Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A More Diverse Oligarchy

The corporations that effectively own the place don't need to be taxed or prosecuted in order to alleviate wealth inequality and stop corruption. 

They simply need to install a few more women and black and brown people at the top, and all will be status quo glorious for the oligarchy and continuously bad for the majority of people. Look at how well (until Russophobia, Inc. anyway) that's worked out for Facebook and its chief operating officer, billionaire Sheryl "Lean In" Sandberg. Having a woman in charge of the massive theft of personal data from users while she sells corporate feminism to minimum wage workers is just what the ruling class needs to pretend that we still have a democracy.

With that bullshit in mind, Maxine Waters, the incoming Democratic chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, vows to hold corporations' feet to the fire and force them to disclose how many women and black and brown people they have placed in their top executive positions. This will absolve the Democrats of not doing anything so drastic as investigating corporate malfeasance and rectifying our worsening wealth inequality. It will make the public forget that they have no intention of reversing Trump's massive tax give-away to the rich.

The viewing public, they figure, will be further placated when said corporations play their own parts of pretending to be seriously rattled by this bold new plan. According to Politico,
Some firms are panicking at the prospect of new public scrutiny, according to lobbyists, who say that while companies won’t openly fight Democrats' moves to promote diversity, many are uneasy about the prospect of government getting directly involved in their hiring decisions.
The Democrats' pretense of meddling in private corporate affairs for the greater public good will then have the contrived salutory effect of Republicans accusing them of overreach and socialism. Regular people will take sides over which oligarchic cartel they'll be rooting for. Conservatives will accuse snowflake liberals of wanting too many safe spaces, and liberals will accuse conservatives of racism and misogyny. And it is so unfair, because all that the Democrats want is to make CEOs making about 300 times the salary of their average workers feel just a little bit "uncomfortable" before they lap up all that good press about their brave noble decisions to do the right diversionary diverse thing.

 The only real winners will be the neoliberal corporatists, both within and without Congress. They'll be able to continue lecturing poor and dark-hued people that all they need to succeed, like their latest brown female corporate vice president, is to transform themselves into bootstrapping entrepreneurial strivers. Of course, the cynical narrative of trickle-down racial and gender equality is nothing but a big P.R. campaign. It's similar to the manufactured brouhaha over the "Oscars So White" scandal that hit Hollywood before the Harvey Weinstein scandal upstaged it. More black and brown Academy Award winners do not protect impoverished people in Ferguson, Missouri and Flint, Michigan from police brutality and poisoned water. A Latina esconced in the Wells Fargo boardroom does not erase private equity vultures like Blackstone  buying up thousands of foreclosed homes and then renting them back out to the same people who already were evicted from them once for failure to keep up with their predatory subprime loan payments.  

The have-nots and oppressed will just have to remain hopeful and grateful that at least their "stories" are being told on corporate media, and on Netflix and Amazon. They will be recognized, if not directly helped. 

So, as Donald Trump just tweeted out regarding the government shutdown, everybody just lighten up already. The human poop piling up in our national parks because of overflowing toilets is nothing compared to the avalanche of oligarchic crap threatening to bury us alive in this shiny new year.

They don't even try to hide the sleazy collusion from the viewing public any more.
Corporations and industry groups have already sought to make inroads with lawmakers who will highlight the issue on Capitol Hill, according to lawmakers and lobbyists. Some, including Amazon and the Bank Policy Institute, have even recently hired staff from the Congressional Black Caucus to build relationships as Democrats take over.
Um... isn't it illegal, or at least an amoral conflict of interest, for Congressional staffers who are paid by the public to simultaneously work for Amazon and Wall Street? 

I'll give Trump this: he has made it safe for the Duopoly to be openly corrupt. People are so jaded by him that they aren't even bothered by his slightly more refined imitators. No wonder he is so upset, holed up in the White House and demanding billions of dollars for his precious wall. He isn't getting the credit for normalizing political crime that he so richly deserves.

