Thursday, September 8, 2011

OUR GREAT DEMOCRACY THAT ISN’T


September 8, 2011

We keep telling the world ours is the most democratic country and it’s not. We want others to follow our example and they’re resisting mightily and who can blame them.
They see the way we live and they want our jeans and our music, our fast food and our ideas but they don’t want our freedom because it isn’t.
One percent of our people own nearly half the country’s wealth. And 99 percent get the other slice. Is there something wrong with this picture? How about five percent own two thirds, which is the latest figure that came out this spring. That doesn’t leave much for the us that’s the 95 percent. So...
Question:
How are we different from all those dictatorships where a few big boys at the top hog just about all the country’s wealth? And how, frighteningly, are we different from those countries where the people are so fed up with this unacceptably unjust imbalance that they’re in open revolt?
Egypt, Libya, fine. But that could never happen here, could it. “This is America.” Yet the chasm between our rich and our poor continues to open up alarmingly - a recipe for the same kind of uprising they’ve been seeing in the Middle East.
It starts with the young, the students, who have a clear view of the bleak future that awaits them. They see a system that’s mortgaged itself into eternity at an extortionate rate that credit-card companies would give a right arm to match. Not their own, of course, someone else’s right arm. Yours. Mine.
One day we’ll wake up and realize we’ve been duped; that those smug politicians with the insincere pasted-on smiles have always been part of the self-serving elite. Those who feed the billionaires and the giant corporations and in turn are fed by them; and all at our expense and to the detriment of us the people .
These guys keep lassoing us to the election booth with cute-sounding slogans like “lower taxes” and “less government” and “creating jobs”. Who doesn’t want that? Lower taxes? Sure, I’d vote for that. But they don’t mean for us – just for the corporations and the Already Wealthy.
We’re paying for these guys’ further enrichment with our jobs, with our homes, with food and medicine costs we can’t meet...
At the voting booth we’ve given a choice between this grinning babykisser or that one. Oh, and they’re always well-heeled because to run for office in the good old USA you have to have moolah behind you: if not your own cash, then that of some special interest or other that’ll back you.
So the USA isn’t a democracy, it’s a moneyocracy, where I always thought Pluto-crats were rich dogs. But the delicious pratfall of eBay’s former CEO, the cocky Meg Whitman, was a joy to behold: she wasted $141 million of her own money in a failed bid to buy the California governorship. Sorry lady: that state wasn’t for sale.
Bush spent over $345 million to get himself elected in 2000 and $457 million four years later. Obama spent $750 million. Why so eager, guys? The job only pays $400,000.
They’re already raking it in for next year’s tussle, both sides enjoying financial backing from major business interests, be they lawyers and labor unions or oil and health industry concerns.
With no big finance behind him, what chance has Joe the plumber - and I don’t mean that kwazy kartoon kawicature Samuel ‘Joe The Plumber’ Wurzelbacher (NB: Wurzelbacher) guy, one-time darling of the tea party. A real Joe might have the best idea about how to run this country but his voice will never be heard. There are only two Money Megaphones and they’ve been grabbed by the reds and the blues.
They say anyone can be president but that ain’t the truth. Let’s tell that story honestly to the rest of the world and to our own people: anyone with tons of money behind him can be president. It’s the biggest spender. How is that democracy at work? And where’s our freedom in the Land Of The Free?
How different are we from the suppressed unfortunates whose communist dictatorships hogged it all? Or those in the Middle East, mugged by their despotic leaders?
Capitalism? Of course yes to that. But not to runaway capitalism sans restraint. Without any checks at all the leviathans of the business community squash everything and everyone underfoot. Profits before people. What a vulgar way to live: we’re all slaves to our dictator, the Mighty Dollar and its carnivorous lieutenants.
Whenever I find I’ve been taken for a sucker I’m so livid with myself that in order to regain self-respect I yearn to get back at those who fooled me. Call it pride. One day we’ll all wake up and realize we’ve been duped. Used. Conned. And boy, will we be angry, just like the Egyptians and the Brits.
Let’s hope it’s all bloodless.

ENDIT
© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.