Opinions of Peter Belmont
Speaking Truth to Power

Counting our (American democratic) blessings

by Peter A. Belmont / 2011-12-02
© 2011 Peter Belmont


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We here in the USA live in really wonderful times, and we should all be giving thanks, even if Thanksgiving is a few days past, for all our blessings.

We should not thank the #OCCUPY protesters, who after all seek to foment class warfare of the 99% against the 1%—most unthinkable and indeed unpardonable of social solecisms in what we are told is the classless society of the USA. After all, in the USA everyone can be a millionaire (nowadays a billionaire) if she but try hard enough!

So, rather than praise the #OCCUPY movement, we should be giving thanks to the splendid system of governance we have—yes! right here in the USA—thanks particularly to the very kind and solicitous care the 1% have been taking of every one of us, whether we asked them to or not!

(I know, the USA is supposed to be a democracy, so we should only receive manifold blessings if we ask for them democratically—this business of waiting to be given them at the ever solicitous hands of our ever-thoughtful oligarchs is a bit un-American in style.)

But, you know, democracy is such a bad way of governing, even if some have humorously said, that it is bad except compared to every other way. People are so stupid, after all, and vote for the oddest of reasons not connected to their own good and definitely not connected to my good! Surely oligarchy is better, no? And the good news is that indeed it is!

Consider the benefits that all Americans enjoy at the very kind hands of: BIG ARMS[1] (so solicitous of world peace and reducing the USA’s annual deficit and ballooning total debt); BIG BANKS (so solicitous of financial equality, safe mortgages, loans to get the economy re-started again[2]); BIG OIL (so solicitous of environmental health of the world, of ending oil spills, protecting polar and other wildlife, and ending the threat of global warming[3]); BIG PHARMA (so solicitous of making drugs cheap enough for people to afford to stay well[4]); etc.

I’ve talked to some of the #OCCUPY folks about this and asked them why they persist in denouncing the 1% in face of all this manifest and manifold benevolence. And they give a very strange, a really un-American—to say nothing of ungrateful—reply.

The #OCCUPY folks[5] say this.

American constitutional governance depends on the ability of the people to select a government responsive to their wishes (misguided as their wishes may well be). We call this “democracy”. It is not a reality but a constitutional ideal, to be strived after and, with luck, attained.

But for many years, those who would be oligarchs (as, today, they are in fact) said to themselves, ”This system of democracy is so tiresome. Whoever invented it? It prevents us from doing easily what we’d like to do smoothly. Let’s be inventive and find a way around it.” (They said this to themselves; I was not there; but I have it on the authority of usually reliable sources that THIS is exactly what they said, in private, to each other. Word for word. You betcha!)

So, at first, they decided to pour money into lobbying—so the federal and state administrative agencies would do what they wanted instead of what the legislatures had directed them to do.

And then they began giving hugely to political parties and candidates’ campaigns. How? Well, when it was legal, they gave by direct corporate donation. But when that was illegal, they gave by giving enormous salaries and bonuses and perks to their top employees—yes, dears, CEOs are “employees” even if, well, never mind—with the understanding that these “employees”, now transformed into vastly wealthy individuals—who owned large holdings in the shares of the corporations and could be counted upon to advance the interests of the corporation’s stockholders—would use their vast individual (but, mark well!, non-corporate) wealth to make contributions to political parties and political candidates’ campaigns. Of course, they also did favors for politicians like providing very-very-very highly paid jobs to politicians themselves when they retired from electoral office and to their wives, children, parents, “cousins, whom [they] reckon[ed] up by dozens, and their aunts”,[6] etc., even sooner.

And this strategy paid off! Oh, yes.

All those politicians began to accumulate all this campaign money and then, what do you suppose, campaigns became more expensive[7] and politicians had to spend more and more time in raising funds for the next electoral campaign so that they soon had little time left over for tending to the people’s wishes or the people’s good as the theory of electoral office—now laughably—imagines they would spend full time doing.

Well, that was OK, because the big political-donors very kindly—very kindly indeed!—agreed to draft the legislation for the politicians, saving them the trouble and expense of analyzing and understanding the issues, weighing pros and cons, weighing the “good” of the 99% against that of the 1%, etc. Indeed, the corporations even drafted the draft legislation and, often, saved the elected legislative politicians the trouble of even reading the draft legislation! What a savings for the politicians! A gift fallen from heaven, surely—or up from somewhere else—but who was looking?

And once the politicians were used to voting for legislation they had never read, it was easy to put all kinds of things into the legislation! Loopholes to save corporations tax expenses! Provisions in military appropriations bills to allow the USA’s military to capture and lock up anyone they like, anywhere in the world, and hold the captive without charge or trial indefinitely—as has been passed by the USA’s Senate, Oh! yes![8]—which might not have been passed if the Senators had read the bill, or so you’d dearly like to think!

