Saturday, July 27, 2019

The US as an Oligarchy


Of course, as everyone knows by now, the US is an Oligarchy. We have a professional class of plutocrats who think they know better than we do about what we want and don't want from government. They've created a system that makes us dependent on them. They have, in fact, created the means by which they can bribe us with our own money. They've created a surveillance state and are awaiting the opportunity---be it real or manufactured---to impose a police state. But first, we'll have to demand it. "Do what" you say? We would never demand that government impose a police state on us. Well, yes we would, and here's how.

Imagine a situation where crime, especially violent crime, has gotten out of hand. Imagine an economy where good paying jobs are hard to come by because there are more workers than openings. As a result, people are willing to take less and less; benefits disappear and worker associations are either impotent or too afraid to act; they may work hand in glove with employers to maintain order. People become frustrated. They start protesting. Before long these protests turn into riots and looting becomes rampant. Crime increases.

The infrastructure collapses as a result of decades long neglect. There are more and more external threats to the nation, and those threats are spilling over the borders. Along with that, there's increased immigration; mostly illegally, which is not only bringing an ever greater stain on the economy but also diseases. Taxes are on the rise and there seems to be no end in sight. Government is corrupt. Once they at least tried to hide it. Now they don't even bother. They are bought and paid for by a handful of very wealthy individuals. Of course, they continue to talk like our opinions matter; like they are a part of the working class but the "Republic" is an illusion.

Pretty soon things are so bad that the people start demanding the government do "something". The people can no longer stand by and watch the Republic fail. And so the government does, or rather, those within the government. Think I'm talking about some future scenario? Nope. What I just described was Ancient Rome during the late Republic period; the same Rome which we based our political system on. This was Rome just before the arrival of the Caesars. So don't think it can't happen here.

So, what do we do? Well, we can do nothing and see what happens but that's rarely a good idea. Maybe we'll get lucky, but don't count on it. If we did, we'd be the first Republic to do so. I think that what we need to do is come together as Americans first. We have to put aside our differences, which are in reality relatively few. We need to see things as they are.

Most of our "differences" are manufactured to keep us at each other's throat and to prevent a united front. We have far more in common than not. Washington DC and the federal government is already a goner. It no longer represents us. It exists to serve the needed of the super wealthy and corporations. Instead, we have to start taking charge of our communities despite or in spite of local government.

That means we have to start supporting local businesses as much as possible. It means creating active block watches and neighborhood associations to address their own problems and do what they can without involving the government. Think of it as "self-governance". This would not only give them greater independence but would reduce government expenditures which should hopefully save tax money.

Since politicians can't be trusted with money, local governments should be subject of regular audits from outside auditors (ie: tougher to bribe). The citizens should also have the final say on any tax and rate increases, and that includes salaries and benefits for elected officials. There should mandatory transparency throughout government. Nothing behind closed doors unless it directly involves national security.

Along the same lines, government must stop corporate welfare. Period. These global corporations like Exxon and Bank of America should not get off the hook paying zero taxes. There should be a minimum tax that they must cut a check for. We must also reduce the red tape that it takes to own and operate small businesses. Small businesses have been the heart and soul of this country and our communities since the beginning. We can't lose that.

No company is "to big to fail" . Taxpayers should be bailing out corporations because of their poor (and usually greedy) business decisions. No more corporate owned political parties or politicians. That means ending Citizens United. Corporations are artificial entities, not "people". If they want to "say" something, they can buy adverting, but they shouldn't buy parties or politicians. As an aside, maybe we should also limit campaigns to 90 or 120 days. If you can't say what you need to that amount of time, then maybe you need to reevaluate your message.

We need to impose term limits as well. No more politicians for life, and when they leave, their salaries and benefits stop. No more professional politicians with lifetime salaries and perks. As for how long, 12 years is good round number. That's two 6 years terms for Senators and federal judges (including the Supreme Court); six 2 year terms of Representatives, and three 4 year terms for the President.

