John Colson, Aspen Times
Submitted by: Editor
America is not broke
It's something of a relief to have your ideas validated by a nationally known and much respected figure.
That's how I felt when filmmaker and commentator Michael Moore recently told thousands of angry demonstrators in Madison, Wis.,
“America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it is not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and portfolios of the uber-rich.”
He went on to say that 400 Americans have more wealth than half of the nation's population, combined.
“We have indeed surrendered our precious democracy to the moneyed elite,” Moore intoned, and he is absolutely correct.
In concluding that money is speech, and as such is protected by the First Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has aided and abetted the heist that Moore was referring to.
I refer to the Citizens United case, a ruling that permits corporations to pour as much money as they like into political campaigns. In that act, the bought-and-paid-for justices have signaled that it won't be long before they take it a bit further, and rule that corporations can give directly to candidates, instead of the “limitation” that permits them to funnel oceans of cash through supposedly independent groups.
The court thus continues its drive to reverse more than a century of law, starting with the Tillman Act of 1907, which outlawed direct contributions to political campaigns by corporations.
The Citizens United case also strengthens another effort to diminish the power and political relevance of American citizens, which is the move to grant “personhood” to corporations.
These two attacks on the roots of democracy are both mere adjuncts to the general battle by the wealthy to take over the reins of power completely and irrevocably, relegating the masses to our “proper place” as slaves whose labor keeps the rich in their glittering mansions.
As Jeffrey Toobin wrote in the latest New Yorker magazine, “The vulgar truth about Citizens United [and other rulings] remains: The five Justices appointed by Republicans are thrashing the four appointed by Democrats, to the enormous advantage of the G.O.P.”
And the G.O.P., if you don't know it already, is the party of prestige and wealth that aims above all else to make sure that ordinary Americans are seen, in the form of their labor, but not heard, in the form of political expression and a determined fight for economic justice.
Of course, the rest of us are all so desperately afraid of the wolf at the door that we can't think straight. While we watch our buying power shrink with each passing year, we somehow are fooled into thinking that we might some day, some way, get rich ourselves, or at least live in moderate comfort and ease, if only we vote how the rich want us to.
Then there are the distractions that keep us too busy to stop and consider our headlong, socially suicidal plunge toward oligarchy.
A recent Newsweek cover headline said it all: “In a world gone to hell — thank God, a wedding,” referring to the marriage of a British prince to a foxy commoner.
That's right, we can all stop worrying about whether we'll have a home and food on the table tomorrow, and fantasize about what it would be like to be either Prince William or Kate Middleton.
Or we can weep over the “Cinderella story” of a woebegone little college sending its basketball team to lose the national title.
Or we can witness a disgraced golfer battle to regain his once-vaunted position at the top of the sporting world.
Or we can watch as pathetic celebrity wannabes slug it out to become the next American Idol.
That's it, folks. Keep your eyes glued to the TV screen; keep up your trivial scribblings on Facebook and Twitter.
Do not raise your eyes to the clouds, do not pause to wonder if you're somehow being hoodwinked and led to the slaughter.
Do not wake up.
Do not spoil the illusion with dark, unworthy thoughts.