Sunday, May 7, 2017

Onward, Kleptocracy: Why Your Country Can Afford WMDs But Not Health Care For Sick Kids

Here's one of the products big corporate donors to congressional and presidential campaigns sell at a profit: weapons of mass destruction. The many reasons trotted out for spending well over half the discretionary portion of the federal budget each year on the Pentagon and its contractors tend to focus on "security" in the face of threats from actors around the globe. 

What this really means is "financial security for me and my family" as aspiring millionaires like Obama -- or the once destitute Bill Clinton -- cozy up to the big dogs, exchanging representation of the interests of the already wealthy for a piece of the pie.

Here's another profitable product: financial services, such as investment banking. A groundbreaking academic study "Fifty Shades of Green" analyzed the voting of Democratic congressmen and women in relation to their acceptance of campaign donations from the private sector. From the Roosevelt Institute article about the study:
The message of [authors] Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen’s study is simple: Money influences key congressional floor votes on both finance and telecommunication issues. Americans may not have the “best Congress money can buy”—after all, as they note, their results could be even bleaker—but there is no point in pretending that what appears to be the voice of the people is really often the sound of money talking.
This is an inconvenient truth. Liberals in the U.S. want to pretend the influence of $$$$$$$$$ in government is a new, Republican problem. 

It was the failure of the Democratic Party to represent people rather than corporations that handed the last election to the other corporate party, the one that similarly made a lot of false promises to represent the little guy by "draining the swamp" of the lobbiest-infested federal government.

In fact, Republicans have done nothing of the kind since coming to power in 2017. The swamp is well and thriving. Evidence has emerged that selling access and influence has become even more blatant under the current regime. "Staff for Sale" reveals documents obtained by The Intercept documenting the ways in which campaign donors buy meetings with congressional staffers who are paid by me and thee.

Comic Margot Robbie channeling Ivanka Trump, whose clothing line
  profits were successfully promoted by White House staffers.

The embarrassing peddling of costume jewelery and other trinkets from the White House is more symbolic than actually dangerous. But it is the tip of an alarming iceberg, one that abandons any pretense of taxation with representation. What we have now is more on the order of exemption from taxation via purchased representation.

But make no mistake: the mob is angry. Listen to their reaction when Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador told them at the kind of town hall meeting most of his colleagues are (understandably) too frightened to hold, "Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care."

Billionaire Warren Buffet went on record this week calling the American Health Care Act just passed by Republicans in control of the House "a huge tax cut for guys like me." Not that he's in favor of it. (He likes the other corpporate party better.) He also showed some clarity by observing in the same interview, "Medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness."

The strategy of corporate mass media shutting out and ridiculing challengers to the duopoly of corporate parties has been predictably effective in giving us the best government money can buy.

Onward, kleptocracy! Unless we go on general strike soon, we are likely to die -- uninsured -- starved by the worm at the heart of our corrupt system.

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