Friday, November 19, 2010

Democracy, We Hardly Knew Ye'

Yes, it's long, so it'll not be read by those with the teabagging form of ADHD. And, because it's Bill Moyers at a Howard Zinn lecture, there's a certain amount of liberal blood in the eye. But there's so much that's factual and really depressing in this speech, that it's perfect for a guy like me. Riding in on the backs of teabaggers, finishing a journey that started with Ronald Reagan, the plutocratization of America is complete. So long democracy, it was nice knowing you. (Well, not actually knowing: imagining.)

If you read it, I'd say you could skip the first several paragraphs. Even I have my limits. Here's a sampling. It ain't pretty.

...Between 2001 and 2008, about 40,000 US manufacturing plants closed. Six million factory jobs have disappeared over the past dozen years, representing one in three manufacturing jobs. Natalie Ford said to the Times what many of us are wondering: “I don’t know how without any good-paying jobs here in the United States people are going to pay for their health care, put their children through school.”

... the new BMW plant that recently opened [in South Carolina]... advertised that the company would hire one thousand workers. Among the applicants? According to the Washington Post; “a former manager of a major distribution center for Target; a consultant who oversaw construction projects in four western states; a supervisor at a plastics recycling firm. Some held college degrees and resumes in other fields where they made more money.” They will be paid $15 an hour – about half of what BMW workers earn in Germany...

... from 1950 through 1980, the share of all income in America going to everyone but the rich increased from 64 percent to 65 percent. Because the nation’s economy was growing handsomely, the average income for 9 out of l0 Americans was growing, too – from $17,719 to $30,941. That’s a 75 percent increase in income in constant 2008 dollars.

But then it stopped. Since 1980 the economy has also continued to grow handsomely, but only a fraction at the top have benefitted. The line flattens for the bottom 90% of Americans. Average income went from that $30,941 in 1980 to $31,244 in 2008. Think about that: the average income of Americans increased just $303 dollars in 28 years...

... plutocracy is here, and a pumped up Citigroup even boasted of coining a variation on the word— “plutonomy”, which describes an economic system where the privileged few make sure the rich get richer and that government helps them do it. Five years ago Citigroup decided the time had come to “bang the drum on plutonomy.” And bang they did. Here are some excerpts from the document “Revisiting Plutonomy;”

“Asset booms, a rising profit share and favorable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper… [and] take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years.”

“…the top 10%, particularly the top 1% of the United States – the plutonomists in our parlance – have benefitted disproportionately from the recent productivity surged in the US… [and] from globalization and the productivity boom, at the relative expense of labor.”

… [and they] are likely to get even wealthier in the coming years. Because the dynamics of plutonomy are still intact.”

...You will hear it said, “Come on, this is the way the world works.” No, it’s the way the world is made to work. ... And those policy decisions were paid for by the less than one percent who participate in our capitalist democracy political contributions. Over the past 30 years, with the complicity of Republicans and Democrats alike, the plutocrats, or plutonomists (choose your own poison) have used their vastly increased wealth to assure that government does their bidding. Remember that grateful Citigroup reference to “market-friendly governments” on the side of plutonomy? We had a story down in Texas for that sort of thing; the dealer in a poker game says to the dealer, Now play the cards fairly, Reuben; I know what I dealt you.” (To see just how our system was rigged by the financial, political, and university elites, run, don’t walk, to the theatre nearest you showing Charles Ferguson’s new film, “Inside Job.” Take a handkerchief because you’ll weep for the republic.)...
...early this year the five reactionary members of the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are “persons” with the right to speak during elections by funding ads like those now flooding the airwaves. It was the work of legal fabulists. Corporations are not people; they are legal fictions, creatures of the state, born not of the womb, not of flesh and blood. They’re not permitted to vote. They don’t bear arms (except for the nuclear bombs they can now drop on a congressional race without anyone knowing where it came from.) Yet thanks to five activist conservative judges they have the privilege of “personhood” to “speak” – and not in their own voice, mind you, but as ventriloquists, through hired puppets.

Does anyone really think that’s what the authors of the First Amendment had in mind? Horrified by such a profound perversion, the editor of the spunky Texas Observer, Bob Moser, got it right with his headline: “So long, Democracy, it’s been good to know you.”

