Tracking the Growth of American Authoritarianism

Income Inequality Worse Than 1928
The past year has been good to the Forbes 400, $800,000 more.
After WW II, we had a powerful middle class, then Reaganomics started their demise.

 

Suggested Reading Week Ending 7/20

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Excessive Corporate Intrusion Is a Major Factor in Maximizing Inequality

When FDR and LBJ passed laws which maximized equality by providing protections such as Social Security, the right to unionize, and medicare, corporations only saw added costs for doing business. While America helped rebuild the world after WWII, these costs were ‘acceptable’ since there was little competition from other nations. This barely acceptable situation became less so in the ’60s after the creation of the EPA and the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Eventually, corporate acceptance of all this higher overhead which helped equalize, protect and empower citizens, became a concern as Europe and Japan became economically competitive.

In response, the corporate attack on the laws of equality began. In 1971, Lewis Powell, a partner for over a quarter of a century at Hunton, Williams, Gay, Powell and Gibson, wrote a plan to start replacing representative governance with corporate governance and to increase inequality: The Powell Memo. Powell stated:

[The] American economic system is under broad [government] attack.

Business must learn the lesson … that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination—without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business. … Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.

Powell wrote this memo for his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The CofC then spread the memo to corporations across the nation. President Nixon nominated Lewis Powell as an associate justice on the Supreme Court a few months after he released the memo and the Senate then confirmed him.

The counter attack proposed in the Powell Memo not only included increasing corporations’ presence in the nation’s capital, it also included changes in their business model. Decades of implementing this attack has not only allowed the corporate takeover of our national and state governments, it has ravaged our economy and reversed most of the laws that had expanded equality.

Implementing the Powell plan resulted in changes to the bankruptcy laws to put corporations in charge of the process. This happened under the Carter administration. The Clinton Administration and Congress cancelled the Glass-Steagall Act. The Reagan administration extended the 401K savings plan to all employees, not just executives. The actions of Reagan laid the foundation for elimination of corporate-paid pensions and put retirement in the hands of Wall $treet.

In the workplace, corporations removed unions, reduced benefits, and replaced workers by shipping jobs overseas. They also saw the opportunity to steal wages of millions of workers for the massive benefit of a few executives. As worker productivity increased, wages stagnated but executive salaries and bonuses accelerated. Income and wealth inequality grew and is now at record levels.

To hide this wage theft, corporations made credit more and more obtainable. Credit cards and refinancing of equity growth in home values kept the middle class content as their wealth slowly fell under increasing debt. The interest on this debt went to corporations – creating more income inequality as workers borrowed their stolen wages and enriched the ONE%.

In addition to wage theft for productivity gains, corporations have fought to keep the minimum wage stagnant. They would prefer no minimum wage at all. This increased the income inequality gap further as inflation devalued the worker’s dollars and the ONE% invested in capital that grew faster than inflation.

Working through ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporations have increased inequality for minorities and/or the poor. We have new voter ID requirements and fewer opportunities to vote early, especially in minority and/or poor communities. After all corporations want to make sure those who suffer from their abuses have less ability to vote their legislators out of office.

Also through ALEC, corporations have increased inequality for women. We have far fewer clinics for women’s health issues and more laws affecting women’s health choices while there are no new laws affecting men’s health choices.

One of the favorite tools of the corporate plan to replace representative governance with corporate governance is privatization of public institutions. Combine this with excessive corporate school tax breaks and you shift the cost of higher education to the students – another ball and chain of debt for the 99%. While students must borrow trillions for higher education and corporations avoid school taxes, public colleges and universities alter their business model to substitute personal gain for quality education. Much like the huge corporate wage gap, higher education now enriches the university presidents and board members while impoverishing the staff and faculty. So, students take on enormous debt and most higher education employees see little income growth – inequality between the 99% and the ONE% grows.

One of the tools citizens have is the internet. But corporate intrusion/governance is trying to take that over. Instead of upgrading the nation’s internet infrastructure to world standards and provide better service for all Americans, corporations want to create a fast lane for the wealthy and only upgrade it for those who can afford excessive payments for that upgrade.

