Change the Government?

Said the message board poster to me: “If government debt only benefits the wealthy then clearly society should get rid of it.”

Easier said than done. Government benefits the wealthy largely because the wealthy benefit the government. It’s a two-way street, to boot.

It’s not all doe-eyed politicians falling under the sway of evil Big Money. I’ve heard a good number of anecdotes about how politicians can’t take your calls because they’re too busy speed-dialing every multi-millionaire in the country. Then there was the story related by a former president of Standard Oil when he went to Congress to see why it was passing so much legislation against his company.

He went to the head of one committee, who flatly stated that the laws against Standard Oil would stop as soon as that company dumped its current legal representation and signed a contract with the committee chair’s legal partners back in New York. The representative was basically demanding a huge bribe for himself and his partners, and the president of Standard Oil refused to play ball that way… but I think we all know that it continues.

Because of the two national parties and their primary systems, we only get to choose leaders that are pre-approved by some segment of the powers that be. We don’t get to draft our own local heroes and have them battle it out for the political mindshare of the nation: we get Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber. We’re free to think that Tweedle-Dumber is the other party’s man, but there really isn’t enough difference between the two – except on social issues and in personal style – to truly make a difference.

The level of institutional change necessary to effect a change in the way the USA is governed is sufficient to be described as revolutionary at the very least and cataclysmic in only slightly more extreme scenarios.

George Friedman of Stratfor has said that the struggle in the USA between empire and the republic is very real. I’ve read a set of books from the turn of the previous century to indicate that the struggle was already finished by 1919 and the forces of empire emerged victorious. Even then, authors complained of media concentration in the hands of the elites and the use of propaganda to distract people from actual goings-on. Every thing said in these books from 1902, 1919, and 1921 resonates today, but even more strongly because not one condition they decried 100 years ago has done anything but increase in intensity.

Many consider Eisenhower’s speech about the military-industrial complex to have been a warning back in the 1950s: It was only an echo of sentiments voiced by Wilson in 1912, in his “The New Freedom.” The problems we worry over today were already intractable a century ago.

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