April 28th, 2012
By Frank Byronn Glenn -- There are several things necessary and several ways to become rich and stay rich in America.
The best way to become rich is, of course, inheriting it -- being born rich.
For those who were not born rich -- the most important thing necessary to become rich is -
- like what is required to become extraordinarily successful at anything -- that is focus. You must relentlessly, tirelessly, some would say obsessively focus on making money and getting rich.
If you we not born rich, you can also get rich by going to work for rich people -- doing their bidding -
- advancing their causes -- helping them make more money and helping them keep what they have. And there are different ways you can go work for rich people and get rich yourself.
First, of course, you can go to work for them directly. You can go to work for a wealthy person or a large corporation, pay your dues,
learn the business, learn the corporate managerial and political ropes, display unwavering loyalty and tireless commitment to the mission at hand -- making the wealthy more money -- and actually help them make more money by your hard work, your diligently acquired business acumen, your entrepreneurial perspicacity and innovative energy, and rise to the top levels of management -- where, because you have proven yourself and become a "made" man in the sense that you become an "essential" component of the enterprise -- and you earn ownership of the company through direct executive compensation -- and through stock options and bonuses -- ideally based on the company performance and the success of the divisions or area of operations falling under your direction. This is what I would call the all-American way. Earning it.
The second way one can become rich -- particularly if one does not have any particular business acumen to market, and maybe even if you do -- you simply choose not to work that hard or that long.
Or maybe you have another gift --- the gift of gab -- or show biz -- maybe showmanship. This is a class of people most typified on right by people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and, to some extent, a guy like Grover Norquist -- to name only the most obvious. There are of course many of them at varying levels of exposure -- and income.
They are people that do not strike you as being particularly astute or talented.
They are people who are decent enough actors or performers -- and they want to be rich -- or at least get to associate with the rich -- so much, that they will do just about anything to achieve those goals. Most of the time what happens is that they go to work for an entity the life's work of which is to promote the interests of wealthy people and corporations. They do not have a lot of opinions of their own. They are not particularly creative or insightful -- and are not encumbered or troubled by excessive moral or political principles. They, for the most part, simply recite the lines given them by the political operatives representing the wealthy, and they espouse those viewpoints and incessantly cant and recant the "talking points" the wealthy want to seed the public discourse with -- with the hope that over time they can shape the opinions of a significant majority of low-information citizens that are looking for easy explanations to complex issues and a focus for their displeasure and disenchantment with their own lives because they are not people who enjoy great wealth themselves -- and some where deep down know the game is stacked against them to such a degree that they never will. By pretending to share the values and political views of the enormously wealthy they hope people will confuse them with the ruling class, I presume -- or at least construe them to be close allies, supporters, and or friends of very wealthy people -- because they are continuously repeating the attractiveness and desirability of the viewpoints and policy desires of the plutocrats.
A third, and most dangerous group, are the politicians and lobbyists for the rich and Super Rich.
Their designated mission in life in many cases is to work to perpetuate the wealth of those they work for and support -- and to simultaneously, where possible, weaken or destroy those who would stand in the way of this continued wealth accumulation. They work to eliminate or neutralize people who attempt to put in place rules or restrictions which might impede the ability of the wealthy to accumulate more wealth as quickly and in as risk free manner as possible.
The result of this is that when wealthy people make money, they use it to make more money.
They make more money by innovating and creating new products, selling them and growing market share. They also make more money by pressuring legislators to reduce taxes, and by taking advantage of tax credits and other loop-holes, designed by their lawyers and introduced into law by their lobbyists, and passed into law by state and national political allies -- whose campaigns they support financially. They add to their wealth, once they have it, by ___delaying, impeding, restricting or eliminating competition, by legislating ______barriers to new entrants who would become competitors to their established cash-cow businesses.
The final stage is the defense of the "economic royalists" phase of the late stage free market capitalism.
If the top marginal tax rate is too low, the preferred method of compounding wealth for the super rich becomes that of rigging the system in their favor. When they have too much money left after their tax contributions, their new business model becomes -- not starting new businesses, investing in research and development -- and consolidating their dominance in the market through innovation and ever greater efficiency or synergy. It becomes cheating the American people to enrich themselves by rigging the system to pick them as winners every time -- all with the aid and active cheer-leading of the politicians they have corrupted and now own. The Souless ones, we shall call them!
The "low-risk-high-return strategy domestically becomes that of using their accumulated wealth to lobby for lower taxes, more
investment and other tax credits and and ever-increasing and more diverse loop-holes. They campaign for less regulation and fewer restrictions on methods and types of money making instruments. They also deploy their great wealth to eliminate, defeat, weaken, or render ineffective people with ideas about about the role of government and the kind of society we want to have that differ, contradict, or which might be proposed as ideas, laws, and government policy in contrast to theirs -- particularly broadcasters, news media and politicians who work to maintain a more fair and just society -- with more opportunity for advancement and success for ordinary Americans, who do not have the advantage of possessing enormous wealth.
These things are not hard to understand.
It is not even necessarily true that the very wealthy should not be relentlessly pursuing policies and political candidates that support their public policy objectives. But what is true, in any case, is that if the top marginal tax rates are too low, they allow wealthy individuals and corporations to accumulate enormous wealth, which then becomes the war-chests of capital available to them for the purpose of influencing public policy in ways that benefit them -- and in most cases enhance yet further their ability and options for increasing their wealth -- not only even further -- but to the detriment of most of the rest of the people of the United States. We see it playing out daily in every facet of our lives now -- and more intensely since the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling -- where the wealthy are using their staggering resources to captivate, subjugate, and dominate nearly every level and aspect of our public policy making process. And very little of what they promote benefits anyone but themselves -- the 1%. It helps them consolidate power, so that they can accumulate wealth, then use the additional accumulated wealth to further consolidate and enhance their power and leverage -- so that they can make even more money -- and gain even more power. And the loser is the United States of America -- our openly democratic process -- and the American people!
