"Whose side is he on, exactly? Call Representative Schmertz today, and tell him to stop blocking hard-working Americans' right to solid, good paying jobs. This district needs jobs, not obstructive pandering to liberal elitism." So goes the 2012 political ad, sponsored by Amalgamated Mining of North America, an incorporated arm of Xzhing Chow, a vertically integrated worldwide energy conglomerate whose home offices are in Nanchang, Peoples' Republic of China.
It was the second time the ad had aired that hour. It was running on every cable and network station. It, and other slick versions of it, had been for the past three weeks. The company was trying to block legislation intended to halt its release into the ground water of carcinogen-laden chemicals that were the byproducts of its mining operations. An Amalgamated lobbyist had earlier made clear to the legislators sitting on the two relevant House committees, Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources, that, unless they ceased hounding the company about its mining practices, they would bury them in the next election. Save Representative Schmertz, the committee chairman, all others had caved.
The same coercive pressures were being applied in every congressional district with a representative who even seemed potentially hostile to corporate interests. Nor were the corporate interests limited to domestic US corporations. Every major foreign domiciled corporation had a separately incorporated arm somewhere in the United States. From the moment the Supreme Court ruled that corporations had inalienable rights to the First Amendment free speech and free press protections that were equal to living, breathing human beings the flood gates had been dynamited.
In every instance the message to representatives and senators was manifest: Play nice with us, or else!
Asian logging corporations that had incorporated in the US, and that suddenly found unfettered access to US national forests, were carving a patchwork of roads through those forests, the overwhelming majority of which were in the Northwest. The US building industry hailed the now lower cost of the timber stock that went into home construction, and folks everywhere except the Northwest cheered. Yet, even in the Northwest, loggers were enthusiastic over the jobs that had been created. And everyone looked past the fact that once a forest is gone, it is gone. The soil will be eroded, no new forests will thrive, and the logging companies and the loggers will be gone as well.
Submerged in a tidal wave of pressure, legislation had been cleared to enable the energy companies to "Drill, baby -- drill" wherever they wished. Oil and gas derricks had become like fence posts off the shores of Florida and California. Folks in the upper Midwest and Northeast were happy for the slightly lower utility costs, especially in winter. Nor were they concerned the least that when the oil ran out, as decades before, it had in Texas, Oklahoma and California, the derricks would remain, and small quantities of oil would continue to percolate and leak into the Gulf and ocean waters.
The rules restricting monopolies had been shorn of any substance. Gone were locally owned or controlled hospitals. Community health care facilities from Savanna to Seattle, from San Diego to Salem, Massachusetts were now owned by one of three health care corporations. Surgeons and other specialists, having no where else to ply their special skills, had agreed to accept lower fees.
In return for the lower fees they were relieved of the need to pay malpractice premiums. There no longer was a need for malpractice insurance. As a consequence of tort reform that had eliminated almost entirely "frivolous law suits" and of the judges that tossed out the remaining trickle of malpractice litigation that managed to find a courtroom, patients who had suffered the removal of wrong organs, the amputation of wrong limbs, and sloppy diagnoses that left them permanently incapacitated had no means of redress. Depending on the severity of the disability, they received from $5,000 to a cap of $50,000; adjusted for inflation, of course. If the medical error resulted in the death of the patient all cremation expenses were fully paid. However, by the contract all patients were required to sign, prior to the receipt of medical care, as an "error" could only be established by corporate investigators, it was the truly rare case that the disability or death was not the consequence of a patient's uncompensatable preexisting condition.
The history of the republic, it was clear, had been cleaved into BC and AD; "Before Citizens," and "After Decision." In every venue across the map the social and economic playing fields, however different superficially, were rather the same for substance. As example, the use of heavy duty pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the corporate farming belt had become de rigeur. No matter, similar to what occurred in timber and oil and gas, those in the urban centers, regardless of where they were in the US, didn't care; it wasn't in their backyards. Besides, what could anyone do about it? If there had been but modest distinctions BC between the Republicans and Democrats, between a Republican candidate and a Democratic candidate, AD there truly existed none whatsoever. From county drain commissioners to the president of the country, each and all either toed the corporate line philosophically, or had been cowed into raising no real objections to it.
Yet the citizens, by and large, seemed not to mind much: not having a say as to who presided over them. The economy, compared with BC, was booming. Folks were buying cars, new HD 3D flat-panel television sets, mobile communication devices . . .. "Everything was better" echoed across the land.
There were minor annoyances. Phone and Internet conversations were subject to random monitoring, what might be Google-searched was algorithmically cataloged by Homeland Security, and one had to be very careful in everyday interpersonal conversations that what was said wasn't unpatriotic, which is to say, wasn't in opposition to the corporate social and political structure. Every news outlet was in one of the entertainment divisions of one of the two media conglomerates, and as the news reminded all "real Americans" that, indeed, "everything was better," everything was.
And, there continued to be elections, of course, but fewer and fewer bothered to vote, the distinctions between the candidates being inconsequential approaches to the enthusiastic support of their corporate sponsors.
And no one seemed to mind much. After all, in the aftermath of AD, "everything was better."