Monthly Archives: July 2017

Oligarchy is the New Democracy

We have a problem in America. A handful of powerful people, exemplified by Donald Trump, have decided that the nation is best preserved by serving them. They have taken practically all of the profit of a massive labor force for themselves, and under Donald Trump, they continue to gain freedoms to pollute the environment, cut the benefits of working people (including health care and full-time jobs), and evade taxation to keep the basic infrastructure and social safety net of this country viable. And when the social fabric begins to fray, and the protests begin, they will inevitably blame black people, poor people, immigrants, and the first black President Barack Obama. Sadly, desperate people who don’t follow the news cycle and investigative reporting will probably go along with this creeping tyranny. It has happened before. Ask Europeans.

When corporate earnings are strong, as they are now, but the “economy” is sluggish in terms of the number and quality of jobs created, what does that tell us? Stockholders of this new oligarchy in America are thriving because they are not reinvesting in workers or worker security. In fact, profit and stockholder confidence are directly tied to how cheaply corporations can get away with the payroll. No one is working to turn the tide of part-time jobs with no benefits as a model for the marketplace. In fact, the economy is sluggish and working people are demoralized because jobs that provide benefits like leave, health care, and pensions (so common after WWII) are rare for the average worker. Unemployment is not just about the need for job creation; it’s about the need for quality working and middle class job creation. You can’t do that without giving up some of the enormous profits our American oligarchs are raking in.

This might have gone on for years without being exposed for what it really is–the rise of an American oligarchy disguised as nationalism and working class simple values–a turd wrapped in a Republican cloth coat. I never would have put the words “oligarch” and “American” together if Donald Trump was not demonstrating every day that Vladimir Putin is his mentor and likely puppet master. Clearly, Trump is using the Presidency to advance his family’s financial and political power, and he is drawn to Putin as a model for how to make Democracy a profit center for a handful of individuals, especially himself, and how to pardon his family and himself for criminal and treasonous acts. An oligarchy is a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution. A turd by any other name is still a turd.

The question is: will the American people and our elected leaders eat it?

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American prosperity should create the healthiest and most humane nation in the world

Republicans have no public service agenda except tax relief, which doesn’t build anything except more luxury for those who receive it, and Democrats only weakly advocate for what used to be the American ideal: that the more prosperous our businesses become, the more substantial the contribution should be to the common goods of infrastructure, safety, and the health of as many Americans as possible. Taxation is not punishment; it is investment. The United States Government, for years before the great lie of  Ronald Regan’s “trickle down economics” fooled a generation and blinded the next, that far from being inept, it can deliver infrastructure, health, and national security IF it can collect the taxes necessary to fund them. Without adequate contributions from the greatest profit-makers, the government’s effectiveness is indeed limited and its power ultimately destroyed, leaving most Americans unrepresented and unprotected from ruthless “gouging” in all marketplaces, including health care. Isn’t it beginning to feel like that already for most middle and low income Americans?

ObamaCare was rare, broad-based public service legislation. It was about making health care available for the largest number of Americans, with attendant benefits outweighing the costs. The latest Republican Health Care bill is not for the benefit of the American people. Instead, its primary constituency is insurance companies. It proposes to make it easier for insurance companies to offer less coverage or no coverage to older, sicker, and lower income Americans while providing tax cuts that allow rich taxpayers to continue resisting a fair “tithe” (in Christian terms) for the benefit of the community, and to serve none but their own interests.

Why is this even called a Health Care Bill? Its main objective, as Republicans have been saying all along, is not to use American prosperity to create the healthiest and most humane nation in the world, but to create and protect profit for corporations and very rich individuals. The quest to eliminate regulation and taxation from every major profit center in the American economy has been the Republican agenda for decades. Therefore, this is only a “health care bill” because it addresses the health industry profit center–not the legitimate health care needs of Americans living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Sadly, our leaders and their prosperous and powerful masters, seem unmoved by the fact that going cheap on health care hurts the greatest number of Americans the most. Whatever happened to the notion of a nation’s riches benefitting the most (rather than the fewest) people?

And why can’t the Democratic Party effectively turn the tide on this stingy, luxurious deception of the American people?  As much as I admire and appreciate the few individuals in Congress who are speaking out passionately from time to time, I can’t help wondering why Democrats can’t get past the outrage to articulate an alternative rhetoric that harkens back to what we accomplished after WWII in terms of social welfare and education, but also looks forward to what is even more possible with the resources and technology we have today.  Don’t rail against Donald Trump. He doesn’t need the name recognition. Rail against the Republican Party’s exclusive service to a fraction of the American public they are elected to represent.

The Founding Fathers tried to build a government structure that would not allow “factions” to rule the majority, but that is exactly what the Republicans have allowed to happen. They serve a right-wing minority and a tiny but powerful constituency of the wealthiest individuals and corporations, and the rest of us are just so many wealth-generating units whose “entitlements” to benefits like sick leave, vacation leave, parental leave, child care, health care, and pensions need to be eliminated as much as possible to maximize the profits of the top one percent.  Look at the Republican legislative and regulatory agenda over the past thirty years, and then look at the quality of life for middle and lower-income workers in this country, and it seems obvious that our interests are nowhere on the Republican radar.

That doesn’t mean that the Democrats are ready to save the day, unfortunately. I’m hoping for a Democratic Renaissance of public service ideals–not holding my breath, though.