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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/9/21

Oligarchy: When Brutal Capitalism Becomes More Important than Democracy

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Between great wealth, control of the media, police-state tactics and social media-driven "militias," authoritarianism is itching to take over completely. We are on the brink & must stop them

Authoritarianism wants to take over completely.
Authoritarianism wants to take over completely.
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In an oligarchy, the rich can get away with anything and average people who try to stop harm to themselves and their communities get crushed. We're now there; the question is whether we'll pull back from this horror show, or whether it'll continue its evolution toward a full-blown police state.

The Sackler family, whose criminal Oxycontin drug-dealing killed over a half-million Americans and destroyed the lives of millions more, is close to a deal with the states to keep around $10 billion of their ill-gotten gain in exchange for giving the states a bit over $4 billion over nine years. Nobody will go to jail or even suffer an inconvenience like no longer being able to use a private jet or give up one of their many mansions.

And it's not like they were caught in a one-off crime. In 2007, they reached a settlement with the government over their illegal and deadly marketing practices, promising to behave like good citizens. Then, as the Washington Post noted yesterday:

"The family members -- including Richard Sackler, David Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Kathe Sackler and Jonathan Sackler (who is now deceased) -- demanded in 2012 that company executives come up with a plan to generate greater revenue in response to slumping sales, according to the Justice Department settlement."

Recidivists. Repeat criminals. Billionaires. But because the crime they committed was mostly against average Americans rather than against big companies or rich people, they'll quietly retire to one of their chalets or mansions.

Meanwhile, Jessica Reznicek was just sentenced to serve eight years in prison for damaging an oil pipeline that she believed threatened the water supply of Iowa and surrounding regions and is contributing to climate change. Nobody died. Nobody got addicted. She didn't make any money doing it. She's not rich.

Instead, she was trying to save lives and prevent further ecocide. During her sentencing this week, Jessica said, "The toxins we enter into our waterways here in Iowa enter into the Mississippi, which enters into the Gulf [of Mexico]...Going to this extreme was out of character for me."

Ironically, on the same day she was sentenced a senior Exxon executive and lobbyist told a reporter that his company had no intention of going along with a carbon tax and that he could stop any kind of serious climate legislation because, with his company's billions, he had about a dozen senators, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, in his back pocket.

The death toll from the "heat dome" caused in part by Exxon's product (and their decades of funding climate denialism every bit as horrific as the Sackler's marketing efforts for Oxycontin) has now officially killed over 116 people in Oregon, probably twice that in Washinton State (which has a much larger population), and over 500 people in British Columbia.

Nobody from Exxon is going to jail or even paying a fine, while the fossil-fuel money keeps rolling in to Manchin and Sinema. And if the voters try to mobilize to do anything about it, the Supreme Court said last week, Republican election officials can simply purge them from the voter rolls, make sure they face 8 to 10 hour lines to vote, or go to prison if they make a single mistake.

What we are watching is the final stage of the 40-year Reagan-started transition of our nation from a forward-looking and still-evolving democratic republic into a white supremacist ethnostate ruled by a small group of fascist oligarchs.

Some years ago, Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore (before he was Trump's advisor) was a guest on my radio/TV program. I asked him, "Which is more important, democracy or capitalism?"

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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