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U.S. | Government & Elections

The Big Bash
by Sudhama Ranganathan ( uconnharassment [at] gmail.com )
Saturday Sep 1st, 2012 8:44 AM
Clint Eastwood said something that rung really true with me during his speech just before Mitt Romney's at the 2012 GOP convention this past week. About nine minutes into the speech he said, “politicians are employees of ours. They're just going to come around and beg for votes of ours every few years, and it's the same old deal. […] whether Democrat or Republican.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiHNVYRTKP8) He reminded us that we own this country and even gave an independent like me, not a supporter of Romney or Obama, a reminder that it's important that we remember that.

Smiley face

That isn't what all believe Americans, and that's unfortunate in some ways. There are those that would like to believe that it's the wealthy that own this nation. Well, they do have all the money, that's for sure. As Joseph E Stiglitz put it in an article in Vanity Fair published in May of 2011, “The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent.

“One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top.

“In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.” (http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105)

There are those that cheer this. When the cheers come from the wealthy 1 percent of us it makes sense. I mean they are saying, “yeah baby, we got all the chips, and we're gonna be stealing more!! I mean what's to stop us? Woo hooo!!” They are in it for business, and just as the job of people in government is to give more of themselves to others and take little for themselves, people in business have the basic jobs of taking as much from others as they can while giving as little out as possible. That's how you stack those chips!

So when they celebrate, they are celebrating their success at having essentially taken money from the rest of us, and put that into golden elevators and new tutu's for their horses, new color private jets to add to their mounting collection, his and hers swimming pools next to the beach in addition to the twelve other pools because it's nice to be in chlorinated water and be close to the water at the same time. The beach water has all them fishes and seaweed and stuff, and couples need their time alone and just to themselves. Makes sense, right? Whether it does or not, that's the game, and they are winning and only less than 1% can - if you go by material wealth.

Things get odd when people that are being taken from don't just appreciate and respect such folk's business acumen, but are like, “yeah baby, take more from me!!! Take it all!!! Need a fourth summer home in the newest trendy part of Europe? Take my retirement savings!! Yeah baby I want you to take it!!! As a matter of fact, I want to vote for any politician that supports that and calls anything else un-American and unpatriotic!! I'm signing my checks over to beefing up the foreign bases serving to protect your businesses at my expense. What a rush!!!!”

Things get more odd when politicians move from serving the people to serving themselves as the status quo – so much so that the political debate becomes merely theatre meant to give the illusion that the process serves the majority of the people that vote, pay taxes, serve, get wounded and die in the military, etc. That's when the political status quo has shifted over to becoming a business solely interested in networking and getting campaign cash from wealthy corporate donors while in office, then working their connections to get that cushy seven figure job lobbying, consulting or on a board after they retire.

Once that happens, and there are only two parties serving the nation – one claiming to be pro-management and the other pro worker … which one serves the worker? The worker has been paying the price for legislation slanted towards corporations for decades, and now, to top it off, we have to pay dollars to use our military to get them oil, natural resources, cheap labor, etc. Yet, what do we get out of that? Do we want to pay more or get that money in our pocket and let the oil companies fight it out in an open market as it should be? We won't suffer, as we're the biggest market for oil on the planet – nobody's going to want to lose our business. That's just how it is. We'll still have the same jobs stateside in the oil industry we had before. All the jobs overseas, save a few executive positions, are long gone already - now filled by cheap labor from other nations.

How do we benefit if mining companies get their hands on minerals, etc in Afghanistan? We don't own them or work them, so what's in it for the American worker? What's in it for the blue collar or white collar middle class worker to pay extra cash out of their pockets to secure those things for wealthy corporations?

How do we benefit from having cheap labor factories secured in East Asia? Where's the profit for us? I see the profit for them, but what about us? They already ruined our unions, then moved our jobs shipping them over there, now how fair is it for us to pay for security especially when they can afford their own? They want to move them fine that's their business, they can and should be able to do with them as they see fit. But then let them deal with the competition on their own. Warlords, terrorists, crime family's, corrupt politicians, corrupt military persons or whatever – why is that your business? Why is that mine?

Getting Americans back to work? I see that. Paying for infrastructure, education for our kids, emergency services, military to protect America – the majority of us here at home. All that makes sense, but right now the status quo is throwing a bash and they're trying to pretend it's to let us know how special we are to them. That all our dreams are right around the corner. With all that money they're taking, I'll bet they think we're special. But really the party's for them as a reflection of their own egos. It has nothing to do with us. While on the road they say whatever to get into office, once in office, they do whatever to get wealthy corporate donors to keep giving.

There's a lot I disagreed with Clint Eastwood about in terms of the GOP convention speech, but the idea politicians serve us was 100% right on in my view. For us to keep getting dazzled to the point of getting swayed is in many ways our fault. Sure, they put the money into doing it. But we've known for years they do it and have been saying it everywhere from the dinner table, to happy hour, to the break room, to the internet and so on. The question is, what are we going to do about it? I mean this whole party the campaigns, both the conventions, the elections … believe me, it is not for you and me.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.