Just look at the Democratic congress critters angling for leadership on the various proposed subcommittees designed to afflict Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

Carolyn Maloney of New York says she wants to clamp down on markets and demand answers  from the Securities & Exchange Commission, notwithstanding her receipt of more than a quarter-million bucks in campaign cash in 2017 from some of the same industries and banks she proposes to politely needle, if not actually regulate. Her latest listed top contributors are mega-landlord Blackrock and Goldman Sachs.

Gregory Meeks, also of New York, also wants to chair a subcommittee designed to demand gender and racial diversity within the ranks of the malefactors of great wealth. That way, he can continue collecting the big bucks from Goldman Sachs and other major players from the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector of the ruling class so as to avoid confronting them over the rent scams and mortgage and foreclosure frauds aimed largely at women and minorities.
Meeks said he has started talking to companies, and financial trade associations have begun reaching out to him.
With their checkbooks, I would hope.
"Some companies acknowledge that it's good for business," Meeks said. "I'm not asking them to do anything that's bad for business. This will help them attract more folks to their institutions."
I assume that this includes Meeks's staff and last but least, Meeks himself. They are just plain folks, after all, whose bottom line must hold at all costs to everyone but themselves. Never forget Noam Chomsky's advice that, whenever you hear a politician utter the word "folks," you should run for your life. Meeks sounds almost as grotesque with that quote as the corporate Democrats' new darling, George W. Bush, who once talked about the "terrorist folks" to whom he both sold weapons and killed back when liberals pretended to despise him so much.

What, after all, are the too big to fail/jail banks but financial terrorist folks?

So here's to a happy 2019 to everybody except the corporate Democrats and the insane Republicans who must pretend to loathe them. Heads they win, tails we all lose.

Unless, of course, America foregoes the gruesome, ad-glutted crystal ball drop in Times Square and starts celebrating our winter holidays the healthy French way:


Mad Max said...

"Corporations and industry groups have already sought to make inroads with lawmakers who will highlight the issue on Capitol Hill, according to lawmakers and lobbyists. Some, including Amazon and the Bank Policy Institute, have even recently hired staff from the Congressional Black Caucus to build relationships as Democrats take over."

"Um... isn't it illegal, or at least an amoral conflict of interest, for Congressional staffers who are paid by the public to simultaneously work for Amazon and Wall Street?" --KM Garcia

Why, exactly?

Even do-gooder Lefties have to make a living, don't they? And they certainly won't do it as pathetic Congressional staffers,

Knowledge certainly "Trumps" principles.

Erik Roth said...

2019: it's our Earth versus their turf. --

Climate Crisis Is “Existential Threat,” House Democrats Say — but Protecting Turf Comes First

Meanwhile, the main scream media amps up its "circle jerk." --

Sit back and watch how 2020 narratives “shift” after questions are “raised” by the very people writing stories about “raising questions”

Trumps tweets at us to "Just calm down and enjoy the ride...."

I think we'd better heed what Bette Davis said:

Karen Garcia said...

It takes minutes to maybe an hour or more, depending on time of day or night, for comments to be read and approved. I get a lot of spam comments here, so human moderation is a must. So if your comment does not immediately appear, don't worry, it will be sooner rather than later and there is thus no need to keep submitting the same comment multiple times.

Re congressional staffers deserving to make a private living. Sure, but not at the same time that they're working for us, I mean for Congress. The Politico article does not make that clear.

I suppose one work-around is if said Congressional staffers are unpaid interns and not technically public employees. Still, if Amazon hires a congressional staffer, the question must still be asked whether Amazon has made certain promises of future rewards to the staffer, the boss, the committee, etc,-- and vice versa.

The ex-congress critters and staffs then sidestep the toothless lobbying laws by neglecting to register as lobbyists at all.

Clueless It Seems said...

