Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Elephant in the Room: Capitalism



The economy. Income disparity. Spending. Taxes. The debt ceiling. Defense. Terrorism. Unemployment. Health care. Immigration. Education. The Environment.



The issues in the upcoming 2012 U.S. presidential election are legion. The dozen I’ve enumerated could be greatly expanded.
But, until the elephant in the room is acknowledged, there’s little-to-no chance that the United States and its people can move forward toward true prosperity.

The elephant in the room (in case you haven’t noticed) is capitalism.

Capitalism is a broken system. It simply doesn’t work in the long run. It can be modified, but it can’t be fixed.

Under capitalism as we know it, corporations are endowed with super powers. They are far more powerful than any citizen. The laws of incorporation grant corporations eternal life and protect their leadership from personal responsibility for the actions.

Today’s activist United States Supreme Court has sounded the death knell for capitalism by its Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission decision that corporations are “persons” who may spend a limitless amount of money to influence our elections in the name of “free speech” for these “persons.”

Corporations, of course, are not natural persons as our country’s founders clearly understood. Corporations, under law, are required to put profit above all else. As mentioned, corporations are eternal; natural persons are not eternal.

The biggest problem with capitalism is this: It requires that corporations put profits above all else -- and that is supported by corporate law. This means that if General Electric or Exxon or Bank of America makes $40 billion in profits this year they must (to keep increasing the value of their stock) make $50 billion next year and $60 billion the year after -- and on and on and on until they make $100 TRILLION and then even more the following year. This escalation of profits demands more and more mergers and acquisitions and is, ultimately, unsustainable! Corporate America will soon end up with ALL THE MONEY there is -- and nothing will be left for anyone else!

A movement is under way to amend the U.S. Constitution not to end capitalism but simply to reverse the present court’s outrageous decision. Amending the Constitution is a long and arduous task and fraught with roadblocks, but there have been precedents for success in such an endeavor.

A Constitutional convention would be another option, which I would oppose because of the likelihood that such an effort would be expanded to seek further amendments that would be detrimental to our democracy.

Still another possibility exists to correct the injustice forced upon us by the present politically biased Supreme Court. That is, the eventual presidential appointment of new Supreme Court justices – and their confirmation in the U.S. Senate – who recognize the disastrous consequences of the present court’s unwise decision.

                                                * * *


The Roberts Court, 2012 Above:
Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nov. 2: The Day 'Hope and Change' Died



November 2, 2010 – ‘Hope and change' died today.

President Barack Obama’s promise, so eloquently espoused throughout his 2008 campaign for the highest office in the land, succumbed to a slow death over the past two years. It was memorialized only one day after the 2010 mid-term elections with the president’s announcement that he now will seek “common ground” with the recalcitrant Republicans and with independents.

While President Obama can point to a long list of accomplishments in his first two years, notably the controversial and historic health care bill, his failed strategy of bending over backwards to appease Republicans has put a quick end to many Americans’ dreams of “hope and change.”

Now President Obama has abandoned his call  for “hope and change” in favor of more appeasement of Republicans, who for two entire years have consistently worked to block virtually every one of his initiatives. Republicans, even now, continue to promise to attempt to repeal his health care legislation and to reverse other government programs.

If President Obama naively believes that Republicans will negotiate and cooperate over the short time before the new Congress takes office -- or even throughout the next two years of his presidency -- he, and the next Congress, is doomed.
 
For Democrats, who now have lost their best opportunity for progress (a Democratic president), “hope and change” is dead and all but buried.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Corporate Cash May Steal Election Day Prize

Corporate cash – lots of it – is striking fear in the hearts of more than a few Democratic candidates.

Those Democrats who would ordinarily fend off outlandish, misleading , scandalish attacks by otherwise weak opponents seem to be hiding behind the barricades as the opening campaign guns begin to roar.



2010 United States Supreme Court

Why?


Money. Corporate money!


Think Citizens United v. FEC.


Now that corporations can – and will – give unlimited, unaccountable money to Republican, right wing candidates (and those carrying their Tea Party banners) many Democrats are frozen with fear of the tsunami of misleading ads that will be heading their way.


The combination of overwhelming financial backing by the corporate giants, made possible by the unwise and unjudicial misstep by the five conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the right wing knack for witty, denigrating, misleading political 30-second TV ads, has the Democratic candidates and the party’s leadership in a pique.


OpenSecrets.org reports that 33 organizations – known as super PACS -- have registered with the Federal Election Commission their intention to raise unlimited sums for independent expenditures for either the left or the right.



Riding the wave created by the high court’s gift of “personhood” and “free speech” as if they were flesh and blood – these corporations only marginally moderated by the angry reaction of their customers and the lesser ability of unions to make similar contributions – will undoubtedly find more subtle ways to funnel financial support to their more friendly allies.

You can bet the corporate contributions will have a very undemocratic influence over the upcoming mid-term elections. Similar contributions from unions and others with smaller bankrolls than the world’s most cash-rich corporations are unlikely to offer any real competition.

Unless and until the present five U.S. Supreme Court right wing activist justices are replaced with more moderate justices, the future of elections in America will remain under a grave threat. Citizens United v. FEC must be reversed.






Friday, March 19, 2010

Health Care Vote Threatens Political Tsunami

 
When the present health care battle comes to its untimely conclusion this week in Congress the ongoing tug-of-war between angry right wing Republicans and disheartened left wing Democrats will not only go on unabated – whichever way the vote goes -- but threatens a political tsunami that could spell disaster for President Barack Obama throughout his term of office.
If the vote goes President Obama’s way Democrats across the nation will celebrate a hard-fought victory while Republican outrage will insure the most acrimonious congressional campaign in many decades throughout this summer and fall. Should congress fail to approve the health care plan, jubilant Republicans will declare Obama a failed president and redouble their efforts to prevent him and the majority Democrats from achieving any success on any of their proposals.
Wise Republicans understand, however, that health care reform has already failed. True reform, which would create a universal single-payer health care system that covers everyone in America, has been unceremoniously defeated. The so-called public option also has gone by the boards.
Whichever way the vote goes, insurance companies and health care corporations are the big winners. The capitalist system prevails. Private insurers not only maintain their monopoly over healthcare but get a bigger piece of the pie – some 30,000,000 new customers with little or no requirements to keep premiums at reasonable rates. Millions of additional taxpayer and premium dollars will go to private corporations – or should I say “persons” considering the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (Aren’t “persons” supposed to have a “birth certificate?”)
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat with strong health care credentials, and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader have vigorously criticized the health care bill, but the Ohio congressman has nevertheless announced he will vote for the bill although it’s not the bill he wanted. Nader remains adamantly opposed to it. A vote is expected on the bill on Sunday.
President Obama points out that the bill includes a provision that would ban insurers from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions. It also would prevent insurers from denying coverage or impose limits on care when a person becomes ill. It would require free preventive care and allow children to remain on their parents’ health plan until the age of 26.

“The insurance industry would run amok" if the vote fails, Obama said.

So would the Republican opposition to the president and his efforts to bring back American jobs and reinvigorate the economy.