Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Endgame: What the Corporatists Really Want To Do

In every town, you see these now. Once a thriving epicenter for commerce and labor to co-exist and thrive. America the manufacturing powerhouse that took the ingenuity of the Industrial Revolution and turned it into an economic bonanza. From the 1930s to the 1970s, the sweat, blood and muscle of the American worker represented the kind of society other countries dreamed of. Balanced with high taxes on the rich and corporations paying their fair share, society was a place of relatively low unemployment. It was a place with a middle class that could more than keep up with the cost of living and inflation. It was where the much ballyhooed 'American Dream' was born. Born of the ability to find a job, go to work, get a good education for your children, own a home and a car. Sure there were incredibly inequities towards racial minorities and women but in general terms, the way the middle class was build and sustained itself, off of in house labor, laws to protect the Unions and workers and taxes that made the top tier pay their fair share, society worked pretty darn well.

Since that point though, something happened. A loud cry from the nation's wealthiest of them all came about as their new poster boy, Actor Ronald Reagan, was ushered into office. Using his tremendous acting skills he tricked many of the same baby boomers that had been out protesting Vietnam and speaking of peace and love while smoking weed at Woodstock, to put down their signs and joints and start caring about themselves. Their strategy was to divide America into different groups. The haves, who knew better than you and owned the companies you needed in order to be employed at all... and the have-nots, those poor people who went on welfare and stole your hard earned tax money with no actual will to go to work for themselves. They attacked Unions as threats to companies' ability to hire. Made them villains for demanding such incredible things as health care benefits or higher pay. Used the potential for strikes as a way to prove that they didn't care whether you had a job or not. Used Union dues as a way to pretend you were being taxed for their political agenda.

When Reagan went after the Air Traffic Controllers he did so to make a point. Unions had no place in this new Right Wing America. Corporate donors didn't want it and their political appointees would work on their behalf.

From that point forward the American experience has worsened dramatically. The American Dream became more a dream than a reality, so distant a dream in fact that it was like the one where you're sleeping with a supermodel who in real life doesn't know your name and would likely send security guards to rough you up if you got too close.

The Wal-Marts and powerhouse corporations took advantage. Wal-Mart stopped buying USA only products and started to push their suppliers to have costs for their products so low that in order to be featured in the store it was a pre-requisite to move manufacturing overseas. Pennies for the worker makes for cheaper product.

They continued to lower corporate tax rates, taking them all the way down from the one time 90% rate to a much lower 34% under George W. Bush. It was pretty amazing that when Democrats discussed returning the rates to the 39% they were prior to Bush that the Republican party, bought wholesale by their corporate masters and the media which was owned almost entirely by corporate entities whined like this was the beginning of socialism. Of course there were a lot of Americans with zero grasp of History to know what the hell socialism was or the prosperity we as a nation have had with strong unions and with higher corporate tax rates.

All of this made no sense anyway since Republicans (and many corporate Democrats who might have been Republicans in the past but thanks to Reagan shifting the entire political spectrum, real moderates no longer existed) used their powers to give tax break and loopholes galore to companies. To the point where GE and many other corporations don't even have to pay a dime to the IRS on their billions of dollars in earnings.

The tax burden has been consistently shifted in a way where the poor and middle class are expected to shoulder a heavier burden than the top 1% than own practically everything in the country. It's been said far and wide with complete merit this year that 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000 combined. That's a staggering statistic.

You'd think, hey they convinced Americans and even Democrats like Clinton and Obama to fall for the trickle down economic nonsense, they used work training tapes and propaganda in the media to make union membership practically non-existent. They stalled forever on raising minimum wages while inflation priced people out of society and were gleefully overjoyed when those people, out of money no matter how hard they worked had to turn to credit debt to make ends meet. But that was never enough. Nothing is never enough. Greed is a disease. It needs to be cut out like cancer. Forcibly and physically. It exists to devour all in its path and continues to grow no matter what may temporarily hinder it.

