Monday, April 3, 2017

So They Want Class Warfare? Let's Have It Then.

Major corporations and financial institutions, and the 1% behind them, have been waging class warfare against the average person for years.  They act in total disregard for the common good and have perverted our democracy into government of industry, by industry, and for industry.  President Eisenhower’s prescient warning against the power of the military/industrial complex has come true.  It is now past time to fight back.

What do you think is the major problem facing the United States today?  If you think it’s unresponsive government, government gridlock, the Democrats, or the Republicans, you are not getting at the underlying problem.  If you think it’s discrimination and bigotry, that’s certainly a big one, but that’s not it either.  

The major problem we face is the control that corporations and financial institutions have over government and our lives.  Whether you are a small farmer, an under-employed former middle class factory worker, a consumer with a huge credit card debt, a person of color living in the ghetto whose children go to schools that aren’t schools, a resident of rural or urban America who sees your life getting worse, not better … the underlying problem is the same.

The problem is that because of the control of corporations and financial institutions, the focus of government is on their needs and interests, not the needs of the people.  They are not the same.  We long ago gave the lie to the saying, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”  Government thus is not meeting its purpose, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, of securing the peoples’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Class warfare is a dirty word in the United States.  Whenever someone makes an argument against the power of corporations or the moneyed class, they are stuck with that critical label.  This was certainly the case with Bernie Sanders.  The implication is that class warfare is un-American.  It reeks of Communism or Socialism.

No type of internal warfare, whether with arms or merely verbal, is desirable in a civilized society.  But we have come to the point in the United States where class warfare is necessary if we are to survive as a democracy dedicated to government of the people, by the people, and for the people. There is no other way to reverse the control corporations have amassed.

The United States in 2017 is a land where all real power rests with major corporations and financial institutions.  Through their lobbying and vast donations to campaigns, corporations have taken control of Congress and their interests prevail.

Yes, we the people still vote and elect our representatives and the president.  But even that has been corrupted because corporate-funded political advertising, thanks to Citizens United, now exerts a huge influence on how we vote.  We are bombarded with deceitful messages in support of those who protect corporate interests, and so people have been fooled into voting against their best interests.  As Lincoln is credited as saying, “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time.”

And so big money has gained effective control of Congress and is now moving on the regulatory process.  This isn’t just a criticism of Republicans.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, while Democrats certainly fight for the interests of the average person and protect the environment, they too are beholden to big money interests.  And so while their legislative agenda is liberal and primarily centered around doing things that benefit the average person, the general good, everything they do is circumscribed by their need to not disturb big money donors too much.  That affected Dodd-Frank, it affected Obamacare, it affected the people President Obama brought in to run the Treasury Department … it affects everything.

Why is it so harmful for big money interests to control Congress?  Why is it that we can’t allow our country’s welfare to rest in the hands of the top 1%?  Many Americans think that powerful, rich people clearly know what they’re doing and so they are the logical people to entrust our welfare to.

The problem is that while they certainly know what they’re doing, it’s all about furthering their own interests.  If that’s at the expense of the interests of the average person, the consumer, the greater good … too bad.  Such is life!

Corporations exist for one reason and one reason only … to make and constantly increase profit for the benefit of shareholders and management.  Today that bottom line focus is worse than ever given the pressure of the stock market’s expectations.  

As for the top 1%, who are usually part of this corporate/financial establishment, they have concern only for themselves.  They are the ultimate poster child of the “me” generation.  

Corporations and people with that kind of money have become so separated from the average person that they just don’t connect anymore.  They have no concern for the needs of the average person or the greater good.  The fact that so many are now multi-national and as a result their prosperity is not tied to the United States economy makes their separation even more pronounced.

And so, as I’ve argued previously, we need to have a soft revolution in the United States.  The people need to rise up and truly take back government.  Not by electing a Donald Trump who has no intention of giving government back to the people … talk about putting a fox in charge of the hen house! … but by electing representatives who are honestly dedicated to protecting the interests of the average person by restoring and improving the balance that the United States built during its progressive period … roughly the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt through Jimmy Carter, 1901 - 1980.

The United States came to its full maturity and strength (economically and militarily) during the 20th century because it harnessed the potential of both the American people and its corporations.  It did this by creating a balance between private rights, the public good, and government.

Because it’s about restoring this historic American balance, the soft revolution proposed is not about emasculating corporations, about removing the profit incentive, or removing them from positions of influence.  It is not about becoming a Socialist country.  Corporations are very important to the well-being of our country and its citizens, and so they not only deserve a seat at the table, they need to be at the table.  

But this revolution is about limiting their power, reducing the greed that currently drives corporate actions and causes them to disregard even the interests of their consumers, let alone the general public.  Even during our progressive period, there is no shortage of examples of corporations acting against the interests of their consumers and the general public.  The decision-making process in corporations needs to be transformed.  

But it should not be the role of government to micro-manage corporations.  We should not have to resort to regulations.  That is not healthy and it is not efficient.  What we need is the creation of an evolved corporate persona and decision-making process that is not at odds with the interests of their consumers, the greater good, and the environment. 

This will not happen without the aroused involvement of voters across traditional party lines in favor of Congressmen who will truly protect and further their interests, who see it as their prime responsibility to secure the right of all Americans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Who will work with corporations and financial institutions but insure a balance between private rights, the public good, and government.

Hopefully we will prove the truth of the final part of Lincoln’s remark noted above … “But you can’t fool all the people all the time.”  Rise up America.

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