A lot has happened since 1971 to increase inequality in America and those changes are accelerating with two recent decisions by SCOTUS: Citizens United in 2010 and McCutcheon in 2014. These decisions allow corporations and extremely wealthy individuals to flood untold amounts of “Koch Kash*” into our political process and maximize inequality in all its forms.

Add to those US Supreme Court decisions the new Pacific and Atlantic trade agreements, written and negotiated by corporations, and national governments are further disemboweled. Finalizing these agreements will cripple governments, lessen their ability to protect and empower citizens, and promote inequalities created by corporations and billionaires.

As corporate intrusion/governance grows, privatization is annihilating all that is Public. Protecting and empowering citizens by the government stops and inequality grows as the Private replaces the Public.

————————————
The foundation of the Powell Memo and the Koch Brothers 1980 Libertarian Manifesto includes a belief in inequality. This belief in inequality includes a hierarchy for human life. It puts God at the top, as the senior authority figure, with white males next to dominate all others. At the bottom are poor, minority, women (especially black).

The concept of the rugged self-made individual, which has been proven false, also bolsters this belief in inequality. Direct causation, where the individual has direct control of his success as long as he learned the moral purity provided by self-discipline, is the basis for the self-made man. The individual should just foresee and plan around any circumstance that could reduce his chance of success. If he lacks the moral self-discipline to achieve success, then he deserves his unequal situation. This false idea of the self-made individual ignores many factors which affect equality of opportunity and are beyond the control of the individual: time of birth, parents of birth, place of birth, relatives, friends of parents and relatives, teachers, preachers, etc.

These external, uncontrollable, factors are referred to as systemic causation which are demonstrated by the butterfly effect, from Chaos Theory, and the scientific process of evolution. Both show that adding, subtracting, or modifying input factors produces changes in outputs. Whether it’s a collision with a giant asteroid, exposure to radioactive emissions, a divorce of parents, the birth of a sibling, moving to a new location, having parents that follow the strict-father or the nurturing family model, attending a well-funded or poor public school, exposure to toxins in the air or water, refusing vaccinations, preventing background checks for gun ownership, turning public K-12 into pipelines to prison, losing everything to an “act of God” or climate destruction, corporate and billionaire ownership of the government, pathetic regulation of dirty energy, food, and drug producers, sending our children into war for corporate benefit, etc, life changes from that point on and there is little you can do to keep it from happening.

 

*Koch Kash pays those who steal our freedoms – It’s any corporate or billionaire monies used to buy our state and federal governments and enact freedom robbing laws.

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Neoliberal, Free Market Fundamentalist, Ideology of The 1971 Powell Memo Reflected in Koch Brother’s 1980 Manifesto


Poisoning the chanels of communication.

Decades later, Lewis Powell codified Vice President Wallace’s “method” in The Powell Memo of 1971. The result was a proliferation of conservative think tanks like the Cato institute, thousands of talking heads all over commercial media, Fox News, hate radio, and a pushback on all the public programs which were part of the war on poverty or any governmental function which restricted the freedom of free market fundamentalism – neoliberalism.

In 1980, the Koch brothers followed up with their manifesto as documented in the Libertarian party platform. The villainy of this manifesto is the destruction of all that is Public via privateering. In other words, economic neoliberals, like the Koch brothers are replacing what is morally best for a large majority of Americans with what is extremely beneficial for only them, the ONE%.

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform which free market fundamentalist David Koch ran on in 1980:

  • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.” [SCOTUS is nearly done with this.]
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
  • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
  • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
  • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. … Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
  • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
  • “We support repeal of … minimum wage laws.”
  • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. … Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
  • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
  • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
  • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
  • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
  • “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
  • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
  • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
  • “We oppose all [Except for the ONE%.] government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. … The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” [Except that these wealthy "individuals" want it all and don't share even voluntarily with the poor.]
  • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.” [Notice the distribution priority of this list.]
  • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
  • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
  • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

Add to this, both our neoliberal SCOTUS, with their Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions on more-money-equals-more-free-speech, and the worsening wealth and income gaps, and you have the ONE% takeover of America – aided and abetted by their for-profit media, ALEC, and plenty of neoliberal politicians selected by the ONE%.

