Monday, April 18, 2016

Things Aren't Much Different Today Than They Were In 1787


                                

                                                From The Ramparts
                                                 Junious Ricardo Stanton
                   Things Aren't Much Different Today Than They Were In 1787

            "In short, Beard said, the rich must, in their own interest, either control the government directly or control the laws by which government operates. Beard applied this general idea to the Constitution, by studying the economic backgrounds and political ideas of the fifty-five men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draw up the Constitution. He found that a majority of them were lawyers by profession, that most of them were men of wealth, in land, slaves, manufacturing, or shipping, that half of them had money loaned out at interest, and that forty of the fifty-five held government bonds, according to the records of the Treasury Department. Thus, Beard found that most of the makers of the Constitution had some direct economic interest in establishing a strong federal government: the manufacturers needed protective tariffs; the moneylenders wanted to stop the use of paper money to pay off debts; the land speculators wanted protection as they invaded Indian lands; slave owners needed federal security against slave revolts and runaways; bondholders wanted a government able to raise money by nationwide taxation, to pay off those bonds... Four groups, Beard noted, were not represented in the Constitutional Convention: slaves, indentured servants, women, men without property. And so the Constitution did not reflect the interests of those groups". A People's History of the United States 1492-Present by Howard Zinn page 83

            Watching politicians, corporate leaders, the military, media talking heads lie, flip-flop, prevaricate, double speak and obfuscate the issues of the day, we might think this is a new phenomenon. Not so. In the US the politicians, educators, media and religious leaders have always lied, always sought to dupe the masses whom they look down upon and have always done whatever they thought they could get away with including murder to get what they wanted. America's political environment as seen in the current election cycle is demonstrating to the world just how disingenuous, corrupt and rigged the political process is and how candidates easily fall in line and acquiesce to the immorality and sleaze built into and endemic to the system.
            Today two candidates stand in stark contrast to the business as usual okey-doke of the two major political parties. Bernie Sanders an avowed socialist who for years ran as an independent recently joined the Democratic Party to facilitate his run for the presidency. Sanders realized running as an independent or third party candidate would not be feasible because the American political system is a closed and rigid two party system that constructs formidable barriers to third party candidates. It takes more money for an independent or splinter party candidate to get on the ballot, often they have to go to court (which costs money) to even get on the ballot; or they are forced to go to court to fight challenges to their petitions for eligibility to run. Sanders chose to run as a Democrat but made the wide scale inequality and corruption of the US economic system and rigged election process the central theme of his campaign.
            Unlike the Republicans who started off with sixteen announced candidates  for the presidency, Sanders only had three other people running against him. One of them, Hillary Clinton was considered the lock to get the nomination due to her insider status as a globalist and advocate of neoliberal economic policies that benefit the one per cent crowd. Sanders has long railed against the trade policies Clinton supported but now tries to distance herself from! While a US Senator he has consistently spoken out against and warned about the increasing income and wealth disparity metastasizing throughout this country. Sanders has fashioned his presidential campaign message centering on this issue. For the most part, Sanders unlike most politicians has remained focused and unwavering on that part of his campaign while including issues such as justice system, campaign and election reform as part of his call for a "revolution" in US politics.
            Using the word revolution has not endeared Sanders to the ruling class which is why the corporate media takes every opportunity to paint him as a wild eyed radical.  Sander's opponent has been forced due to the huge crowds he draws, his unconventional message and his rising momentum during the recent primaries to obfuscate her corporatist voting record, flip-flop her previous positions and pretend she is a populous, that she is concerned about poor people.
             When Hillary Clinton was confronted by the Black Lives Matter movement about mass incarceration she was forced to try to defend the indefensible, using the term "super predators" when she pushed for and supported her husband's 1994 Crime Bill. Clinton's bill was the legislation that augmented Nixon's 1971 and Reagan's 1980 War on drugs bills which created the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. Clinton's bill especially fueled the rise of  Wall Street stock market traded private prisons and the prison industrial complex Michelle Alexander calls the "New Jim Crow".
             Clinton has attempted to use Barack Obama as her shield to deflect Sander's charge she took hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign and foundation funds from corporations and special interests groups by saying Obama took money from them too but did not concede anything to them; typical politician lies. Looking at the facts and you can see for yourself at www.opensecrets.com. Barack Obama took far more money from lawyers, the investment industry, universities and real estate than he did from small individual contributors (only 6%).
            When you look at Obama's priorities and actions ,or lack thereof, you can connect the dots yourself. For example in 2007-2008 Obama took $ 1,205,736 from the investment industry (Wall Street, insurance, hedge funds etc). Is that why the Obama administration prosecuted not one Wall Street firm, not one bond rating company, not one hedge fund, not one insurance company or why no one from those industries went to jail for blowing up the global economy?! Yet he supported and pushed for supposed "affordable health care legislation" that was written in whole by the insurance company trade association!  These are the facts whether you want to accept them or not.
            This is the very thing Bernie Sanders and to a limited degree Donald Trump are talking about, the nexus between big money and government policy; how the big wigs control what happens that always accrues to their benefit.
            This nexus goes back to the founding of this country. A White Anglo Saxon Protestant ruling elite created the constitutional government and societal institutions then used them to perpetuate and strengthen their wealth, position and power to the detriment and exclusion of the masses. Over the years with the influx of new ethnic groups who subsequently built their own economic power bases and used them to infiltrate the political process the WASPs no longer exclusively dominate the socio-economic and political landscape. African-Americans for the  most part are still outlanders not having been able to penetrate the ruling elite other than as lackeys and sycophants of the system like Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Eric Holder and Barack Obama.
            The one thing that has remained constant is: the poor and working class hold no check or influence in public, national or international policy. "Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power. The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted. "A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time." On the other hand: When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it. They conclude: Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened." Study: US is an oligarchy not a democracy. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746
            If you are reading this and saying tell me something I don't already know, then my question to you is what are you doing in light of this reality? I ask this because in the past there were countless rebellions, riots, strikes, shut downs and other forms of resistance to ruling class exploitation and control from colonial times to the modern era, Beacon's Rebellion 1676, Shay's Rebellion 1786, Nat Turner 1831, the Homestead Pa. Steel Strike in 1892, the Minnesota Food Riots of 1932,  the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, Deacons for Justice and Defense in the 1960's, the Occupy Wall Street Movement of  2011, the Bundy standoff  of 2016 to cite just a few.
             The question is what are you/we going to do about the present situation? Are you one of the millions who doesn't vote or even keep up with current events? Are you a reformer seeking to bring about true justice and inclusivity in a corrupt divided society? Are you seeking to enter headlong into the burning and collapsing house that is modern America? Or are you trying to figure out how to survive the immanent collapse and build a morally viable and humane community of like minded people who know we can do and be better?

                                                            -30-


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