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Governance by and for the rich

See also Economic Extremism and Gap.

Message for the Democrats:
He who stands his ground and coordinates can win battles;
he who runs scared in confusion never has a chance.

In our collective focus on terror and war, have we lost sight of what is happening to us on the economic and governance front? We see trends accelerating, that already favor the rich. And that situation has been true for quite some time. Antitrust legislation was effective for decades-until the second Bush Administration. Monopolies are no longer monopolies; Bill Gates defines the limits in America.

Rebuilding Iraq is not open to bid for the most part; Halliburton has a blanket (single source) contract. Dick Cheney was the Halliburton CEO. Iraq is being rebuilt in a way not to just protect American interests, but to enhance them. This can only add to the Humiliation felt by Muslim societies.

Teddy Roosevelt foresaw the danger:

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of today. President Theodore Roosevelt 1906

Some things never change, well the Republicans changed sides!

See Neocons for the reincarnation of Teddy's "invisible government."

A reformation is needed to restore balance among not only America's economic classes, but those of the world.


Relaxing environmental rules on industry fattens the pocketbooks of corporate executives and portfolio owners, does nothing for the 401K holders, and puts America in a bad light internationally.

The American CEO of 1970 was a very effective person, a well paid bureaucrat like his brethren all over the world. Today, that CEO often has an imperial aura complete with a vast estate, hideaway, summer cottage, art collection, and a yacht, quite unlike his peers across the globe. Today's American CEO can dominate a market to 90% and still not be called a monopolist. Has the average American benefited accordingly? Of course not. Increasing the Economic Gap is the American way while much of the Third World drops ever further behind in a desperate jungle of terror, war, and genocide. Even American poor ar rich by third world standards.

Dateline: "Wall Street Journal," 11 Nov 2002; paraphrasing:

Janet Rehnquist, daughter of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, is now in position to influence punishment for fraud perpetrated by health-care companies. As Inspector General of the Health and Human Services Department, she quickly eased anti-fraud measures in favor of voluntary compliance. She scaled back the use of corporate integrity agreements that if violated would require strict reporting conditions on health care companies. Her reasoning is as revealing as it is stunning: She was "concerned about [the agreement's] financial impact" on providers. There is no concern here for either people needing health care or the tax payers who pay for it. Spoken in true plutocratic fashion.

Janet Rehnquist also personally ordered delays in a federal audit of Florida's pension plan to ensure that it could not be completed before the mid-term elections where Jeb Bush, the President's brother, was running for another term as governor of Florida. Ms Rehnquist is reported to enjoy shooting and has hung a target depicting a menacing assailant in her office.

The Journal article was in response to the 19 nonpolitical employees in Ms Rehnquist's office who retired, quit, or were transferred. People familiar with the office say most left at her insistence.

Deputy Inspector General Tom Roslewicz, 61 years old, retired a year early after Ms Rehnquist tried to impose the loyalty pledge and denied him a bonus. Another Deputy, D. S. McCarty Thornton, 55, left under pressure. Both had won Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Awards. Michael Mangano and George Grob were pressured to look elsewhere for work. Ms Rehnquist offered no complaints about their work.

The article further quoted Republican Senator Charles Grassley:

"They're cleaning out people doing their job of exposing things."

You know there is a problem when an incumbent party senator is that critical.

Drilling for oil in National Parks is now a right given to the imperial oil barons who in effect buy votes through soft money contributions to politicians. Soft money (for the party, not the candidate, a distinction without a difference) for political campaigns reinforces conflict of interest. The recently passed bill to outlaw soft money has loopholes large enough to drive a trillion dollars through.

The bill to create a department of Homeland Security passed with a huge majority in November 2002after the Democrats lost control of the Senate. What came with it is a loss of self-determination on the job and security on the Department employee's part. "Homeland employees can be hired and fired on the whims of their overseers." Maximizing job effectiveness was/is invoked as justification. But it was really political. All good managers know that you cannot motivate people in the front lines by reducing their ability to do their jobs, by removing their rights to self-determination.

CNN quotes the President:

"I'm not going to accept legislation that limits or weakens the president's well-established authoritiesauthorities to exempt parts of government from federal labor management relations statuteswhen it serves our national interest..."

Notice the emphasis on his power. This is pure narrow-minded Authoritarian-speak.

Mr. Bush's appeal to the Supreme Court asked the Court to be fair to him and stop a Florida recount that was eroding his paper thin lead in the vote total. He made no mention of what is fair for America, only what he views as best for himself.