Vice President Henry Wallace warned us 70 years ago about American fascism. Is it too late to stop this right-wing authoritarian future? It will only take 3.5% of the 99% to make it happen. Are you part of that participating 3.5%?


IncomeInequality

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Right-wing Authoritarian Neoliberal Ideology Has Prevented Universal Health Care for Americans

Economic neoliberalism, or free market fundamentalism, has been at work for decades in America transferring more and more wealth from the masses to the ONE%. Privatization of all that is public (SS, Medicare, pensions, etc.), or putting it on the back of individual consumers,is key to this transfer. Another avenue for this transfer has been the marketization of Health care where the public option was avoided in favor of uncontrolled private corporations.

The quotes below are from an article that details a thorough history of the privatization of our health care since WWII and, to some extent, health care in Europe.

Unfortunately, America is leading the way for the economic neoliberal approach. This model has, and will continue to, transfer more wealth from the many to the ONE% as we all pay more for health care, or decide to purchase something else and risk catastrophic illness. It will cost us more and more for health care as employers and the government reduce coverage and increase copays and deductibles.

“The neoliberal turn in American health care, that is to say, is part of a much more fundamental transformation, beyond the borders of both America and of health care, and away from the promise of economic justice itself.

“While the ACA will undoubtedly help many, there can be no mistaking the close resemblance of Obama’s plan to Nixon’s, and of its marked divergence from the universalism of Kennedy’s. The health care political center, in other words, has moved to the right very sharply indeed. Perhaps the greatest testament to this is the fact that the ACA, despite its roots in the proposals of moderate conservatives of previous eras, is now deemed rank socialism by today’s conservatives.

“But beneath the complexity of the law, the essence of the neoliberal vision … becomes clear. The fundamental social-democratic idea of universalism — of an entire population with the equal right to equally comprehensive health care benefits — has all but disappeared from the political center.

“The doctrine of consumer choice, whether with respect to the selection of tiered “bronze, silver, or gold” health benefits, or of choosing to divide one’s ‘own money’ between health care and other goods, has been almost quietly triumphant. Of course, this great neoliberal transformation in the political economy of American health care wasn’t the result of the vagaries of nature or the unique cultural proclivities of Americans: it was part and a parcel of a much larger corporate-driven transformation [as laid out in The Powell Plan of 1971], which, over these same years, has drastically exacerbated inequality while simultaneously fraying the substance of American civic democracy.”

Two elements of this history that were not pointed out directly were:

  • Harry Truman became president because the Democratic party ousted FDR’s progressive vide-president Henry Wallace. The possibility of universal health care was pretty well doomed at that point.
  • In 1971, Lewis Powell wrote a memo at the request of his close friend and head of the US Chamber of Commerce. The Powell memo formalized the development of a national messaging system to promote the neoliberal policies discussed in this article. This new system, including The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, was effective as soon as the Carter Administration.

While low overhead universal health care is held in abeyance by a minority of wealthy, economic neoliberals, where’s their “Wal Mart” of healthcare to provide capitalism’s cost effective replacement? It’s not going to happen. There’s still more wealth to transfer and expanding uncontrolled health care is accelerating the rate of transfer.

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Edward Snowden Exposed Our Authoritarian – Dual – State

The following are excerpts are from a recent article by Chris Hedges:

Snowden, we are told, could have reformed from the inside. He could have gone to his superiors or Congress or the courts. But Snowden had numerous examples—including the persecution of the whistle-blower Thomas Drake, who originally tried to go through so-called proper channels—to remind him that working within the system is fatal. He had watched as senior officials including Barack Obama lied to the public about internal surveillance. He knew that the president was dishonest when he assured Americans that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret and hears only from the government, is “transparent.” He knew that the president’s statement that Congress was “overseeing the entire program” was false. He knew that everything Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the press, the Congress and the public about the surveillance of Americans was a lie. And he knew that if this information was to be made available to the public he would have to do so through a few journalists whose integrity he could trust.

Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because those who rule continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt civil society. And this is what has happened to us.

