Just in case you thought our Congress wasn’t the best that money can buy...
– This election year, the Chamber of Commerce is looking to confirm it. At a meeting in Washington, Chamber President Tom Donohue told members that his organization is, “planning on having a good year,” and will spend more money this election than they did in 2010, when they spent more than $30 million catapulting corporate shills calling themselves Tea Partiers into Congress.
The Chamber is eyeing at least 12 Senate races and 37 House races with their corporate war-chest. Already the Chamber has dumped $3.4 million into this year’s election. As for the goal – the Chamber’s National Political Director summed it up like this, saying, “Our strategy is to protect the pro-business majority in the House and advance our interests in the Senate.”
That’s similar to the campaign platform of Warren Harding who in 1920 called for “more business in government and less government in business.” Nine years later – the economy crashed. And less than nine years after our first MBA President, George W. Bush, put in place basically the same policies – the economy crashed again. And yet, here’s the Chamber of Commerce promising to do it all again.
From this week's Washington State AFL-CIO newsletter THE STAND on the difference between vulture and venture capitalism, which I heard you speaking of today. Thought you and your audience might find it to your taste:
Bain-focals’ put profit-driven presidency into sharp focus
By KEN WINKES
Among the millions who will be affected by the 2012 presidential election are dozens of high school students who won’t have to write the essays I would have assigned if I were still teaching.
For this former English teacher, the 2012 presidential election would have been a dream-come-true. Not since 1932, when the Depression gripped the country, has an election been so laden with symbolism, so fraught with meaning.
“I know,” my students used to sigh, “you want to know what it MEANS!” I did and do. Right now I want to know how the challenger views the country and its future, but given as he is to saying anything that will please the audience of the moment, one has to get below the surface to find the bedrock of his intent. I may have found a way. It’s a literary thing: my students would have recognized it as point of view.
Think of the U.S. Postal Service and its current travails. It’s a cautionary tale we should take to heart. The requirement to fund 75 years of potential pensions in only 10 years, which the 2006 lame-duck Congress foisted on our USPS, is strangling it. No other enterprise in the country, public or private, bears such an impossible, $6 billion a year burden. Without legislative relief the USPS will die. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands will lose their jobs and the fine service we’ve been accustomed to for centuries will disappear. Who could possibly want that to happen?
The only way I can make sense out of what we’ve done to the Postal Service is to put on my Bain-focals, lenses that resolve all complex situations into simple dollar signs. Wearing Bain-focals clears things up because through them consideration of the common good no longer exists, public service disappears from view, workers and their concerns become invisible and all that remains is the heady vision of private profit for the few. To anyone looking through Bain-glasses, the Post Office’s problems are no problem at all. They’re glorious opportunity.
What my Bain-focals see in a Post Office demise is billions of beautiful dollars: profitable routes auctioned off to the highest private bidder, a vast infrastructure — vehicles, sorting centers and technology, office buildings sold piece by piece. It’s the Bain way and it works. The stacks of money it has made for Bain’s partners are irrefutable proof of its effectiveness.
Bain Capital has made hundreds of millions scavenging businesses down on their luck. Usually with borrowed money, the Bain partners take control of an ailing business, shed its obligations to its workers through bankruptcy, stick the taxpayers for promised pensions and sell what remains of the carcass for parts. At the prospect of what a Bain presidency could do for a whole country, corporations and private equity managers must be drooling, for in a Romney presidency it’s not just the post office that will get the Bain treatment.
Our public schools have already had a taste of what that Bain treatment would mean. The effort to corporatize public education has been around since Reagan’s presidency and has accelerated in the last decade. In the twin names of improved student performance and financial efficiency, charter schools, both public and private, first galloped to the rescue in the late 1980′s. Though their numbers have grown, studies have shown time and again that charter schools offer no magic bullet. If they can’t select their students, their test scores are seldom better than those of similar public schools and are often worse.
More recently, for thousands of students across the country private on-line charter schools have replaced classrooms and public school teachers. These remote, pre-packaged programs, overseen by a teacher equally remote, have an even worse record. Except in one area. Their test scores are low and their dropout rate is high, but their profit is stupendous. They are immensely successful at siphoning public money into private hands. Seen through Bain-focals, private on-line schools work just fine.