You’ll recall that soon after the Court’s decision President Obama raised the matter during his State of the Union speech in January. He said the decision would unleash a torrent of corrupting corporate money into our political system. Sitting a few feet in front of the president, Associate Justice Samuel Alito defiantly mouthed the words: “Not true.”

Not true? Terry Forcht knew otherwise. He’s the wealthy nursing home executive in Kentucky whose establishments is being prosecuted by Attorney General Jack Conway for allegedly covering up sexual abuse. Conway is running for the Senate. Forcht has spent more than $l million to defeat him. Would you believe that Forcht is the banker for one of Karl Rove’s two slush funds, American Crossroads, which has spent nearly $30 million to defeat Democrats?

What’s that, Justice Alito? Not true?...

...Now let’s connect some dots. While knocking down nearly all limits on corporate spending in campaigns, the Supreme Court did allow for disclosure, which would at least tell us who’s buying off the government. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell even claimed that “sunshine” laws would make everything okay. But after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would require that the names of all such donors be publicly disclosed, McConnell lined up every Republican in the Senate to oppose it. Hardly had the public begun to sing “Let the Sunshine In” than McConnell & Company went tone deaf. And when the chief lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce was asked by an interviewer, “Are you guys eventually going to disclose?” the answer was a brisk: “No.” ...

...Now, hold on to your seats, because this can blow away the faint-hearted: Among the right-wing luminaries who showed up among Koch’s ‘secretive network of Republican donors’ were two Supreme Court Justices: Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. That’s right: 2 of the 5 votes to enable the final corporate takeover of government came from justices who were present as members of the plutocracy hatched their schemes for doing so...

There's more, but I can't stand to go over it again. You might quibble about this or that in Moyers' speech; but I don't think its deniable that since Reagan we've become a country built to make the already wealthy much wealthier. And that the people who stand to benefit most, with the election of George Bush and his radical Supreme Court appointments, sealed it.

And now they've found the perfect formula for endless success: talk radio and Fox "news" with their constant RWS™ propagandizing, disseminating distortions on the one hand and using religion on the other, to befuddle the electorate and remove their means for ever recognizing it; massive infusions of untraceable cash to convince people that it's in their interest to vote against their interest.

Believe it or not, I love capitalism. I know that a legal and political climate that allows business to flourish is good for America. But this is a perversion of that, and it can only end badly. The influence of mega-rich has become unstoppable; and they've shown themselves not to care, because they no longer need to.

The time has long passed, and it's much too late, for the insane Beck posse to realize what they've done.

Not that they ever would have.


  1. So are you paying taxes at the Bush rates or the Clinton rates???
    Hmmm?? Hmmm? Hmm? Hmmm??????!?!?!?!?!
    WHY NOT?!?!?!?!?!??????? WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY..........?????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????
    HaHa, thats how I used to irritate my Dad when I'd ask howcome my colored friend Willie couldn't come to my Birthday Party...
    (and its not watchur thinkin' Punk, its cause Willie's Dad was ENLISTED, and an Officer's Kid couldn't just have an Enlisted Guys Kid over for a birthday party in 1969)
    so howcome you don't have any Colored Peoples over to your House for your Wine Tastings/Foreign Film Screenings??
    I mean, why don't you pay under the old Clinton rates??, you can, in fact you can send all your money to the IRS if you want..

    Frank "Not expectin an Answer" Drackman

  2. Not expecting an answer? Maybe because this is the thousandth time you've asked the question since I first responded...

    Sid "Not Expecting Anything New" Schwab

  3. Thats what my Dad said!!!!!!!!!!!

    Whoa!!!!!!!(Andew Dice Clay voice)


  4. Our economic problems are complex with no easy answers. Answers, yes, jut not real easy, at least for some.

    I read Moyers speech earlier and was only all the more depressed as it simply continues to support what I continue to read and learn.

    At what point did unregulated commerce become the equivalent of a free market and democracy? Not sure of the answer but that is what those that make out under our system would have us believe and I am sure that some of the even do believe it. But it has become and a religion that tolerates no questioning. To do so is un-American.

    However, after a lifetime spent investigating various types of corruption I can promise you that neither corporations nor individuals can be trusted to do the right thing much less the honest thing. In fact, just the opposite. It all gets rationalized by the participants. Not unlike the behavior of plaintiff attorneys.

    I understand the movie Inside Job is a fascinating and disturbing look at how we got here economically.



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