No one who lives under constant surveillance, who is subject to detention anywhere at any time, whose conversations, messages, meetings, proclivities and habits are recorded, stored and analyzed, can be described as free. The relationship between the U.S. government and the U.S. citizen is now one of master and slave. Yet the prerogative state assures us that our rights are sacred, that it abides by the will of the people and the consent of the governed.

The defense of liberty, which Snowden exhibited when he cast his fortune, his safety and his life aside to inform the public of the forces arrayed against constitutional rights, entails grave risks in dual states. It demands personal sacrifice. Snowden has called us to this sacrifice. He has allowed us to see who we are and what we have become. He has given us a chance. He has also shown us the heavy cost of defiance. It is up to us to seize this chance and dismantle the prerogative state. This means removing from power those who stole our liberty and lied to us. It means refusing to naively trust in their promised reform—for reform will never come from those who are complicit in such crimes. It will come through Americans’ construction of mass movements and alternative centers of power that can mount sustained pressure. If we fail to sever these chains we will become, like many who did not rise up in time to save their civil societies, human chattel.

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Success of 50 Years Of Fighting to End Poverty Minimized by 30 Years of Neoliberal Economics, But …

… social change is happening and growing inequality is the great enabler.

Relative to Bill Moyer’s 8 stages of successful social change and postings in Popular Resistance, we are in Stage 6, “Majority Public Support.”

8 Stages of Successful Social Change

According to the review of this framework in Popular Resistance, “During the current phase, the movement seeks to create broad and deep consensus over the issues that have been raised in the ‘Take-Off[ Occupy Wall Street].’ Our job is to win over the hearts and minds of the American people.”

As Bill Moyer puts it, “The movement must consciously undergo a transformation from spontaneous protest, operating in a short-term crisis, to a long-term popular struggle to achieve positive social change. It needs to win over … an increasingly larger majority of the populace and involve many of them in the process of opposition and change … The majority stage is a long process of eroding the social, political, and economic supports that enable the powerholders to continue their policies. It is a slow process of social transformation that creates a new social and political consensus, reversing those of normal times.”

In a follow-on Popular Resistance article, the authors expanded on the majority stage:

Our goal is to build a mass movement, which has the support of super-majorities of Americans and has mobilized up to 3.5% of the population. Therefore, the target of our protests is not the government or a corporation, the target is the people, to educate and mobilize them. … The foundation of the current phase is massive public education and building support in all segments of the population for the values of the movement. This is done through grassroots organizing in the local community. People will gain a greater understanding of how the problems of the present system affects them; how the present system violates their values and principles; and how it is in their own self-interest to do something about it.

The PR article continues on with examples of how this mass mobilization has recently manifested itself as citizen action.

Another manifestation of Stage 6, or Majority Public Support, comes from a recent article by Paul Krugman, The War Over Poverty. In his article, Krugman points out the fear on the right and the new found courage on the left, “Fifty years have passed since Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. And a funny thing happened on the way to this anniversary. Suddenly, or so it seems, progressives have stopped apologizing for their efforts on behalf of the poor, and have started trumpeting them instead. And conservatives find themselves on the defensive.”

Krugman goes on to review the old right-wing neoliberal lies for why the war on poverty has failed and then points out that right-wing authoritarian lies are changing, changing because fewer of the 99% believe the old lies as they fall closer to, or into, poverty. Krugman explains this countervailing force of increasing inequality on the success of the War on Poverty this way:

… if progress against poverty has nonetheless been disappointingly slow — which it has — blame rests not with the poor but with a changing labor market, one that no longer offers good wages to ordinary workers. Wages used to rise along with worker productivity, but that linkage ended around 1980. The bottom third of the American work force has seen little or no rise in inflation-adjusted wages since the early 1970s; the bottom third of male workers has experienced a sharp wage decline. This wage stagnation, not social decay, is the reason poverty has proved so hard to eradicate.

Or to put it a different way, the problem of poverty has become part of the broader problem of rising income inequality, of an economy in which all the fruits of growth seem to go to a small elite[The ONE%], leaving everyone else [The 99%] behind.

