Editor’s note: Today’s editorial was written by columnist Ann McFeatters of Tribune News Service. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
What we are living through is the re-corporatization of America.
The days of the robber barons have returned.
When asbestos became a miracle fire-retardant, insulating building material, evidence mounted that if fine asbestos fibers lodged in the lungs, asbestos could be a killer. For years, industry and government worked together to quash the evidence. Workers died.
When copper mines and coal mines created vast toxic waste dumps, polluted groundwater and carved giant, ugly scars in the landscape, industry bought elected officials to get out from under responsibility. Workers died.
American history is full of similar examples of conspiracies between industry and elected officials at all levels. Federal loans, subsidies and tax breaks have created and continue to build huge amounts of private wealth.
State legislatures, Congress, the White House and dozens of judges have been bought by titans of industry, domestic and foreign, which use the guise of ideology to cover the oldest of motives – money.
The perversion of democracy is being used to protect the interests of profit-making. It’s not about listening to the will of the people; it is about creating the will of the people, using ideology, such as opposition to abortion, to elect power brokers to do the will of the nation’s most powerful.
Individuals are limited in how much in campaign contributions they may give to any candidate in the course of an election cycle. Because of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, invisible “dark money” groups give millions to influence elections in other states. Mailers. Telephone calls. TV ads.
Often, an unbought candidate is targeted by untruthful smears just before an election with no chance to set the record straight. The candidate loses. The power brokers get the candidate they want to do their bidding. Legalized bribery.
The real source of such money – under the guise of a patriotic-sounding front group — is not and does not have to be disclosed.
Crowds of already unhappy voters are bent to the will of the officials with the loudest megaphones, willing to distort the truth to their own advantage. Gradually, individuals become powerless and unheard, marginalized.
The scientists and institutional memory of regulatory agencies are disappearing. Corporations are unfettered from regulations; the playing field is no longer level. Monopolies, irreparable environmental damage and unfair treatment of employees are rampant.
The world sees more frequent and horrific examples of climate change — extreme weather patterns get more extreme. Droughts in once fertile lands. Flooding in once stable cities. In America, climate change is no longer recognized by the federal government as a global threat. Data has been erased. Scientists, fired. Regulations weakened or unenforced.
Tax laws have been changed permanently to benefit the wealthy and big business, with only a few paltry, temporary giveaways to individuals, at a cost to taxpayers of $1.5 trillion. Congress is working to give even more tax breaks for the richest of the rich. Fixing infrastructure is back-burnered.
The Federal Election Commission no longer punishes candidates who break campaign finance laws.
The Federal Communications Commission rules that the fastest Internet speed is reserved for the rich and powerful.
The Interior Department encourages energy companies to ravage once pristine public lands. Drilling is permitted in once preserved wildlife areas and off the coasts of beaches.
The health care industry is monstrous. Millions find access to medical care difficult and expensive; care is not considered a right, but a privilege for those who can afford it.
The Department of Justice no longer considers protection of civil and voting rights to be a priority. Investigations cease.
The FBI does the bidding of a grifter who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars, a con artist whose goal is to use the nation’s institutions to get richer. Revenge is sanctioned at the highest levels. The rule of law is dismissed. The pardon power is used frivolously.
Dictators accused of killing their own people are lauded. A snarling, partisan federal judge argues no president can be prosecuted. Tax fraud escalates; the IRS is defanged. Women are dismissed as lacking credibility. Provable lies are the coin of the realm.
We are moving, seemingly irrevocably, to a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich...
Unless voters give voice to their outrage and take back their government in November.