Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are your teats sore too?

I tend not to relate much to the Tea Party, but they are in fact on the right trail in some respects. I don't personally mind paying my taxes. I do mind, however, not getting anything in return.

In the interest of improving efficiency, I'd like to suggest that we all petition the IRS to allow us to make our tax payments directly to the corporations they're ultimately ending up with. The robots we've created - the ones with the primary purpose of generating shareholder return - are working exactly as designed. Not surprisingly, they've converged on one of the largest, most easily diverted streams of wealth on the planet. It's the stream that flows from you and I to the federal government in the form of federal taxes.

Never fret though... "mainstream" media articles like this are written to make us feel better about being robbed. Apparently people in other countries pay more than we do, on average. This article forgets to mention all the things they actually get for their money that we don't, however (free university education, healthcare, etc).

A few weeks ago, I received a call from the Farm Service Agency, who is tasked with providing money to farmers, ostensibly to support farmers. Our farm is classified as having the potential to grow commodity corn and soy (a fate befallen most farms in our area), which makes us eligible for price supports even though we don't grow either crop. The price of both are down this year, meaning it should be a good payment year, though I don't yet know just how good.

In the absence of such price support payments, farmers would stop growing until the prices rose to the point of making it worth the effort again. Because all farmers receive the supports equally, such market forces are greatly reduced.  These payments serve only to keep the price of such commodity crops artificially low.  Thus, the payments aren't really going to the farmers -- they're going to the purchasers of such commodities, such as ADM or Cargill, and ultimately large industrial producers of "food" like General Mills or Tyson. These industry giants have all the assets they need to ensure that such subsidies "for the farmers" stay in place, especially in a government where being a corporate sell-out is a requirement for successful campaign finance.

This business model isn't limited just to agriculture, as it turns out. Retail corporations have figured it out too! They've figured out that social welfare programs, when given to their workers, allow them to accept starvation wages without actually astarving. Wal-Mart is even known to provide paperwork for such programs to their new hires, demonstrating how important these programs are to their business model.

How well does it work?  Apparently very well indeed, as 6 members of the Walton family of Wal-Mart now have more wealth than the bottom 40% of all Americans (128 million people).

The ironically named "healthcare industry" now has their own program as well. The pharmaceutical industry has Medicare part D, in which our legislative and executive branch promised to let the industry set their own pricing without any negotiation on our behalf.  Strangely enough, prices paid by Americans for various medications are often orders of magnitude greater than those paid by others in the rest of the world.

The "Affordable Care Act", which has doubled my own family's insurance rates for what appears to be nearly identical (i.e. crappy) coverage, has been a real boon for the insurance industry, who turns out to have written most of the bill. How are they faring as a result?

Never one to be left behind in terms of government teat-sucking, the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about has far exceeded his worst nightmares. With the collusion of a purchased corporate media, they've convinced most Americans that we need to blow up just about everyone else on the planet, preferably with ultra expensive hardware.

They've even convinced us that we need to poke the nuclear-armed Russian bear, by encouraging and funding the neo-nazis in Ukraine to attack their own people, and then blaming Putin for "aggression" when he helps the ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Unbeknownst to most Americans, Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) once served as the capital of Russia.  Brezhnev was from Ukraine. When I asked a Russian friend about his thoughts on our antics Ukraine, he was incredulous. "It's like Russia funding a revolution in Michigan, and then blaming us for American aggression in trying to keep it!", as he put it.

The F-35 joint strike fighter, deemed un-usable at a current cost of 1.5 *trillion* dollars, has in fact performed exactly as intended by the military-industrial complex.  It has transferred enormous amounts of your tax dollars to someone else, for which you've received absolutely nothing. Better yet, the carrier specifically designed to accommodate the fighter is apparently going to need numerous expensive upgrades in order to actually accommodate it.  Strange...

Somehow, I don't think voting for Jeb or Hillary will change any of this, as they both have a long history of catering to corporate wealth at our expense.  We're going to have to stop choosing our candidates from the corporately sponsored menu if we're to ever be to the land of the free.


Shirley Jacobson said...

" We're going to have to stop choosing our candidates from the corporately sponsored menu if we're to ever be to the land of the free."
Absolutely agree, and the only way that could happen, in my opinion, is to work to change the voting system, the only thing I'm interested in putting my energy into. Rank choice voting, encouraging more than two parties, might help people get beyond their fear of 'throwing away their vote' or 'voting for the lesser of two evils.' Its probably best to begin on a community /local government level until people get familiar with it. Then try to expand to state and finally federal level. Is there enough time left to do that??

David Veale said...

It's certainly easier to think that the whole system needs mass renewal (which doesn't always go so well -- witness places like Egypt or Syria), but you're likely on the right course to start at the local level where momentum is still possible.

I was pleased to hear Bernie Sander's announcement of his presidential run, though (not surprisingly) NPR framed his candidacy as "pulling Hillary to the left", thus instilling in many the notion that Hillary *will* be the democratic candidate, and that Sanders has no chance of actually winning the nomination. I'm sure everyone will vote accordingly.

Shirley J said...

Well, not everyone -- not me! You're likely right about the majority of "Party" people." They are willing and used to accepting the lesser of two evils. I'm thrilled that Bernie is running although I'm not sure how much of a difference once person can make in that position. I suspect Obama had better intentions starting out. None-the-less for the first time in quite a while there is a candidate that I can get behind.