Government for Sale: How The Few Are Screwing The Many

“How much is that Congressman in the window?” A sadly modern take on an old song, which rings with far more truth than is healthy. While money really isn’t the root of all evil, it has certainly played a prominent role. There are those who use it to obtain dangerous levels of power, like the Koch brothers and their fellow billionaires who have used the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision to pour enormous sums of money into elections across the country to help them gain control of our government.

Since the Koch brothers exclusively back conservative Republicans, they essentially exercise control of all levels of our government at the moment. In effect, a cabal of rich people, who are out of touch with the needs of everyday Americans and were never elected, in effect pull the strings in subordinating our rights in favor of the rights of corporations and the wealthy. If you don’t find that scary, you’re either one of their rich friends, one of their pet elected officials or a freakin’ idiot! Sorry, not pulling on any punches on this.

Through their political action committees, they flood districts with media campaigns that distort the truth if not just outright lie to get their candidate elected. (Too bad there isn’t a truth-in-advertising rule that applies to political advertising.) And we have seen what happens when lies and half-truths find a foothold in voters’ minds. That’s how Trump stole the election and how Republicans gained a majority in both houses of Congress.

Now, the Koch brothers are pushing the buttons as Republicans steadily role back regulations designed to protect our environment, provide worker safety and protect us from being ripped off by the financial industry. Most recently, they’re trying to strip us of any chance of getting decent health care by gutting even minimal tax credits in the American Health Care Act. Interesting that those who have the most money raise the biggest objections to government helping those who have the least! They make Ebenezer Scrooge look like the world’s greatest humanitarian!

Today, in another vote you can be sure they were behind, the senate voted to roll back a regulation that would have prevented internet service providers from selling customer usage data, much like if the post office could open your mail and sell a copy of the contents along with the address information. Corporations are taking our money and rights, including the right to privacy!

Currently, another battle is brewing over Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. It’s evident that Grouch will side with businesses against citizens in his decisions as well as favor restricting the rights of racial and sexual minorities.

Here’s what really gets me — Koch and the other rich conservatives spend billions of dollars on getting their candidates elected. They could fund universal health care, erase the deficit and more with that money, which apparently is pocket change for them. Instead, they spend it to gain tax cuts and deprive the less fortunate of essential services. That is pure unadulterated greed! It’s the worship of money and power. That is the worst kind of evil!

They should perhaps consider that nothing lasts forever, including their power. And when their fall comes, they should expect a lot of people lining up to kick them on the way down. In the interim, we can do a number of things to try and mitigate the Koch brothers power.

Call and email your senators and tell them NOT to approve Gorsuch for the Supreme Court under any circumstances.

Support efforts to overturn Citizens United.

Pledge not to buy any of these Koch consumer products if you can avoid it.

-Angel Soft bathroom tissue

-Angel Soft Ultra bathroom tissue

-Brawny paper towels

-Dixie products

-Insulair cups

-Mardis Gras napkins

-Perfect Touch cups, paper products

-Quilted Northern

-Sparkle paper towels

-Vanity Fair napkins & paper towels

-Zee Napkins

While it may not make a huge dent in their income, it’s a start!

Keep the faith and keep up the fight!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Trump’s Address to Congress: Style And Smiles, But No Substance

I admit to missing part of Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night. However, what I did see left me totally unimpressed, especially watching Pence and Ryan pop up and applaud so often they acted like trained monkeys. (That may be petty, but it was really overdone!)

In an effort to avoid any further sniping, let’s get to the crux of what Trump was saying and what it actually meant. Seriously, there weren’t a lot of surprises aside from his attempt to project a more positive message. Unfortunately, style is not nearly as important as substance. And as far as substance is concerned, he ducked, bobbed and weaved or just outright ignored it. Probably for good reason, because the substance is not going to be particularly palatable for most Americans.

It’s important to understand the realities that affect how things work in our government, at all levels, especially these days. The 1% who have the most wealth (and consequently the most power) pour millions of dollars directly and through Political Action Committees into electing mostly conservative Republicans representatives, senators and presidents. They don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They have an agenda that works for them and only them. It’s easy for them to extoll free enterprise and rolling back government regulations, and talk about affordable healthcare in terms of competition and ending entitlements, because it puts more money in their pockets and takes it out of ours.

According to an article in The Nation, The 400 richest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the population, in a [December 2015] report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) …

“The concentration of wealth at the top isn’t the result of some sort of organic process. The top one-10th of 1 percent of American households controlled about 7 percent of the nation’s wealth in the mid-1970s. By 2000, their share had grown to about 15 percent, and today it’s well over 20 percent. Those at the very top didn’t become three times as smart or lucky or good-looking in the intervening years. They’ve benefited from changes in things like trade policy, the tax code, and collective-bargaining rules—all policy changes they’ve used their wealth to champion.”

Even worse, Trump has served to distract us from the economic issues by attacking immigrants, rescinding Federal support of equality for transgender students in schools, and fostering a mean-spirited rise in racial and ethnic  prejudice as part of a nationalistic policy.

So the challenge for Democrats is to not become just the party of “NO” like the Republicans during President’s Obama’s administration. It is time, however, for the Democratic party to come up with realistic options that do not compromise our values while addressing the needs and concerns of all Americans.

First and foremost, we need to address the wealth and income inequality situation by making sure that those who make the most pay their FAIR share to support the country that allowed them to make so much money. Much has been made about tax cuts for the wealthy spurring investments in companies which in turn produces more higher paying jobs as the money trickles down. Sorry, but that has not worked worth a damn so far. It’s better to put that money in consumers’ hands first, because demand stimulates production rather than the other way around.

Supporting unions, raising the minimum wage, and some form of universal, affordable healthcare, along with lower taxes, factor into increasing disposable income among the middle and lower classes. Plus, making improvements in the quality of public education and lowering the cost of post-high school college and vocational education are critical elements in creating the skilled workforce of the future. And, we must assure equality for all in employment, housing and public accommodation regardless of religion, race, sex/gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s simple … we must be a nation of equals and respect those who not exactly like us. Our differences are what make us a stronger nation.

In the same vein, we need to change how we treat the 1% with stricter campaign finance laws, no income cutoffs for social security and medicare taxes, and fewer overall tax breaks. Now, I do suggest, for those who invest in start-up companies and select other business opportunities, that we offer them targeted tax breaks that reward them for contributing to specific growth. We should also maintain strict regulation of the financial industry, because 2008 taught us that they cannot be trusted to act wisely without oversight.

Finally, as far as environmental and safety regulations are concerned, we should establish a bipartisan commission of experts in various fields to examine regulations with an eye to making them more efficient in achieving their purpose in protecting people and the environment. that should also help make them most cost-effective, although that is not the primary focus.

This is hardly a comprehensive list of things we need to do, but it should be a good start for conversation. Now is the time to get engaged and participate in shaping our future by determining party platforms and encouraging people to run for office who support those platforms.

The revolution rests with each of us. Get involved!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the old ways and help new ideas grow!

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