In addition, he does not explain how his freedom to hire and fire Home-Security troops at will enhances security. Maybe he believes that people are more efficient and effective if they are in constant fear of losing their jobs. Or maybe he will only hire the "yes sir" types who have nothing beyond a salute to offer in the most critical of jobs. If so, he has missed the most important development in management in history. Command-and-control styles do not self-actualize people. They do move robots and provide an illusion of power. The winning management style involves individual expression through teamwork. This, of course, is enabled most effectively by dialogue. Whatever you wish to believe, the Homeland Security troops will lose ground to the plutocrats. Mr. Bush showed his true colors when he re-instituted bonuses for political appointees, (New York Times, 4 Dec 2002.) Can we really believe that nepotism and conflict of interest are proper responses to terrorism?

This Homeland Security bill has other built-in mechanisms that enhance plutocracy, governance by and for the rich. For example, much of the work now done by government employees will be shifted to industry. Industry of course wins contracts by supporting the politicians in charge. The Democrats and many in the the union movements understand this conflict of interest, even as many of them are forced to play the same game to have any voice at all. They just have trouble matching the plutocrats on the money front. (Howard Dean changed that. If Bush loses in 2004, it will be in large part because of Dean's insight and incisiveness.)

The Democrats in Congress sat on their hands rather than appear unpatriotic by opposing this bill. Never mind that valid arguments can be made that the voter can understand; fear of being voted out of office drove the Democrats to go with the flow. One can only hope that was a nonfatal error, for he who stands his ground can win battles; he who runs scared never has a chance.

Another example, buried, but explicit, in the Homeland Security bill is a provision that Eli Lilly and some other pharmaceutical firms will be protected from lawsuits from users of Thimersol. Thimersol is a preservative that pharmaceutical firms have used in children's vaccines' and contains mercury. In the summer of 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Public Health Service, urged manufacturers to stop using Thimersol. And they did.

The point is not whether Thimersol is safe; no one knows that for sure yet. The plutocratic point is, the pharmaceutical companies (rich) are now protected from any legal eventuality! Homeland Security is supposed to be all about bin Laden and al Qa'ida. Nowhere in the Constitution or Federalist Papers can you find any reference condoning the types of abuse just described. This in a bill supposed to be "patriotic." It is as much Plutocratic in effect.

John McCain, a Republican, characterized this provision as "among the most inappropriate." It is even worse than that. If you think about it, this feels a bit like the heavy boot of tyranny disguised by the spell of patriotism. Tied to a security bill, it swallows easily; the stomach aches come later.

In another vein, the administration just froze all wage increases for Federal workers related to the local cost of living. This freeze seems a tiny brick indeed in the wall called plutocracy. The true plutocrat leaves no stone unturned.

All this is aside from the fact that this added layer of bureaucracy defending our freedom can hardly enhance our real security. Our real security:

  • lies in relieving the factors giving rise to feelings of helplessness, alienation, and humiliation in all societies.
  • lies in improving opportunities for the underprivileged.
  • lies in countering mullah propaganda for an Islam-wide jihad.
  • lies in providing freedom and equality for those who do not know it.
  • lies in educating all world citizens to think for themselves, to develop internal Loci of Control.
  • lies in Dialogue; that means listening and responding to your allies, your troops on the front lines, and to the folks back home.
  • lies in softening the link between Monotheism and Violence.
  • lies in effectively addressing the question of nuclear proliferation and terror; there is no greater urgency, but its effectiveness requires implementing the rest of the items on this list.
  • lies in reforming the UN so that it is up to the task of world governance of all things nuclear, and supporting the cultural changes required to save humankind from itself.
  • and finally it lies in giving these changes the time needed to become cultural features whose values all can peoples can recognize and support.

Creating cooperative, respectful nations requires building democracies with the above features requires a middle class and an infrastructure to meet their economic and social needs and to be employed within. All that takes time. Will the plutocrats be patient? Not if Afghanistan and Iraq are type examples.

Beyond the above, real international security lies in removing ALL despotic regimes by dialogue wherever possible, by international pressures as necessary, by addressing the Nuclear Terror question effectively, and by maintaining a strong and efficient military with war as a very last and VERY CERTAIN resort backed by a majority of the General Assembly of a UN modified to shepard these changes into being.

With so little to live for, with no opportunity for self-expression, with Mullahs preaching jihad with salvation for warriors, the terrorist life offers the young impressionable Muslims not just release from the feelings of helplessness, but promises eternal rewards in the hereafter. Add to that glory and money for family left behind.

Finally Islam itself fosters the development of the Authoritarian Personality that is part and parcel of the modern terrorist. Madrassas (religious schools) must be required to teach secular subjects and refrain from bigotry and hatred in all their teachings, especially religious.

