Corporatocracy is defined as a society or system that is governed or controlled by corporations. Check.
Plutocracy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth. Check.
Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian, ultra-nationalism characterized by dictatorial power and forcible suppression of opposition. Check.
Congratulations United States, we are about to hit the trifecta. Corporations in lockstep with people of great wealth is a pact with the Devil. The result is Fascism, 21st Century style — American exceptionalism.
The word “Other” is a current trending word, as in White Supremacists fear the “Other,” meaning anyone not like them. Let us speak about the “Other.” In the United States, the true “Other” is the Devil’s pact between corporations and the uber-rich.
I use the term uber-rich, but think billionaires. To be sure, anyone worth at least $100 million is a billionaire’s first cousin, often by marriage, and anyone worth at least twenty-five million is part of the extended family. They all have each other’s back.
They are a terrorist group, wrecking havoc on our society and country.
If you want to defend the wealthy (because they earned it), start with this — over 40% of them inherited their wealth, not like the old John Houseman Smith Barney ad where he utters, “They earned it.”
Consider this litany:
· Chase Bank is the largest fossil fuel lender on earth.
· AT&T funds the further-right-than-Fox News, One America Network (OAN).
· Exxon funds anti-science climate change efforts.
· The Koch Brothers funded the Tea Party, which turned out to be foreplay to Trumpism.
· Dark money, code words for the wealthy, is funding secretary of state, school board and county election official elections to help steal Democracy.
· The Supreme Court green-lighted corporations, the wealthy, unions and nonprofits in 2010 in Citizens United versus the FEC, by granting them them unlimited spending power and confirming an earlier 1970s ruling that speech is money. Campaign money is funneled through PACs, often nonprofit. PACs buy the ads, independent of the candidates. (Trust me, they coordinate.) More and more PACs are nonprofits. Nonprofits are not required to report donors, thus the term dark money. If you think shrinking unions are going toe-to-toe with the corporations and the wealthy in total spending, you live on another planet. Oh, and Citizens United does not comprise very many citizens.
· The United States will spend over $8 trillion on defense over the next ten years. The cost of the Iraq War was over $2 trillion, or $8,000 per US citizen. The Afghanistan War cost $2.3 trillion. Congress writes blank checks.
· Between April 2020 and April 2021, Elon Musk’s wealth grew an average of $383,000,000 a day. Average worker pay is S26/hour or $208/day. United States billionaire’s wealth grew $2 trillion during the first year of the pandemic.
· There are currently 1,500 pharmaceutical lobbyists alone in Washington for 535 elected representatives and senators. The defense industry has 663 lobbyists. Facebook spends the most on lobbying.
· Corporate and uber-rich tax rates are the lowest in our history.
· A recent RAND report said that in the past 45 years, the bottom 90% of American workers would be bringing home an additional $2.5 trillion in total annual income if economic gains were as equitably divided as they had been pre-1975. RAND called this “the $2.5 trillion theft.”
Full disclosure — my wife and I probably slipped into the top 10% number cited by the RAND report, though at the bottom of it. We are comfortable in our retirement, yet with a large mortgage. We own no second home, a fancy car or stocks. We live month to month, but can still afford to travel a lot. Our total combined effective tax rate is between 20–25%. The mortgage and taxes consume 44% of our annual income. We would pay higher taxes if it helped lift more boats.
The RAND report does make it clear that the real winners from inequality the past forty-five years are the 1%, not the top 10%.
The authors of the RAND report are a senior mathematician and an economist. Based on their findings, “They say the blame lies, in large measure, with decades of failed federal policy decisions — allowing the minimum wage to deteriorate, overtime coverage to dwindle, and the effectiveness of labor law to decline, undermining union power. They also cite a shift in corporate culture that first elevated the interests of the shareholders over those of workers, an ethos that took root fifty years ago with an essay by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. Uncle Milty, who wrote the book “Capitalism and Freedom,” was a free trade, small government capitalist. One of his quotes, actually posed as a question, was, “Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed?”
Those who funded the report considered RAND as being among “the least partisan” shops out there, taken seriously “by the right and the left.”
A senior vice-president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress commented after reading the report: “This really is the entire country versus a very small number of people.”
