Saturday, May 23, 2015

What public policy looks like when it's written by the 1% for the 1%

It has been proven that big business and elites (that's the top 1% and up to you and me), have independent influence over Congress. The rest of us are ignored. Scientists have reviewed the data to show that across more than 1700 policy issues, Congress doesn't listen to us. They listen to them. The 1%.

Given this result, it can be fairly said that the 1% and only the 1% are writing public policy. Some have even gone so far as to identify the United States an oligarchy, not a democracy. I'm inclined to agree.

There are a few bright spots in Congress, though. Elizabeth Warren is working hard to show the hypocrisy of the conservative right, bought and paid for by Wall Street (I know, some of them are Democrats). Bernie Sanders is running for president and promoting crazy ideas like free education for everyone, a more progressive taxation system and even breaking up banks that are too big to fail. And then there is Rand Paul. He's a nut, but he's doing something I never thought I'd see anyone in Congress do - filibuster a bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

Other than that, most of Congress could care less about the average citizen. They spend on average, about 60% of their time on the phone and on their knees, begging for money from the relevant funders. Contrast that with Bernie Sanders who won't take money from corporations and requires attestation online that you're using your own money to donate to his campaign. I made my first political contribution in my life to him even though I hate giving money to politicians. Bernie has my vote if he gets the nomination.

What is important here is to understand that most of the stuff that average Americans are willing to protest against, are public policy agendas that serve the 1% and only the 1%. Hundreds of Americans are taking time off to protest low wages at McDonalds at their headquarters. Thousands of people are marching today against Monsanto. That's apparently the 3rd annual March Against Monsanto. Occupy Wall Street was a protest against the finance industry and their fetish for self-dealing. The list goes on. In almost every case, we see self-dealing.

Monsanto has former employees working in the FDA to pooh-pooh any notion of danger with genetically modified foods. Yet, the bees are dying off due to their pesticides designed to work with genetically modified crops designed to withstand their insecticides and herbicides. Nevermind that superweeds are building resistance to their poisons and that the UN released a report saying that small scale organic farming is the most sustainable and economical way to feed the world. But large corporations can't seem to figure out how to make money with an organic seed market. Why? There are no patents in it for them.

The fracking industry is literally screwing the earth to force out oil and gas. The wasteland they leave behind cannot support life as we know it, unless you can see it under a microscope. Fracking is approved all the way up the chain in the federal government and for many state governments. When small towns ban fracking, they get the state government to ban the bans. They often use leases on public land for the right to destroy the land and leave the taxpayer holding the bag to clean it up. Worse, they are pumping their waste back into the ground, poisoning water supplies. So break out your reverse osmosis water filters boys and girls. Our water supplies will not be potable after the frackers get to it. And they will when they sue town after town for access to water supplies.

The final example of self-dealing I want to talk about is Wall Street. Sure, they like to talk about the free market, but they don't seem to mind taking turns manipulating the market for personal gain. We found yet another example of this recently with a $5 billion settlement among the 5 biggest banks in the world. Currency traders among competing banks were found to be coordinating their trades for maximum profit while messing with currency exchange rates. What they did was a felony, but no one is going to jail. Why not? They're too big to fail - without government intervention in the market.

These are just a few examples, but they are all a result of public policy written by and for the 1%. They get their money without taking any risks or accepting accountability for their errors, mistakes or crimes. Ordinary people go to jail for possession of marijuana. They go to jail for protesting. They are shot and killed by police. They have no say in public policy.

This is the choice we are facing in the next presidential election. Do we want someone in the Oval Office and in Congress who is thinking of us, or not?
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