WEALTH AND MONEY PART XIX: AMERICA BECOMES THE HOST
While mentally struggling for an appropriate title for this particular article in the Wealth and Money series, “THE EMPIRE DEVOURS ITSELF” came to mind. But this misses a critical distinction. The people of America are not the corporate and moneyed power structure in control of our government, our military and our economy. They are not the empire. Indeed, the people of America have become the victims of the empire. We are now the “colony.” If we are guilty of any wrongdoing, it is the sin of complacency.
But complacency unwittingly enabled the U.S. corporate and banking power structure to exploit and impoverish the people of Latin America, the Middle East, Indonesia, the Pacific Islands and elsewhere, and it exacts a terrible cost. The same techniques used to colonize other nations are now being applied to America.
The price is paid in the “divide and conquer” methodology used throughout history to tear societies to shreds. It is paid as Americans are turned against one another and any sense of community or the common good is destroyed. The price is paid in historic levels of inequality, in the cultural acceptance that “every man for himself” is normal rather than sociopathic. It is paid as food stamp recipients, rather than Wall Street bankers are blamed for the impoverishment of the middle class.
The price is paid in the militarization of our police forces, in the armed drones – now legal over North Dakota – that will most certainly soon fly over all protesting Americans. It is paid in the growing violence across America, in the gunning down of grade school children. The price is paid when the nation’s largest domestic terrorist organization, the National Rifle Association, uses fear and hatred to control “our” legislators. It is paid in the world’s highest levels of incarceration, in the profit making of privatized prisons. The price is paid in the condemnation of children to adult courts and adult prisons where they are preyed upon first by the “legal” system and then by the corporatized incarceration system. It is paid when there is no overwhelming national shame at what we are allowing, through complacency, a parasitic empire to do to our children.
The price is paid in the privatization of our public schools, it is paid when our children are turned into profit mechanisms for hedge funds, for the billionaire Walton family, Gates family, Broad family, DeVoss family, and for the billionaire Koch brothers. The price is paid when the richest of the rich conveniently ignore the research showing poverty as the single greatest factor in determining educational achievement, when the richest of the rich conveniently ignore that the grotesque inequality they represent means they are not the solution to the problem – they are the problem. The price is paid as our youth leave college deeply in debt to the financial industry when a generation ago – and when America had far less wealth than today – tuition was free for state residents at the University of California and easily affordable at public colleges across the nation.
The price is paid when public funds are readily found to build massive sports coliseums idolizing the billionaire owners of football and baseball teams, but nothing can be done to stop the lead water pipe poisoning of the developing brains of children in the surrounding neighborhoods. It is paid in crumbling infrastructure, in failing bridges, in antiquated school buildings.
The price is paid in corporate extortion as communities across America are pitted against one other in an effort to milk free land, free infrastructure, and decades delayed property taxes in “TIF” districts from working Americans. It is paid in the frack poisoning of our ground waters by the wealthiest oil companies. The price is paid in massive subsidies to these same predator companies as they steal oil from our public lands. It is paid in massive subsidies to Walmart to provide their underpaid employees with food stamps, housing assistance and other basic necessities so they can simply exist. The price is paid in the billions upon billions of dollars siphoned from U.S. citizens as Apple, Microsoft, Walmart, the pharmaceutical companies, the oil industry, the financial industry, and hundreds of other corporations hide their profits in offshore tax havens and shell companies.
The price is paid in the predator class that for years has infiltrated the executive branch of our government. It is paid in the Wall Street banker Rubinites under Bill Clinton who deregulated the banking and financial industries and were the architects of the 07-08 economic collapse. It is paid in the same Rubinites who reaped unimaginable fortunes off the misery of average Americans after their banking corruption and fraud caused the collapse. The price is paid in the torture regime of Cheney and Rumsfeld in the George W. Bush administration. It is paid in the 5 trillion dollars spent on wars perpetrated by the lies of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and other high ranking government officials. The price is paid as the corporately directed Obama administration rams through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime, and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) which end any pretense of democracy in America or elsewhere.
The price is paid in the drug money laundering of the Wachovia branch of Wells Fargo and other Wall Street banks. It is paid in the 125 million dollar golden parachute given to Carrie Tolstedt, the senior vice president of Wells Fargo who oversaw the corrupt looting of the bank’s customers and the public in general. The price is paid in the multimillion dollar bonuses paid to Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, LLoyn Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, and the CEO’s of several other Wall Street banks for the endless crimes of fraud and corruption their institutions have been “fined” for since the economic collapse.
One could go on and on with the ways in which the people of America are being plundered. In and of itself it is a dismal picture. But to fight back we must understand what is happening. America is under attack, and it is not by terrorists. We are under attack by a predatory international corporate/financial monstrosity that knows no borders and respects no bounds. We are being colonized. Yet in the midst of all of this there cause for great hope. The prescient words of Buckminster Fuller say it well:
If I had not been studying and working for a half-century on the assumption that this present state of affairs would come about at about this moment in history, I would have to be very pessimistic now about the human affairs of the 7 percent of the world’s population situated within the national boundaries of the U.S.A. let alone critically threatened omnihumanity.
But, in fact, I have been studying and working anticipatorily throughout all those intervening fifty-three years, and I know what I am talking about. The world now has an option to become comprehensively and sustainingly successful—for all—and that is what this book is about. – – Critical Path, 1981
Part XX will discuss: SOLUTIONS