Even with all of that they wanted more. They pushed for free trade agreements and then got Government officials to approve of and give tax breaks for outsourcing, sending your jobs overseas to pay workers pennies... not just for Wal-Mart but for every industry. Now you were expendable. The Manufacturing industry is on very weak if not last legs in this country. The places where you would normally see textile plants, automotive plants, paper mills, etc... they're filled with unemployed workers and abandoned empty building space that the cities can't fill with new owners or new hope.

Free Trade Agreements were just the start. They spent the 1990s lobbying to get media consolidation so they could snap up every TV and Radio Station as well as every newspaper in every town. They now controlled the message. They owned what you heard and what perspectives you were going to be informed from. Everything you would learn from here on out was told with spin. Your kids also would fall prey to this as they bought up the textbook manufacturers and pushed their corporate backed candidates in races for school boards where textbooks were approved. They now could rewrite American History in classes. Whitewash any negativity associated with our past. A deluded American public is defiant and much more apt to defend the dysfunctional societal setup here than ever demand change. So The Revolutionary War was a war based on high taxes from the Government (corporations pet cause) and not because people were mighty upset about the tax breaks being given to the East India Tea Company nor actual representation in Congress. The Civil War was about States Rights, not slavery. Hell slavery wasn't so bad, cheap labor never is, according to our new history professors.

They got Congress to enact laws protecting loan schemes and hedgefund managers who made money off of you losing yours and set you up to fail. Then when they drove everyone into an abyss where the lack of jobs added to the impossible payment conditions of the loans meant everyone had to lose their homes to foreclosure, they went to the Government and put their hands out to take your taxpayer dollars again with little to no oversight on how to spend it... took those billions and turned them into hefty corporate bonuses. A reward for ripping you off.

They even made sure they were well compensated in other situations as well.

Want to start some wars? Great! Our corporations will be there to provide minimal services with zero accountability, just use money laundering, er, war appropriation bills to transfer those trillions of dollars into our bank accounts.

Oil spills? Sure we'll clean it up but expect us to bill you for our mess. Oh and we want further tax cuts and more drilling permits, since you know, we've shown such massive responsibility with the ones we're operating currently.

Health Care Crisis? Sure we drove rates on insurance premiums through the roof so badly that you needed a massive "reform" but give us 40 million mandated new customers and no controls on future premium prices. Sounds like a win to us.. oh but we're still going to demand its repeal because we still aren't cool with paying out any actual claims let alone for those sick pre-existing people.

It would be laughable if it wasn't so horrific.

Americans are unemployed at incredibly high rates. If you look up any job site you'll notice most the jobs pay very low wages and have little to no benefits. The corporate elite have already won, haven't they? What's possibly left for them to pillage?

If this were a war, our city would be destroyed from firebombing raids, the last remaining structures still ablaze, a few survivors covered in soot roam the area listlessly unaware of what to do next. There is a class war in America but it's been waged by the ultra rich and it represents the conflict in Israel. The Israelis have missiles and planes and nukes and the Palestinians have rocks, sticks and the occasional suicide bomber. Not a fair fight and we've been annihilated in similar fashion.

What else could they want? They have everything already.

My ex-boss once said this about one of my accounts: "I never want you to be happy. If you make $1 million tomorrow in sales on that account, work for $1.5 million the next day and $2 million the day after that. Being happy means you're complacent and have given up trying in my opinion." Now he said this when at that point the account had never broke $55k in a single day. It let me know how vast his greed was and greed is an animal that never stops eating because it's never not hungry.

To me when is enough, enough? If I own at a company that isn't #1 in the world but is in the top ten, makes really good money to support me and my family and my workers. It shows some growth but doesn't always light the world on fire. Isn't it good enough to be comfortable? Do I have to keep that company growing bigger and bigger, taking on debt and risk to my own personal finances as well as the job security of my workforce? For whom am I doing this for? I imagine if you get into the stock market game you've already declared: "I am never going to be happy! I want to own it all and be a billionaire!" Giving away that sort of autonomy with your company means you don't mind having the influx of cash nor the masters whom you now must answer to. Myself, I see things differently.

