Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Money Is The Root Of All That Is Screwing Most Of Us

Does anybody stand up for the little guy anymore? Labor unions used to. Not anymore. Newspapers used to. Not anymore. I don’t know if Congress ever has, but they certainly are not representing anyone but big monied lobbyists now.

I’m sick and tired of the notion that rich people deserve the money that they have. That the reason they deserve it is because they have more skill and work harder than the rest of us. This may be true of some of them. However, it seems to me that some of the richest of the rich are simply stealing from the rest of us.

You don’t believe me? Let’s look at some lists and facts.

Recently, Fortune magazine published it’s list of the top 500 companies in the United States measured by revenue. Here are the top six companies:

  1. Wal-Mart Stores - revenues: 351,139.0, profits: 11,284.0
  2. Exxon Mobil - revenues: 347,254.0, profits: 39,500.0
  3. General Motors - revenues: 207,349.0, profits: -1,978.0
  4. Chevron - revenues: 200,567.0, profits: 17,138.0
  5. ConocoPhillips - 172,451.0, profits: 15,550.0
  6. General Electric - 168,307.0, profits: 20,829.0
The source of all that money is us, you and me. Do you think they might be overcharging us a little bit? Those numbers, by the way, are in millions of dollars. So for Exxon Mobil that number is 39.5 billion dollars. Number one is good old Wal-Mart. This is the company that is unionized in Canada, but not in the United States. Who bargains for the workers of Wal-Mart? Why, Wal-Mart itself does, so they can pay as little as possible to their workers so they can be number one on the Fortune 500. The Walton family also places high on the Forbes billionaire list every year. Do they really need to have that much more money than the rest of us? Money that they get to keep because they underpay their workers, and don’t provide them with any benefits. If Hillary Clinton becomes President will she help the Wal-Mart worker? Since she once was on their board of directors, I’d say the chances are quite slim.

Notice also the presence of General Electric on the list. The parent company of NBC. I wonder if NBC is ever critical of General Electric. I wonder if NBC is ever critical of any of the lobbyists employed by General Electric. Disney is the parent company of ABC. Remember the recent presidential debate on ABC, that big farce with George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson? It was the product of corporate profit being more important than democracy.

Out of the top five on the list, three are oil companies! Exxon Mobil makes a profit of 39.5 billion dollars and yet it claims with a straight face that it is not guilty of price gouging! We are being robbed at the pump, and Congress does nothing but hold a few hearings for show. Why is this? Time to look at another list. In 2005, the top ten oil companies spent a whopping $33,173,092 lobbying Congress and the Bush administration:
  1. ChevronTexaco $8,550,000
  2. ExxonMobil $7,140,000
  3. ConocoPhillips $5,098,084
  4. Marathon $4,290,000
  5. BP $2,880,000
  6. Occidental $2,042,177
  7. Shell $1,478,831
  8. Ashland $904,000
  9. Sunoco $540,000
  10. Anadarko $250,000
Bribery, you say? Me too. Apparently it’s not, though.

From Do the Crime, Do No Time by Nicholas von Hoffman:
There is no bribery in the United States because bribery has been defined out of existence. Anywhere else in the world, providing public officials and government administrators with meals, lodging, transportation, vacations and literally hundreds of millions of dollars in money for political activities is considered bribery. And it is illegal, even in places like Egypt, Russia and China. That they don't enforce their bribery laws is different from America, where we get around that obstacle by not having any.
So when Congress holds hearings and “grills” all those oil company CEO’s, it’s all for show. Congress gives the message to the public that it is doing something, and the message to the oil company lobbyists that it’s going to cost them even more money to buy their favors. Nothing is going to come from it except higher oil and gasoline prices.

Wouldn’t the cost of gasoline come down considerably if the oil companies weren’t spending so much money on nonessentials. Things like their CEO, their lobbyists, and their bought and paid for politicians.

Will things change with a new president in the White House? Most likely not. From Putting a Check on Corporate Power by Charlie Cray:
…the ultimate enemy of democracy -- corporate power -- extends far beyond the two major parties and the three major branches of government. The permanent government inside the beltway -- the 30,000 lobbyists that work for corporations and the dozens of corporate legal foundations, public relations firms, think tanks, trade associations and front groups -- will doubtless continue pushing their agenda forward regardless of who sits in the White House.
If Congress wanted to do the right thing and had any guts, they would outright ban any and all forms of lobbying that involved money. And after that they would pass laws that made independent news media a reality.

Greed is killing democracy in the United States.

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