Thursday, October 15, 2009

Toward Corporatocracy

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

–W.B Yeats

By Steve Klinger
   The summer was all about what happens when a country is run by a greed-driven oligarchy that is able to tap into populist fear, anger and racism to advance its agenda – and block reform. Although polls have shown up to 75 percent of Americans support universal health care, it’s the other 25 percent, largely funded by moneyed special interests, who grab all the headlines with their hysterical obstructionism and wild accusations.
   Instead of a discourse on corporate healthcare rationing and the impending bankruptcy of the middle class, teabaggers and rabble-rousers scream incendiary rhetoric: socialism, Hitler, Maobama. The debate is deflected from the merits of fixing our broken healthcare system to a vitriolic assault on all things Democrat that leaves progressives and moderates alike in helpless confusion at this unexpected lack of civility from the right. Gosh, could there be violence?
   Congress as usual is gridlocked, with all the power residing in the corporate puppetmasters who pull the strings backstage while Max Baucus does his little tapdance. The Democrats, having already compromised with themselves, are poignantly begging for one Republican vote to get the most diluted of bills moving in the Senate. Also stalled are meaningful climate-change and financial-industry reform. The economy may be inching out of recession, but home foreclosures and unemployment rage on. The ice shelf keeps crumbling into the sea. Everybody knows what the problems are, but no one can accomplish a solution.
   It’s a good thing Americans are optimistic people because things are about to get a whole lot worse. Our glaring socioeconomic inequities and ongoing national paralysis are perhaps a few months away from taking a mortal body blow from the third branch of government – the Supreme Court. While the mainstream media have frothed over healthcare legislation, a SCOTUS case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, was reheard by the Roberts court in September, and the smart money says the conservative majority will overturn more provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act, allowing special interests to pour money more freely into campaign advertising, just in time for the 2010 elections and the 2012 presidential campaign (
   To put it succinctly, the Court is leaning heavily toward a ruling that puts the First Amendment protection of corporations on the same footing as that of individuals, rolling back some tight restraints on political spending by special interests. Instead of having to channel money through PACs to “soft-issue” advertising, corporations (and labor unions, among others) would be able to spend money on ads directly backing or opposing candidates. If the Court doesn’t just further loosen restraints but opens the floodgates, the millions now filtering into the healthcare debate from Big Pharma and Big Insurance would be a trickle compared to the frontal assault unleashed to help Republicans regain Congress and oust Obama.
   Forget public campaign financing, the sensible alternative practiced in most other advanced western nations, along with universal health care. (Do we see a pattern here?). Like single payer, that’s off the table in this country. Instead, we seem to be in a losing fight to hold onto what’s left of McCain-Feingold. If you think it’s frustrating right now that our leaders won’t do the people’s bidding on financial or healthcare reform, just wait and see what kind of “elected” government we have in a few years.
   Isn’t it ironic that so many humanoids who pass for citizens of American Dreamland are getting their panties in a knot calling Obama and the Democrats totalitarians? They will have a rude awakening when the fecal waste of their populist rhetoric hits the blades of the approaching corporate propeller.
   (Steve Klinger conducts and writes regularly on and is the founder of both the print and online versions of New Mexico's outstanding alternative information source, The Grassroots Press.

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