I couldn’t take it any longer, I thought I was crazy…When this feeling came upon me like a tidal wave…
Thank you, Mr. Loaf, for a perfect intro for what will likely be my most impassioned and serious entry to date. No, it has nothing to do with love or sex or telling lies just to get laid, and Phil Rizutto will not be making a voice cameo, but if what I lay out for you all below does not get properly resolved in a timely fashion, I am fairly certain we will all be praying for the end of time.
Our country is seriously fucked up. There I said it. You are all probably thinking, “duh!”
Sure. I realize that it isn’t just our country. Our entire world is in serious peril, as it has been for most of the past, well, recorded history.
But let’s focus on the good ol’ US of A, since that is where I reside and focus the majority of my attention.
I grew up proud to be an American. Traveling abroad at a young age, fortunate as I was, I noticed that most of the world (other than the French) respected and even seemed to envy or idolize America and its populace. My pride remained through college and well into my young adulthood. It took a significant but not fatal hit during the fiasco that was the election of 2000, where an archaic system with more anachronisms and non-human irrationality than the BCS system in College Football, ultimately was responsible for determining that an unqualified buffoon, the out-of-touch heir to a previous American President would become the most powerful person on our planet.
Still, rules were rules, and crushing as that election was, I didn’t let it quash my faith in what was still an incredible nation. In the wake of 9-11, my patriotism might have reached its all-time peak, as our national morale and general spirit united as a population, determined not to let our invisible radical Islamic enemy feel empowered by their enormous act of cowardice.
But an unjustified war in Iraq began to unravel my conviction regarding America’s morality. Sure, Afghanistan warranted action, as did any other nation or region known to be harboring or supporting terrorists. But Iraq was not. And it was proven that Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction, either. But were our troops brought back home upon that pivotal discovery? No.
My own tipping point came in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina rocked the Gulf region. The egregious and shocking lack of reaction by the Bush Administration embarrassed me. That’s right. I became embarrassed to be an American. A once proud citizen who truly believed in America and nearly everything our nation stood for began to seriously question his government and the very population that empowered it.
I was and still remain embarrassed that homosexuals cannot freely marry in a country that symbolizes freedom, liberty and equality for all of its citizens. And I am also embarrassed that a large segment of our population does not believe in evolution, and even feel such beliefs belong in our schools as part of our children’s education. I shudder at the large population who think it is their right to dictate how other people should treat their own reproductive systems and personal decisions regarding bringing others into our world, whether pregnant or not. And the fact that genocides not unlike the one my own family suffered at the hands of the Nazis a mere 70 years ago are occurring today in multiple parts of the world, with our own military diverted to fight trivial wars over oil and other financial considerations is an absolute abomination…criminal, actually.
And at the time, the largest source of my embarrassment stemmed from the realization that our own government does not give a rat’s ass about the poor and indigent in our country. Ever since Katrina, this once great nation has experienced a massive denouement, an horrific decline and erosion of all goodwill and beneficent glory America had amassed and banked since the end of World War II. This decline was and still is evident across every meaningful facet of American life, from education to employment, from tax laws to infrastructure, from philanthropy to tort reform (the lack thereof), from its banking system to healthcare, from campaign reform (again, the lack thereof) to military deployment and the treatment of its troops when they return from service, from sea to polluted sea.
I can no longer watch and do or say nothing. I am shocked. I am appalled. And I am pissed.
I believe in Capitalism. I do think it is preferable to most if not all other financial paradigms. And as such, it allowed our country and much of the world to grow at an unprecedented pace, to develop technologies and systems and medical marvels and widely distribute them around the globe like never before.
But Capitalism in its truest sense (or at least in the way America seems to define it) will end society as we know it, leading to a world where corporations run our world and all men of all heritages, rich and poor, will be slaves and pawns of the corporate tyrants. In fact, we are pretty much there now.
You see, American Capitalism is based on the principle that those with money make the rules, and that government should surrender all control over financial activity and markets, allowing the markets themselves to determine prices and those with money to dictate the rules to those without means. The philosophy favors those with money. It always has (after all, our founding fathers were themselves privileged and obscenely wealthy men). And that is fine, because Capitalism also mandates that those with money lend it to those who don’t have money. And THEORETICALLY, those without the money can use these loans to fund business initiatives of their own, which will generate money over and above whatever they borrowed plus all interest owed. The lenders will generally recover the money they lend, as well as the associated interest.
