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America's Undeserved Smugness: Tunisia, US Financial Elite -- Same as Dictators Elsewhere

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Message Sam Hamod

While pointing to Tunisia, America -- under the direction of Obama and his messenger, Hillary Clinton -- is telling the Arab world to reform and to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Yet, at the same time, the gap between the rich, the ultra rich and the common man in America is growing at such an alarming rate the "middle class" is all but destroyed. So, why is America so smug? Perhaps it's because it is easier to point the finger at others than to examine our own American situation.

The revolution in Tunisia is a wake-up call for the Arab world, as was put so brilliantly by H.E. Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League. In an Arab economic summit this week, Moussa warned the region's 20 leaders that people's anger throughout the Arab world has reached a boiling point. He told the members that "the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession. The Tunisian revolution is not far from us," Moussa said, and he called for Arab renaissance to "lift people from their frustration."

But such unrest should be a wake-up call for America as well, for the disparity between the rich and the rest of us is phenomenal. Few realize that only 1% of the American population controls 95% of the wealth, and 35% of that 1% controls most of that wealth. The rest of us are left to fend for ourselves, while the very rich have offshore bank accounts, are drawing outrageous and gluttonous multi-million dollars salaries   even while their corporations are losing money -- as happened in the last 48 hours with the bonuses paid by Goldman Sachs while its profits dropped by 48% or more! In truth, there are few in this world worth, as a CEO, or president or whatever, a MILLION DOLLARS OR MORE!   And yet, it goes on and on, and no one stops them from pandering to each other.

The regulatory agencies in America are a joke. For example, for three years, evidence was given to the SEC of the scams and fraud of Bernard Madoff, yet nothing was done to stop his ponzi schemes and his ripping off people for more than a billion dollars. The same is true of the frauds perpetrated by the banks, who were rescued by President Obama and his Bill Clinton cronies -- when it was the same set of banks who perpetrated the real-estate bubble that robbed the American people and left many homeless and bereft. When he got Congress to give him the "stimulus money," Obama did not build one road, create one job or fix any sewers or waterways. Instead, he gave it to the ultra rich; to bankers who were getting million-dollar salaries, or to insuarance companies such as AIG, who gave bonuses to their incompetent and spoiled executives (but no squawk was heard from Obama or his Clinton buddies).

The bankers were also involved in the further crimes they perpetrated against you and me because they wrote off the loans, then were reimbursed by the government for the full value of the loans; thus, they ended up making a profit from us, the taxpayers, while they double-dipped into the losses that became a profit for them. It was tricky bookkeeping, but it worked because few noticed how it was done and no government agency, or government audit screamed about it.   It made Madoff's con job look like child's play, but it was all done with the consent of "our government," which I call "the new dictators" (the president, his cabinet, the Supreme Court and Congress, allied with the warmonger corporations).   They all prefer wars to go on indefinitely; to win them would be to stop the profits from the war corporations and our "security companies." Perpetual war "against terrorism" keeps  the American people afraid and continues to give the corporations unlimited profits. As anyone with half a brain knows, you can't make a war against a concept, but somehow, the American people have been led into this idiocy by their dictators who control the money, the media and the society.

Thus, it is interesting that we can be so smug about the dictators elsewhere and say, "shame on you." Yet we are under the control of dictators who are part of the two-party system that elects a president and a congress that, like dictators, don't care about the people at all, but only use them for their own ends. Thus, though many liberals and neo-cons, and alleged "conservatives" may mock Tunisia's Ben Ali -- and I have no brief for him -- he was small potatoes because he was only the dictator of a small and relatively weak country, both economically and militarily. On the other hand, we have a mega-slave state in America with people being treated as criminals if they speak out -- so much for our "freedom of speech" (allowed only to the corporate controlled media) that went away with Patriot Act One and Patriot Act Two, the loss of habeas corpus, and the new dicta by President Obama that allows him to arrest or to kill anyone, including American citizens, without trial or witnesses at his will, or at the will of his underlings to whom he's given power.

We are smug at our own peril. The parallels between Tunisia and America are not that far off, it's only a matter of degree and size. We have our own dictators who are in charge, and they are the Democratic and Republican parties, our presidents, our congress, our corporations and our warlord generals who continue calling for more and more unlimited warfare all over the world so that they may justify their more than 900 military bases worldwide -- and of course, we are the slaves who work and pay for all these elite dictators.

It's time we understood these truths, though it may be a bit late. But who knows, perhaps the Tunisian revolt will be a wake-up call for the world, not just for the Arab world, but also for the Western world, especially our own dictatorial society who enchants us with the magic word, "DEMOCRACY!"

My friends, whatever "democracy" there ever was, is long gone.

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Sam Hamod, Ph.D. is a graduate professor; he has taught courses in creative writing, politics, religion, mass media and intercultural relations. He has one of the very few PhDs awarded by The Writers Workshop of The Univ. of Iowa, has published 12 (more...)
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