Of course there is more to terror for sure (see Reformation), but the grand plutocratic schemes that go with our response to terrorism are all too self-evident. Plutocrats vote with cash for politicians who will favor them. Knowing who sponsored his/her election can only bias the politician making laws.

In the same vein , the military-industrial plutocrats profit handsomely from war at the expense of everyone else. This might not be quite so bad except that armaments consumed by war are just so much capital destroyed. Such capital can never be available for projects to develop the roots of peace and lift the destitute up onto their own feet via Social Activism.

Where does the capital destroyed come from? From you and me, in our increased share of the tax burden and also by inflation that our incomes will always trail behind. Bin Laden's public pronouncements show he understands this equation precisely.

Iraq is a prime example of capital destruction, and North Korea, Syria, and Iran have the same potential. We prepared for invasion because Iraq MIGHT have capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. Pakistan admits to permitting proliferation to go unchecked. North Korea HAS announced possession of nuclear arms. North Korea has motivated the Bush administration to build a missile shield and do it fast, at great cost, along with great profit for the plutocrats. A missile shield is a mere band aid and a temporary one at that. But it catches the attention of the American electorate who see jobs and can the the simple logic.

Missiles are already obsolete as the delivery weapon of choice. Missiles invite direct and certain retaliation. Smuggling is ever so much more effective. But missiles favor the Plutocratic interests. There is an old joke that two plutocrats in the hemp business went to the gallows haggling over the cost of the nooses used to hang them. It is too true.

Meanwhile, terrorist smugglers could well write new pages of history by igniting a smuggled fire ball in Times Square, or down town Washington or both. They might even throw in a certain ranch in Texas, and/or Chicago, and/or LA and all synchronized to the second by the Naval Observatory time signal! This is why Iraq and missile shields make no sense at all.

Meanwhile also, like Israel, we could well begin living behind an Iron Wall, a metaphor for both the fence Israel is now constructing and the missile shield we will live behind on the Bush trajectory--and still be in mortal danger. Holes in the actions taken by the Homeland Security Department are too porous to mention. This is hardly a road to peace, but it is a road to riches for the plutocrats.

On the diplomatic front, we invade Iraq and find no weapons of mass destruction while employing diplomacy with North Korea with their reactor, announced weapons, and aggressive intentions. And we not only ignore Pakistan's proliferation, we applaud them. To be sure, Pakistan has trapped or caught many al Qa'ida. Musharraf knows the game of international manipulation, how to bet on both sides of the coin. Mr. Bush makes it simple for him.

We do not know what this administration cares most about on the strategic front, but it is not nuclear security. Even as plutocrats, whose motives are clear, they still have to care about strategic issues. The danger of course is that, in their self delusion, they believe only they have the answer. They adopt the very Authoritarian Complex (black and white, closed-minded thinking) that brought down the Trade Center, and that has inflamed Palestine for two generations.

Can this be the way to peace? Hardly. But it is the way to still greater riches for the select few in the military industrial complex and oil businesses especially. Throw in some tax cuts for these wealthy plutocrats for good measure.

Islamic Fundamentalists are enemies of peace. Why adopt their ways? Ask yourself, will plutocrats emboldened by war and burdened by its costs go after Social Security for revenue to offset their war costs tax cuts? They will have no choice and neither will we. Add to that the fact that corporation pension plans are being eroded in their coverage and weakened; many have ceased to exist. A cornerstone of what made this country great in the 20th Century is eroding fast.

We are not alone in this assessment; the "Wall Street Journal," 23 May 2003, agrees the Bush tax cut for the rich will come with social costs that include widening the gap between the rich and poor.

Meanwhile, and much less obvious, our brand-new Home Security Department is adding a layer of bureaucracy with little tangible benefit. Its employees will have no union and be subject to any euphemism the Administration thinks the public will swallow for their hiring/firing processes. This too furthers the plutocratic agenda. A capable class of people with great responsibility is made poorer by the rules under which they must work. The Bush Administration is even pumping hard to eliminate the forty-hour week. Overtime would become a thing of the past. The only possible winners in these cases are the plutocrats.

Even the environment suffers in this process. For example, last summer's forest fires became an excuse to try to suspend environmental reviews of logging projects. The dependence on Middle-Eastern oil and the artificial California energy crisis, itself a plutocratic rip off, were invoked to justify pell-mell exploration in Western states where there cannot possibly be enough oil to make even a slight dent in our energy shortfall. The Administration unilaterally relaxed rules for abating pollution from old coal-fired power plants. The Interior Department approved drilling in the Padre Island National Seashore on the Gulf Coast. For all this and more, see the "New York Times" editorial "Environmental War Clouds" of 25 November 2002. Any way you slice all this, the plutocratic materials-and-energy barons gain by these activities at the expense of the American publicand of the world for that matter. There are better solutions.