And now, the United States Supreme Court, in its “Citizens United” decision, has ever so wisely (and ever so scrupulously in carefully considering both the text and the spirit of the Constitution, in which the word “corporation” does not appear) decided that the right to “free speech” allows corporations to speak as much as they like about any topic including political topics, normally achieving such “speech” by purchasing very expensive advertising time on TV and radio.

What a gift, and what a simplification! Corporations may, if they like, directly campaign for candidates at the primary stage so that no candidate will make it to the party conventions unless she is acceptable to the corporations! And the election, when it comes, can be fairly guaranteed to be between two candidates who are both, and equally because totally, committed to the duties imposed on them by these big owners donors.

Politics, like everything else in America, has become a commodity, and is for sale to the highest bidder—not that the corporations must bid very high, because they do not bid against each other but only against the penniless 99%. And the benefits they derive from these comparatively small “donations” (or “rent” as some call them) are comparatively large, even vast. I have estimated that BIG-ZION (AIPAC and friends) get a $3B/yr gift to Israel, from the public fisc, in return for a gift of (I estimate) no more than $0.5B (and not a gift to the public fisc, either, but to the politicians who expend it in the “public interest”.

All this is exactly as it should be. It is democracy precisely as the founding fathers—who must be deemed to have foreseen the wealth of the modern corporation!—thought they were providing when they wrote their ever-entertaining constitution. “The best Congress that money can buy” as Will Rogers said so many years ago, but he had seen nothing like today![9]

Well, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and that you gave appropriate thanks for America’s blessings under the modified-modernized-spiffed-up “democratic” system we now enjoy. Because it’s given us a lot and much to be thankful for.

Come to think of it, without this “democratic” system, we’d have had no #OCCUPY movement, and that is as entertaining as anything else these days!

But the USA looks down on entertainment—other than Hollywood’s—and rescue from the threat of entertainment by the #OCCUPY folks is already in place! Never fear, the USA is ready to repel all boarders, to protect against any threat. Thus, the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper-spray against #OCCUPY protesters (assumed for reasons of administrative convenience to be terrorists, it seems, by USA police forces, who appear to have learned so many valuable security lessons from Israel including how to treat ordinary citizens freely associating and freely speaking to petition their government for redress of grievances) comes as a welcome assurance of the USA’s devotion to the safety of the citizens, the very 99% whom #OCCUPY derisively claim to represent and to seek to protect from our ever-generous benefactors, the 1%, the above-described BIGs, the oligarchs.


[1] Not the military-industrial-complex that President Eisenhower warned us of, but the much bigger military-industrial-Congressional-university-media-thinktank-complex that in fact spends us into what often, but surely mistakenly, feels like bankruptcy!


[2] Even if that re-start seems stalled since 2008.


[3] Although, to be scrupulously honest, the continued use of fossil fuels, including oil, is a prime contributer to the end of civilization as we know it global warming


[4] Although also responsible for drugs so expensive that Congress had to provide a bankrupting “donut-hole” in the Medicare drug reimbursement scheme through which many of our impoverished (Shh!) elderly fall rather precipitously, even if they fall with fulsome thanks on their lips for our ever-benevolent oligarchy.


[5] They claim to represent the 99% in this!


[6] ”Pinafore”, by Gilbert and Sullivan.


[7] campaigns became more expensive, vastly so, because we wisely allowed TV stations and radio stations to charge whatever they liked for political advertising in spite of the fact that they were broadcasters at all only from the gift—from the people—of valuable wavelengths, channels, without which they could not broadcast at all.


[8] ”November 29, 2011:
A fast-moving defense authorization bill in the Senate would grant police powers to the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and legal aliens suspected of aiding terrorists anywhere in the world including on U.S. soil without charges or the right to a trial in the criminal justice system.”Alternet


[9] Mark Twain took a decidedly different view, saying, “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” and “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.”

  DICKERSON3870  2011-12-02
  RE: Counting our (American democratic) blessings . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...... ALSO SEE: The New Authoritarianism: From Decaying Democracies to Technocratic Dictatorships and Beyond, By James Petras, 11/28/11
(excerpt) We live in a time of dynamic, regressive, regime changes. A period in which major political transformations and the dramatic roll back of a half century of socio-economic legislation are accelerated by a prolonged and deepening economic crises and a world-wide financier led offensive. This essay explores major ongoing regime changes that have a profound impact on governance, the class structures, economic institutions, political freedom and national sovereignty. We delineate a two-stage process of political regression. The first stage involves the transition from a decaying democracy to an oligarchical democracy; the second stage currently unfolding in Europe involves the transition from oligarchical democracy to colonial-technocratic dictatorship...
ENTIRE ARTICLE - http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=17273

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