Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Part Three: Why No Outrage?

In this call to Action, the last of three blogs based on Dr. George Yates' lecture, The Political Power of BIG MONEY in America, I am encouraged to remember to whom he was speaking. On April 28, this address was presented to a group of seniors in Western North Carolina who call themselves "Elders United for a Just Society," who "refuse to retire from what matters." I am also mindful of the "emeritus" in Dr. Yates title. Every age group and socio-economic group has a huge stake in the 2012 elections, and I'm glad to hear about seniors who are not about "to retire from what matters." These folks in North Carolina are examples we would do well to follow. Thank you, Dr. Yates!

Why hasn’t the American public risen up in outrage about this tacit agreement between the rich and the TPR?  The answer is that Americans are legendary in terms of their passive unwillingness to take the effort to inform themselves of the facts.  This leaves the public wide open to the influence of propaganda paid for by the rich and implemented by the TPR.  And that is why there has been so little negative public reaction to the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizens United’ decision.  This decision has made unlimited amounts of corporate money, and a comparative trickle of union money, available to finance elections. 
The Role of the Supreme Court

‘Citizens United’ is a 2010 Supreme Court ruling by its 5 member conservative majority that relies on an interpretation of the Constitution’s 1st Amendment ‘free speech’ clause.  The decision invalidated the portion of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign law that strictly limited the amount of political contributions corporations could make.  What was the objective of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority? 
Extrapolation from the public record of statements and decisions strongly supports the conclusion that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority objective was based on ideology, and not the constitution.  Those justices knew that since corporations have no brains, all political contribution decisions are made by the senior managers.  Apparently, the objective was to allow the corporations’ senior managers, who are also primarily conservative, to use as much of the corporations’ funds as they wanted to pursue their political agenda – which includes more tax cuts and loopholes for the rich.  And those justices were also well aware that a lot of that additional corporate money would fund the TPR propaganda mill that so effectively influences the voters, thereby enabling the imposition of TPR ideology on the U.S.
Further, the Supreme Court conservative majority did not revoke existing regulations that allowed corporations to make very limited political contributions to ‘front’ entities, such as non-profit groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or 501(c)3 or (c) 4 private ‘committees’, while allowing the contributors to remain anonymous.  Thus, the senior managers can conceal their now unlimited spending of corporate funds to further the TPR’s objective, and also obtain more wealth for the rich.  Certainly precedent wasn’t considered, because over 100 years of diametrically opposed Supreme Court decisions were ignored. 
As a final demonstration that the entire ‘Citizens United” decision was completely ideological, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority specifically stated, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that unlimited campaign contributions by corporations would not cause political corruption.  If that were indeed true, then why would the corporations want their identities concealed?  Because they are well aware that obtaining favorable legislation for the rich through large contributions to politicians can easily be construed as bribery, or at the very least manifestly bad behavior.
What makes these political contributions so effective?  The reality is that vast amounts of money are a political necessity given the strong correlation between how much a politician spends on an election and winning it.  To ensure an uninterrupted flow of ‘big’ money, all politicians have no choice but to compromise their ethics. (Lecturer’s note:  Cecil Bothwell is one of the few exceptions to this statement).  But the TPR politicians’ ethics are particularly limited because they have to vote as they are told to by the ‘front’ entities and the corporations’ senior managers.  Otherwise, they won’t get TPR money and will most probably lose their next election.  Of course, politicians insist their virtue cannot be questioned because this flood of money does not in any way – not even to the slightest degree – influence their legislative decisions. 

