Monday, October 12, 2015

Government By the Rich, For the Rich

This single story explains more about the state of 'Merican democracy than any other: The New York Times found in an investigation that 358 families have donated to the presidential election so far, contributing more than half of all campaign donations. 158 have given more than $250,000 each. These people are overwhelmingly Republican, white, older and male who have made fortunes in energy or finance. Most of these huge donations have been made possible by the erroneous decision in Citizens' United. The case should be renamed Plutocrats United. Just one egregious example from the donor's list is hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, who earns about $68.5 million a month, according to his divorce filing made by his former wife, gave $300,000 to Republican candidates.
Houston's exclusive River Oaks neighborhood¹

Uniformly these plutocrats, who inhabit a geographically small world behind locked gates, support laissez faire capitalism² which they see as responsible for their own success and preserving a system that theoretically allows any Joe Blow to prosper. They donate to right-wing candidates who pledge to cut back regulation, cut taxes and preserve preferential provisions, while shrinking social programs that help the middle class and poor lead decent lives. All of this corporatist agenda is being pushed in the face of increasing support for more social spending, not less. 'Mericans support by two-thirds higher taxes on people earning more than $1 million/year. 60% favor more government intervention to reduce the gap between rich and poor, while 70% favor preserving Social Security and Medicare as they are. One political expert now describes the campaign finance system after Citizens' United as a "countervailing force" to the way the majority wants the country governed.  This state of political affairs will come as no surprise to Chief Justice Roberts.

1. map legend:  1. Hildebrand family, $250,000; 2. Nau family, $500,000; 3. Sarofim family, $530,000; 4. Flores family, $250,000; 5. McNair family, $2 million; 6. Ansary family $2 million; 7. Kinder family $2 million; 8. Krohn family $250,000.

2. Charles Koch, multibillionaire backer of the extremist tea party faction, wrote in the 1970's Libertarian Review that business leaders had been "hoodwinked" into accepting regulation being in the public's interest. He advocated the "barest possible obedience" to regulation and told his readers, "Do not cooperate voluntarily, instead resist whenever and to whatever extent you legally can in the name of justice".  The record of his petrochemical empire while under his command certainly bears out this radical philosophy.  Across its industries the Koch Empire generates an estimated 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. In March Koch Industries was forced to sign a consent agreement to spend $40 million to bring its Port Arthur refinery into environmental compliance after fouling the city's ground water supplies and air.  Koch's business ethics are not any cleaner.  The company once pleaded guilty to five felony counts for rigging offshore lease lotteries with frontmen who would turn over any leases they won in the lottery to Koch Industries. His company stole $31 million worth of oil from Native Americans lands by under-reporting the volumes produced.  The list of his company's outrages in the name of capitalism goes on and on.