Whose economy is it, anyway?
January 29, 2002
“What do I care about the law? Hain’t I got the power?” Cornelius Van Derbilt
“We the Corporations of The United States, in order to make more money, establish our profits with campaign contributions and lobbying, insure a revolving door of greedy executives, provide pink slips for our employees and steal their retirement, promote theft from our shareholders, and secure the hatred of the people of the world through economic exploitation, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Corporations of the United States.” Tom Turnipseed.
In the opening days of the new year, the Wall Street appears to be jubilant and smiling in the expectation of recovery from the last year’s Nasdaq bubble-burst, and a majority of talking heads in the corporate media positively forecasts that economy is finally bottomed out and is heading for another good year in the stock investment from the second quarter.
The economists and financial analysts agree that the stimulus packages by the government is a sure path to recovery, in which the hard-hit industries like airlines, travel, insurance, and military industries would reap billions over the next few years and rich investors would toss more money into the stock market when King George persuades the Congress to cut taxes for riches.
Strangely, it does not ring the same bell for Joe Six-packs who were piled with the credit card debt, bill payments, and pink slips in their hand…and the statistics said otherwise: the unemployment jumps from the rate of 5.6 percent to 5.8 percent, the consumer debts reaches up record-high $7.5 trillion, and the “working” homeless people swell nationwide 13 percent over last year.
A survey by the US Conference of Mayors indicated that request for emergency shelter in major cities around the country increased sharply from New York City to New Orleans.
In New York City, the number of people in shelters reached over 30,000 including 12,500 children, an increase of 50 percent in three years, and there are an untold number in cold and windy street.
In Minneapolis, where in average night 5,000 people sought the shelter, the lottery draws determine who will get a warm meal, a hot shower, a chance to do a laundry, and a place lay down a tired body, and odds are as bad as winning a jackpot at the State lottery.
Among the homeless, many are employed in steady job but they can not afford to rent an apartment.
One of the ironies after the September 11 is that the charitable donations to help out the disadvantaged people have dropped considerably due to the outpouring of donation for the victim’s family in the September disaster: when you lay in blankets on a frozen stairs at church building, the city cops kick you off from their beat to somewhere under the bridge, and when you die in a posh twin tower, your family got a shower of money from the Government and even The Salvation Army kicks in to pay your household bills.
The homeless people are not counted as worth as a bloody Mullah in Afghanistan whose head is prized for millions of dollars, as if poor are not counted as rich benefactors in economic recovery.
They live in a hand-to-mouth fashion, hardly go on a binge on Sak’s or Bloomingdale’s, or few have a bank account rather cashing their check at the supermarket.
They are not faring at all in the economic stimulus program except panhandling for changes and gaping in awe at the ticker tape in the Time Square—people become irrelevant, voiceless, and unworthy in their own environment. That is, you do not exist in your own community!
According to the Census report, the poorest one-fifth of household in 2000 earned only 3.6 percent of the national income, while top one-fifth got 49 percent and three-fifth of middle shared 46 percent.
Conversely, the economy is surely in the hands of corporate juggernauts like Enron, Chase, Citigroup, Morgan, Goldman Sachs, GE, American Airline, and Military Industrial Complex like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing, which treat the US Treasury as one of their branches.
These corporations were given a full person entity by the Supreme Court, with full Constitutional protections of the right to speak and to act in every sphere—giving campaign contributions, lobbyings, and participating in the political campaigns: they are as much human as people, but act more like inhumane, top-to-down, despotic, greedy, amoral, corrupt, selfish, heartless, and careless tools.
When King George put up billions for the stimulus package in the military contracts, loans and grants to these corporations, the billions plus interest are due to be paid with taxes, which means the sweat and labor of average Joes—that is, the final payers of the bills are real people, not the corporate entity masqueraded in human figure.
Take the Enron case into perspective: among so many politicians, corporate lawyers, and financial auditors and regulators, few claimed their neutrality in the investigation of criminal activities in the largest corporate bankruptcy case of Houston-based energy giant that operates around the globe from India to Brazil.
In Congress, there are at least five committees that are on the trail for the Enron debacle, but the two-third of the members leaves shamefully the oily fingerprints on the list of Enron’s political contribution.
King George himself tried to distance himself from the CEO of Enron, “the Kenny Boy”, telling a lie that he did not know the CEO until 1994 and the Enron was a supporter of his political enemy, former Texas Governor Ann Richards, not George during his Texas Governor era.
The Bush Administration has so many pooh bahs whose incestuous relationship with Enron corrupts the notion of an unbiased investigation: Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General, Mullah John Ashcroft, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsay, Secretary of Army Thomas White, U.S Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Bush confidante Karl Rove, and more.
The head of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Harvey Pitt, who would have a final say on the stock manipulation and audit irregularities on the Enron and Arthur Andersen, was an attorney for the same audit firm Andersen, making him a sympathetic cop rather than a thorough investigator.
The Democrats are not exception: during the Clinton Administration, the Enron have made a $3 billion contract with Indian government through the good office of Bill Clinton who received millions of dollars of political contribution from the Company.
In corporate America of deregulation and laissez-faire ideology, when Joe blow writes a bad check or steals a loaf of bread, whose destiny surely heads for the minimum six month in jail, while a corporate juggernaut like Enron, Exxon, or GE, cheats consumers, government, or their employees, they got a slap on the wrist and most of the monetary damages are covered by insurance and limited liability for shareholders.
In other word, the company under the protection of limited liability is not responsible as much as a person while it enjoys full constitutional rights—giving campaign contributions, lobbying, and promoting their products—as many as an individual person is entitled to.
Because of these limited liability with an unlimited number of powerful friends, the corporate people become more audacious, arrogant and ruthless thugs, destroying an environment, shortchanging the powerless consumers, usurping desperate debtors, and finagling an exorbitant profit.
It is no more about We the People, but We the Corporation that manifest how people got trampled under the yoke of wealthy bosses.
Historically, the United States have been the paradise of freebooting capitalists, a pack of Robber Barons like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Drew, Morgan, etc., who demanded always a free hand in the market, promising that in making them super-rich they would build up the country for the benefit of all the people.
Accordingly, the economy dances in tune with the corporate over-lords who are happy to see many people unemployed, because lay-off makes primarily to increase the value of CEO stock bonuses and becomes a major strategy to cut the cost of running the business.
These CEOs behave as if they were hailed from other planet to exploit and colonize the earth and retired to the remote Milky Way with their lovely wives, sons and daughters, leaving people behind holding the bags of rotten garbage.
Contrary to the popular nursery-rhyme opinion that the consumer confidence and spending are the major driving forces of the economy, people do not have a voice at the US economy and the corporate overlords hold the stock market in their sway in the massive accumulation of obscene wealth for one percent of the total population.
Now the Bush Administration embark on the privatization of the Social Security under the banner of “New Economy” that provides trillion dollars of new capitals into the sleazy hands of financial corporations and stupendous windfalls, commissions, and fees for the brokerage firms.
It is an ultimate coronation of the Wall Street that people put the whole trust on the financial institutions and Alan Greenspan for their old age income and disabilities…if market fails and economy goes blooey, people stand at the corner of the Wall Street with hat in hand and beg for changes from the bankers, brokers, and financial managers who used to gamble with their money.
People have no seat at the table in Wall Street where a cabal of corporate overlords enriches themselves with people’s pension funds and government-insured deposits.
It is an insidious corruption of democracy in the form of fascistic corporatism that was born through the collusion of state and corporate power.