This post originally appeared at Government Cheese – “Chronicling the collapse of democracy“
Silicon Valley Bank fails…
Corruption allowed the finance industry to operate outside of sensible government oversight, even as the world has experienced the consequences of this over and over again. So here in Silicon Valley and around the world, tech employees are waiting to find out if they’ll get their paychecks or get laid off next week. The world is wondering if contagion will spread that fear. Again. (Last time, because of corruption, not one banker type was held accountable. Not one.)
Also here in Silicon Valley it is raining harder than almost ever – except for a couple weeks ago. Flooding everywhere. I mean, torrential, incredible rain pouring down right now. This is because corruption has caused governments to allow the industry causing this to keep putting more and more carbon into the air even as we all know what the consequences will be.
The news lately has been about train derailments devastating localities. This happens because corruption allows wealthy rail-owners to keep governments from making them operate safely.
Inequality is now completely out-of-control. 60% of Americans now live paycheck-to-paycheck, not even able to raise $500 to cover an emergency like a car breakdown. The government doesn’t raise the minimum wage or otherwise address this because of obvious corruption. Million upon millions are spent convincing these people to blame government for this and vote for those backed by that money, and abolish democracy. “I am your retribution.”
The Supreme Court “rules” that this is all OK. Any amount of secret money is allowed to influence elections. People trying to fix this face millions of dollars spent smearing them in LOCAL elections. This Supreme Court we have is the way it is because of corrupt money spent to put them there.
Is there a common theme here?
You’re going to need a Math degree to follow this, as with everything about Medicare. Actually I HAVE a Math degree and have trouble following it.
Before I Start
(You can skip this section. I wish I could have. You’ll wish that when you’re turning 65.)
I’m old enough that I am on Medicare. Figuring out what to sign up for was AMAZINGLY difficult. Part A, Part B, Part D (privatized) and then you need a private “Medigap” Supplemental plan. You can get Plan A or B or C or D or E or F or G. I think. See if you can understand this from Medicare.
Note: Medigap plans sold to people new to Medicare can no longer cover the Part B deductible. Because of this, Plans C and F are no longer available to people new to Medicare on or after January 1, 2020. However, if you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, but not yet enrolled, you may be able to buy one of these plans that cover the Part B deductible (Plan C or F). If you already have or were covered by Plan C or F (or the Plan F high deductible version) before January 1, 2020, you can keep your plan.
Or you can get Medicare Advantage, which are really almost all privatized scams. And then there are private supplements for vision & dental (both absolute scams worthy of another post!!!) Payments for these all come out of my Social Security.
Fortunately where I live we have Kaiser, which is NOT a for-profit corporation so it isn’t a scam and actually is pretty good. I was already on Kaiser so I stayed on Kaiser’s Medicare Advantage.
Now I’ll Start
ANYway… That’s not what this post is about.
Everyone please read this Facebook post “from inside Southwest.” It is spot on. It describes how the meltdown happened because the company had been stripped for two decades by executives looking for short-term profits at the expense of the company.
What it describes is not just happening at this airline, though, and not just at airlines. This is what has been happening at HOW MANY companies for a long time! But more than that, it is of a piece with what has been happening to our democracy.
All the incentives are for squeezing everything out of a company to get the appearance of profit THIS QUARTER to get the STOCK PRICE UP to get the EXECUTIVE QUARTERLY BONUS and it is all at the expense of everything else – the customers (obviously) , the suppliers, the employees, and the future of the companies.
Our government is supposed to oversee the way companies operate. They operate under RULES set up by our government.
Rather than get into the specifics of those rules, ask yourself if a government operating in the interests of the people of the country and the long-term good of the companies of the country would allow what we are seeing at SWA and so many other companies to continue? Of course not!!!
This post originated at Imagine Democracy. If you follow all the links, it pieces together.
Over at sister-site Government Cheese, a discussion of capitalism, propaganda and how a few wealthy people keep things under control
Capitalism literally means that the people with wealth make the investment decisions for society & get the return on investment, and the broad public don’t.