When its all said and done -- the biggest threat to democracy becomes the unbridled free market crony, monopoly capitalism combined with low and ever-decreasing top marginal tax rates -- providing the unlimited, undisclosed, and unstoppable avalanche of money legalized by the Citizens United ruling -- which allowed the "economic royalists" to finally replace democracy with plutocracy -- a United States of America -- of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich -- and their lapdog politicians and talking heads -- at least for a while!
April 28th, 2012
We saw in the "war-crimes" situation with regard to Bush and Cheney that Obama considered it
"too risky" to mess with the power structure by prosecuting Bush, Cheney, and others for what other civilized countries (and Geneva Accords Signees) clearly thought were war crimes. And the atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Iraq (including torture) were "war crimes" as defined by the Geneva Accords, and were in clear violation of Chapter 7, Articles 39 - 54 of the United Nations Charter -- but primarily Article 51:
Chapter 7, Article 51: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
When Obama was sworn into office, his official position on the "war crimes" of Bush and Cheney,
was that we should "look forward", not backward. If having a degree in constitutional law is not enough to instruct one on the necessary honoring of the laws of your own country and the international treaties your country has signed -- I am not sure where you would turn next. Maybe the conclusion you must draw is the the constitution, the United Nations, and the Geneva Accords were all just window dressing for the dumb-downed masses of America as props for the idea that we are a nation of the rules of law -- both domestic and international -- when in actuality the only law is the law of money and power.
In that dismal context, it might make sense what President Obama did with regard to the U.S. Attorneys
when he came into office. For decades the standard procedure -- and expectation really -- was that when a new President came into office, particularly when the political party of the President changed -- all U.S. Attorneys resigned -- it was pro forma.
During Bush's term, the Justice Department became substantially the political
enforcement arm of the Republican party. Karl Rove would direct U.S. Attorneys in target Districts and States, in the case of Senators, to investigate and charge Democratic political candidates with crimes -- election fraud, bribery, extortion, or corruption -- for the apparent sole purpose of impeding or destroying the political careers and election chances of Democratic politicians and candidates in those locations targeted by the Republican Party as ones they had to win. Many of the U.S. Attorneys complied with Rove's requests and investigated and/or charged prominent Democratic politicians with crimes. The ones who did not respond to the overt politicization of the Justice Department and refused to prosecute Democratic politicians that had committed no chargeable crimes, were fired and replaced by U.S. Attorneys who would do as Rove instructed them to do. There were at least 6-8 that have been exposed as having done so.
However, when Obama took office, he did not even request the resignations of those political hacks installed in politicized U.S.
Attorney positions around the country. He did not request the resignations of any of the U.S. Attorneys. Now I understand that when you are a young, fairly inexperienced black man coming to power in America, it may be prudent to move cautiously and not immediately start prosecuted the entrenched cadre of the White Power elite of America. One step at a time, y'all.
In fact, one of these "politicized" U.S. Attorney "switchees" , I have heard, is behind the John Edwards prosecution for election crimes.
I am not an Edwards sympathizer. In many ways he has done the least with the talent, good lucks, and drive that almost anyone you could name has done. He has not only behaved badly -- he has behaved stupidly -- and shamefully. For which he has paid the price. For a more calamitous fall from grace and loss of reputation you would have to go back to Nixon -- although there have obviously been worthy contenders along the way. Bill Clinton's famous "did not have sexual relations with that woman" comes to humorously to mind also. Right, Bill, blow jobs are just thorough personal hygiene, right? But John Edwards is clearly being prosecuted on a political vendetta of some kind. I mean he is charged with election and campaign fraud by virtue of a couple of his friends personally paying for Edward's girlfriends expenses and travel money -- some $121,000 dollars or some such. Meanwhile Karl Rove collects by his own words $75 million or so in secret money and does not, by virtue of Citizens United, even have to reveal the exact amount or sources of the "political influence" money of dubious origin -- and he is a national political hero of the right wing in this country.
So maybe President Obama was just still a little steeped in the moral superiority argument that we need to look forward, not
backwards. Maybe he was just showing us a little of the "confrontation aversion" pundits speculated about early in the President's first term. Maybe there really is a power structure, and rather than run it when you are President -- you are allowed to become -- or remain -- President, only if you genuflect before that power and don't mess with the under-pinnings of the ruling class's power structure -- which really rules America. Or maybe the President was just astute enough to understand that when you are new, comparatively inexperienced -- and an hertofore unconnected to the power elite President -- when you first come into office -- better to tread softly at first and avoid the risk of an uprising!
But there are at least two things the President must learn.
The first is that politics is the quintessential art of acquiring and wielding power. And the nature of power is that if you are given power -- and do not exercise it -- it will either be taken away from you -- or it will be used against you. And Republicans do now how to seize and wield power. But right now the failure to use the power to replace U.S. Attorneys has been usurped and is being used against Democrats to publicly prosecute a prominent Democrat with extreme prejudice and venom when there are far egregious crimes being committed in broad daylight with the blessing of the highest court of the land -- the Supreme Court -- and with no recrimination whatsoever.
So, Mr. Obama -- if you get re-elected, I hope the first thing you do is give notice to the Republicans that your second term will look slightly different than the first one. Request the resignations of all the U.S. Attorneys the day after the election and replace every republican U.S. Attorney -- whether they are good men or not -- as a demonstration to Republicans that you intend to wield all the power the office of the Presidency commands during your second term. And then do it. The Republicans need their butts kicked -- and the American people and Democrats need a President who knows how to wield power -- and who can push forward a progressive agenda badly needed by the American middle-class and working poor!