A Simple Explanation, In Three Parts
Part One: What’s the Problem?
Here we are now, over a year since the historic election of America’s first non-white male president. And coincidently, today marks the tenth anniversary of the Financial Services Modernization Act, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. We’ll get back to this later.
So here we are, living in the bright new era of hope and change and transparency of government, right? No more of the senselessly cruel and illegal Bush/Cheney wars. And the time has come for those war criminals to face justice, right? No more abuses of our Constitutional rights from the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Warner Defense Authorization Act, and Bush’s FISA Amendment. No more warrantless surveillance of citizens and extraordinary renditions to other countries for “special treatment”. And thank goodness we have no more shrouding and obstructing of justice with claims of state secrecy for national security, right?
No? Well then at least we have Americans finally getting something back from the government through greatly expanded, affordable health care, uh, right? At least the American public is happy about something these days, aren’t they?
They’re NOT? There’s a mass of dense-minded citizens who are duped into believing that anything to expand health care coverage beyond the clutches of insurance companies is socialism...communism.....fascism??
You mean to tell me things STILL really suck? We need some answers here, don’t we?
All right, I’m a simple-minded guy who wants to see these huge problems with some clarity. I’d like to understand the collapse of America’s social, political, and economic stability in a simple way that I can comprehend. Let’s see if we can sort out some way to explain this mess.
So, just what is the major malfunction of the US Government? Does it do anything right? Does it accomplish anything? What does it do? Who does it work for? Or maybe it’s performing exactly as it has been designed to function.
Most of us can agree on this much of the problem. It’s the politicians, stupid. Yes, if we narrow it down, we find the two primary flaws of our government are the Republican and Democratic Parties.
There’s plenty to be disgusted and furious about with these people. If there’s incompetence, sleaze and corruption anywhere, we find plenty throughout our esteemed two party system. What difference is there between them anyway?
The Republican Party claims to work for the people. Most of us know this is laughably absurd, but it’s true. They do make that claim. And they certainly work to get votes from a lot of the people. They pander to the fundamentalists and other conservative religious types. They developed the “Southern Strategy” to exploit racial tensions surrounding the civil rights movement in the South. The Republican Party has naturally done very little in the way of legislation, apart from occasional efforts to fuse church and state, for the benefit of lower income white voters. But they’ve mastered the manipulation of their grievances and resentments well enough to maintain huge voter support from average, middle to low income Americans.
To see who the Republican Party really works for, all we need to do is follow the money. The campaign contributions and lobbies all point to Big Money.
So, who then, you may ask, does the Democratic Party work for?
The Democratic Party also claims that it works for the people. They boast of representing the middle class, unions, the working people, the unemployed and the poor. Well, maybe the minority of democrats, that don’t feed at the same corporate trough as the Republicans suck from, give enough a damn about them to court their votes.
Nevertheless enough Democrats enable the Republicans to continue a corporatist agenda in the US Government. Behind the facade of a representative democratic republic stands a corporatocracy. “Corporatocracy” is a word we never hear from the corporate media. In fact, I still can’t find the word in a dictionary.
But, we can find these two words in the dictionary:
Corporatism. noun - the principles, doctrine, or system of corporative organization of a political unit, as a city or state.
Corporatist. adj. - Of, relating to, or being a corporative state or system.
A massive corporatist agenda has now emplaced corporatism as the controlling influence in our government.
I have drawn up a simple map of the corporatocracy. In order to have a handy easy term I use a little acronym I call a DEBIT MAP.
Here is the DEBIT MAP of the Corporatist Empire that has dismantled the vestiges of democracy in the US.
DEBIT: Defense, Energy, Banking, Insurance, and Telecom industries
MAP: Media, Agri-business, and Pharmaceutical industries
This is a far from complete list of the Big Money interests that corrupt our government, but it is probably the bulk of it. There are others. The mining industry, surveillance and security businesses, and the private corporate prison complex are a few of the others who contribute to the lack of accountability of the government to the people.
The DEBIT MAP Corporate Empire will continue unless there is massive social, political, or financial upheaval.
Upheaval need not be violence. Violent change would be avoided if the government would recognize and restore our rights, if the government worked for the public good.
The public good is measured in its education, employment, and health. If the government worked for the people, it would provide an environment of education, employment, and health care.
So, how do we get the government to see this? There seems to be little choice in our corrupt system. As George Carlin said, “You don’t have choices. You have owners.”
We’ve seen ample proof that Wall Street owns most of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. This did not happen overnight.
Here are five pivotal points leading to the dominance of our system by corporatocracy. They were abetted by the Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches of the federal government.
1. The Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County vs. The Union Pacific
Railroad in 1886 was used to grant corporate personhood. Although this
personhood was not specifically worded in the decision. It was added by a
clerk. J. C. Bancroft Davis wrote that the Chief Justice had said all the
Justices had agreed that corporations are persons. Chief Justice Waite
specifically disavowed this later in writing. Davis happened to be a former
president of a small railroad, and was thus the man to endow corporations
with all the rights of living person.
2. The Supreme Court case Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 was the fateful decision
that turned corporate money donated to political campaigns into protected
“Free Speech”. De facto bribery was now legalized.
3. The repeal of the Glass/Steagall Act (1933-1999) through the passage of
the Financial Services Modernization Act, also known as the Gramm-Leach-
Bliley Act of 1999 allowed investment banks to merge with commercial banks. It also allowed financial institutions to merge with insurance companies. This opened the door to unchecked banking and insurance company abuses from Wall Street.
4. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 is famous for creating the “Enron Loophole” and the resulting swindles. It also granted free license to the mortgage backed securities, credit default swaps, derivatives and other Wall Street shell games.
5. These insidious insertions of corporate leverage into government needed only the dark years of the Bush Administration’s total lack of its oversight and regulatory obligation. What followed was the near collapse of our economy. Then the banksters pulled off the greatest extortion of American taxpayer money in history, known as the monstrosity called TARP, the Troubled Asset Recovery Program.
The media watch dogs had turned into lapdogs of the government, and the government watchdogs turned into lapdogs of Wall Street.
Both Republican and Democratic Parties became subsidiaries of Wall Street, leaving third parties and independents out in the fringes and irrelevant.
Since the corporate media is embedded in the two corporate parties of the US government, there is little access for third or fourth parties to have a voice.
Democracy in the US was not killed by the conservative Supreme Court’s selection of Bush/Cheney over the will of the majority of voters. I would say that was more like the burial of democracy. It was dying and they needed to it put out of sight.
We see the US Government has become a vast right wing engine of empire and corporate profiteering. It is nearly completely unresponsive to the public interest. Why is this, and how can this be happening? We’ll examine this in part two of my Simple Explanation.