Politically, California Governor Schwarzenegger, an immigrant himself, called for a special session of the legislature for the purpose of cutting workman's compensation as soon as he was inaugurated in November 2003. California is in a deep fiscal crisis artificially brought on by Enron and other electrical power brokers who saw a chance to line their pockets directly at the expense of the California public. By rescinding the auto tax, the governor added four billion dollars to a shortfall already at 14 billion dollars. He had his political reasons of course. But cutting workman's compensation amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul. The shortfall now at 18 billions amounts to $500 for every Californian, some $2000 for every nuclear family. This shortfall can only come out of the hides California citizens.

The saddest and immoral part is that the California shortfall lined plutocrat's pockets; hundreds were at Enron. Enron is a classic homegrown type example of plutocracy in action. Insiders filled their wallets as they left their own 401K employees bankrupt. They were fully empowered to do so; no one was watching. In principle, such behavior is not different from that of a bank robber. Well there is one difference. The bank robber is on camera for all to see and stands a good chance of being arrested. Not so for the burglars in the executive suite. Either way the individual family loses.

Northwest Air won an exemption for their employee pension plan. Ordinarily it is not legal to fund such plans with unqualified securities. The Bush Labor Department allowed Northwest to make up their funding shortfall with unlisted, (unqualified), stock in a subsidiary. (See Wall Street Journal 19 Aug 2003.) Other companies are now seeking similar relief from pension funding. Who are the only possible losers here? It is true the airline industry is in dire straights following 9/11. However, other means of financial relief have less benefit for plutocrats. Expect the Government to play these games as long as Mr. Bush is in the White House and his court appointees still live. And that might be a couple of decades--will democracy even exist in such an America? Don't count on it. And all because an electorate Fears Terror to an irrational extent and seems not to care enough to vote.

Dynasties have long been a plague in the sense that opportunity in life is determined for the individual at conception. Plutocratic society, regardless of laws ensuring equal opportunity, operates in similar ways. Dynastic families are common in both business and politics in many parts of the world, especially America. They are too numerous to be ignored; occasionally they do good work to maintain their imageso did the robber barons of America a century ago. Nevertheless, the New Deal is under attack. Social Security has been targeted and may not withstand an extended presence in the Middle East that seems to be brewing. After all, money talks, and those who already have too much, use it to get even more. Sooner or later, with absolute power (money) comes abuse and decay.

On the international front, the Bush administration went counter to world opinion, refusing to sign environmental, racial, and women's treaties. This Administration has served notice that it will not support any treaty on nuclear enrichment. For these and many other reasons, America is seen by the rest of the world as a society governed by and for the rich. This will not change until the American voters recognize that equal opportunity and meritocracy have become mere propaganda spouted by plutocrats driving to increase their wealth and power at citizen-voter expense. The White House spin would have us believe the reverse, of course.

All this is already well along. Americans consume some four times their proportionate share of renewable energy produced on earth, and that trend predates Bush. In this way, the American voter has become an complicit partner in plutocracy.

Think about that, middle America. Are you willing to give up your second or third car and take the bus to work? Or would you rather your children learn to live behind a missile shield that can be smuggled under. Would it not be better to deal with the Nuclear Threat in terrorist hands as the top agenda item? Before the Iraq War, many in the intelligence services and at the UN knew that Iraq was no way as dangerous as Bush made it appear. There views turned out to be accurate in spades. They also knew that Iraq would be very difficult to pacify, much less peacify.

Mr. Bush, of course, knew and still knows better. If you don't believe that, just ask him.

What about you folks not in middle America? Are you happy not having a job, working for minimum wages, or not being able to pay a dentist to pull an abscessed tooth? The gap is already here for too many of us. Job creation has seriously lagged population growth ever since Bush came to power. This is the first such instance since the days of Herbert Hoover. With increasing numbers of non-employed people, blips in the price of gas, if indeed it is a blip, will be all the harder to handle economically . Jobs exported and the trade deficit can only add to our economic woes and won't go away any time soon, given the depth of changes wrought by Mr. Bush and the Neocons.

One might argue that America is not an empire. That is true, but only in the classical sense. Economically, America is an empire with a strength and reach unimaginable even three decades ago. Culturally, it is Hollywood, Coca Cola, and McDonald's Restaurants that captures attention on the streets in Tehran and Islamabad. Add these elements to the empire. Technologically, American innovation has given the world electronics, advanced antibiotics, nuclear power and weaponry, and the Internet. And how many computers anywhere can operate without express (and paid for) approval from Microsoft? Finally, America dominates the world militarily. America is a virtual empire in a new world order. Yet we are not doing well. Why? Could it be we are our own worst enemies?