Krugman concludes with:

You can see the new political dynamics at work in the fight over aid to the unemployed. Republicans are still opposed to extended benefits, despite high long-term unemployment. But they have, revealingly, changed their arguments. Suddenly, it’s not about forcing those lazy bums to find jobs; it’s about fiscal responsibility. And nobody believes a word of it.

Meanwhile, progressives are on offense. They have decided that inequality is a winning political issue. They see war-on-poverty programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and the earned-income tax credit as success stories, initiatives that have helped Americans in need — especially during the slump since 2007 — and should be expanded. And if these programs enroll a growing number of Americans, rather than being narrowly targeted on the poor, so what?

So guess what: On its 50th birthday, the war on poverty no longer looks like a failure. It looks, instead, like a template for a rising, increasingly confident progressive movement.

Broad and deep consensus over the issues” enables social change. This consensus is growing as inequality/poverty expands in both impact and realization. The right-wing authoritarians realize the recognition of inequality is spreading and they have resorted to a new set of lies to try to maintain inequality while the left has started pushing for improvements in the tools for fighting inequality and reducing poverty.

As inequality grows, social change is inevitable.

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Maximizing Profit Morfs The Fourth Estate Into Stooge for Hire.

For some time, I have been promoting the use of profit-free media for news. There is a long list of such sources in the sidebar of this blog which I update frequently. As I experienced recently, Twitter was the major and almost exclusive source on news of the #MillionMaskMarch organized by Anonymous.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November.

I’m promoting these other sources because today’s major news media are only about maximizing profit. If the moral responsibility of our ‘free press’ is to check and balance our government, then the profit motive has subverted their responsibility significantly. Sometimes, this subversion turns ‘The Fourth Estate’ into a stooges for hire.

While the free press has refused to do their job, individuals, at great personal risk, have taken action. They have taken on the presses’ moral responsibility of checking and balancing the government and exposing the actions taken by the government on behalf of their corporate/ONE% owners.

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Contested Concepts – The “O” Word

The following quote is from a blog posting by Marc Farinella :

“Two final points from Lakoff; here’s the first: Don’t be fooled by contested concepts,which are abstract ideals such as fairness, justice, caring, equality, and liberty that appear to have generally agreed upon definitions but which actually mean completely different things to different people, depending upon their moral/political worldview … that is, depending upon whether they have a strict or nurturant interpretation of the concept. For example, for liberals (who value caring for fellow citizens), “fairness” may mean that the rich should be required to help provide for those less fortunate, a position that requires redistribution of wealth through government intervention. For conservatives (who value liberty to pursue self-interests), “fairness” may mean that everyone should be allowed to keep what they earn through their own efforts, a position that implies government non-interference except to protect property rights.”

Let me add to that.

“Obamacare” to conservatives, and their value of “liberty to pursue self-interests” and ‘pro-life’ stance, is a threat through government takeover of health care and death panels for grandma. Both are lies, but that’s what they have been told by their authority figures. For progressives, “who value caring for fellow citizens,” the ACA ( I would have named it Health Care Freedom Act.) is the first step to Medicare for all citizens.

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We Are All Born Equal — Just Not With Equal Opportunity

Progressives claiming that right-wing authoritarians are irrational is like right-wing authoritarians claiming minorities are mentally inferior to whites. They both ignore basic biology. The human brain works the exact same away in every human without physical brain damage. This is well established by research over recent decades. So, these dehumanizing statements are just wrong.

Research shows that the various differences between individuals or groups of like-minded individuals are due to the ‘programming’ of the individual brains. This programming varies as each individual lives their lives and each life is greatly affected by circumstances beyond one’s control – until we leave the ‘nest’ and gain some control.

We do not chose our birthday (day, month, year, century, millennium etc.). We do not chose where we are born (field, house, hospital, neighborhood, city, state, country, world, universe, etc.). We do not chose our parents ( nurturant or strict-father; poor, middle class, or rich; drop out, high school grad, BS, MS, or PhD). We do not chose our siblings (none, older, younger, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). We do not chose our other relatives just as our parents had no choice. We do not chose our parents friends. We do not chose our K-12 schools, teachers, or religious leaders. Yet all these external factors greatly influence what we each became and how successfull we are.