While I have no use for the Trumpistas and their phony “victimhood,” they are part of “This is really the entire country versus a very small number of people.” Hey Trumpistas, how do you spell stupid? E-X-P-L-O-I-T-E-D!
How could this possibly have happened? It takes careful and persistent, planning and scheming, and money.
· Cue the massive increase in lobbyists beginning in the Reagan era.
· Cue a massive uptick in political donations. See Citizens United versus the FEC.
· Cue four massive tax cuts, beginning with Reagan and then three more just in the first seventeen years of this century.
· Cue the Supreme Court ruling that unfettered money is speech.
· Cue the relentless anti-union campaign.
· Cue the oppressive, can’t-live-on minimum wage.
· Cue the oppressive systemic racism even after the end of formal Jim Crow laws.
· Cue White Supremacists.
· Finally, cue the corporate funding intent on dividing the country and prodding the Trumpistas to focus on a different “Other,” as the reason we have been robbed of $2.5 trillion in 45 years. Pay no attention to the wizard behind the curtain.
How to fight back?
We still have a free Press, don’t we? Factoid: Most of the Press is owned by mega-media corporations.
Social Media? Fugetaboutit. In a previous blog, Not Slashing My Wrists, Yet, I wrote: “An internal Facebook document from October, 2019, leaked to the MIT Technology Review and written by their senior AI editor, found that around 15,000 foreign-troll-farm-run Facebook page/groups/sites reached 140 million Americans every month.” Do you really think that Facebook is going to police and restrict those sites? If you do, you have been Zuckered.
What about Congress? What about it? We are so close to having Trump or a Trump clone in the White House, a Republican Supreme Court (already seated), and a Republican House and Senate. Have you seen anything in the past forty years that would tell you that Republicans give a shit about anybody other then the corporations and uber-rich?
What about free and fair elections? What planet have you been living on?
On the labor front, The Great Resignation is creating a hopeful stir. An average of four million workers have walked off their jobs each of the last six months. Some of the reasons are obvious — low wages, short severance notices, no healthcare and no paid family leave. The number of workers on strike is finally increasing. Support this.
Start you own blog. Start your own private Facebook page. Create an email audience. Use Twitter, not Instagram, which Facebook owns, as well as WhatsApp. It may not matter more than a spit in the ocean but boycott the guilty corporations.
· Follow the money that keeps Fox News on the air.
· Follow the money that funds school board and local election official elections.
· Follow the money that funded January 6th.
· Follow the money that supports the Republicans who passed the Texas abortion law.
· Follow the money that floods the airways with ads to keep Medicare from negotiating drug prices.
· Follow the money that is behind most California initiatives, or any statewide initiative.
Who do you think funded Rush Limbaugh and his clones? Corporations. Yet, liberal talk radio, like Air America, did not survive. Talk radio is 95% far right. We need talk radio to talk about the true “Other.”
One may argue that these corporations are simply going where the audience is to sell their products or services. But, that audience just happens to be in lockstep with Republicans. Keeping it lockstep is part of their strategy. More Republicans in office, more tax cuts, less government oversight — more money, more money, more money. In another twenty-five years the RAND report will show an even bigger theft — $2.5 trillion will seem like chump change.
As for increased taxation on the uber-rich, which may yet be part of the Biden Build Back Better bill, billionaires derive little wealth from their paychecks, allowing them to skip paying income tax. Elon Musk eloquently stated: “Eventually they (the government) run out of other people’s money and then they come for you.” To Elon, all of us who are not uber-rich are the “Other.” We are the chumps who pay our taxes.
I harken back again to the previous blog, Not Slashing My Wrists, Yet, and the reference to Michael Lind’s “Up From Conservatism”:
“Most Republicans are libertarian at their essence, as are most corporations, plus zillionaires. Sadly, most voters do not get riled up about low taxes for the zillionaires and corporations, but they will get bent out of shape and salivate over abortion, guns, BIPOC, immigrants, same-sex marriage, critical race theory, vaccines and masks. Feed the storm troopers raw meat so they keep voting for toadies who will do what libertarians really care about…Give me my tax cuts and throw in some more de-regulation for dessert. Chase it down with some Dom Perignon.”
It’s time to wake up, chumps — time to deal with the true “Other.”
*For those who follow me on Medium, take a gander at my novel, “Blackberries Are Red When Green,” available on Amazon.