As for government paid security, the President and his/her immediate family along with the Vice President and immediate family should be entitled to Secret Service protection for the first six months out of office and that's all. After that it should be on them. It should go without saying that all laws passed by Congress should apply equally to them. No more set of laws for us and another for them. No more private pools, gyms or saunas, etc.

No more use of private corporate airplanes or corporate paid "fact finding" trips to some resort or golf course. By the way, this should apply to their staff as well. All conversations or interaction between professional lobbyists and government should be recorded and made public. In short, we need to put the "public" back in the term "public service" and try to restrict the corporate bribery as much as possible.

We also need to eliminate partisan gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the act of redistricting a given district by a political party in order to ensure that they remain in control of that district. This is nothing less than self-perpetuating incumbency which promotes partisan gridlock. Did you know that the old Soviet Politburo had a higher turnover rate than the US Congress? Sad but true.

Well, you can thank the lack of term limits, gerrymandering, and corporate influence for that. Another problem we need to address is the restriction of third parties and Independents form running. Since Ross Perot, the Democrats and Republicans have worked together to keep anyone other than the Status Quo out of debates and away from the money. Elections should not be based on the highest bidder.

Meanwhile, the corporate media tries to ignore them; denying them access (pretending that they aren't "legitimate" candidates") or treating them as if they're a sideshow. Indies and third parties should have the same access to the ballot as the two corporate parties; the same number of signatures, the same access to participate in debates and have media coverage.

Here's a trivia question for you. The US has been involved in "nation building" since the end of World War II. We've pumped tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars in helping build democracies around the world. So, how many countries have based their new governments on the US model? The answer is zero. Absolutely none. It's our rigged election system. It's the fact that only two sides are represented and in our "winner take all" system that means only one side is represented at a time.

For the rest of the world, the preferred form of democracy is based on the British Parliamentary system of government which allows for everyone to have a voice in government. Naturally, it has its flaws like any other political system, but at least it's more balanced and you have representation.

So where does that leave us? We have a never-ending "War on Terrorism" which keeps the economy chugging along; artificially stimulating the economy while lowering unemployment as "excess" population goes off to fight these wars which are all about gaining access to markets or resources. At home the government/corporate alliance attempts to manufacture disorder and hatred while spinning the story to fit their prescribed narrative.

In order to "protect" us, the police are militarized while government and their corporate partners in crime go into overdrive with their surveillance state (it's even marketed as "safe", "convenient" and "easy"). How cute. Millennials don't seem to care much about their privacy as long as they think they're getting something for free. The older generation, which aren't that familiar with today's technology to begin with, often go along blindly. However, there are a few resisters but soon enough people will be snared through laws that can force the remainder to comply.

Last year I came across several articles about employees voluntarily getting microchips put into the hand as a means of transporting their personal information, as well as potentially including our financial history (bank accounts and credit report, along with our medical history). How convenient. Here in the State's we're seeing the introduction of a "Smart" drivers license which may eventually serve the same purpose (in lieu of a drivers license, you can get a "Smart" photo ID) complete with facial recognition. Regardless, this is nothing more than a national ID similar to your average everyday totalitarian state; a electronic version of the passport Germans had to carry during WWII under the Nazis or the Communists beginning with ole "Uncle Joe" Stalin. I suppose there are pluses to consider.

It would be a convenient way to track your kids or seniors who occasionally wonder off. It would be more difficult to steal your personal information. Supposedly, it would make it easier to track down suspected terrorists (for some reason "Minority Report" just popped into my mind), and illegal immigrants.

They could also just as easily track our purchases and monitor which site we visit online, which they do already. These chips could control your increasingly "connected" life. Perhaps it could control your not-so-futuristic "Smart" home. Then again, it may be your home which controls you. I see it as simply an electronic leach. Call me old fashion but I'd like a little less "connectivity" and a little more personal privacy.



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