If David Koch and I had been switched at birth, I’d at least be richer and he’d be poorer and worried about income inequality.

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Why Do The ONE% Keep Getting Richer?

An updated report on growing income inequality between America’s profit makers and profit takers shows the growth of income for the profit takers – the top ONE%, who are making at least $394,000/year for 2012. The table below shows how much of the nation’s income went to the top ONE% during economic recoveries.

  • 1973 Low - 7.7%
  • Clinton Expansion - 45.0%
  • Bush II Expansion - 65.0%
  • Recession Recovery - 95.0%

Many factors contributed to this income shift and I discuss those in other postings. Here is a partial list:

  • Excessive corporate and wealthy individual tax cuts since the 1980s
  • Wage theft as savings from productivity increases by millions of profit makers were transferred to hundreds of profit takers who stashed the cash in banks instead of paying the profit makers their due
  • Increased profit maker debt by borrowing their stolen wages from the banks stuffed by the profit takers
  • Increasing the number of profit makers in the work force by adding women to help make up for the loss in stolen wages
  • Competition from overseas as countries recover from destruction of WW II
  • Removing the regulations put in place after the last profit taker excesses
  • Recessions instigated by the profit takers to increase their opportunities for corporate welfare and takeover of public functions (privatization) for profit
  • Replacing representative governance with corporate governance (The Powell Memo of 1971 and Citizens United decision of 2010)
  • Changing corporate bankruptcy and labor relations laws to let corporations steal pension funds and break private unions
  • Bankrupting public infrastructure through tax breaks for corporations to kill public unions, their pensions, and funding of public schools
  • Acceptance of the Ayn Randian world view which emphasises greed and rugged individualism over the equal protection and empowerment of all citizens
  • Tax laws that favor investment income over earned income

One thing that will help reverse this trend is participating in the democratic process – vote the ONE% and their bedfellows out. We can also reverse all the legislation that favors the ONE%, replacing corporations run by profit takers with cooperatives run by profit makers, and overturn the Citizens United decision.

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Unions Must Lead The Fight Against Climate Disruption

Demand freedom from Climate disruption – increased weather extremes and human costs resulting from significant, unseen, and rampant releases of greenhouse gasses.

———————————–
Naomi Klein spoke to the members of UNIFOR, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union, on September 1, 2013.

Here are excerpts from her statement:

“It’s not even enough when you can mobilize millions of people in the streets to shout “We won’t pay for your crisis.” Because let’s face it – we’ve seen massive mobilizations against austerity in Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Britain. We’ve occupied Wall Street and Bay Street and countless other streets. And yet the attacks keep coming.

” … We need to figure out together how to build sturdy new collective structures in the rubble of neoliberalism. …

“We can’t just reject the dominant story about how the world works. We need our own story about what it could be.

“We can’t just reject their lies. We need truths so powerful that their lies dissolve on contact with them. We can’t just reject their project. We need our own project.

“The case I want to make to you is that climate change – when its full economic and moral implications are understood — is the most powerful weapon progressives have ever had in the fight for equality and social justice.

” … This is a green labour revolution I’m talking about. An epic vision of healing our country from the ravages of the last 30 years of neoliberalism and healing the planet in the process.

“Environmentalists can’t lead that kind of revolution on their own. No political party is rising to the challenge. We need you to lead.

“The battle lines have never been clearer. Climate change is the argument that must trump all others in the battle against corporate free trade. I mean, sorry guys, but the health of our communities and our planet is just a little more important than your god-given right to obscene profits.”

If you’re a union member, share this information with your representatives. If you are not a union member, become a climate patriot like Tim DeChristopher and fight climate disruption where you can.

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Who’s in Control and Who Helped Put Them There?

John Dean referred to them as Conservatives Without Conscience in his 2007 book by that title. (There was no Tea Party in 2007.) Robert Altemeyer, a key contributor to Dean’s book, refers to them as right-wing authoritarians (RWA):

  • Social/religious RWAs are mostly followers and are mostly members of, or identify with, the Tea Party
  • Neocons are extreme punishment RWA leaders who run pro-war think tanks
  • “Double high” RWAs are psychopathic super leaders – jury, judge and executioner – like Cheney and most corporate CxOs, and all are plutocrats.

