2014 Election & Plutocratic Psychopathy
Barry Grey and Patrick Martin in “The US elections and the American plutocracy” declare that the Democratic and Republican parties agree on austerity, government spying, tax breaks for the rich and war.
Hunger, homelessness, joblessness, Detroit’s bankruptcy are not worth seriously addressing by either of them in this election cycle.
Grey and Martin reveal that hostility to the Democratic party is at a 20-year high. 30% approve and 67% disapprove of that party. Support drops even further for the Republican party. 25% approve and 72% disapprove.
The upcoming elections are estimated to cost $4 billion according to Grey and Martin. This is a record for any mid-term election. $2.7 billion are estimated to be spent by the candidates and their respective parties and $1 billion by political action committees. Thank you Supreme Court and your 2010 Citizens United decision!
Martin and Grey cite a chart in Time magazine that reveals that in 30 years campaign spending has increased 555% making both parties obsequious to the will of the ultra-rich. US democracy, these writers declare, has morphed into a plutocracy by the oligarchic elite.
According to Andre Damon in “US child poverty remains at highest rate in 20 years” nearly 1 in 4 US children live in poverty. According to a JAMA article 22% of American children live in “food insecure” households. That means 16.1 million or so children are left hungry. 1 in 3 depend on food stamps to survive. 47% of food stamp recipients are children.
Do our politicians care about America’s hungry kids? Not on your life ... or theirs. The kids, I mean.
In fact, Obama’s 2015 budget according to Damon calls for slashing budgets of the Health and Human Services Dept., which funds the Head Start pre-school program, and the Dept. of Agriculture, which funds the food stamp program, by 5%.
Last year WIC (Women, Infants and Children program offering nutrition to women and children) was cut by $354 million. SNAP -- food stamps program -- has already been devastated by cuts in 2013 but there is talk of slashing that program even further.
CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), funded by both federal and state budgets, is scheduled to be cut by 73%, from $21.1 billion to $5.7 billion. 73%?????
The US Government is perpetrating a deadly war on its own children. No politician of either the Democratic or Republican party is willing to address this massive crisis!
In “Democratic Senate candidates sound right-wing themes in pre-election debates” Patrick Martin writes:
For the most part, the actual differences between the Democrats and Republicans boiled down to the following, in state after state: the Democrats backed an increase in the minimum wage, declared climate change to be a reality, supported gay marriage, and opposed repeal of Obamacare. The Republicans took the opposite stand on each question.
The minimum wage increase is an empty promise that even if fulfilled would not lift millions of low-paid workers out of poverty. With a Republican-controlled House, there is no possibility of such an increase passing, so Democratic Senate candidates are happy to make the promise knowing they won’t have to do anything.
So who prioritizes the issues for the US politicians? The ultra-rich, of course, a super-minority in which most of the pols now are included thanks to exorbitant, but lots of bang for the buck, corporate bribery.
Lawrence Wittner in “How Rich Are the 400 Richest Americans” writes:
... Larry Ellison, the third wealthiest man in the United States (with $50 billion, an increase of 22 percent) reportedly has “15 or so homes scattered all around the world.” Among his yachts are two exceptionally big ones, each over half as long as a football field. In fact, they’re large enough for him to play basketball while on board. If a ball bounces over the rail, Ellison has a powerboat following along to retrieve it.
I wonder how much ol‘ Larry pays the staffer or staffers in the powerboat to retrieve the basketballs? Hmmmm. Trickle down economics there? I don’t think so.
Wittner goes on to explain that 45 million Americans are presently living in poverty (under $11,900 a year for an individual or $23,550 for a family of four). From 1978 to 2013, CEO compensation, after being inflation-adjusted, grew by 937%!!!! Compensation for workers has grown by only 10% in that span. In 1965 CEO-to-worker compensation ration was 20-1. In 2013 it was 296-1.