You have to understand where these people are coming from. Their intense need for power and control allows them to take risks and have their companies obtain cash for the purpose of expansion and growth. They're cool with having to meet huge goals for their financial benefactors because they too want that growth. It increases their own pocketbook size. Step by step they use this as their ladder to power. They become more and more rich and they use that financial status to gain access to the politicians whom might have never given them a listen before. You realize really quickly that these people aren't there for their constituents, they're there for you. You can offer them a nice above the board $5k donation for their primary and general campaigns and another $25k, $50k, hell even $100k for some outside group that will advertise on their behalf.

Now the world is your oyster. Having zoning issues? Not anymore! Worried about getting a tax break for something? Have no fear! Want to gut the rights of labor so that you can make America a place of low cost slave labor like China or India and line your pockets with the profits reaped from not paying regular wages? Well now, we can do that...

And that my friends, is endgame.

That's what they want.

They want it all. The only way to get it all is to decimate the American workforce and their rights to the point of making us like China. They need no environmental regulations, no safety regulations, elimination of paying social security taxes or paying into Medical Benefits... and then they need to gut minimum wage.. to say, "stay competitive in the marketplace with other major industrialized countries"... since China and India are definitely industrialized at this point.

They go after Public Service Unions partially to break the last bastion of Democratic Party Support after their bought and paid for US Supreme Court gave them the Citizen United Ruling and allowed them to advertise with unlimited dollars to buy any election they wanted, this just whittles down their opposition quite a bit. Also though they did it because with those unions out of the way their Republican friends can bring in corporate low paid workers from private firms to do these jobs. The CEOs will negotiate a hefty fee for this out of your tax dollar but don't expect that to be reflected in these workers' pay or benefits.

Also by taking out teachers, they can work to force kids into corporately funded private schools which will double as a propaganda factory, telling children only what they want them to know and making them feel it's okay to be trained to work at their slave labor camp like jobs.

Going after schools and teachers is the last real hurdle to the total revising of the American Education System in a way that will lead kids to accept and understand the importance of corporate overlords and why critical thinking is dangerous.

They want it all and they have a few well outlined goals to take it.

Once they achieve endgame, that is the systematic destruction of the middle class and the regulations which protect them in the workforce, they can begin to institute their dream scenario. Jobs might return to America but it won't resemble previous American Industrialism.

For some companies overseas, they already see America the way we see China and India. Honda and Toyota and many of the German Auto Manufacturers have invested huge in building auto plants in Mississippi and Tennessee and Ohio. Why here? Non-union states run by Republicans that gave them sweetheart tax breaks. They can pay their workers rather low wages compared to the going rate of their profession and not have to deal with any of the usual "headaches" that having a strong financially balanced society might have. Being a good corporate citizen with a conscience costs money after all.

Look at what IKEA has done. In Sweden their workers would make $19 an hour and get 5 weeks paid vacation. Sweden's economy thrives, unemployment levels are reasonable and they have a government run health care system. Things are good for the Swedes. You'd think IKEA would say, "we've done very well here, let's continue to have great jobs in these conditions". But greed doesn't allow them to think that way. They want to make more money than they know what to do with.

So they come to a downtrodden town like Danville, VA. This town has been run ragged by other manufacturers bolting from their city for similar outsourcing reasoning. Greed killed them. Yet it seems by some sheer magic, they would be spared from the same fate as many dead towns now face, when IKEA came to open a plant. And then they did. Low wages near the minimum wage, only 12 days of vacation, most of which were dates picked by the company not by you, a horrible morale and just not a good environment.

They are but another symptom of what America is becoming. The endgame is near. Corporate lackeys like Scott Walker and the like, they are willing to fight this war (even stealing elections to make sure of it) this time whereas their predecessors may have balked in the face of overwhelming anger. The John Kasich's, Rick Scott's, Rick Snyder's, Mitch Daniels... they all feel emboldened to finally drive the final nails in the coffin of union existence on state levels. The Paul Ryans and Eric Cantors feel emboldened to make the attempts to go after Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid in Washington. This is it, they've wanted it all for years and now they're finally going after it.