And because workers’ organizations get in the way of profit, unions aren’t in this picture either. The right to bargain, already contested in multiple states, even here in Washington, becomes moot if the workers themselves are eliminated and the enterprise they supported starved to nothing and sold for scrap. For postal workers and teachers, that’s what a Bain future would bring.
First the post office. Then the schools. In a whole country there’s so much low-hanging fruit to harvest. Our public lands? Our roads and parks? It’s hard to say for sure. Perhaps peering through Bain-focals for so long has strained my eyes and my spirit and it’s time to give them both a rest.
So I’ll close my eyes for a while and think with some regret of all those essays I cannot assign and that will not be written. It’s too bad, for this year’s election presents a perfect prompt for thinking and writing about what things really mean, truly a teacher’s dream-come-true.
What I could regret even more, though, is our future should the wrong candidate win. Seen through anything but Bain-focals, that dream would be a nightmare.
I realized when I was 15 when Reagan got elected that the American people are dumb. There sheep herded around by popular opinion and smooth talkers. Only when circumstances become so horrible that people are starving in the streets will the masses pull there heads out of the sand. I have talked till my voice was hoarse. It does no good. Americans only care that they are moderatly comfortable.
Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake." All that most Americans care for is Xbox and Iphones and BIg TVs. The 1% figured out a long time ago all they have to do is give the masses toys and not let them die in the streets "too much" and it's business as usual.
I am so fed up with the American People that I am really considering immigrating to another country where people understand what a privilege voting is.
Jim, make sure your passport is up to date. While you're at it check your family lineage, to see if you have a percentage of a certain country's blood, like Michelle Bachman had. If you have french, you might qualify for French Canadian immigrant status. There are also some islands formerly french colonies.
If romney gets elected, social security will be slashed, medicare and medicaid, too. Your taxes will go up, too. A war would soon follow, and selective service reinstated.
I voted...and all I got was this damn jury duty..and a continuation of the myth that there is democracy in America. As sure as there is a Faux News...there is a Faux Democracy..they are both controlled by the super rich. There are few things that will reverse this situation...and voting for yet another idiot politician will be an exercise in futility. Despite Obama's recent campaign rhetoric he will continue to be owned by the super rich but it would be dreadful if Romney won. Don't vote and Romney may win...how horrible! Vote and you will have four more years of the same old gutless wonder that is constantly giving in to the rich. We will likely lose Social Security either way. But never accept that. Never give in to the bastards. Never resign yourselves to a defeatist attitude about social security. If they can spend trillions on stupid illegal wars and spy on us in the name of security...they can reach down into those same coffers and cough up the money that they owe us for social security. Sell off the damn White House or Capital Building to the Chinese...for all I care...these rat bastards owe us the money we put into social security.
We had a strong prominent Constitutional Democratic Republic since President Franklin D. Roosevelt to President Ronald Reagan. We've fought this fight for over 30 years. We've given tax breaks to the Rich, and with their money the Rich have bought the best Government that money can buy. The battle for a return to a Constitutional Democratic Republic continues, hopefully...
The general public is so concerned with their individual well being they are hypnotized by self preservation. A great many citizens are in a survival mode living day to day. They are vulnerable to what ever they are being told and not well informed enough to determine fact from fiction. I personally feel nothing will change much for the 1% regardless of the election results. A lot of people I talk to refuse to vote because they don't trust the process and feel they have been betrayed before. Of the ones who vote little will change. Honestly we in the US are at that point where the default button needs to be pushed. Everything is some whiz kids marketing scam. Every business deal is flush with victims,
and the economy has been in self destruct mode for over 30 years. I was hoping for a crash when I was a young man giving me a chance to recover. Unfortunately for me that didn't happen. I've lost my business, my livlihood, my retirement, my will to survive. I'm fed up with the entire system and I know many who feel the same. We have been scarificed for the sake of those who have been richly rewarded for national crimes against humanity. As far as I'm concerned every polotician is on the take or sold out to a corporations interest. Those who look at austerity as the answer need to take a good hard look at the cost of national defense, homeland security, and the likes.