Right off the bat, let me say I don’t have a problem with people getting rich. People who accumulate loads of money because they inherit it, work hard for it, come up with valuable ideas, or are just lucky are entitled to amass as many dollars as they can or want. I don’t care when some people have more money than anyone could have a use for and they want even more. It doesn’t offend me if the extremely wealthy feel no need whatsoever to try to ease the burden of people who are not rich (well maybe it does a little). And finally, it doesn’t bother me that the top 1% now controls over 60% of the world’s cash (well maybe that does bother me quite a bit).
No, what makes me mad is that the wealthy have invited all of us to play a game with them where they own the stadium, hire all the best players, pick the referees, and it’s their (under inflated) football. And when they beat us 99 to 1 (better make that 2—it’s a football analogy), tell us better luck next time.
I am not an expert in economics, but I know what it is to be a part of the unwashed masses that make up the 99%. And although my representative wants me to believe that anything that helps the rich get richer is also going to benefit me, I’m just not seeing it. What I do see is that massive amounts of money from certain individuals (they say corporations, but it is specific people) allow congresspeople to get reelected year after year regardless of their ability.
It’s really pretty simple. If an incumbent (or hand-chosen) congressional candidate has more money than his challenger, unless he murders his mother (I’ve said that before—so let’s say murders his dog), he will be reelected. Advertising, especially on television, is the key. It’s not only that money allows the candidate to pummel the public with political ads, but they can also hire experts to create ads that make them look like an understanding, wise old grandfather/grandmother while making their opponent look like an incompetent, thieving, sniveling coward with no morals (who murdered his/her dog). It ends up being Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock against Vlad the Impaler and Ilse Koch (look ’em up).
The equation for the rich to get even richer is known by nearly everyone. Wealthy people give large contributions to the campaigns of politicians. In turn, the politicians pass legislation—like certain tax benefits and loopholes—that favor rich people. In some cases, if the representative has enough influence, they just pay back their benefactors by giving them lucrative government contracts or special deals that bring in outrageous profits to their corporations. Since the needs of the other 99% are often contrary to rich people getting richer, the middle and lower class are forgotten in the congressperson’s rush to kiss up and kiss the ass of their benefactors. So it’s not a question of knowing what the system is, it’s about how can that system be changed.
What can we do to get us back to where our representatives once again considered all Americans equally important? Here are a few suggestions:
- Set term limits for all representatives—one two-year term to let us evaluate them and learn the ropes and then, if reelected, one four-year term (period).
- End corporate donations of any kind. Regardless of what the Supreme Court of Jesters says, corporate money has no place in politics. At the same time, reduce the amount any one person can contribute to $1,000 ($1,000 doesn’t buy that many special favors these days).
- If you have money to give to a campaign, donate at least ½ of it to organizations that are trying to change the way elections are conducted.
- Learn from France and limit how long campaigns can be. Long media blitzes serve no purpose except to allow the better funded candidate to overwhelm the opposition with innuendo and outright lies.
- Mandate debates for all candidates including the races for judges, etc. that no one has a clue about when filling out their ballot. Insist your newspapers/television stations do in-depth interviews and evaluation of candidates.
- Never, never vote for a candidate who relentlessly attacks his opposition without ever telling you what he/she stands for.
- When you find a candidate you think deserves to be elected, speak up, donate, and go to work to get that person into office (even if it’s only putting up a candidate’s sign in your yard).
- Don’t vote the party line. All “Democratic” and “Republican” stand for is “Get me reelected.” And unless you are positive an incumbent is working for everyone in America, don’t waste your vote by giving him or her another term. In the end, if everyone doesn’t benefit, no one will.
- Before you vote based only on your personal hot issue, think about everything else that is important to you, your family, your friends, and America.
My solutions my be a bit simplistic—I’m no expert. What I am an expert at is being a geezer who in all his many years (that sounds so geezeresque) has never seen such a bunch of self-serving, posturing, morons running (ruining?) my country—something needs to change and it needs to change now.
Since half of these things can only be done by a vote of the current incumbents, you can see how unlikely that any of this will happen and why these pompous asses can just thumb their nose at us. So one last suggestion:
- Get mad. Make it impossible for congress and the President to ignore our needs and play their game of gridlock, payoffs, and reelection of incumbents. Write. March. Email. Vote. Twitter. Show support. Donate. Speak out. Speak up. Campaign. Refuse to be the pawn, the fool, the patsy, the dupe. It’s your country—take it back.