This darkest of assessments has been a long time coming. I admit I foresaw a sea change for our government processes and how we pick our representatives when Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. I was mistaken.
The can of "corporatocracy" had been kicked too far down the road when this election took place. The Wall Street/banking/U.S. Treasury/Congressional fraternity had been already formed such that the bailouts — with no questions asked — proceeded forthwith during the terms of both George W. Bush and Obama. Oh, there was a brief screech from the few remaining responsible media outlets and informed citizens, but the fraternity didn’t pay any attention because they didn’t have to. These events are well-publicized, ironically, in several documentary films, books and financial journals, so they are not conspiracy theory wacko points. I can’t help but feel I’ve had my nose rubbed into their mess.
The nation is so vast in its economic power that it dwarfs all others. Yet, with all the riches, benefits and possibilities, we have almost 50 million people living in poverty, including 35 million children. We spend billions of dollars every week on wars and military bases, ships, weapons and equipment while teachers go begging for jobs and livable wages. We think nothing of our athletes raking in tens of millions of dollars to play a game we used to play as children, yet we argue about who deserves health care, food stamps or just a little help getting an education. Public school district administrations across the country think little of building new high school football stadiums while considering how many teacher and staff jobs they can cut next year.
This lament about priorities is not new, but it is still with us. How in the world did we get the Affordable Care Act without the public option that more than 60 percent of Americans asked for? Why weren’t we up in arms when we learned the health-care insurance industry was coughing up $1.4 million per day to buy congressmen and women? How did we allow this to happen?
The progressives/liberals sold out to corporate/banking America. They retreated to what passes for comfort and ignored what they stood for since the beginning of the 20th century. Worse, the activists let corporate America seduce them with a few good jobs into thinking everyone would have a comfortable life. Why, they even invented foods and diets to make us fatter and more satisfied with ourselves — comfort food at 3,500 calories a pop.
Now we see what the destruction of the checks necessary to keep unregulated capitalism at bay has done and is doing to the American dream. It’s no accident that Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and his ridiculously anti-person budget gains traction among conservatives. They see it as finishing the job of destroying the New Deal and giving all of America’s greatness and wealth to the corporate state. I think those who buy into this scheme will be sorely disappointed when it’s their children and grandchildren who are left on the side of the road.
The word for this is not socialism. It is something much less complimentary.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.