When I worked - last job before I was forcibly retired because of ageism and despite wonderful quarterly reviews - for Smith & Nephew (surgical instruments and endoscopy; a Brit company that's on the NYSE as ADRs - SNE) there was this guy who was actually very nice however Leo was really pleased with himself because he took Rush Limbaugh's "advice" literally and bought many Section 8 properties in Flint, MI. This was before the water thing hit. Leo "owned" whole blocks. I'll bet now he's cringing.

There are just too many things in what you have written, Karen, that I believe in, too. I am old (over 70), have cancer, and my balance is terrible. As I age even more I am sure of these things: I am SICK of lies and indoctrination and until amerika comes to terms with the racism and genocide that are part of our "creation myth" there is no hope for our "democracy" regardless of what's written on the base of the Statue of Liberty. And, un apropos to this hypocrisy, how could someone overlook pussy grabbing and still sue somebody for a quarter billion dollars because he 1) made it with someone else and 2) has male reproductive equipment? This foolishness has been going on for hundreds of years and has to stop and I didn't learn about my sexuality in a gym.

Terrific essay.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Allowing a talented tenth (or less) of blacks, and then women and browns in on the big take of money and power turned out to be a good deal for the elites. It's more than tokenism and is visible proof––See!––that glass ceilings (for the lucky few) are a fiction by paranoid radicals. True, most of the talented tenth in these cases end up not being the advance party for their original cohort; talented minorities hired by the elites get co-opted and turn their backs on the 90% (or more) left behind in ghettos and secretarial pools.

Who wants to bet that identity politics will give way to social justice within the few decades remaining before climate change dominates all discussion? As George Carling said, you have to be asleep to believe in the American Dream.

Now that we've set aside hope for the political parties, the nations and the human race itself, is there any point to a list of New Year resolutions for 2019?

For me, the only thing to fall back on without free-falling into the void is a line of thought borrowed from a splinter of existentialist philosophers. It goes something like this: Even though the universe is a sea of indifferent muck, individuals can at very least set order within a small bubble around themselves.

Dorothy Day was another who gave priority to the local:
"[O]ne person can do a tremendous amount of boring from within, in his office, factory, neighborhood, parish, and among his daily acquaintances and associates."

Find an ethic or invent one––whatever––that suits you and the less lucky who abide your immediate circle and try to live by that ethic in each moment no matter what. The rest is distraction.

Erik Roth said...

For the essential elements of inspiration and insight, offering light in these dark times, I thank you, Karen. Best wishes in the new year.

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
~ Albert Schweitzer

For another healing dose of that potent medicine, in awfully short supply these days, I urge all to see the new documentary, RBG, about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
What a story! What a woman!
Here’s a bit about it:




In the film are quoted:

Gloria Steinem: "When you come right down to it, the closest thing to a superhero I know.”

Nina Totenberg: "Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed the way the world is for American women.”

And prominently (twice!) quoted by Justice Ginsberg herself is this:

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” ~ Sarah Grimk√©

It’s important to learn more about Sarah Grimk√©.
Here’s a start:

Accordingly, it would be wise to heed another woman:

“Another thing is, people lose perspective. It is a cultural trait in America to think in terms of very short time periods. My advice is: learn history. Take responsibility for history. Recognize that sometimes things take a long time to change. If you look at your history in this country, you find that for most rights, people had to struggle. People in this era forget that and quite often think they are entitled, and are weary of struggling over any period of time”
~ Winona LaDuke

The Doktor - Doug R said...