Most followers depend on Fox News and hate radio for reinforcing their right-wing world view, and few even elect a small number of RWA Democrat followers. All RWA leaders are either elected officials from the Republican Party or work for Fox News, conservative think tanks or hate radio – along with some Libertarians.

RWAs represent only 20 to 25% of the populace, but they control most state governments and our federal government. A fearful RWA minority of followers, who always vote Republican, elected this RWA minority leadership that has brought our democracy to the brink of total destruction.

Equally troubling is a larger group of citizens, who have been tricked into thinking shopping is more important than voting or participating in any way in our politics. This group’s lack of participation has made it easy for the politically active RWA minority to take control.

In Comment on the Tea Party Professor Robert Altemeyer puts it this way:

… Most Americans do not like radicals of any stripe, they want gifted people running the government, and they will turn on liars once they discover the lies. Thus Sarah Palin hurt the GOP ticket in 2008. But in the short run, meaning this year of 2010, I see a great danger. The rock-solid Republican base has been recharged and augmented. It will bust a gut to send as many radical social/economic conservatives to Congress as possible. While the Tea Party movement is opposed by a significant part of the population, the rest of the electorate is up for grabs. And not many people understand who is controlling the Tea Party movement, who is in it, and what they will do if they come to power. Significantly more Republicans than anyone else tell pollsters now that they are certain to vote in November. And although Democrats appreciably outnumber Republicans in the country, more people say they plan to vote for a Republican candidate than a Democrat. Combining the zeal of the Republican grass-roots with a slowly recovering economy, a less-than-popular president, and the sentiment that “Whoever‟s in/running Congress now should be thrown out on his ass,” I predict the Republicans will score a great victory in November[, 2010].

Unless. Unless the least authoritarian part of the American population out-organizes, out-hustles, out-reaches, out-recruits, out-communicates, and out-delivers the votes drummed up by the most authoritarian part. They did exactly that in 2008, and achieved unimagined victories. So it can be done, by patiently and sensibly explaining to moderate, independent, “middle” voters exactly who got us into this mess, and who has done nothing to get us out of it except constantly say “no”—like someone who stands on the hose when you‟re trying to put out a fire. And if the Tea Partiers succeed in getting more and more extremists running on the Republican ticket, that should open huge differences between the Democratic candidates and them. That can produce victory after victory—thanks to the Tea Partiers.

But alternately, the least authoritarian folks can find a dozen reasons to do little or nothing, and then the authoritarians will win.

Unless more non-participating, non-RWAs get out and participate, the election in 2014 will at least maintain RWA control.

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America’s Two Party System – The Good, Bad, and The Really Ugly

First of all, a short summary of The Lucifer Effect. It explains how events like Mi Lai, Abu Ghraib, and The Stanford Prison Experiment turned good people evil.

Part of this explanation involves “bad barrels.” A bad barrel is an environment in which a person lives or works which negatively alters how that person completes assigned tasks. Anyone living in a bad barrel is highly susceptible to performing evil acts that they would otherwise never consider. Individuals who are known as ‘good’ outside the bad barrel learn to commit acts that they would never consider outside of the bad barrel.

The prison at Abu Ghraib was one such bad barrel. Professor Zimbardo, author of The Lucifer Effect, inadvertently created a bad barrel, a mock prison, in a basement at Stanford University. The war environment, or maybe even a war mentality, can create a bad barrel. I have posted that listening to Fox Noise and hate radio in isolation also creates a bad barrel.

Building bad barrels of significance takes a lot of resources, and “Koch Kash” from multinational corporations and individual billionaires are key resources, especially since the publication of The Powell Memo and the Supreme Court’s activist Citizens United decision.

Our national politics now include at least two major bad barrels. One of those barrels is encircled by The Beltway around Washington, D.C. which contains over 20 corporate lobbyists for every Congressional representative. The other is The White House. Civil servants, spanning decades of influence, have also helped bring us to where we are today. The predominant political influence inside those barrels is right-wing authoritarianism.

