We presume that if one has great wealth they, ipso facto, are due the same deference as raw power. Historically, the great fortunes in American history have wasted no time in coming to that conclusion, and have used their wealth to exercise undue influence and power over the affairs of the nation. It has continued, unabated, from the moment each and every one of them has been duly registered in Dunn & Bradstreet.
We are owned lock, stock and barrel by oligarchs, plutocrats, bankers, financiers, corporate capitalists, entertainment personalities, and a government that seems to believe they have risen to a level of omnipotence beyond question simply by exercising their ability to steal with aplomb and manifest a degree of arrogance that precludes question and accountability from those who have entrusted them with the mantle of public duty and responsibility.
Before we take this further, let us reflect on some significant historical facts that we, Americans, have consigned to history because of our love for power:
Look what we, settlers from other continents, did to Native Americans who rightfully claimed this country as their lands. Look at how we murdered them, herded them onto reservations and, with the aid of a gun, consigned them to being perceived as savages who were incapable of being integrate into the broader social fabric, and become respected citizens of a society that had beencarved out for the rest of us. To this day they are consigned to some of the poorest real estate on the continent, only to become very much second-class citizens living their lives in abject poverty.This may only have come about through the superiority of firearms against bows and arrows.Where, today, are the oligarchs who could (and should) invest in their futures and lift them out of poverty in order to become rightful citizens and equal among the rest of us? Show me one.
Look at the barbaric behavior and power of the NRA and its role in the slaughter that occurs every day and in every venue in the Unites States.
Look at how we defer and pony up with our tax dollars for massive amounts and types of arms to ensure our military establishment is the largest and most up-to-date in the world. How many of those great innovations that soar through the skies above us and sail on the seas of the world have ever actually seen combat where the value of our investment was actually put to the test? I rather imagine the real winners in this vignette are, you got it, the super-rich. With all those in our government and military establishment it was, for them like taking candy from the proverbial baby. And we, the people, willingly complied as we always seem to do.
Look at how Wall Street and the entire financial establishment fleeced the American people to underwrite their plunder of massive amounts of money from the coffers of the nation. None have been indicted, prosecuted or incarcerated because of their criminal behavior. And, you can bet your“bippy” that none of them will pay for their crimes now or into the far distant future. The book is ckosed on that one.
The super-rich of every ilk own every aspect of our government, our economy and the resources (material, financial and human) that go into it. We have an entire system of government that, save for a few outstanding individuals; thumb their noses at all of us who have elected them to office. Every one of the branches of those who serve in the various institutions that are, ostensibly, there to do the “people’s business” have achieved a level of arrogance that boggles the human mind. They not only dismiss us, they simply ignore us as they dutifully serve as the faithful minions of those who ply them with massive amounts of money to keep them in office and line the pockets of those who make their continued viability possible.
There is a dedicated effort in this country to “get money out of politics,” and they are doing a laudable job, but it is an uphill climb. We not only need to get money out of politics, but we need to revamp the system to make it virtually impossible for that wealth to influence the lives and viability of all those who serve on our behalf in government. Authority must be returned to the people of this country and that can only come about by making it virtually impossible for those who see themselves as the top “x” percent of the population; however they may choose to define their favored status in the pecking order of wealth and affluence.
No matter how much they would have us believe otherwise, they are simply another, albeit poor example, of H. Sapiens. They, too, will lie on their death beds just like the rest of us, but will be remembered for what and by whom? A legacy of greed, avarice and self-indulgence at the expense of the society in which they lived? Somehow, that all rings rather hollow and is a pathetic legacy, at best. Compare that to all that is left by the legions of selfless people who, throughout the ages, have worked tirelessly to make this world a better place for all of us.
I would encourage people to take the off-ramps to a few of America’s small towns and take in the vacant homes, the boarded-up store fronts, the empty schools and hospitals and all the indications of decay. Then, remind yourselves of the fact that each of these towns was, at one time, a viable place for people to live secure lives and to be an integral part of a real community. They worked together, socialized together, played together and took care of each other. It was a valued and cherished way of life. It was supported by what might have been a small, but viable, industrial base that provided jobs to underwrite that way of life for a great many good and decent people. However, with the so-called progressive evolution of society and the insatiable greed of big business and the vast wealth behind each, they ultimately wither and die. But, let us remember, also, that each of those people had a legitimate stake in the success of that industrial base and all that made that particular town possible. Those factories have been dismantled or closed, moved overseas to cheaper labor markets, and the owners of those enterprises pocketed the spoils, shaved all they could off their tax obligations and squirreled the proceeds away in foreign banks so they could further deprive those towns and, indeed, the nation of the portion that rightfully belonged to them. The stake is more than just a paycheck to those who worked there. They, too, have a legitimate stake in those business ventures that rightfully belongs to them as much to those who financed them. It is a symbiotic relationship that is the only decent and right thing to support. Money conveniently forgets that obligation, but their self-interests do not negate that simple fact of civilized life in these United States.
As you drive out of those towns, reflect on what you have seen and the tragic end to what was once the backbone of this country. Then, take the next off-ramp and reflect yet once again on the next one. It may bring sadness to your heart, but it will bring reality to your soul.