@ Jay-Ottawa, Thanks for the great example that for every sorry ass whiner like sheryl sandberg there are wonderful fighters like RBG. I also think that women tend to have a better sense of shame than men, so I for one am very hopeful that the ascendance of more women to positions of supreme power will lead to better outcomes for working people. While the Dems have been historically weak willed & easily cowed, we are seeing new history being made; Speaker Pelosi has been licking her wounds for 8 long years, now she's getting a second bite at the apple, IMHO she will be formidable and Trump will be shocked at her ability to govern. I wouldn't have health insurance if not for the ACA. For all of it's imperfections the ACA was working to lower the rate of premium increases.
Our most pressing problems are coming directly from the GOP, all this hand wringing about the imperfections of the Dems seems to ignore the trees for the forest - Dems don't tell bald faced lies about AGW!
As to the Russians - Trump campaign officials at the highest levels had scores of meetings with Russians & lied about those meetings. Trump has been getting hundreds of millions of dollars (if not Billions) from Russians for decades when no respectable bank would give him a loan. Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads aimed directly at American cities. Thousands of Americans campaign for office every year - none of them have meetings with Russians and lie about it - only Trump, his evil friends and his criminal children. Russia is a Kleptocracy, & yes that's worse than an Oligarchy. Every Russian Oligarch is dependent on currying favor with the Russian Mob & the Kremlin - they all interlinked. ANYONE who has ever met or dealt with Russians will never forget it, they are extremely intense people, so anyone who says they "forgot" about a meeting with a Russian is a liar.
The odds are solidly in our favor with fewer waxey old white guys in positions of extreme power. Especially waxey old white guys with shady monetary connections to the Russian mob.

Karl Kolchak said...

The only thing that is going to stop this circus of corruption is economic and political collapse--and it sure looks like 2019 might be a good year for that.

John Merryman said...


The question is not so much that the system is irredeemably corrupt, but why. In my decades of exploring this problem, I find there are basic physical dynamics at work, mostly thermodynamic cycles. If it wasn't for the ups and downs, reality would just be a flatline.
Reality is a dichotomy of energy and form. Think galaxies; Energy radiating out, mass/structure coalescing in. Our bodies have a digestive, respiratory and circulatory system to process the energy driving us on, as well as the brain and central nervous system to analyze the form and information this energy, internal and external, generates, in order to navigate. Motor and steering.
As societies we evolved a communal central nervous system, in the executive and regulatory functions of government. Starting with chieftains and tribal elders, to kings and nobles, to presidents and legislatures.
There is also a circulation mechanism, in the financial system. When societies were small, economics was reciprocal, as it was far more efficient to share, than individually hoard. Though as they grew, methods of accounting became necessary and that is the function of money. It essentially serves as a voucher system. As such, it is the social contract enabling mass societies to function, yet we have come to view it as a commodity, to mine out of society.
The problem starts in econ 101, where we are taught that money is both medium of exchange and store of value, as well as price setting mechanism. The fact is that a medium and a store are very different functions. For instance, in the body, blood is the medium and fat is the store, or for cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store. Obviously mixing these up will shut down the system. Yet we all try to save, ie. store money.
As a medium, money is not property. We own money like we own the section of road we are on, because its functionality is in its fungibility. Value needs to be stored as tangible assets, both personal and public, not as abstractions in a bank.
The primal cultural belief of America, as the "melting pot," is individualism, but the result of this is an atomized society, with banking as the necessary medium and our bank accounts as our personal economic umbilical cord.
While this medium serves the entire society, that doesn't mean it should be part of government. Just as the nervous system and the circulation system serve the entire body, they also have very different functions. The head and the heart. The motor and the steering.
Politicians cannot be allowed control over the financial system, because politicians live and die on how much hope they provide and we experience money as quantified hope. So when all else fails, or they are just stupid, the compulsion to just issue more money is too strong.
What we have now is a private banking system, having its, "Let them eat cake," moment. It is as if the heart is telling the rest of the body to go suck dirt.
Yet they store much of this money as public debt and when that national home loan reaches its limits, disaster capitalism/predatory lending comes home and we have a real oligarchy.
I'll leave it at this, because it's hard to get people to try thinking this through, but there is a larger conversation the powers that be are doing everything in their power to avoid, as you point out. The question then becomes the nature and direction of that conversation.

The Joker said...

“The Machine of Perpetual War Acceptance”: Veteran NBC Journalist Resigns In Protest Over One-Sided Coverage.

William Arkin goodbye letter to NBC: