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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/18/13

War and Corruption Deficits: Insects and Leviathans

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mark Biskeborn
Huge defense contractors and oil corporations avoid taxes through loopholes  while they profit from the recent invasions into Eurasia. They  lobbied our government to destroy Iraq and then to rebuild it. In the case of Dick Cheney, Halliburton enjoyed a non-bid contract. The wars and the bank frauds cost Trillions of dollars, a deep fiscal deficit. To pay for these extravagant escapades the government now forces the general public to sacrifice by austerity policies and sequester. The shrinking middle class pays heavily for the war and the banking frauds that the industrial barons trumped up for profit's sake.

Economic inequality destroys every square inch of a society and the psyches of individuals. Inequality stems from extreme materialistic ambitions by which the wealthy want more than more.  In the U.S. unbridled, unregulated capitalism has taken over the entire country where there once were laws applied to restrain abusive corporate powers. Remember the antitrust laws applied to AT&T.  Massive corporations in banking, energy, healthcare, defense and other industries have seized political power in the U.S. Industrial barons pull the strings of whatever is left of our government, now a spineless puppet.

Some people, like D. S. Jones, say that an economic doctrine arose in the 1970s. F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman described this doctrine and called it neo-liberalism. A  salesman for GE who became a U.S. president, Ronald Reagan supported this trendy doctrine.

This doctrine favors privatization, deregulation, and unfettered free markets over government regulations or the slightest oversight. Historical narratives, like this new book, Masters of the Universe, by D. S. Jones, might help clarify this trend as some neat, rational economic solution. But this historical narrative sits framed in merely small thinking. This trendy fashion, neo-liberalism, is not a useful economic doctrine. It is not even a viable economic policy. Rather it is simply a human trait otherwise known as greed. Neo-liberalism is dreck, useless for any real economics. And yet in the U.S. it is the dominant ideology. The money elite revel in it.

Powerful people have always made government a doormat for their own expanding power. Consider the emperors of Rome, monarchs of Europe, the modern dictators, and the barons of industry of the Gilded Age, the Roaring 20s. They all use their power to mold government for their own self-aggrandizing ambitions and at the cost of the greatest good of society.

A small group of people acquire wealth by various means, most often by unethical practices. Once these people obtain wealth, they use its influence to gain more and more riches. This fact has made human history what it is, a struggle to garner more strength over others less fortunate. This power has always created inequality in society. 

In modern times we should hope for a more rational, common sense approach to equality. It benefits everyone.  Now we have fallen backwards where the wealthy take power and corrupt the rules to accommodate their greed. The clear signs of this regressive movement appear in the U.S. justice system where we often find a double standard.  
A handful of wealthy bankers commit fraud that brings the global economy to its knees. Yet, the judicial system fails to investigate them as if they are "too-important-to-jail," as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claims . Individual bankers are responsible for plunging the global economy deep in recession and for creating an enormous national deficit. 

Meanwhile a regular guy on the street goes straight to privatized jail for peddling marijuana. 
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The shareholders and top managers of privatized prisons profit from increasing the number of inmates. Ironically, inequality is one of the main reasons why the downtrodden take drugs. 

The owners of capital--the barons of industry--can crush the peasants on the street in more ways than one. Today the one-percenters have used their powerful financial influence to style their own new world order which started in a "free market" ideology and grew into today's corporatocracy.

This tiny number of patricians among the population holds influence over the supreme court. The supreme judges support the powerful elite in many decisions. Consider the overturn of Citizens United v. FEC which allows the leviathan, global corporations to buy our elected officials in the form of campaign contributions. Surprisingly these global corporations are often not even grounded in the U.S., as they warehouse their cash in offshore Cayman or Swiss banks. 

In this new world order, "our government" has only more incentives to legislate laws for the interests of these 1 percenters, the global elites, who rarely have any real loyalty to the U.S. Our public officials broker legislation with hardly any interest in the greater good of the country. We now see the results in the trend to weaken public infrastructures such as healthcare, retirement, education, and energy. 

Extreme right-wing congressmen, like John Boehner or Senator Scott Brown, do their best to destroy these entitlements for the general public good. Meanwhile they work for the interests of huge corporations. Many of our elected officials, especially the Republicans, fight for the entitlements for the ultra-wealthy. In exchange for huge campaign contributions, politicians work for those rolling in dough. 

These entitlements for billionaires and multi-millions come in the form of huge tax loopholes and impunity for massive crimes and incompetencies. Individual bankers caused the enormous financial break-down. Individual managers of defense contractors and their lackey politicians--like G.W.Bush--pillaged the national coffers for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. None of these high-ranking moguls and politicians has been so much as investigated for these catastrophes. Meanwhile the war in Iraq and the colossal financial scams costs the country trillions of dollars.  Now austerity policies cut social infrastructure--healthcare, retirement, education, and energy--as a means to repair the national deficit. Those responsible for the deficit continue to profit from the damage they cause and are not even held responsible for taxes. They have become the untouchable rotting, cancerous tumors of our society. 

Consider the case of banks laundering billions of dollars for the Mexican narcos and Al Qaeda. This voracious greed has always existed. However, in our times the obsession for money and power has broken through the normal legal restraints and much less the limits of ethics. Emblematic of this is Attorney General Eric Holder's recent statement of unwillingness to prosecute powerful bankers or to mention antitrust laws. The cronyism and corruption between government and the leviathan corporations sets the entire country backwards at least a century to pre-New Deal times. 

The examples of this corporate coup d'etat abound, though most often the mainstream media ignore the truth and report only what the private owners decide the general public should hear. This control of journalism only enables the barons of industry to conceal their disdain of laws and morality. Ironically, at the same time the right-wing religious groups claim moral purity.   

The world has split into two.  One tiny part is the plutocracy, the super-rich; the other part is the proletariat, the masses, insignificant, fungible humans, living in precarious conditions, dependent on the whims or needs of employers.   

Unfortunately, the government has lost all control over the lawless industrial moguls. It now mostly forfeits power to the corporatist status quo. This mostly silent political movement against the middle class had retooled after the Roaring 20s, after the Great Depression, and after FDR's New Deal.

By exception, FDR created a more equitable society as a means to remedy the Great Depression, like our own Great Recession. The economic solution included, for the most part, nurturing a middle class in the U.S., which really did not exist at such a high standard of living until then. This development culminated in the 1960s (see Figure 1 above), but now crumbles and dies under the weight of austerity policies designed to pay for the misadventures of defense contractors and bankers' greed. 

Once FDR was gone--and a lot of corporatists aggressively wanted him dead, those with the overwhelming financial influence began to undo the government's public service programs, including the judiciary and the political law-making functions. Now organizations like ALEC enable corporations to set the nation's policies and to hell with the democratic process. Perhaps the overturn of Citizens United v. FEC represented the last nail in the coffin of a reasonably balanced economy. 
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Leviathan by Leviathan

Plutocrats have always fought and won to dominate society. This recent power grab, the transformation over the last five decades, took hold on a slow path such that few people saw it happening, as depicted in the Figure 1 above. One bolt at a time, the Gilded Class dismantled the cultural zeitgeist of the New Deal. The one-percenters have always been destroying governmental functions that benefit the larger good of society.  

To wit: our healthcare system has become almost entirely owned by the wealthy business owners. The for-profit health care system in the U.S. is unique and increases costs by two and a half more than any other industrialized country

As in the healthcare industry, many other private industries run more efficiently when the government manages them. All other industrial countries provide a highly efficient government-managed health care system. This excessive, wasteful cost arises from the high-profit driven corporations. Compared to other industrialized countries, health care in the U.S. is two and a half times less efficient.  

This metamorphosis grew in its own Kafkaesque pattern, mutating human beings into insects. Instead of communities, now we have ant farms, furnished with cubicles and stab-in-the-back job environments fraught with abusive bosses. 

In the American way, this "free-market" ideology grew and altered our entire culture. Now we have to deal with our own extremism. It has grown into a demented, devouring Leviathan, an overwhelming power of a corporate reign without restraint. The privatizing, corrupting giant, a Leviathan, consumes everything that once was beneficial to the greater good of society.

"Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?" Job: 41.

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Mark Biskeborn is a novelist: Mojave Winds, A Sufi's Ghost, Mexican Trade. Short Stories: California & Beyond. Poetry & Essays. For more details: www.biskeborn.com See Mark's stories on Amazon.com or wherever books are (more...)
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