So many of the richest Americans, Wittner declares, have made their incomes from stock market and hedge fund speculation. Think of Nader’s coinage, “casino capitalism.” These are not the best and the brightest human (using that term loosely) beings leading America, pulling the strings of the pols of both parties.
Ellison, aforementioned, in 2005 bought out PeopleSoft and eliminated 5,000 of those 11,000 jobs.
The Walton family, four members who rank within the top 10 richest Americans, pay their full time workers less than $25,000 a year. Wal-Mart cashiers make an average of $8.48 an hour. Such poverty wages make them dependent on government assistance. Wal-Mart’s low wage workers cost the American taxpayers each year $6.2 billion in food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing, etc., while the Waltons rake in their millions in profits thanks to their slave wage workers and us exploited taxpayers.
The fabulously rich also invest their wealth in campaigning against socially empowering policies. Charles and David Koch, sons of the founder of the John Birch Society and the fourth and fifth richest Americans, have championed over the years the abolition of public schools, the postal system, the minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. They have provided $400 million to candidates in 2011-2012 alone. Their money has helped pull American politics rightward declares Wittner.
Then there is Bill Gates. Richest man in America. His Foundation, tax exempt mind you, has spent $2 billion to undermine public schools and promote charter ones, to promote “high-stakes standardized testing” and other corporatization measures for America’s school system. It has opposed teacher unions and teacher tenure. Gates was joined in this by the Waltons who contributed $750 million to this cause.
Both Gates and Walton Foundations have funded the rightwing ALEC that works to restrict voting rights, weaken unions, privatize education, oppress immigrants, support “stand your ground” immunity, and create enormous tax cuts for the rich.
Please stay with me for one more bit of consciousness raising. I’m going to jump to the topic of the Ebola virus and how the corporatization of our government and other governments have created the present crisis.
In “Why is there no vaccine for Ebola?” Patrick Martin writes:
[NIH's Dr. Nancy J.] Sullivan began working on Ebola in 1997, after a 1995 outbreak in Zaire, and by late 1998 had developed a vaccine candidate that the Centers for Disease Control tested on monkeys, confirming 100 percent success by July 1999. According to the Journal account, “Unvaccinated monkeys became sick and died within about a week. The four vaccinated monkeys had no detectable virus—something science had never before accomplished.”
The results were published in the prestigious journal Nature in 2000. But the pharmaceutical industry was not interested in developing an Ebola vaccine. The Journal account explains why: “The recently retired chief of vaccines at Merck & Co. said ‘there’s no market for this.’ The Wall Street Journal wrote of ‘the relatively tiny risk posed by Ebola.’”
These accounts demonstrate that there is no Ebola vaccine today, even though the virus has been analyzed systematically for several decades and promising initial steps were taken in government research laboratories, because the private drug monopolies that control the development and manufacture of vaccines did not find it profitable.
This underscores the fact that the 5,000 deaths from Ebola in West Africa were completely avoidable. The blood is on the hands of Merck, Pfizer, Glaxo and the other multinational companies which have a vampire-like grip on the production of all forms of medication vital for public health care.
The various governments that act as agents of the drug companies—in the US, Britain, Germany and other imperialist countries—are equally culpable.
Meanwhile, the impact of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is so dire that public health measures alone may prove insufficient to stamp it out. The WHO warned Tuesday that 19,000 doctors and nurses would be needed by December 1 in the region, compared to less than a thousand today, along with 500 burial teams, compared to only 50 now in operation.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH warned that a vaccine may prove to be the only viable means of fighting the Ebola outbreak. Tragically, that would mean millions of deaths during the period that the long-delayed vaccine is developed into a usable medication capable of mass production.
The “legal” personhood of a corporation has the personality profile of a “psychopath.” Our present American plutocracy is a government of, by and for agents and beneficiaries of psychopathic corporatization. Of course it dooms humanity to epidemics of poverty and Ebola and God help us all whatever supposedly unintended but when they descend TOTALLY understandable consequences when profits consistently and totally prevail over humanity.
[cross-posted on open salon]