But as is often the case, those without are tempted to use money they borrow for more practical and pressing matters rather than investing in a business of their own that will generate profits above their interest hurdle rate. Yep, these un-moneyed people usually need lodging and food and medication and all of the general things that those with money take for granted.
Our government failed its citizens over the past seven years, much like Clark Kent did in Superman II when he chose to become human while superhuman criminals ran amok, nearly destroying our planet.
When Wall Street collapsed and Lehman was hung out to dry in 2008, our government made some ludicrous decisions. Most of its unjustified, irrational and unfair behavior was rooted in the fact that OUR GOVERNMENT IS COMPLETELY UNDER THE CONTROL OF CORPORATE AMERICA.
Yeah, I know. Tell you something you don’t already know.
Except that is not how things should be. Corporations should be free to flourish under general laissez faire conditions. Capitalism should be America’s economic system. But our government cannot allow the corporations to have so much power that they actually come to control our government and all of our fellow men and women.
Our government is not in place to serve corporations. Our government is in place to serve and protect the interests and needs of its citizens. ITS HUMAN CITIZENS.
But as corporations have grown in power and influence and net-worth over the past quarter century to unprecedented levels, our government has also relaxed its policies toward corporate regulation and influence. Because our politicians are elected by obscene funds provided by corporations, they feel compelled to act in the best interest of their largest donors. However, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS CANNOT ACT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF CORPORATIONS…
Corporations have one goal: to increase profits. Human beings, on the other hand, have a number of goals and needs, many of which have nothing or little to do with increasing money in our bank accounts. We need protection, both from criminals and from terrorists. We need health care. We need functional infrastructure. We need to provide quality education to our children. We need help when nature fails to cooperate and acts of God befall us. And so on.
Our government needs to serve and protect us in the most effective, efficient but genuinely sympathetic way possible. By kowtowing to corporate America due to a campaign system in dire need of reform, it cannot properly do so.
Recent watershed action to quash unions - be it the Teachers’ union in Wisconsin and the UAW in Michigan – was troubling on many levels. I am conservative in my views toward unions and tacit agreement that there is no place for bad teachers or middle management personnel to coast by on seniority and poor performance, earning ridiculous paychecks for adding little or no value. And yet, I also understand that at one time unions actually gave the poor and lower income citizens of our nation a unified voice and political influence that could not otherwise materialize effectively.
And every time I see the awful and obviously expensive commercials of various candidates on television, my stomach turns. The massive sum of money wasted on negative, useless campaign ads is staggering and unacceptable.
The Occupy movement, misguided as it seems, is disjointed and un-unified because there is a great deal to be upset about in America and the world right now. Most of it can be attributed to the rise of corporate power and the failure of our population and our elected officials to do anything about it.
The time has come for change. Big change.
I am not interested in taking hard-earned money away from the rich, but rather to take back and fairly distribute the unfair and undue power the rich corporate cronies have amassed that allows them to stack the deck in their own favor. This is still a democracy, after all, isn’t it? Captains of industry, CEOs, hedge fund managers and all of the other professional 1%ers out there should have no more political influence and access to votes than citizens who teach their children, fight their wars, pull their weeds, clean their toilets and answer their calls. Actually, by the numbers, THEY SHOULD HAVE LESS!
And that is really my point here. I have no interest in taking MONEY away from the rich and giving it to the poor, with being a 21st century Robin Hood if you will. It is just high time to take the overwhelming majority of POLITICAL POWER AND INFLUENCE from what is just a fraction of our populace. It has long been known that money IS power. And it always will be, because the rich can always use their money DIRECTLY to build whatever they want (with proper zoning), help whomever they want, go wherever they want (even outer space) and most importantly, to buy the best education, healthcare, real estate and general opportunity for their families and future generations.
BUT, and this is the biggie here, ladies and gentlemen, our politicians can no longer be bound by promises and favors curried by cash-filled handshakes, tacit agreements, not-so-tacit agreements, and large donations made to fund campaigns, party endeavors and general political logrolling.
How to limit or even eliminate this behavior, so deeply entrenched in the American political landscape is THE singular and most important challenge facing our nation and, in my opinion, the future of humanity.
If corporate greed and power are allowed to continue to grow unchecked, with no viable recourse by the American populace…WE ARE ALL EFFED. EVEN THE RICH!