All the rest is just propaganda. Capitalism has nothing to do with “markets” or “freedom” or any of the rest.
It’s really so simple. It’s how a few people maintain control of society for their own benefit and it’s been this way for thousands of year, under different labels. It’s what a monarchy is. The King and his buddies control the wealth. “WE should have this and you should not and here’s why.”
It’s why the United States was such a breakthrough. WE THE PEOPLE will decide what’s best for us, not you. Government of, by and for THE PEOPLE. Not the elites, the wealthy, the aristocrats, the priesthood, the monarchy, the warlord, whatever label put on the ruling wealthy. A country run for the benefit of the people in the country. Whatever label we put on that – democracy, socialism, whatever.
That’s all. All the rest is just propaganda.
Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the context of the monarchies of Europe just salivating waiting for “the Union” – the experiment in democracy – fail so they can get the world back where they want it.
So Twitter is melting down. Twitter became the de facto “town square.” It was a “public good” where We the People could get news and discuss things.
One super billionaire (plus Saudi Arabia) purchased it and is destroying it. He was allowed to purchase in an obvious attempt to influence what the pubic understands – against the “public interest.” This is because we no longer have a functioning government.
We are SO FAR from remembering that corporations are entirely creatures of law, which means they are created by OUR laws. Nothing more. We the People – government – created the idea of corporations as a way to get investment for large projects – things WE want done. Corporations were created to SERVE US.
We used to REGULATE corporations to be sure that these entities we created act in the public interest. Here we are with such an OBVIOUS demonstration of the need for government to step in and regulate. Quickly. But the concept has been erased from our brains.
We Are Supposed To Be The Boss Of Them.
Government is supposed to be We the People acting to make OUR lives better. It has been “captured” and acts now only on the interest of those who own these entities and so often against the interest of We the People. We allowed corporate money to “leak out” of the corporation and be used by individuals (the executives of the corporation) to literally bribe government officials to look the other way and allow them to loot the corporations and public sphere. That money also feeds a massive propaganda apparatus that brainwashes us into forgetting the very idea that We the People are supposed to be in charge here.
I recently wrote about this here: Understanding What a Corporation Actually Is Can Help Restore Democracy
This post originally appeared at Imagine Democracy.
“Some corporations do bad things.” “Corporations bribe politicians.” “Good corporations don’t harm people.” “Corporations are greedy.”
Almost everything we read and hear about corporations destructively misstates what corporations are and why we have them. Understanding what a corporation really is has enormous implications for our democracy.
Corporations Don’t “Do” Things
Here’s the thing: A corporation is a contract. It is a legal agreement enabled by our (“We the People”) government. That’s it.
I have come to believe it is a waste of time to discuss “policy” anymore. Billionaires and corporations control the legislative and administrative branches. And that’s that. Period.
We can’t get anything through the Congress, no matter what. The Executive branch lives in a neoliberal mindset. The agencies are controlled by lobbyists. (Once in a while something can happen, but if we fix corruption, we fix all of it.)
Activists should put 100% of effort into fixing this. Fix money in politics and corruption. Nothing we advocate can happen otherwise. Everything we fight for will happen if these are fixed – because the public wants the same things. (That’s why we do what we do.)
There really is no other fight.
Sanctions on Russia’s oligarchs won’t work. The idea is that imposing sanctions of Putin’s oligarchs will cause them feel pain and do something about Putin. This is a US-centric view of how it works:
– In the US the oligarchs tell the government what to do. In Russia it’s the other way around. Putin tells the oligarchs what to do.
– BECAUSE this is how it works here, the US continues to allow oligarchs to hide their wealth behind anonymous “shell” corporations. So oligarch assets remain safe. Shell corporations owned by oligarchs can continue to buy real estate, art, etc.
– Also hidden assets of politicians, collected from oligarchs, remain safe.
