There was a small article in the September 25, 2011 edition of the New York Times reporting on demonstrations that are continuing around Wall Street. The piece was in a corner of page 18 and was short and bland. The protest was happening in Manhattan and arguably was a major event in the home city to The New York Times, yet the newspaper barely mentioned it and this apparently self-inflicted self-blinding was happening throughout our national media, as mention of the demonstrations was rare. That is in stark contrast to how extensive the coverage might have been had this been a Tea Party demonstration, given our national obsession with the radical right, and this vacuum of attention is significant.
The Citizens United v. FEC case, decided last year by a radical Supreme Court, has effectively made American politics exponentially more beholden to corporate influence, since we are now informed that corporations are people and have the same rights as those of us made of flesh and blood, especially the right to contribute boxcars of money to political campaigns. Of course, only corporations have the means to fill those boxcars, so America is now one giant step closer to becoming a de facto corporatocracy instead of a democracy and that is ominous, indeed, for actual human beings.
W. Edwards Deming taught quality in manufacturing to the Japanese after WW II (after American titans of industry ignored him) and, to offer just one example of the result, the Toyota Camry has been the most popular sedan in America for decades. One of Deming’s most important lessons is that when there is a problem, we should look first not to the individuals involved, but to the system that drives individual behavior. That is precisely where we should look to remedy our political paralysis and the obsessive quest for dumb in Washington.
Our political campaigns are hideously expensive, so much so that our politicians and would-be politicians have to spend about half their time both during campaigns and while in office just raising money, which means that they are set up to be at the mercy of the donors of big bucks. No matter if every legislator inside the Beltway is an Eagle Scout or its equivalent, they cannot afford to stop searching for their mother lode of cash if they are to achieve office and stay there. That is simply how our system functions.
The most significant reason for our hideously expensive political campaigns is the cost of advertising on television, with cable companies and other major news and entertainment media outlets. They, of course, are corporations and serve their own interests. Should we do anything to curtail political spending with them, those media outlets would be financially harmed, so it’s not in their interests to change the system. Perhaps that’s why you’ve seen so little coverage of those Wall Street protests to do exactly that – change the system.
To state the obvious, corporations have more money than individual citizens. That results in the voices of the corporations being far louder than all the rest of us can shout. Some of the loudest voices come from Wall Street. That’s why those thousands of people are on the streets of so many cities all around this country, “occupying Wall Street.”
If we are to have a democracy in America we cannot have corporatocracy – the two are mutually exclusive. And if we don’t change the system, the future is both certain and very dark for Americans.
You can also sign Dylan Ratigan’s petition to change campaign funding at:
Just understand that your choice is to live in a participatory democracy or to be a serf to the corporations. The good news is that you still get to choose. The bad news is that the clock is ticking.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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