These right-wing authoritarian bad barrels, with all the lobbyists, civil servants, and Koch Kash, will corrupt almost every politician sent to Washington, D.C., regardless of party affiliation.

Those two bad barrels have taken decades to create and that transition is how we’ve gone from good, to bad, to ugly. And getting back to ‘good’ may require getting from ‘ugly’ back to ‘bad’ first.

Here are the definitions of the good, bad and ugly in terms for our two-party system and authoritarianism:

Good – From the passage of Social Security in 1935 to passage of The Clean Air and Clean Water acts of the early 1970s, we maximized the protection and empowerment of citizens. This period included more liberal to moderate perspectives in both parties and a populous that had suffered a depression and multiple wars together giving them a sense of community and caring for others.

Bad – The Powell Memo of 1971, which kicked off this era, was the formal declaration of corporate war on American democracy. It was the beginning of the end of our citizen-driven government. This period began the purge of liberals from both parties and the takeover of the Republican party by the authoritarian religious right.

Ugly – This era signifies almost absolute control by a right-wing authoritarian minority, funded heavily by right-wing corporate America and right-wing billionaires. Almost all Republicans and a few Democrats represent this minority. In the Senate, they represent a minority of small populated states with right-wing voters. In the House, the Tea Party represents the major portion of this minority. Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, and Senator Bill Frist gave rise to this era in the mid 90s.

We made a lot of progress after the Great Depression, but during the ugly years we lost so much and we suffered the Great Recession. To get back to the good years, we must both redefine American capitalism to promote sustainability and democracy, and educate and involve more citizens, especially minorities, in the political process to destroy the bad barrels in D.C. and rid us of the, white, right-wing authoritarian, minority. This minority is currently tearing down our system of representative governance and replacing it with one of corporate governance run by the ONE% with Koch Kash, all to prove they are right and punish the rest of us.

The July 25, 2013, email newsletter from Popular Resistance put it this way:

A simplified explanation of the strategy to transform our society from a greedy plutocracy to a cooperative democracy, from our destructive path to a sustainable future, is that there are two simultaneous tracks – protest [including voting] what we do not like and build what we want. We call this “Stop the Machine-Create a New World.”

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Corporate ‘Takers’ of America

As states give to and take from national citizenship dues coffers, some get back more than they give, and Red states are the biggest net takers. That leads me to another comparison, but one looking at large multinational corporations, and a question for which I don’t really know the answer. What is the net income/loss for the nation, or states for that matter, as corporations give and take, especially, if you go beyond what they might pay in citizenship dues and include transfer costs related to pollution, its impact on our health, and poorly paid employees with no benefits. How many large multinational corporations would be defined as ‘net takers?’ Just the dirty energy industries like Koch Industries? Just fast food? Just Wall Mart? Just high-tech? Just international banks? Just hedge fund managers? Just brokerages? Or all of these and many more?

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ALEC Was Inspired by The Powel Memo of 1971 – Corporations Taking Control of Our Government

Depending on your media sources, you may have seen the news about the 40 year anniversary of ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council. Well, ALEC and other conservative, pro-corporate governance of America, organizations were inspired by a document published 42 years ago. On August 23, 1971, attorney, and future Supreme Court Justice, Lewis F. Powell Jr, drafted a confidential memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that is now know as The Powell Memo. It “describes a strategy for the corporate takeover of the dominant public institutions of American society.”

Two years ago, on the 40th anniversary of The Powell Memo, Greenpeace posted a story about it:

“Historian Kim Phillips-Fein describes how “many who read the memo cited it afterward as inspiration for their political choices.” In fact, Powell’s Memo is widely credited for having helped catalyze a newbusiness activist movement, with numerous conservative family and corporate foundations (e.g. Coors, Olin, Bradley, Scaife, Koch and others) thereafter creating and sustaining powerful new voices to help push the corporate agenda, including the Business Roundtable (1972), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC – 1973), Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1977), the Manhattan Institute (1978), Citizens for a Sound Economy (1984 – now Americans for Prosperity), Accuracy in Academe (1985), and others.”

What are we willing to pay for unlimited free enterprise – the loss of our representative government?

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