Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for Oct 21, 2011
The blackest despair that can take hold of any society is the fear that living honestly is futile.
Italian journalist, Corrado Alvaro
Had enough? Seriously, have you finally had enough? Clearly, the people occupying Wall Street have had it. They’ve figured out that 30 years of lies were, well, 30 years of lies. Tax cuts for the rich will trickle down and raise all boats; An unfettered, unregulated marketplace will solve all problems; Give rich folks tax breaks and suddenly they’ll be transformed into “job creators;” Dismantle government and America will surely become the shining city on a hill once more.
Crap. All crap. What we’ve seen instead is the consolidation of corporate power melding with (and buying) state power. In short, We the People allowed our By The People government to be hijacked, our stock markets turned into a rigged crap game, and guess who were the first ones to be tossed overboard in the new reality of Corporate Casino America? Right, We The People. Yes, very funny. Hoist by petards all around. Ha-ha.
But now people are beginning to understand the price they’re going to pay to keep the Greed is Good ethos. They’re beginning to see what it means in real time, in real towns, for real people when the top Republican leader declares publicly that his number one priority for the next four years is to see President Obama defeated. Not jobs. Not fixing a dysfunctional, broken system. Not even fixing a bridge, a road, a school. Nope. Top priority: Obama gone by any means necessary.
As a result, Main Street’s finally beginning to feel in their pocketbooks what it means to have a majority of people in Congress committed to that priority and, in addition, sworn to fealty, not to the Constitution, not to their constituents, not to what’s best for the country, but to some corporate lobbyist named Grover Norquist.
True, Main Street voted those guys into office. And sent along even more rabid True Believers, people who ran for a government office with the express purpose of dismantling the government that created the office they ran for. Yes. More Ha-ha.
So, have they now had enough? Sure, there’s a few demonstrations in a few cities, but will any of it translate into votes come November? Without the votes there will be no change in Congress and hence no change on Main Street.
Except the distinct possibility that a Corporate Republican majority in House and Senate, with a Republican President at the helm will mean another conservative Supreme Court appointee will be added to the bench. And when that happens, the Citizens United Decision – Corporations are People, my friends. Corporations are People – will never be overturned, will be strengthened and added to by other similar rulings, and at that point the corporate takeover of our democracy will be complete.
While despair is certainly one option, Mat Taibbi, whose brilliant new book “Griftopia” hilariously illuminated just how the thieves on Wall Street helped bring this country down, has a terrific list of Things to Do in the October 27 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. Here’s a few of his suggestions:
1. Break up the monopolies. “The so-called ‘Too Big to Fail’ financial companies . . . are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous an unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.”
2. Pay for your own bailouts. “A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts . . . It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes . . . and force Wall Street to go back to the job it’s supposed to be doing, i.e. making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow”.
3. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. Repeal the “preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans . . . to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.”
4. Change the way bankers get paid. No more “bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up . . . later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company’s long-term health – no more Joe Casanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.”
That’s a short list, but it’s a start on the long, long list of what needs to be set right. But it all depends on Main Street taking back their government from Corporate ownership. And for that to happen, voters not only have to be finally wised up to the con that’s being run on them, they have to finally have had enough. Then vote like their life depends on it.
Because it does.