WSJ, How Donald Trump’s Web of LLCs Obscures His Business Interests,
President-elect Donald Trump owns a helicopter in Scotland.
To be more precise, he has a revocable trust that owns 99% of a Delaware limited liability company that owns 99% of another Delaware LLC that owns a Scottish limited company that owns another Scottish company that owns the 26-year-old Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, emblazoned with a red “TRUMP” on the side of its fuselage.
Sanctions on Russia’s economy are another matter.
This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the collapse of democracy
It hasn’t sunk in yet but yesterday’s vote to allow Republican election-rigging and keep the filibuster marks the end of democracy. From here on out the fight is over. Republican efforts to rig the next elections will now accelerate. They know they have a free hand to do what they want. The public will tune out, understanding that nothing can change.
Billionaires and corporations funded and engineered the effort to keep the filibuster. Their thinking is that they’re at the top of a system rigged in their favor, and the filibuster keeps anything from changing. The filibuster has maintained their position at the top of the pyramid, blocking all efforts by the people to use government to change the rigged system. All Republicans were part of this pay-for-play operation, of course, but so were many Senate Democrats under Obama, and now Manchin and Sinema.
The corporations and billionaires think the current system of paying politicians to keep the money flowing to them has been locked in.
Watch this clip. Brilliant. Follow the money behind the votes. It really is just paid corruption.
“David Sirota critiques coverage of DC budget battles
Former Bernie Sanders campaign advisor David Sirota says the news media should be following the money on Capitol Hill, sharing context “about which industries are buying which politicians.” Sirota also argues that the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 is impacting American politics today.”
I can’t find a way to post the clip here so Click This to watch.
This post first appeared at Government Cheese.
Corruption always breeds greater corruption. Once someone can get ahead through corruption they have an advantage over the non-corrupt. The non-corrupt can’t compete and are driven out.
Allowing money to influence politics AT ALL (including “think tanks,” “non-profits” like ALEC, corrupt information sources like Fox, Epoch Times & talk radio, etc) bred greater and greater corruption to the point where a corruptly-constituted Supreme Court allowed unlimited money in political campaigns. That unlimited money drives a massive and unbeatable influence machine.
And then there’s just basic corruption – politicians paid by oil companies to allow them to profit off of killing the planet.
Our “system” is probably irretrievably corrupted. Tobacco kills around 480,000 Americans each year and causes a huge amount of disease and suffering beyond that. It is still legal and largely uncontrolled.
And, of course, the climate crisis has been allowed to reach a tipping point.
(Yesterday a “liberal” friend was talking about how “progressives” killed the infrastructure bill. That “opinion” comes straight from corrupt information sources. Despair.)
This post first appeared at Government Cheese.
One senator who makes a fortune from coal is blocking the country from last-ditch efforts to keep the climate crisis from becoming catastrophic. Well, it’s really one Democratic senator and EVERY Republican – all of them, their entire party and propaganda infrastructure paid by the fossil-fuel industry. But they go unmentioned.
The Guardian explains, in, Joe Manchin leads opposition to Biden’s climate bill, backed by support from oil, gas and coal,
In the current electoral cycle, Manchin has received more in political donations from the oil and gas industry than any other senator, more than double the second largest recipient. He is also the No 1 beneficiary of donations from the coal mining sector, leads the way in money accepted from gas pipeline operators, and is sixth in the ranking of senatorial donations from electricity utilities.
… But Manchin’s ties to the fossil fuel industry run deeper than political donations. After initially working in his family’s furniture and carpet business, Manchin set up a coal brokerage firm called Enersystems in 1988, running it until he became a full-time politician.
… His shares in Enersystems are worth between $1m and $5m, according to his latest financial disclosure document, with the senator receiving more than $5m in dividend income from the company over the past decade. The coal brokerage represents 71% of Manchin’s investment income, and about a third of his total net worth.
For history there should be a memorial monument that names names. It should list the names of individuals who contributed to the horrific situation they inherit.
But place that monument well above sea level.