Nelson Mandela, in a statement he made on February 10, 1985, refused the terms offered for his release by South African President P. W. Botha, "Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts," (Fatima Meer, Higher Than Hope, part 4, chapter 30, 1988). In the United States, we have over the last thirty years gotten away from trying to help the lowest economic segments of our society to rise above the circumstance of their birth, an idea inherent in the promise of the programs of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society; to Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America," which raised up the fortunes (in all senses of that term) of the wealthiest Americans. At the same time, the help for the lowest economic segments of society has been taken away, and replaced by America's only consistent growth industry since 1980, the private prison management corporation.
The confluence of mandatory prison sentences, private prisons that needed to be filled, and an increasingly draconian justice system concerning non-violent drug offenses, have joined together to deny the rights of millions of Americans to vote, work for a livable wage, live where they desired, and a multitude of other liberties that most of us take for granted, all because they have been convicted of a felony. These men and women are no longer human: they are entries on a corporate ledger sheet.
The two judges in Pennsylvania who, having a business interest in a juvenile corrections facility, sentenced young people to that monstrosity against the advice of the State Department of Social Services and the county probation department. When they were finally caught, they were removed from office, and brought before the justice system that they had so heinously abused. Unfortunately, these representatives of our judicial system who so egregiously violated their oaths of office, faced only the law, and not justice, for ruining so many young people's lives in the name of a corporate bottom line. This is not the sole instance of such abuse under our increasingly privatized justice system; it is simply the best known, thanks to CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" and Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story.
Government is not a business, and should never be run as a business. This is the gravest and most consistent error that conservatives continue to make. The purpose of government is not to make money; the purpose of government is to weigh the needs of its many constituents, and do the best job it can to provide for those often conflicting needs with a minimum of harm or disruption to any other group of constituents. Good government works to reduce the waste inherent in any large-scale human enterprise to the barest amount attributable to human error. A bad government bleeds waste at every foreseeable point, and twice as many other points that are not expected.
A business, under the law as it currently stands, requires satisfying the needs of the few, the shareholders (see Dodge v. Ford Motor Co .; 170 N.W. 668; Mich. 1919). But as Nineteenth Century British statesman and Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli pointed out, a government's " Power has only one duty--to secure the social welfare of the People;" (Sybil, book 4, chapter 14; 1845). That is the People as a whole, or the many, not the people as a small group of self-serving profligates.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours in 1816, " We of the United States are constitutionally and conscientiously democrats. We consider society as one of the natural wants with which man has been created; that he has been endowed with faculties and qualities to effect its satisfaction by concurrence of others having the same want; that when, by the exercise of these faculties, he has procured a state of society, it is one of his acquisitions which he has a right to regulate and control, jointly indeed with all those who have concurred in the procurement, whom he cannot exclude from its use or direction more than they him. " ( Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition ; Volume 14, p. 487; 1904.) In other words, no one should be denied the benefits of our society, when they have been responsible for (or in the case of children will be responsible for) procuring those advantages that society brings. It is morally wrong for someone to deny any other person's need--not desire, but need--for the sake of even an extra iota of profit. This is a part of the social contract, and it is the responsibility of government to see that it is carried out, as Disraeli stated above.
American society must relearn the interconnectedness of all human existence, and our interdependence with each other. The Wild West wouldn't have been settled without the railroads and the U.S. Cavalry. The railroads wouldn't exist without the huge grants of land they received from the Federal Government. Large parts of the rural South and West would still be without electricity if it wasn't for projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority. As Theodore Roosevelt stated at Asheville, North Carolina on September 9, 1902, "The government is us; we are the government, you and I."
This is the ultimate tragedy of the secessionist movement, and so many anti-government ideologies including Grover Norquist's "No new taxes" pledge; it is a blind rebellion against ourselves and our future. These movements are trying to reestablish an America that never was and never should be. Things were in no way a paradise for 90 percent of America during the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties. More than fifty percent of our population lived in poverty and crime ran rampant, both inside and outside the corporate board room. (See my January 18, 2009 OpEdNews.com article "The Forty Percent Solution ," for more on this phenomenon.) It is this lack of knowledge of our nation's history, which undercuts every argument the secessionists and miniarchists, including the followers of Ayn Rand, that angers me beyond all reason. As I stated in my March 11, 2011 OpEdNews article "Channeling Our Inner Hulk :" (Corrections and amplifications in brackets.)
"This time, when America's plutocrats started their subversion of the Constitution, a calculated conspiracy to overthrow our democratically elected, representative republic, they did not depend upon their self-perceived fait accompli of the Gilded Age. The early Progressive movement and Theodore Roosevelt had shattered their power by applying antitrust laws to Standard Oil and other trusts, breaking them up into smaller, far less politically and economically powerful entities.
Nor will they depend upon a coup Äetat , as the DuPont industrial and J.P. Morgan banking empires attempted against Franklin Roosevelt. This coup, financed by the plutocrats under the auspices of the Liberty League, attempted to hire Major General Smedley Butler, USMC (Ret.), to head a group of 500,000 members of the American Legion to overthrow FDR and establish a fascist style dictatorship. General Butler, an honorable man and a true American hero, gathered enough evidence to have them charged with treason, and then reported this fascist cabal to his friends in Congress.
Unfortunately, these fascist oligarchs had enough clout to prevent the McCormack-Dickstein Committee from taking any action against them, and the truth was buried in an internal, secret report. This report was uncovered by John Spivak in 1967, and reported upon in his book A Man in His Time (New York: Horizon Press, 1967), demonstrating the duplicity of individuals including FDR's long time New York rival, Al Smith. (For additional information on this plot, see Jules Archer, The Plot to Seize the White House (New York: Hawthorne Books, 1973), George Seldes, Even the Gods Can't Change History (Secaucus, N.J.: Lyle Stuart, Inc., 1976), Jonathon Vankin and John Whalen, The 60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time (Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing Group, 1997).)
No, this time they have carefully laid the foundation for their sedition."
Continuing with my thought after explaining Lewis F. Powell's contribution to this sedition I wrote:
"Politicians, plutocrats, and their captive mainstream media have taken advantage of [the American People's] Hulk-like long term memory, [which is to say none,] as well as our ability to feel righteous anger, and used it to focus our view of both our nation's and the world's problems outside of the United States. We have been given an extraordinarily powerful surrogate, the U.S. military, to take out our anger and aggression against the perceived iniquities in our lives on strangers abroad.
However, while using this surrogate to channel our righteous anger, they have somehow at the same time convinced us that we are "weak, puny Banner," afraid of our own shadow as well as the Hulk within. They have convinced us that if we do not stifle our anger against the very people who are its real [underlying] cause--the plutocrats and their lap dogs--we will cause untold harm to ourselves and those around us; even the nation itself."
I finished the article with the following paragraphs :