Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gangsters and Banksters -

Very good piece from Dave Pollard - Gangsters and Banksters -

"...essentially all of the increase in real wealth and income over the last 40 years has accrued to less than 1% of citizens, and for the other 99% real wealth and income have declined, in some cases precipitously. As a result, nearly half of all Americans, and well more than half of American children, now live in poverty or near-poverty. There is essentially no social or economic mobility left in US society — if you’re born rich, you will surely grow richer, and if you’re born poor, you will surely grow poorer. The American Dream, and the American middle class, are dead.

This dramatic and accelerating shift has not been an accident. It is the result of deliberate policy decisions that have prevailed since the Reagan/Thatcher era: Huge subsidies, bailouts, tax loopholes and tax cuts for the rich and wealthy, near-zero interest rates (well below the real cost of living, masked by fake government statistics), massive deregulation (and non-enforcement or cheap out-of-court settlement of horrific regulatory violations), dismantling of employee benefits, crippling of unions and workers’ rights, incentives for offshoring and laying off domestic employees, and on and on.

The rich and powerful now own the politicians of all major parties, almost all of the large corporations that control much of the economy, and the mainstream media, and through them they have altered the financial, political, economic, tax, regulatory, information and education systems, globally, to suit their own purposes and entrench and further enlarge their power, wealth and privilege. As long as this elite continues to wield this much power, the situation will continue to get worse. And as renowned management consultant Charles Handy has said: No one gives up power willingly or voluntarily."

So, the question becomes, how do we take back power?  Our tendency is to look for that one big thing, on a national level, that will turn the tide.  But, I'm not sure there's a Santa Claus in Washington that's going to come in to our town and save us.  Interesting to study the right wing evangelical movement in the states... In the '70's the "Moral Majority" of Jerry Falwell took an approach that they were going to win the School Boards, the City Council's, the Planning Commission's, the State House's, etc.  It worked.  Perhaps, to challenge the power elite - the 1% - local people must challenge their local power elite and the local power elite's groupies, who Joe Bageant called the "pickle vendors" - he said:

"OK. So the truly rich may not get it. But the most dangerous weasels of all, the ones at the next level down from Dicko -- those little ankle biters trying to get a bigger piece of the action -- they get it all too well. Or at least to the extent they understand that the masses need to be roughed up from time to time. Kept in their place. Now I'm not talking about the barber or three-chair beauty shop or the deli owner up the street. I am talking about the realtors, lawyers and middlemen willing to cooperate in whatever it takes to destroy land use and zoning codes, bust unions and keep wages low, rents high, the liberals down and the "cullids" out. This group of second tier conservative professionals and semi-pros are dead set on being real players someday. On their way up the ladder they will screw you blind and make you beg for your change."

I've always lived in small places and pickle vendors are pretty easy to see in smaller places - they serve on every board of nonprofits, they are the "community leaders" on the 'strategic planning' committee's, and it's easy to trace them to the "real movers and shakers" in the community who have extracted wealth from the community for years, gave just enough back to be seen as "philanthropist" and now they run the show.  Sometimes large employers, sometimes not, they're not often challenged because they can make or break you in town... get you elected, get you that contract with the city, but what they also do pull the strings of the pickle vendors to, as Joe says, "bust unions, keep wages low, rents high, the liberals down" and the "cullids"... if not out entirely, they make sure the don't get in position's where they can cause any "serious trouble". 

With few exceptions the local power elite are held with reverence in their communities, they get lot's of credit (some of it even deserved) but they almost never get any blame.  Nobody ever challenges them and ask them point plant -  since you've been a community leader for 30 years and the community is struggling is any of that your fault?

Can we get people to ask, challenge, organize, and well, occupy locally? The local community building and activism of the 60's has  fallen out of favor, but perhaps the lessons learned from those struggles present a road map for the future.

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