters don't fully trust anyone, even the ones they help elect.  It's a matter of conservative voters being so invested in the morass that's been created by Ronald Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 with the assistance of Blue Dog Democrats that they don't want to admit that they're wrong. To admit they're wrong means that we will have to push the reset button, and the middle class will never allow that, but will continue drinking the Kool-Aid and pretending that everything will be OK....some day.  So the problem grows and worsens.

Who will ultimately benefit from all of this?  The ultra wealthy.  The same people who always have benefited from wars, famine, and every other man-made pestilence.  For them to have the wealth they hold, someone has to be poor, someone has to do the gritty work that they wouldn't put their hands to, someone has to live in the hovels and work for pennies a day, and someone's child has to go hungry.  There is no "trickle down" wealth creation. That's a fantasy.  And everything that modern politics does allows them to continue their hereditary wealth to the point that, one day, they'll own everything and the rest of us will be forced to rent from them.  Do you really think that the housing bust following the housing boom was an accident?  Why are derivatives so hard to understand? Because they were designed to KEEP us from understanding.  The boom was accidental, the bust most certainly was not.  How could they continue to accumulate wealth if others were allowed to do the same?

All hail the new American Corporatocracy!  America has finally gotten the government it deserves.                                                                  Originally posted 28 January 2010