Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Relentless Force Crippling Our Economy, Dismantling Our Democracy

by Michael Payne

America is in no danger of invasion by any foreign power; no nation would dare to attempt it. But America is in great danger of falling under the control of a relentless force that is threatening it from within. This nation is currently under siege by a powerful entity that has already severely damaged our economy and now has its sights on the dismantling of our democracy.

That relentless force is Corporatism, typically defined as "a system of economic, political, or social organization that involves association of the people of society into corporate groups such as agricultural, business, ethnic or labor on the basis of common interests." That was a description of Corporatism when it existed in a relatively benign state.

That definition has now been updated to: "an association of giant corporations, the wealthiest and most influential Americans, and a large sector of our government." The common goal of these closely connected elements is the control and domination of this nation's agenda and direction.   Let's refer to the leaders of Corporatism as corporatists.

To illustrate what these corporatists are up to, let's take the 2008 recession and its aftermath and examine the underlying causative factors. It is generally accepted that this recession was largely caused by the collapse of the housing sector. Further, that the blame for the collapse is to be shared by homeowners who took on loans that they could not cover and mortgage lenders who were guilty of approving mortgages for buyers who were known to be unqualified.

But that reasoning doesn't go deep enough and the causative factors are much more extensive. Yes, the housing collapse was a large contributing factor and mortgage borrowers and lenders must share blame. But we also know that behind the façade that is presented by the mainstream media, Corporatism played a major role. The Wall Street manipulators were allowed to break or bend laws because the Congress had eliminated or watered down regulations and laws governing the financial sector.   That was Corporatism in action and it worked beautifully for its members -- but not the people.

In addition to the housing crisis there was a second, very important underlying factor that triggered the recession. When this nation entered the 21st century workers in America's manufacturing sector still had decent paying jobs that allowed them to enjoy a good lifestyle. But at that time giant corporations who employed millions of Americans were perfecting strategies by which to close plants, lay off their workers and reap the benefits of cheap foreign labor.

This is the point that millions of Americans got caught between a rock and a hard place. Many, who had purchased, expanded or refinanced homes lost their manufacturing jobs and became unemployed. They then could not pay their mortgages, defaulted, and millions had their mortgages foreclosed. These homeowners and workers of America took a terrible financial beating and many millions have yet to recover. Had they not had their jobs eliminated by corporations, it is very possible we might not have experienced a housing crisis.

While the work force was decimated those giant corporations, with the aid of the U.S. government, made out like bandits. When many of them whose reserves were below acceptable levels got into trouble and cried out for help, the Congress and the White House bailed them out, giving them generous loans with no conditions attached. These mega-corporations recovered and regained their profitability. And during the process none of them were brought to justice for financial crimes committed; their financial sins were forgiven.

At this point, most Americans are painfully aware of the depth of America's problems; they see a declining economy, a lack of jobs, more foreclosures on the way, a badly deteriorating education system, and a host of other problems; what they don't see is our government and our business sector doing anything of substance to solve them. That's because this consortium of corporatists is following an entirely different agenda, one that is designed to generate massive profits, not to solve problems.

How did the corporate world manage to acquire so much power and control over this government? How was that allowed to happen in this democracy?

While corporations were outsourcing jobs and manipulating mortgages they were also very active behind the scenes aggressively enlisting members of Congress to their cause. A lack of effective campaign finance laws allowed them to use their money, power and influence to gain control over a large portion of the members of both the House and the Senate. These shameless, pathetic political prostitutes were hooked, line and sinker, and did as they were told.

If our government were free of Corporatism's stranglehold, it could use Germany as the model for reinvigorating America's economy. Germany's manufacturing sector is strong; while U.S. manufacturing represents about 12% of GDP; Germany's is approaching 25%. Germany has established a partnership of trust between management and unions, it has kept intact a highly-motivated and skilled workforce; it uses a system of effective tariffs to protect its industries and, as a result, its manufacturing exports are growing. It is expanding its manufacturing sector, not destroying it.

On the other hand the U.S. does none of these things; it has taken the opposite direction that has had a massive detrimental effect on this country's ability to export. America, unlike Germany, has abandoned its workers, closed thousands upon thousands of plants and has done terrible damage to the critically important foundations of this nation. Corporatism is a morbid disease that has infected the body of America and continues to spread.

These corporate masters know that to achieve their objectives and maintain control of this Congress they have to continue to pour mega millions into the nation's elections so that their congressional lackeys will be reelected and politicians who dare to oppose their agenda will be taken down. The 2012 national elections could be the point at which our democracy and the government of the people are totally overwhelmed by the raw power of Corporatism.

Here is the dilemma that the people of America face. Currently there seems to be no way that these corporatists can be stopped. They have every intention of maximizing their profits by utilizing foreign slave labor and fighting any attempts by any element of this government to create American jobs. They further intend to use monumental amounts of corporate money to control these elections. And as they pursue this agenda the dangers to our democracy grow exponentially.

But while this treacherous agenda is being carried out let's not give the American people a pass and absolve them of all responsibility for what is happening. In this extremely dire situation you would think that Americans who can readily see what is going on would be reacting with a sense of collective outrage.   It's as if a dark cloud of silence and submissiveness has descended upon this nation and is forcing the vast majority of Americans into a state of malaise and helplessness, preventing them from venting their anger and frustration.

It's become very evident that the majority of more than 300 million Americans are doing little to nothing to address and deal with this dangerous situation. The Occupy Movement is a positive step in the right direction but it is miniscule compared to what is needed. And the corporatists who are facilitating this takeover of our democracy are taking full advantage of this lack of dissension. They are so confident of their hold on this nation and its people that they are not even trying to hide what they are doing.

What can people do? Lots of things. Refuse to listen to the overwhelming number of commercials that will dominate the airwaves as these elections heat up. Don't ever listen to Faux News and the other right wing media windbags who spew forth the propaganda of Corporatism. Become aware of the issues by reading the opinions of those respected journalists who have the courage to tell the truth and present the facts.

There is still time. The tremendous power of the people still exists; if it is exercised there is no question that this highly dangerous specter of Corporatism looming over America can be neutralized. But if that power remains dormant, if the people remain silent and submissive, then they will wake up one day to find that their democracy is no more.

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