Things to remember about
American Democracy

We have become overloaded with noise these days.  There are too many snake oil salesmen out there spending too much money to get us to believe and follow them.  They do this not because they care about us, but because they want to exploit us. 

It is important to remember that the people who have been constantly reminding us about the honor of “rugged American individualism” shown by “real patriots” and the reward of “strong character” obtained only by gallantly “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” are the same people who are taking all of our money, weakening our elected government, and tilting the playing field more and more in their favor. These are also the same people that tell us to blame our neighbors and the weakest in our society for our failure to win on that tilted playing field.

There are some fundamental things we need to always keep in mind when we think, read, or talk about politics, government, inequality, the state of the country, or how we are going to put food on the table. This is especially important these days with so many ways that we can be manipulated (corrupted politicians, psychopathic businessmen, pundits, Facebook, Twitter bots, biased media, controlled media, etc.). Our health, wealth, and planet are all being ruined in broad daylight and those who are doing it have either lulled us to sleep, overwhelmed us into submission, or convinced us to be their unwitting tools. Keep the below facts in mind as you work your way through all the noise:

The only major change to our government in over 100 years has been the formal and massive expansion of the amount of private money allowed to be spent on campaigning and policymaking. The wealthy and corporations can now dump as much money as they want, often untraceable, toward campaigns, negative ads, policies, their favorite causes (which hardly ever benefit you), and their own political organizations and think tanks (which have done much of the damage over the long haul). When the government is controlled by the wealthy then one-man-one-vote may still be a thing, but it is a meaningless thing. Money does not equal speech.

Corporations are getting more constitutional rights. The Supreme Court, whose job is to protect us from having our constitutional rights violated, has been slowly handing more and more Constitutional rights over to corporate America. A good way to tell that our founding fathers did not intend for the Constitution to apply to corporations is the fact that there was nothing legally close to the modern corporation in America when the Constitution was written – back then we had highly constrained Charters that had limited life and purpose. In fact, the cozy relationship between the King and the East India Trading Company was one of the reasons that led to the Declaration of Independence – our founders and colonists were quite concerned about corporation reach into government. But now, things have flipped so much that corporations are using their new Constitutional rights to exploit humanity and the planet for obscene profit. Corporations are not people.

Terms like “trickle-down”, “an oppressive government”, “individual liberty”, and a “free society” sound nice but unfortunately are only manipulative rhetoric of the wealthy and ideologies that never have to be proven out. It took decades, but with their vast wealth and reach into the media they have turned many of us into their useful idiots.  This can easily be traced back to the mid-1970s when corporate-funded think tanks created a “marketplace of ideas” to counter policies that were based on data, facts, and science with policies that were driven purely by ideology. This is also where they nurtured their messaging of “oversized government” and “helping people is socialism”.  Since then, they have convinced us that our government is oppressing us and taking our liberties away and that it should be flushed down the drain or burned down to the ground.  They have recruited many of us to unwittingly help them destroy our own government, but what they really want is a weaker government that will let them poison us, pollute the environment, and empty our wallets.  They know that “trickle-down” is a con that lets them keep all the money for themselves.  In the end, they want to be free to do anything they want that will help them make a buck and, of course, they claim that they want you to be free –  they want you to be as free as a squirrel running across the highway to dig in the dirt for breakfast.

As much as they lure us in with their flag-waving, patriotic rhetoric, and a wink and smile, we are not welcomed by them. As much as they pretend to relate to us, they don’t want to hang out with us. We are useful tools to them.  While pretending to be our pals, they use fear-mongering to keep us in line and distracted while they grab our money and our votes. They will drag us along for as long as they need to, but they will kick us out of their limo when they no longer need us – and by then there will be nothing that we can do about it. This is the way it has always happened throughout the history of man – we just didn’t believe that it could happen to America. We are being conned.

The below graph of average family wealth sums things up (even though it is a few years old and things have gotten worse).  It shows that most of the money (the green curve in the graph) has shifted to a very small part of the population. If we were to look only at the richest 100 individuals in the country then the tall line on the right would break through your computer screen and reach your ceiling. But this is about more than just money – it is about power and freedom. The folks in red are the ones who have been claiming that they are fighting for a free society and that our government is oppressing us – meanwhile, they have been taking all of our money and keeping our government from protecting us.  They then tell us that we should blame the people in yellow (which is most of us).

How free can you really be if you don’t have a decent job because yours was sent overseas? How free can you really be by making minimum wage? How free can you really be without health insurance? How free can you really be without the level of education you desire? Do you really think that the vast majority of us are that lazy or that stupid? Do you really think that just a small handful of us work that hard or are that smart? The real takers are on the right…

No matter what you hear or read, always remember that graph…

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