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I'd like to begin my commentary on David Sirota's important new book Hostile Takeover with my strong endorsement of his fine work. Everyone should read it to learn what's really going on around us that affects us all in the most important ways I know and which most people at best only vaguely understand on many if not most of the major issues. Those who read it will learn in stunning and graphic detail how large corporations in league with government at all levels serving their interests and not ours are destroying the democratic pillars of our society. The result now evident when we know the facts David presents is a great irreversible harm to the great majority unless we can collectively act in time to reverse the destructive path and economically downward trajectory we're now on - all planned and implemented by our elected officials in service to their generous corporate benefactors. In his important book, David lucidly explains the problem in detail and gives us an action plan to fight back.
When I first heard about David's new book, I was very eager to read it. I had to be as earlier I wrote and got published a long article by the same title. David's approach and mine covered some of the same ground but differed as well including the subtitles we chose. My approach was to concentrate on the economic consequences of corporate size and dominance to ordinary people. David did the same, but as was clear from his subtitle, he did it by documenting in powerful detail "how big money and corruption" control the political process for their own gain. He also goes further to show how we can fight back to regain the essential rights we've lost. I covered some of that myself in an earlier article I wrote called Democracy in America - It's Spelled C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N. It's posted on my blog site - sjlendman.blogspot.com. In his book, David gives more than just an account of how our government was bought. He presents the evidence in "handbook" form, exposing the lies and myths politicians and corporations tell us, and gives us an action plan to fight back and win.
Why resort to war? They're fought to control markets, vital resources like oil and cheap labor to help those same corporations make more profits. In that kind of world, there's nothing to stop them from operating as legalized private tyrannies (with their own armies we pay for through taxes) exploiting us (and the planet) for their gain and doing it as another author explained in his book called The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Those who can pay can play, and those who can't have no say and don't get their way. Money not only talks, it rules the world.
It all means that the political game is rigged by and for corporate America to enrich them and do it at our expense. And they're aided and abetted by the big government they bought and paid for to do their bidding - a kind of incestuous relationship for mutual gain. It's a democracy all right, but only for the privileged few and no one else. Voters at one time may have thought they had a say when they went to the polls, and to some degree they did. But today, about half of them understand they're powerless and don't even bother showing up. Why do it when they know that on election day the real game is big business and big government playing "let's make a deal" - "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours." But to play, you better have lots of "scratch." It's an arena where only powerful interests have a say and well paid lobbyists (aka influence-peddling "bagmen") "grease the wheels" of big government to make it work for big business in a "snatch and grab" all you can enterprise that leaves the public largely out in the cold. It's the same story at the federal, state and local levels although the higher up in the bureaucracy it takes place, the bigger the stakes are.
Hostile Takeover Counts and Documents the Ways the Political Process Has Become Corrupted
David then divides the rest of his book into explaining the enterprise of government as a wholly-owned business subsidiary in 10 separate chapters. In each one, he explains how our so-called elected officials have corrupted their high office to allow their corporate benefactors to exploit us for their benefit. The evidence in each chapter shows no matter how you slice and dice the political system, it always comes out the same way - they win and we lose: more and more until it's down to the nub, and we've lost it all unless we can fight back to recoup and save ourselves before it's too late. David thinks we can do it. First he explains what we've lost, and then he lays out an action plan to win it back. And throughout the book, David gives copious and powerful anecdotal corroboration to make his case for the abuses being committed against us that need redress.
As I explained above, I've also written about these abuses and understand how our corrupted system works. I'm a bit less sanguine than David on the public's insight into the problem or its readiness to act - yet. But David and I are on the same page, and for me he's preaching to the choir. I believe most others, however, don't know or understand enough about how they're being abused, let alone what to do about it. This book is for them and is essential reading. I endorse and recommend it strongly. And I'll go a step further and call it a survival manual and a call to arms. I believe things are even more dire than David explains. I think it essential that the public en masse must begin to act in its own interest and defense and do it soon and effectively. Unless it does, what little remains of our tattered republic and democracy in name only will be lost entirely, and it will be too late to regain it.
Chapter One: Our Tax System - Call It Robin Hood in Reverse
Also call it the great tax scam. David quotes the now indicted and disgraced former Republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay saying on the eve of the Iraq war in 2003 that "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." I wonder what he was inhaling just before he said that or how stuffed his pockets were with corporate cash. It's hard deciding whether absurd or outrageous better characterizes such an outrageous statement. When Lyndon Johnson was president and needed revenues for his illegal war in Vietnam, he had to raise taxes and still couldn't get enough to pay for it without running up debt and adding to inflation which sent the economy into decline in the 1970s.
David then explains that in today's world as seen through the eyes of Republican ideologues and most Democrats willing to go along with them, cutting taxes has become a religion with no regard for the common sense notion that the revenues only gotten through taxes pay for all the essential services we rely on like schools, infrastructure and everything else. So it only makes sense that when government takes in less revenue, it has less available to provide us with the things we need, expect and rely on in a modern society.
But that's hardly the end of the story. Under the Bush administration, not only have there been large tax cuts, but the ones enacted have caused the "tax structure (to be) flipped on its head." Call it the great transformation of a once-progressive system inverted to take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich. It's a process that began during the Reagan years. But under George Bush it's exploded to become greed writ large and has now even been replicated at the state level. The most well-off who don't need it have benefitted hugely according to the nonpartisan Citizens for Tax Justice. They report that by 2010 after the Bush tax cuts have been fully implemented as they now stand, the top 15% of income earners will have gotten two-thirds of the benefits with the top 1% getting a $600 billion dollar bonanza. On the other end, the bottom 60% will have gotten an illusory less than 18% of the benefits.
That's so because to help offset this handout to the rich, the Bush administration imposed user fees on various services amounting to billions of dollars that affect low and middle income people the most. Also, federal grants to states have been cut and new obligations imposed on them without the proper funding to cover their cost creating what's called "unfunded (or underfunded) mandates." To comply, states have had to raise taxes and fees which again fall disproportionately on lower income people. For these same people, the result has been "now you see 'em, now you don't" tax cuts that amount to a net tax increase and effective loss and lower standard of living for the great majority of the public.
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