The Ultra-Rich are on the Wrong Side of History

ALEC, the artfully named American Legislative Exchange Council, is having its national
meeting today in Kansas City. Warren Buffett has no doubt found reason to be
out of town, lest his dinner and his equity-driven conscience be ruined. I don’t
mean ‘equity’ in the sense one might naturally attribute to Warren (as in
equity-investment), but in the more accurate sense of the last-man-standing
among the rich and famous who have a true sense of social equity. Buffett believes
it’s shameful that he pays 19% in taxes, while his staff swallows a 34% hit.
Good for him. He’s truly an American patriot and understands that a healthy
economy requires a healthy and thriving middle-class.

To understand what ALEC
is all about, one has only to parse the language of their acronym. They exchange legislation that favors their one-percent for money. Their annual meeting
is all about who to bribe by how much in order to achieve those
goals. According to Wikipedia, ALECprimarily consists of conservative state
legislators and private sector representatives,
” a tight little group that’s
sort of a Tea Party on steroids that “works
to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited
government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan
public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the
private sector and the general public.
Whatever the hell we have come to that
we now have a public-private partnership
bribing elected officials? It’s anybody’s guess. But that’s where we are in
today’s America and the Supreme Court is the official enabler, finding in case
after case that money has an equal-but-louder voice than the citizenry—which is
perfectly all right with them.
Thomas Jefferson had a word or two to say about that,
some 230 years ago and, as usual, his remarks are amazingly prescient:
“It can never
be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a
legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the
conclusion of this war (1776) we shall be going downhill. It will not then be
necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be
forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget
themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of
uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore,
which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us
long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire
in convulsion.”
Jefferson goes on to say:
liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around
us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’
because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the
rights of the individual.”
But Thomas Jefferson is not much in the
thoughts of the ‘conservative majority’ on today’s iteration of what is
supposed to be the highest court in the land. No matter that he had a steady
hand in that Constitution they claim to ‘preserve and protect.’ The ‘tyrant’s
will’ is being expressed in Kansas City on this 2nd of May in 2014,
folks and we are damned close to ‘expiring in convulsion.’
Too distracted by trying to find a job
among the smoldering ruins that have been left to us—and hoping the one we have
won’t disappear off-shore—we’re not in the streets with pitchforks and
barricades as we should be. But there’s a sweeping sense of things gone wrong, as student debt has
outpaced the combined total of all credit-card
debt held by individuals. The young may well be our last hope—those of us in
(or well past) our mid-thirties have lulled ourselves into this madness on easy
credit and the liar’s poker of trickle-down economics. These dudes in Kansas
City are hell-bent on all money trickling up
and what little government they have not yet bought, they intend to buy.
So, what are these bright young
graduates, who owe an average of $29,000 and 52% of whom cannot find jobs, up
to? They’re up to the OCCUPY movement, only a portion of which is OCCUPY Wall
Street. They support immigration reform, fair wages at Wal-Mart and McDonalds,
eliminating university investment in fossil-fuel energy, believe in labor
unions and an end to usurious credit charges. They are on the side of prison
reform, turning back the Supreme Court’s decision on unlimited corporate
spending, putting industrial agriculture’s feet to the fire, eliminating the
lobbyist-legislative revolving door and on Warren Buffett’s side in
establishing fair and equitable taxes for the wealthy, along with the
elimination of tax-havens for corporate giants.
They’re smart, well-educated and
organized. The bought-and-paid-for media would like you to think they’re discouraged
and turning away from the polling booth, but don’t believe it—they’re too angry
for that. Meanwhile, those conniving in Kansas City to take the last scrap of
meat off your and my table don’t even stop to realize the idiocy of their goal.
A thriving, growing, healthy economy requires
a robust middle class and a ladder to that middle class that still has some
rungs left in it.
They thirst in Kansas City, absolutely
drool over the financial possibilities of a rising middle class in China, while
conceding their own to the dustbin. America, until the last three decades, was
always its own best market and that market is increasingly unable to afford
anything but cheap crap made in China and food you couldn’t bear to see
processed. They’re poisoning our children with industrial agriculture,
off-shoring what is left to Mexico for cheap labor, fracking for natural gas
(and to hell with our fresh-water aquifers) and sending every job they can lay
their hands on to wherever is cheapest, in a death-spiral race to the bottom.
Collectively, while you worry at the ALEC
meeting over polishing your golden egg, you’re about to kill the goose.
Listen-up, guys, Wall Street is not a barometer of American economic
health, nor are the wobbly banks that purport to hold up—as in holdup and
getaway car–that fragile economy. The history of world powers is a tale of
eventual collapse. Collapse came slowly in the old days, but we’re in damned
bad shape and moving at warp-speed.
The ultra-rich (in Kansas City and
elsewhere) are on the wrong side of history.

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