Ryan Plan: A Case in Point
Well, here is a very recent example of how ‘Citizens United” has changed America’s politics.  In this year’s Wisconsin State Supreme Court election between a conservative candidate who supported the TPR policies of Gov. Walker and a liberal candidate who did not, the conservatives outspent the liberals by nearly 2 to 1.   In fact, $3.6 million was spent primarily on TV propaganda ads.  Now keep in mind – this was just for one judge in one state.  And who won?  The money contributed by the rich.
But we have only begun to experience the negative consequences of ‘Citizens United’.  Given the TPR ideology, the U.S. will in the future be besieged by too often irrational and counterproductive policies and legislation. An excellent example of that behavior is the Republicans’ 10 year budget for the U.S. government presented on April 5, 2011.  Known as the ‘Ryan plan’ for the chair of the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee, its fiscal projections are based on the results of a purported ‘analysis’ by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative organization. 
The irrationality of the Ryan plan is established at the outset by the Heritage Foundation’s assertion that $4.2 trillion in tax cuts, inordinately benefiting the rich, would cause a gigantic increase in GDP.   According to its ‘analysis’, which would result in an increase of almost $600 billion in federal tax revenue over the next 10 years.  Meanwhile, the Ryan plan cuts government spending over the next decade by $4.3 trillion.  This includes: 1. Abolishing Medicare and replacing it with fixed value vouchers to buy private health insurance; 2. Replacing Medicaid with fixed amount grants to the states to use as they wish; and 3. Cutting ‘discretionary’ spending by $1.6 trillion. And 2/3rd of those spending cuts come directly out of programs that serve low and middle income Americans.
Of course, the Ryan plan is just trickle down economics, which has already been irrefutably proved to have no redeeming features for our nation.  No wonder the non-partisan CBO’s analysis of the Ryan plan comes up with a significantly different outcome.  It estimates that in 2022 the value of the annual health insurance voucher will be $6,400 to $7,000 less than that required to obtain comparable annual coverage under traditional Medicare.  Overall, the CBO finds that in the next 10 years the Ryan plan will lead to more federal debt than under current law.  And the non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates the $4.2 trillion in tax cuts, primarily for the rich, will reduce federal revenue by $2.9 trillion over the next decade.  In short, the Ryan plan would be an economic catastrophe – except for the rich and the TPR.
However, the most significant aspect of the Ryan plan is that it demonstrates how smoothly the tacit agreement between the rich and the TPR is working.  Both groups’ objectives would be fully achieved if the Ryan plan were to actually become the road map for the next 10 years of annual budgets.  At this point that does not appear to be possible, yet it would be a horrible mistake to underestimate the power of ideology and greed.

What's To Be Done?
How can rational and concerned Americans combat this tacit agreement between the rich and the TPR?  Well, in a democracy the vote is the supreme weapon.  But the 2010 election demonstrated the voting power a minority party, in this case the TPR, can exercise in a democracy if it is organized, dedicated and well-funded by ‘front’ organizations.  That’s because many Americans just don’t want to be bothered with registering to vote.  And many more who are registered are not motivated to vote. Perhaps most tragically, many of those Americans who are both registered and willing to vote have no knowledge of the pertinent facts, and so they depend upon electoral propaganda – much of which is provided by the TPR using money contributed by the rich.
Ultimately, the responsibility for defeating the TPR at the polls lies with the Democratic Party.  However, to do that the Democratic Party must dramatically change.  It has to: 
1. Promote unity within and between its ranks and its leadership;
2. Propose policies that possess credibility and vision for America;
3. Possess the courage to bluntly explain to Americans why both the greed of the rich and the TPR ideological policies are harmful to them and their nation;
4. Assert an aggressive posture that boldly sets forth the critical political issues instead of meekly allowing the TPR to continue taking the lead, and
5. Be led by compelling leaders who can energize the voters by speaking the truth. 

At this time I don’t know if the Democrats are capable of meeting those requirements, but I remain hopeful.
I’ll conclude my comments with two pertinent TPR insights.  The first is the comedian Lily Tomlin’s description of the difficulty informed Americans have in reacting to the TPR’s ideological statements:
“I try to be sufficiently cynical, but it’s hard to keep up”
The second is Mark Twain’s satirical comment that precisely describes the TPR’s ideological attitude toward the truth.
“Truth is very precious, use it sparingly”.

- Dr. George C. Yates

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