BY WILLIAM C. HENRY So the other day I was, for reasons unclear, daydreaming about a Mitt Romney inaugural parade that celebrates the forces stacked against what’s left of the middle-class — or as Mitt might call it, The Envious Class — full-blown flag-waving plutocratic fanfare for the uncommon man complete with flag bearers, floats and a marching band. Actually, it’s not all that imaginary. It’s pretty much already underway. To wit:
The Flag Bearers: Here’s a trivia question the answer to which may be one of the most unconscionable statistics ever recorded: What is the amount of money it would take the average working American 117 lifetimes to earn? Answer: The obscene largess the CEO of the 573rd ranked American corporation took home (notice I didn’t say earned) last year — yeah, I know I better be careful with my words here lest I be accused of fomenting “class warfare” by Simon-sympathizing plutocrats everywhere. But, wait, it turns out even fiberglass fifty-footers spring a leak now and then. The IRS has just released figures showing that the annual incomes of America’s wealthiest 400 dipped from an average of $270 million in 2008 to little over $202 million in 2009 (those figures don’t include non-taxable income) on which they paid an average effective tax rate of 19.9%. Hurray for the red, white and blue-blooded!
The Grand Marshall: Who better to fill this altogether “ceremonial” roll than Mitt Romney. Lots of simplistic waving and posturing signifying nothing. Hell, according to this used-solution salesman, the only snake oil America needs to cure its current ills is yet lower taxes for the wealthy, and even less regulation of the unconscionably unregulated, too-big-to-fail, criminally negligent corporate and Wall Street gambling interests that came within a hair’s breadth of bankrupting the nation in the first place. Hell, Mitt, why don’t you just hand out “Obama No! Greed Si!” buttons and be done with it. Did I mention that he’d also simplify the equal rights situation by denying them to some, and, with a now fully “evolved” tip of the scale to the tea sipping side, severely limiting them for others. Throw ’em some candy and beads, Mitt!
The Promoters: The Koch Bros., Sheldon “Shell Game” Adelson, and Harold “Leveraged Buyout” Simmons. These are the unfathomably rich rightists who’re out to prove that no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning the American electoral process. Adelson alone says he’s willing to pay at least $100 million to prevent Obama’s “socialization” of America. The Koch Bros. fund raising freight train has grown so long that they have apparently decided to form their own political party, and to that end will be holding a convention later this month. Thereafter they intend to distribute in excess of $400 million to “worthy” wealthfare causes. Publicity shy Simmons (right wing PAC Contran) is simply the single largest political contributor in American politics. Together these four have set out to prove that literally everything in America is for sale including those most cherished of cubicles, our voting booths. Festivities to conclude with a concert by the Five Supreme Courtesans.
The Band: The great military/industrial complex ensemble both feared and admired by those controlling the nation’s purse strings for “their ability to blare ‘patriotism’ the loudest and consequently getting to piss the most money away.” Oh, hell, I guess you’ve got to sympathize with an outfit that’s got a thousand-plus — no one, not even the Pentagon, knows for sure how many — useless, archaic, unwarranted military bases to maintain outside the United States (we’ve a mere 440 inside the country). Oh, yeah, and don’t forget those billions upon billions of dollars in cost overruns for outdated and outmoded weapons systems they’ve got to cover. Oh my, I almost forgot those unconscionable Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their trillions of dollars in unimaginable costs, but, never mind, they’ve been left for your children and their children to bear. Wow, there goes the fly-over! And, how cute! the contrails are spelling out a giant I O U!
The Floats: Sponsored by different “special interest” groups and their lobbyists, for judging purposes they’ve been divided into two categories according to their “modus operandi”: 1) those who purchase the legislators beforehand and run them for office, and, 2) those who bribe or coerce them into taking certain actions once they’re in office. The total amount of “gifts” and extortion showered on our elected representatives in a given year is realistically unknowable, but $3 to $4 billion is probably a pretty good guesstimate. Incidentally, that represents the entire budget of many nations. One of the biggest “buy ’em up beforehand” groups, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has spent hundreds of millions of dollars backing prospective state legislators from coast to coast who agree to champion their pro-business/anti-social benefit agendas. Oh, look! it’s Donald Trump’s Miss USA float and they’re all wearing Joe Biden masks!
The Spectators: Soon to be known as simply the great underclass, the elders of whom will longingly tell tales about their pursuit of, and, in albeit severely reduced instances, capture of the “American dream.” Currently, those who were fortunate enough to hold on to their jobs, and consequently their homes, saw their incomes drop 7.7% and their net worth nosedive 40% from 2007 to 2010. I regret to say that these are also many of the same folks who complain the loudest about their plight while knowingly abandoning their most solemn duty and obligation as American citizens, namely voting. Never underestimate the complacency (or downright stupidity) of those with the most to lose. Go figure. Incidentally, as if that weren’t sufficient succor for the right wing, they have now set their sights on making it extraordinarily difficult for those most inclined to vote for liberal causes and candidates to get registered and cast ballots. It’s known in the trade as event insurance.
Crowd Control: 1,271 government organizations (CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI, DEA, ad infinitum) and 1,931 private companies with a combined 854,000 employees holding top-security clearances, plus a nationwide Morals Militia (that’s Evangelical Christian Right for you folks in Vegas) of millions, seems more than up to the job. Well, geez, it’s pretty much conceded that things will be well controlled when you’ve got the entire population’s plans, actions and thoughts under ’round-the-clock surveillance. So, what’s all this got to do with wealthfare? Plenty — of the nation’s liberties being flushed down the toilet, that is. Billions upon billions of dollars spent destroying privacy in the name of preserving freedom by paranoid executive branches and sieg heil-ing congresses, and, billions more spent attempting to destroy freedom of choice by brainwashed, fire-breathing zealots hell bent on imposing their brand of morality on everyone else. Look, Bessie, here comes a big Joe McCarthy balloon and it looks like they’ve got him holding up a neon crucifix in his right hand!
The Clean-up Crew: The put-upon mostly illegal aliens eager to take on the jobs that right-wingers wouldn’t touch even if they came with free tickets to the promised land, all the while labeling those Americans who refuse to do them as spoiled rotten or lazy or both. You know, like making our beds, washing our dishes, cleaning our restrooms, picking our fruits and vegetables, gutting our chickens, hogs and cattle and just about every other dirty behind-the-scenes job that calls for long hours of back-breaking work for minimal pay so long as it allows us to enjoy one of the lowest cost of living indexes among the major industrialized nations of the world, all the while allowing the political and means-of-production elite to stave off any meaningful debate on providing all American workers with a living wage. Will the last middle-class American to leave the parade grounds please turn out the lights.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.
1899 = The number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan
16, 584 = The number of Americans wounded in Afghanistan
0 = The number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history and wrecking the global economy, plunging untold millions into lives of misery and deprivation.