Our external enemies can admire, even thank, us for the modernizations we bring--even as they hate us for it. Because they could not do these things while we did, they see plutocracy in action and feel impotent in comparison. They also understand the deeper meaning of Paul Bremer's decree of June 2003. In one stroke, he privatized 200 Iraqi companies with the stipulations that anyone could own them in any proportion and that the owners could take up to 100% of the profits out of the country. On top of the US military victory, is it any wonder that the Middle Eastern Muslims resent us and feel powerless, even humiliated. With nothing whatever to lose and everything to gain, desperate people will resort to desperate measures.

Golda Meier put the plutocratic attitude succinctly: "The Palestinians are nothing." Fifty years on, it is Israel that is building a literal Iron Wall. Many Israelis believe it won't even serve its purpose. The Berlin Wall did not.

This action of course satisfies the plutocratic view of things, which they are only too happy to perpetuate. The "red necks" among us are only too happy to go to war to maintain this status quo. It is a strange marriage indeed that they have with Bush and the Neocons.

To illustrate, American voters too often have that feeling of powerlessness, that nothing they can do will change anything. They do not vote. Others vote as if they feel they might someday become a plutocratso save a place for me, is the vote they cast. That is fantasy. Perhaps 100 in 280 million of us can become aspirants for the vast riches that define the plutocrat. For every 100 such aspirants, perhaps one will ascend the plutocratic mountain that Carnegie, Morgan, Mellon, Rockefeller, Gates, and so many others have built.

Not all those people were/are scoundrels. But greed expressed in the extreme does not serve humanity well. All this is human nature, according to the laws of the jungle. It is hardly democratic. Worse, it is similar to the seeds of decay that started declines in empires past.

Is plutocracy the great American ideal? Maybe. Is it democratic? No. Is it sensible and fair? Of course not. Where are the moderates in the world? Do they really feel helpless?


    "Ben Gurion...believed in a plutocracy type of democracy where you deceive and when deceiving can no longer work, why you edict, applying power! It is ironic that he and Begin were calling each other: "Hitler" and "Nazi." That's because what they hated in each other -- rule by deception and discipline -- they found only appropriate when done by themselves because each thought that only he knew what was best for Israel. Yet, in all other environments both were model intellectuals of broad contemplation and deep critical judgment, very much in contrast to Hitler where what you see is what you get, so you either hate him or go mad over him." Author: DE Teodoru

Plutocratic birds of a feather flock together.

A reformation is needed to restore balance among economic classes of America
as well as of the world.

Examples of governance we see in our time provide us with smooth and soothing words to go with costly, well managed photo-op profiles. They just leave us short in the pocket book while we remain at risk with bin Laden and hundreds of others still at large. If you can't see that, look at what inflation is doing to your cost of living, and a depression in how you can live. Is your income keeping pace? Tax breaks for the rich put plutocrats well ahead of inflation. Regardless of your answer, those of you in the trenches are not keeping up. On top of that, there is potential for another Vietnam-type quagmire on a world scale because Mr. Bush miscalculated Islam's response to the demise of another of its own. In any event American taxpayers will become double losers; we are already.

In summary, voters can vote their conscience or their wallet, and too many of us have a real conflict of interest in making that decision. Too many of us vote without educating ourselves beyond self-serving debates and advertisements served up by the politicians. Voter naivet, complicity, and apathy may be the greatest sources of strength the plutocrats have. So also for the terrorists.

For a lively in-depth history of Plutocracy in America, "Wealth and Democracy" and "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush" by Kevin Phillips are must reads.

Sites for further research:

APADD Americans to Preserve the American Dream and Democracy
Beyond Plutocracy Roger D Rothenberger
Bush and Mansanto Pelican Brief
Center For Balance How things should be: Center For Balance Democracy for the Few Wadsworth Publishing: Michael Parenti
Democracy, Plutocracy, or Hypocrisy? Washington Free Press
Doubt and Dubya New Humanist: Paul Kurtz
Plutocracy and Politics NY Times: Paul Krugman
Plutocracy USA Kirk Bane and Michael Manville
Plutocracy vs Democracy American Free Press: Christopher Bollyn
War for Caspian Oil and Gas
WIPING OUT THE MIDDLE CLASS Chronicles: Bob Djurdjevic

See also Economic Extremism and Gap.


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