Friday, February 10, 2012

The Business of America is Equality, not Business.

Okay, so back in 1925, a guy named Calvin Coolidge is reported to have said, “The Business of America is Business.” But that is not the case. The actual statement was: "After all, the chief business of the American people is business." However, Coolidge goes on to say that, "Of course the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence." So the 30th President of the United States is continuously misquoted by historians and the press, when the actual quote is available to anyone with a web browser. I wonder why that is?

The same is true of the often misquoted line from Timothy in the New Testament, “Money is the root of all evil.” In fact, the statement is : “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV.) I guess something gets stuck in our heads and we just keep repeating it. Or is it something else, something a bit more insidious?

Now, I'm not going to start some great conspiracy theory of the Illuminati or some other secret group that is dedicated to keeping the lower classes in their place. But you have to wonder why thoughts like these are constantly put in our heads. I mean if you take the misquotes as ideals of capitalism, then we must be out of our minds to continue as capitalists. Especially when you consider that money is power in our modern world. An accurate quote from Baron John Acton is:”Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” The baron was speaking of monarchies at when he said this, but the saying can be applied to wealth in this century. And the evidence is abundant.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is the latest step of the wealthy and privileged to exert their power in the form of Political Action Committees, or PACs, over the poor by claiming the right to act as private citizens under the First Amendment. This flawed decision means a corporation can spend as much money as it chooses to promote the candidate of their choice, regardless of the qualifications or political affiliation of the candidate. Wealthy individuals as well, although barred by Federal Election rules from making single massive contributions to a candidate, can now give without limitation to these PACs. At the very least, this places the candidates who do not favor corporate policies at a disadvantage, since they will not receive the same funding as the favored candidates. At worst, this allows the wealthy and the corporations to inevitably place a stranglehold on the U. S. Congress that will lead to the only benefits for the wealthy and nothing for the poor.

Am I being an alarmist? Hardly. If you look at the trends around the country to curtail the rights of workers and the middle class, you can see the signs. We now have 23 states with Right To Work laws, laws that prevent unions from building their funds to fight unfair management practices. The argument is that unions are no longer needed to defend workers because the NLRB and OSHA are government agencies with the purpose of protecting labor. But a closer examination of this argument shows these agencies are simply administrative and have no real power to intervene. Their recommendations end at congress, if the corporation is unwilling to accept them, and if the congress is filled with corporate elected representatives, I am sure you can imagine what will happen to those recommendations.

So the bottom line to all this? We need to elect men to office who are willing to re-balance the laws of this nation to level the field for all. In order to do this, three fundamental goals must be accomplished.

1. Term limits must be imposed on all members of congress. Career politicians are much more subject to corruption and are much harder to catch. They learn the “ins and outs” of accepting PAC and Special Interest money without being caught. They learn to deceive, and once they learn that, someone has something over their head. To quote the plaque on Colson's wall during the Nixon administation, “When you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”
2. The Citizen's United ruling must be overturned. Whether this be by an amendment to the Constitution specifically limiting the rights of the individual to mean the individual citizen, or by an attorney who is capable of arguing this through the Supreme Court, the idea of Corporate Personhood needs to be eliminated.
3. Eliminate the tax shelters and Social Security caps for the wealthy. It seems to me unconscionable those who have benefited most from living in a free nation by the labor of those who have provided their income are unwilling to contribute their fair share of revenues. Exercising our legal right to tax fairly, and eliminating caps on Social Security earnings for the individual will not significantly affect the lifestyle of the wealthy, but it will help this nation to provide vital services which are in danger of being cut to the millions of Americans who need them.

There are other issues to be addressed, but these three will level the field, and return us to what the founders intended … A Citizen Government!

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