May 2, 2013

The Corrosion of Money in Our Government

It's time for a dose of reality, readers. I'm going to step away from Cartooning & Drawing a bit, but  I promise to to be brief. This affects you, if you are an American citizen and taxpayer. Part of the mission of this blog is to educate. This is our country; we live here, we should know what's happening and how it affects us.

First, it's probably no surprise that there is way too much money in politics. You may not realize how much, or how much corruption this causes among legislators who are supposed to be representing us.

The Supreme Court, in a ridiculously myopic decision, ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations are people, and therefore legally allowed to contribute as much as they want to elections and candidates. Yes, corporations are people, even though corporations cannot be arrested for murder, or sent to prison, and behave in ways that damage our environment, social structures, economies and livelihoods. In fact a powerful documentary argues that a corporation, as a person, displays all the traits of a classic psychopath. But that's another subject altogether.

We all saw the direct result of the Citizens United decision: immense, obscene sums of money thrown at the federal election and at legislators by shadowy front groups, with their own narrow agendas, answerable and accountable to no one. The amount of money our legislators accept from huge lobbying sources is astounding, and is one of the reasons we are in the mess we are in. Legislators are beholden to the money, not to the people they claim to represent. 

The result is legislation that benefits enormous corporations, not the majority of the American public. This is why we the majority of news we receive comes from only three or four media conglomerates.  Why there is so little competition among cell phone carriers and cable television providers, and why the customer service is so completely abysmal in these industries. There is so little competition they simply don't have to care. Where are you going to go? You're stuck with us!

This video is a parody, but is pretty much what cable companies would say if they were telling the truth (it'd be refreshing to see some honesty like this, come to think of it):

This website is a fantastic, scrolling infographic that describes the corrosive influence of money in politics, how it's getting worse, and how it affects YOU.

Congress votes the way the money tells it to, no matter what most Americans think. At the bottom is a petition you can sign to support the American Anti-Corruption Act, a way to regain the influence we deserve. LINK
Do yourself a favor and check it out, and sign the petition.

Three years ago Congress told the Securities and Exchange Commission to require public companies to disclose the ratio of CEO pay to the average wage their employees make, something Wall Street and corporations fought against and bitterly opposed.

The SEC has still not complied.

Bloomberg News got tired of waiting, and compiled a list of the biggest pay disparities between CEOs and workers. Surprisingly, some companies have commented on the list, all sounding more than a little defensive about the fact that their CEOs make vast sums of money and enjoy lavish perks (even when they get fired), while the average employee wages remain stagnant and workers face increasing demands for higher productivity. 

Click HERE or on the title above to take you to this interesting chart. You'll be surprised how big the gap is between your pay and the pay of the CEO of the company you work for. To read about corporations' stubborn fight against this simple rule, click HERE.

OK, that's it. I hope this post has been informative and gotten you thinking. Our country is being taken over by vast sums of money. If we want our government to represent us, we have to speak up, or at least be aware. Below are some links that will give you more information. But first, one of my favorite poems, by pastor Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

The Corporation - A groundbreaking documentary that explores the psychopathic nature of how corporations behave, and how a quirk in the law has morphed into a huge force that has overwhelmed our democracy. The website includes lots of resources such as study and discussion guides for classrooms. This is one of the best documentaries you will ever see, winner of 26 international awards, and 10 international audience choice awards.

Inside Job - Another groundbreaking documentary, this one is truly riveting. Every American needs to see this documentary. It is about the 2008 global financial  crash, caused by a handful of people consumed with greed, and abetted by politicians from both parties (who were showered with money, natch). It explains in very easy-to-understand terms exactly how this crisis happened. The result: millions out of work or under-employed, billions spent bailing out huge banks and investment firms, and entire communities devastated. The effects are still being felt even today.

Amazingly, some bankers moan about having to live on a mere one million dollars a year, proof that bankers don't live in the same world as the rest of us. Read the jaw-dropping article HERE.

The Consumerist - A great blog that chronicles all the ways in which companies mistreat consumers, and tips about how consumers can be better educated and fight back.

The Red Tape Chronicles - Corporate sneakiness. Government waste. Technology run amok. Outright scams. This excellent blog by MSMBC columnist Bob Sullivan unmasks these 21st Century headaches and offer solutions that save you time and money.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation - A tireless public advocacy organization that defends consumers against threats by the government and corporations who want to rescind, restrict and threaten your rights and privacy on the Internet, and with the electronic devices you use everyday. A worthy cause to make a donation to.

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