Have you noticed, in today’s vernacular, there are those who “work” for a living and whose numbers are causing the unemployment statistics to swell, and those who own the enterprises that once were the workplaces for those who committed to the life and success of those enterprises. I would submit to the reader that there is something much more noble to “working for a living,” than laying claim to the plunder and exploitation of all those who honestly gave of themselves for a fair share of what this nation has to offer.
Those who call themselves “owners” in reality only develop and exploit the resources of this country. It is the “workers” who give life and meaning to those resources, making the world a bit better for all of us. I have to confess to an inherent contempt for those who have mastered the art of exploitation, thievery and the absence of any remorse, whatsoever, for all they have brought down on the heads of every American to whom they should not only be beholden, but to whom they should be eternal grateful. You owe it to those people to pay your taxes, share your bounty and assume your fair share of the responsibility for making this system honest and one that works for all of us. To do otherwise is a national shame of gigantic proportions for which you will be called to task, eventually. Moreover, every corrupt public official who has served as your enabler will, also, atone for his/her transgressions in ways I rather suspect they cannot even imagine. I happen to believe in Divine Justice but I, also, believe in fate that may have nothing to do with a deity. However, as the old adage goes, “the chickens will always come home to roost.”
Now, those who are the most burdened by the corruption and greed of business, banking, government and wealth have to assume their share of the responsibility, as well. As has been said, “Talk is cheap.” The people must unite in an effort to right the wrongs of the past and restore integrity, honesty and credibility to those who we put in office to serve us and, yes, the nation in which we live.
We must insist on standards of basic conduct that clearly underscores our values in a system that is free of conflicts of interests. Those standards must embody the means and the methods for taking to task all of those who have the audacity to presume that what rightfully belongs to all of us is, instead, their private booty to be used and consumed as they see fit. They have lost sight of the fact that their very souls are dark and tarnished, shrouded in shame and, yes, finite. What one sows, one also reaps.
As the wealthy and privileged presume the power of their fortunes confers on them the right to exercise inordinate power over all those they exploit, they are not on the side of the average citizen. They do not perceive you as human beings who have an inherent sense of worth that is of tremendous value to the societies in which we live. Rather, you are the fodder for their canons. You are the expendable resources whose lives aren’t worth a plug nickel. Your misery and suffering are just part of the homage of deference you are expected to pay them for all of the misfortunes they command from you and all they plunder in the name of their ill-conceived notions of “success.”
If they dare to presume their material wealth is a legitimate form of power to be exercised in their total focus on more, more and more, has not the time come for you, by your very humanity to take stock of the power that is yours and to assess whatever means you have at your disposal and confront their power with yours? Know full well that a preponderance of the established “peace” officers are their minions, not your advocates. Know that your power is much more arduous and an uphill battle, but it takes organization and determination for it to take root and to be noticed. Passive resistance and peaceful demonstration is what gives you and your cause legitimacy within the broader context of society. That is a respected and honored use of power, not violence.
The time is upon all of us to draw a line in the sand. No more cut backs in social programs and the safety nets the downtrodden have every right to expect. It is time to re-empower organized labor. It is time to think of publicly owned businesses that are not only the property of all of us, but are fully committed to serving all of us, as well. We need to re-direct our resources to eliminating hunger among our underprivileged. It is time to remove the stigma from hunger and poverty that has been brought down upon us by a class of privileged and powerful people that simply no longer care about us, the body politic. They need to be reminded, over and over again that, at the end of the day this country belongs to us and, if they are to remain viable within the context of our society, they must respond to all our needs first, not just theirs.
There is no shame in being a good and decent person. Albeit, you may lack the creature comforts of the upper and privileged class but, from my own experience, I have met far more vulgar, decadent, dishonest, greedy and power-hungry people in urban executive suites than I ever did on the ranges, ranches and in the small towns of the Rocky Mountain West. None can ever convince me that the heart and soul of this country and throughout the world does not rest with the common people. Those who delude themselves into thinking otherwise do so at their own folly. At the end of the day they are nothing more than tramps with money. The human backbone of America needs to exercise the power and determination to remind them of that fact, and hold them to their part of the bargain in the social contract.
The United States of America is a concept. It is the embodiment of what the country should strive to be and what all of those who claim citizenship should honor. We all should hold near and dear to our hearts the sincere belief that it is not up for sale to the highest bidder. Rather, it is a system of beliefs that transcends any measure of monetary value and, therefore, has no price tag.
May it always be a concept that is “ours” that is embodied in the very souls of the common people of the United States? We need to be aware of the fact that is why we have no royalty, no aristocracy and no titled gentry. It is a sacred trust we inherited from those who have sacrificed and gone before us, and one that we are sworn to defend and uphold – a spirit that is eternal.
You can make a difference. You can change the course of this country. It is up to all of us to bear this burden and to share in the obligations that go with it. We all share in the responsibility for making this a better place for us to live. However, it is a formidable task and something that none of us should take lightly.
I think it is time to demonstrate a common resolve that will turn this “ship of state,” around into a brighter sun, and with the winds at our back.
More to follow.
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
June 30, 2013