By this time next week two things will be true that are not true right now:
First, the year will have changed from 2011 to 2012, and second, the Iowa caucus will be history. It is widely believed that subsequent to the Iowa caucus, Rick Santorum will drop out of the race for republican 2012 nominee for president if he doesn’t do well. If he does drop out, it will happen because running for national elective office is exceedingly expensive, and candidates, whose political campaigns are funded primarily by private and corporate campaign contributions, will not spend their own money unless they have a very good expectation of winning. Rick Santorum does not that that expectation.
Rick Santorum was a lawyer who served as a republican congressman from Pennsylvania in the US House of Representatives for four years and also served as a US senator for two terms, but in this case he is just an example of the type of people that are in congress, from a financial point of view. That is, members of congress have become part of the 1% that the Occupy Wall Street have been protesting against.
In 1984, the net worth of the average Americans was $20,648. In 2009, that net worth, adjusted for inflation, actually declined to $20,500. In contrast, the net worth of members of the US House of Representatives over the same time period rose from $280,000 to $725.056! Interestingly, the republicans in congress always seem to have a higher net worth than democrats! More detailed data is available HERE, but the chart below summarizes it pretty well:
Sources: Center for Responsive Politics; Census Bureau; DW-Nominate database on Voteview.com; staff research.
Although this increasing divide between the “haves” and “have nots” is not endemic just to the USA, the problem in this country is made particularly bad by two factors:
First, political campaigns in the USA are NOT publicly funded. If they were exclusively publicly funded, then corporate greed could not buy an election through campaign contributions. The candidates would thus be more apt to concentrate on real issues and policies as opposed to spending massive sums of corporate funding to bash each other.
But in the USA political campaigns are funded primarily by private/corporate campaign contributions, as noted earlier. A candidate with the financial resources to run hourly television campaign ads bashing the opposition will eventually sway voters who are too stupid or too lazy to research the truth. This is the basic principal of propaganda that was used so effectively in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s by Joseph Goebbels .
The second factor is that the campaign season in the USA is easily at least a year and a half long, based upon when the politicians start their political propaganda programs and the media begins to pay attention to them.
It’s all about money, and one of the basic tenets of capitalism is that the free market should be free to do whatever it wants to increase its maximize profits. Expenses eat away at profit, and thus must be minimized at all costs by preventing and eliminating business regulation. Business does that by funding certain corporate-friendly candidates so they will get elected and pass laws that encourage free market practices and reduce and/or eliminate all market regulation. The candidates the corporate interest back most often have accumulated their own business fortunes and thus have a vested interest in protecting their continued access to the totally-regulation-free market. The ultimate vicious cycle at work.
Put another way, the American political system has been hijacked by the American economic system, which has been hijacked by the American financial system, which has been hijacked by both corporate and private greed mongers, whom have hijacked congress and primarily (though not exclusively), the republicans in congress. At this point there are only two entities standing in their way:
1. The average voters, who unfortunately are not always the brightest bulbs on the tree, and
2. The Occupy Wall Street (or Occupy “Whatever”) bunch. The best, last hope for the economic well-being of the USA probably rests with the Occupy crowd. Why? Because contrary to the propaganda machine of the 1%, the Occupiers are not against wealth any more than Warren Buffet or his son Howard Buffett are; They are against greed and economic abuse of the “have nots” by the “haves”. They’re not afraid to publicly proclaim that the emperor has no clothes. All the propaganda in the world cannot overcome an unfrightened truth or the unfrightened folks willing to stand up for it.
Remember the Occupy Wall Street protesters camped out in Zuccotti Park in New York’s Wall Street financial district? Now imagine those folks camped out in the hallowed halls of Congress….
Oh, baby…. 🙂
Have New Year to everyone from WE, the PEOPLE!!