We wander down a completely uncharted path. They've never been this close before. Not even in 1927 or during the Great Depression. It's up to us to fight them off.

Court battles, mass protests, civil disobedience, general strikes, the greatest get out the vote effort ever... The term "keep your powder dry" has never been so appropriate.

Are you ready to fight for the soul of America?

I am.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A quick note about the shooting of Rep. Giffords

I am 33 years old. I don't know what this is like. A politically charged assassination attempt on a current elected official in my home country. None of my generation of American Youth has ever gone through this. Yes, Reagan was shot but that still is before many young people can remember and John Hinckley was just crazy, not politically motivated.

What happened yesterday, I've only read about it in books. The 1960s in particular seems like such a crazy time period. I close my eyes and remember what I have seen in old video clips and from old newscasts. I remember what I read about. Something seems eerily similar.

A group of people fighting for their civil rights and another group of people steadfastly holding out against them for fear that the America they grew up and in always known was changing rapidly. It was a time period where a young charismatic President was in office. He was a Catholic which at the time was a pretty scary thing for so many Americans. Not unlike that of a purported Muslim being in office (even if he's not).

Talks of peace when there was clearly still lingering war going on with the Communists scared the Right Wing at a time when the beginning of social change at home was already driving them into a frenzied fear. After two World Wars and Korea, war was all these people knew. Now we were talking about pulling our boys out of Vietnam, not invading Cuba and god forbid brokering a deal with the Russians?

I imagine the culmination of all of this combined with the fear that blacks were going to run rampant and take over was scaring the right wing white male into a frenzy. The difference is there weren't as many television outlets then and they still bought into the concept of legitimate news. Not completely unbiased mind you because Edward R. Murrow sort of broke that barrier. Rather it was fact driven using serious sources and strong journalistic practices and because of this it wasn't working off of talking points or purposely catering to a specific ideology.

Back then, instead of having Fox News peddle their causes to a much larger, easier to lead audience they used back room techniques. They joined the John Birch Society (somewhat representative of the tea party today) and used such groups to help spread their propaganda.

I look at America today and I see similar shades of a totally unbalanced, scary time period.

People can look back now and see the 60s with hindsight. We made progress and broke through on Civil Rights. Woodstock occurred. The Vietnam War resistance began and eventually helped end the war, even if it was many years later. All of that required struggle and even the sacrifice of blood and lives of leaders.

I can't imagine watching the television on November 22nd, 1963 and seeing Walter Cronkite read off a bulletin that my President had been shot and murdered. Or to hear the same about his brother Robert or Martin Luther King, Jr. in such a short timeframe.

I imagine that the person that I am now would have felt hopeless that America could and would never change or be allowed to change. Of course the case can be made that certain elements of the Government were behind each killing and of course one can clearly look at the elements of Government that would have been involved in pulling such a trigger and would see such right leaning elements as those John Birchers I mentioned before. To them and to the unelected and fearful, any progress at all was a threat to a group of people who had irrationally built up fear inside of them to believe that if they did not arm themselves and fight back.

So they did.

Imagine the feeling of those people that lived through that. Every day wandering around a world of political hopelessness and helplessness where you know you don't count in America. Your voices will be silenced.

Yet knowing this, they fought on and protested more. They stopped a damn war.

The dates may have changed but is anything really that different? We have our insidious fascist groups thinking they are arguing for political power but using fear to whip up the troops. They are preying on a group of people afraid of Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans and now Gays from taking over their world. They fear the President who looks different than them. They fear the changes to the Government in the form of Health Care regardless of what it might offer them in terms of positives.

The bullhorn is louder now. Fox News, Conservative Radio, the corporately owned Mainstream Media... they shout from the rooftops and are much more effective than the old backdoor whisper campaigns. The genius of this is they don't need insiders in the Government to do their dirty work. They can call for the armed uprisings against politicians all they want and wait for their sheep to do their dirty work and they can scream first amendment all day long. They know they can call the person a fringe nut and absolve themselves of their responsibility. They know nobody has the guts to call them out for what they've done. They'll never face charges, never be publicly shamed. And when tomorrow comes and they hit the airwaves, they'll move their target and start anew. They succeeded in taking out their enemy without having to lift a finger. It's all so perfect now.