Already, the past few years have demonstrated some behavior patterns and generally unacceptable practices by corporations, and those who manage them that make me sick every time I even think about them:
1) Fighting a war in Iraq over “WMDs” when we all know it was about one thing and one thing only…OIL;
2) Fuck You Bonuses paid by the Wall Street investment banks standing in the wake of Lehman’s collapse, which only survived due to an enormous influx of taxpayer money, and then turned around and paid ridiculous bonuses to their employees while the rest of us struggled to make ends meet. If we had jobs at all. Enjoy the Hamptons you pretentious pricks. Even if there were employees who generated profits and merited bonuses, 2008 was not the time to pay them. Use the funds to fix the financial system, to clean up the fraudulent activities running rampant throughout your shady firms and then GIVE BACK to the taxpayers who made your bailouts possible, through philanthropic endeavors and such. JEEZ, is that behavior so difficult to muster from you stuffed shirted, Tribeca and Greenwich-living, super model-dating, divorce-riddled, cocaine-blowing ignoramuses?
3) MONSANTO and the death of farm-grown, organic foods and perhaps humans, too. SWTF? How our government can allow this to happen is beyond me. This goes hand in hand with the government decision that the tomato paste in pizza suffice as a serving of fruits and vegetables for our children. Not that obesity is a problem in America. With the information we know today about diet, hormones in our food and the fact that Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops kill all non-genetically engineered crops around them, I just can’t believe we actually elect officials to office that HAVE TO ENACT POLICY in Monsanto’s favor because it gives money to election campaigns of these ass-puppets;
4) Unfair labor practices and child labor law breaches by many nations housing American factories and sub-companies go unmonitored, unregulated and worst of all, IGNORED, by the likes of Nike and even current corporate “darling” Apple;
5) New bank and ATM fees rolled out by the very banks taxpayers bailed out in 2008. You took our money to survive, and then turned around and stabbed your clients in the back; The very clientele that allowed you to survive crisis, no less. We all know your clients with certain balances will not be affected by these fees anyway. So really, as always, the people who get screwed are the very people who cannot afford to get screwed; and,
6) All the asinine fees Airlines now charge for everything. Next time I fly, I am sure I will need to swipe my ATM card just to take a piss.
And so on. Insider Trading violators. BP and its gaffe in the Gulf. The cowardly Captain of the Costa Concordia. Bernie Madoff and the rest of you shady Ponzi Scheme runners. The SEC for all of its failures to find and curb fraud. Congress spending ridiculous sums of money to try Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. The Kardashians. All of the participants in the 2011 NBA Lock Out. TO and the rest of pro athletes and celebrities who make and subsequently squander more money than entire towns will earn in their collective lifetimes. Shame on all of you too.
So I ask all of you out there to join in what will be no easy task, but a task that must be carried out just the same. If we don’t nip this in the bud now, I fear corporate power will only get stronger, and our ability to curtail it will be lost forever. We all witnessed the incredible power social networking has to enact change with the amazingly expedient reversal by the Susan G. Komen Foundation who tried to pull their funding of Planned Parenthood. (Those in charge at SGKF are complete IDIOTS by the way, clearly led by the same out-of-touch hacks that thought jacking subscription prices at Netflix during the greatest economic meltdown since the Great Depression would be a good idea).
We can do this. Our collective power is the only way to circumvent the existing catch-22 that would have Joseph Heller turning over in his grave: the fact that under the firmly entrenched current political system and campaign finance laws, we would need a great deal of corporate money to get the requisite number of candidates elected to the various branches of government to effectively amend and enact campaign reform legislation.
We owe it to our parents and grandparents, and great-grandparents and those ancestors before them, who risked everything to immigrate to a foreign land offering a fresh start for all and a world of opportunity. We owe it to those who marched and protested and shaped the course of our nation’s history and legal system. And most of all, we owe it to our troops, who, despite sometimes being pawns in very unpopular and unnecessary wars, have fought to preserve the freedoms we all have, and the great country we all know the USA can be.
We need campaign finance reform. We need it now. Our political system cannot go on like this. Elected officials must not just be able to do what is right for their citizens, but must actually do what is right for all of us, all the time, without owing anything to corporate brass. And they can’t ever feel like there is a conflict of interest.
We are blessed with tools that empower dialogue. Instead of protests, let’s demonstrate our concern by developing and suggesting genuine ideas and plans to affect change and make a difference. Just like we owe it to those who came before us, we owe it to our children and the generations ahead. I look to all of you for inspiration and ideas to stop the horrifying trend that is world dominance by corporations.
Thanks so much,