Saturday, July 18, 2015

Taking Pause to Ponder the State of our Nation

This post unfortunately is not a terribly upbeat, but I promise to write more positive posts in the months to come as we approach, what I deem as probably the most important election of my lifetime.


I am taking pause as I have been prone to do quite frequently these days.  I am pondering the direction our country is taking and it is quite troubling to me indeed.  


This world we are living in is uncertain, there is no disputing this fact.  We are being told to fear enemies that we do not understand based upon the word of our government and the mainstream media.  This mainstream media was entrusted to provide the American people with unbiased reporting of the events that stand to shape our lives, but they are failing.  We find them to be evermore sensationalistic.  They refuse to report on issues that are important to an informed citizenry in exchange for ever higher television ratings. Equal time has been pushed aside for partisan reporting which serves to give the viewers just what they want to hear when they want to hear it.


We have media on both ends of the political spectrum being used by political strategists to further their parties agendas.  We have well know examples on both sides of the political spectrum, Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left.  These two entities primarily fill their prime time television slots with talking heads that carry a particular party line as though it is gospel, regardless of the truth. Unfortunately the American public has not taken it upon themselves to try to discern fact from fiction.  Instead Americans have bought into these one sided story lines, with each side looking at the other as an adversary that must be defeated at any cost.


What most don’t realize is that the wealthy and powerful are sitting in their ivory towers laughing at the average man, laughing because their money has bought these once cherished institutions and we as consumers are believing exactly what their money wants them to say.


We have been “told” to believe that endless tax cuts are going to revitalize the economy and create jobs in this country, but if one looks at history, the most prosperous times in America were times where corporate and personal taxes on the wealthiest of us were highest.  Have we not seen that when our politicians who are bought and paid for by the most privileged of us enact substantial tax cuts they typically only benefit the richest individuals and corporations in our country.  The difference is then made up by taxing, at ever greater rates, those that can least afford it, the working poor and middle class.  It happens over and over again and then these same politicians tell you who to blame for your station in life.  This is their plan...to gradually hand over the reigns of this country to those with means, providing them with ever more wealth all the while destroying those that are their means to said wealth, the working poor and the middle class.


Then we have been convinced by right wing politicians and the right wing media that America’s labor unions are evil, look at what has been done by Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin.  He has justified his assault on labor unions by making it illegal for unions to collect dues from non-union workers working in a union environment. He has turned his state into a “right-to-work” state in spite of lobbying done by Wisconsin’s workers.  Workers in these states now have little protection from being victimized by their employers.  


What most people today don’t realize is that union on not, the rights that you have as a worker in this country today are because of our labor unions. Just think of your 40 hour work week, workplace safety and child labor laws and say thank you to your local labor union, they are responsible for these and much more.. What is unfortunate is that our memory in this country is short.  If you think that the labor rights that unions have afforded us won’t be reversed over time by those that stand to benefit most, the wealthy, then you are living in a fantasy world. Workers rights are not in the corporation's best interest so why would they voluntarily choose to keep rules in place that would benefit you and me...it costs them money.  And lets face it, profits are their only motive in this distorted capitalist system that we live in.  Sadly, workers are backing in droves these union busting politicians at the expense of the own livelihoods, this makes no sense, but it is none-the-less happening across this country.


Next we have the takeover our our election process.  The brothers Koch are set to spend close to a billion dollars both directly and indirectly during the 2016 election cycle.  Please, please do not think for a second that they don’t expect to receive something in return. They are counting on convincing, or better put perhaps, brainwashing enough Americans to vote for candidates that they have paid for through their campaign contributions.  These candidates you can bet, are willing to propose and or back legislation that is favorable to their interests and it is very likely that their interests will not align with yours. You are fooling yourselves if you think that they can relate to your life, they cannot. The Koch’s and other of their ilk are spending voraciously to influence the outcomes of our elections.  Many of the ads that you see and hear are paid for in full or in part by these members of the billionaire class all thanks to the Citizens United decision made by the Supreme Court.


On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.


The primary group working to overturn this ruling via a Constitutional amendment is movetoamend.org whose statement of purpose is:


“We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.  The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.”


It is not fiction, nor a conspiracy theory put out into the media by liberals that the wealthy and corporations are buying our elections, it is a fact based on this and other rulings by our very own Supreme Court.  


Regardless of your political persuasion, you cannot possibly believe that our founding fathers ever intended for corporations to be considered on equal footing with you and I.  Corporations are simply legal entities that can be created and dissolved by the state, they are not living breathing beings.  That being said, common sense should dictate that corporations should have no access to our election system and certainly should have no part in influencing an election’s outcome.  They should not be able to make contributions to any campaign either directly or through political action committees (PACs) as large sums of money contributed by these entities tend to corrupt the election process.  As a result, even the most well intentioned politician becomes beholden to these behemoths.


Lastly, I would like to touch on the awful trade agreements that the United States has signed such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the currently “top secret” TPP agreement that President Obama is negotiating.  Every one of these trade agreements has contributed to American jobs being shipped overseas.  We have given unfair advantage to foreign nations by eliminating or reducing tariffs so substantially in America, that we can no longer compete with foreign manufacturers. These agreements are being urged once again by American corporations.  


Take a moment and think about it, who is it that would benefit the most from these agreements? It is not the American worker as they are the ones suffering from the fallout of these trade agreements, they are the ones losing their jobs, they are the ones who become the long term unemployed or underemployed.  It is corporations and the wealthy that benefit most.  These entities can have their goods produced overseas in countries where employees are paid pennies a day, work 12 hour workdays and have no protections.  Beholden only to their shareholders, they will do whatever it takes to increase profits regardless of who gets hurt in the process.


I could continue on with other examples of what I consider to be contributing to the downfall of America, but I think I have made my point.


We spend this past 4th of July celebrating by barbecuing, drinking and enjoying fireworks in honor of America’s independence, but this America is not what the founding fathers could have ever imagined.  We have given our freedom and independence away to corporations and the wealthy on a silver platter.  So many of us vote against our own best interests just as the elite hoped we would do.  We have become a nation of Zombies, contributing to our own destruction through our disinterest in the political process.  We no longer read in an attempt to try to understand the issues that plague this country, instead we watch and listen to partisan news never taking the time to hold them the least bit accountable.


Do not read this and assume that I don’t love my country, I do in fact love my country deeply, I’m just not proud of the direction that we have been heading over the last 30+ years

I am taking time to mourn all that we have already lost and all that we have yet to lose.  I will however, hope that Americans will wake up and realize that this coming Presidential election is about more than just electing a President, it is about the potential appointment of 3 to 4 Supreme Court justices and ultimately the survival of our Republic.  It is entirely possible that we will hand the billionaire class the keys to the kingdom if we don’t wake up and realize that they are fleecing America for their own benefit.  If we don’t stand up to these behemoths before it is too late, we will have no one to blame, but ourselves.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments in general regardless of whether you agree or not, just please be civil as I enjoy having intelligent conversations with my readers.