I don't want to live in the 1960s. That time period is one of lost innocence. One where all the history books about how good America was started to show how inaccurate they were. Any real historian would laugh at the irony that we taught our kids how great our country was, by lying to them.

What we knew about America had been tied together with pretty wrapping paper and a shiny red bow. The bow was perfectly proportioned and you almost wondered how it got that way without a machine. Human hands can mold things into wondrous shapes if they are diligent at changing the form to fit their needs after all.

When we started unwrapping America: The Gift we start to see things we don't want to see. A murderous enterprise engaging in exactly what President Eisenhower warned us about. War for Profit. Killing to enrich military and corporate contractors.

Was there ever a legitimate target? Not so much. A vague threat of potential communism in Vietnam. A weak and moronic enemy in Iraq. A pretty pathetic government in Afghanistan and a leader of a terrorist group we never fully intended to capture (See: Nov. 2001 - Troops stand down in Tora Bora and Bin Laden escapes).

Lies. All of it.

Their job. To keep you scared.

We need war or they'll get us. Now let us loot your tax dollars and social security funds so we can redistribute money to our connected wealthy friends.

We need tax cuts or else more of you will lose their jobs or they won't create new ones. And these rich people need zero estate taxes or their heirs can't employ you either. Don't worry though, we'll make sure when our rich friends get that money that there is no regulation forcing reinvestment. Oh and you better believe we're not going to stand for closing any foreign loopholes that prevent our friends from paying the little bit of tax money they still might owe.

They kept people scared in the 1960s about everything and ultimately it was about money. They needed endless war. They're better at the game now and a tad bit hungrier. War is not the only way they figured out that loots the American Treasury. It's still the best way but not the only way.

So to keep you distracted they make you look at the changes in your life.

High Unemployment? It's not the corporate greed downsizing or outsourcing your jobs away, it's Mexicans taking your job.

Gay Rights? A new group of people that want to ruin YOUR marriage.

Welfare and Unemployment Benefits? Robbing from the hard working middle class and giving to the lazy poor people that want to leech off of the sweat and effort you put in every day. Oh and hey, they're almost always lazy drug addicted minorities that would rather collect welfare than work.

An attack 10 years ago? That could happen to anyone at any time, regardless of what we're doing to them overseas. So give up your constitutional rights about unreasonable search and seizure and we'll tap and record your every phone call and internet movement without a warrant. Oh and hey, those evil Muslims hate you and your religion and will force you to wear a burqa.

Christmas? Atheists and other non-religious people HATE your holiday and want to destroy it and while they're at it they want to eliminate the Baby Jesus from every being a part of anyone's life.

Sound familiar?

Whip up this internal terror in people and they'll do whatever you want. Including murder Democrats on your behalf.

So when you tell people that you constantly at rallies whip into a frenzy with eliminationist rhetoric that they need to reload and put target crosshairs on a Representative's district basically sicking the dogs on them, you're calling for a hit on that person. (Below: the images Palin tried to scrub from her website immediately after the attack)

Everyone called out this nonsense when she did it originally. The View denounced it back in March of 2010. Yet here we are.

My heart and thoughts go out to Rep. Giffords and to the families of each and every family member that either lost a loved one in that attack yesterday or had a friend or family member be senselessly wounded in it.

Regardless of what the media chooses to do with this info now, it's clear that the blood is on Sarah Palin's hands for this. Just as it should have been on Bill O'Reilly's hands when Dr. Tiller was murdered after he labeled the man, "Tiller the Killer" and aired the man's address.

But let's not kid ourselves here. These people know what they're doing and what results their actions are creating. They need to be held publicly responsible for what they have done and be shamed from the spotlight for good.

I don't want to experience the 1960s. Yet, yesterday sure felt like a small bitter taste of it.