NATION OF CHANGE: The few rich men who control the Capitol have successfully managed to consolidate the majority of the nation’s wealth into their hands. The Capitol has taken away food stamps from hungry families and given it to their rich benefactors in the form of tax breaks, subsidies, and other forms of corporate welfare. Career politicians are even smashing up the possessions of homeless people with a sledgehammer with impunity, while wearing designer clothes.
These rich men also control the news broadcasted on the Capitol’s airwaves that brainwashes the impoverished masses into believing their suffering is their own fault, that they’re only starving because they don’t know how to work hard, and that those who control all the resources must somehow deserve it because their status makes them more worthy. However, the rich men still aren’t satisfied. They’re already trying to force through a trade deal kept secret from the public that would subvert what remains of democracy and install global corporate rule.
When the poor and oppressed dare to speak out against the injustice of the ruling class, the Capitol’s peacekeeping forces suppress their protests with extraordinary brutality. When the people try to vote out their corrupt leaders in the electoral process, the ruling class simply drowns out the democratic process by dumping truckloads of money into incumbents’ pockets. Meanwhile, the impoverished masses are constantly told to be thankful for their freedom, and are given mindless distractions to keep their minds off of what their real problems are.
I’m not talking about The Hunger Games. I’m talking about our present situation.
Instead of creating jobs, these companies are using these tax breaks to buy back their own stock, like Walmart does to the tune of $7.6 billion per year. As the progressive think tank Demos discovered, Walmart could instead use the money dedicated to stock buybacks, which only enrich a small handful of corporate executives, to instead pay their hourly employees $14.89 an hour, without raising their prices by even a cent. This billion-dollar corporation even has the balls to tell the customers already buying their stuff that they should also donate food to Walmart employees who make poverty wages so they can have a Thanksgiving dinner.
McDonald’s has gone even lower in their greedy quest for ever-increasing profits. Even though the fast food company makes $24 billion in annual revenue, which is enough money to be ranked as the world’s 90th largest economy, they refuse to pay their employees a living wage, instead asking them to make outlandish sacrifices. McDonald’s recently put up a website encouraging their employees to cut their food into smaller portions to make it last longer, sell their Christmas gifts online to have enough money to pay bills, and to quit complaining.
Tom Corbett and other right-wing governors across the United States, put in office through this flooding of corporate cash into elections, are obediently following their orders from their corporate benefactors. Their role is to streamline laws written by corporate lobbyists behind closed doors (ALEC), passed down an assembly line from posh resorts to statehouses. These laws are designed to systematically bilk the poor out of the remaining scraps they cling to and redistribute them upward to the ruling class. These laws are also designed to strip public resources of tax dollars while enriching corporations with hefty corporate welfare packages.
As Senator Bernie Sanders has said, 1 percent of the population in the US owns 38 percent of all wealth. At the same time, the bottom 60% of Americans owns just 2.3% of the wealth. And this small number of wealthy Americans have been allowed to purchase influence in government both through the lobbying process and through unlimited political contributions. The ruling class have bought the government of the United States, which is currently the greatest empire in the history of the world,occupying over 130 countries. Thus, the plutocracy not only controls the distribution of resources in our country, but all over the world.
Just 9 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, which is relatively proportional to the percentage of Americans who aren’t living in poverty or one paycheck away from it. The United States ranks 4th out of all nations in income inequality. But the US isn’t a poor country. Rather, its rich owners have amassed such a glacier of wealth and kept it to themselves that this wealth gap will only increase without interference from Congress. And because Congress is comprised mainly of millionaires, and merely running for Congress requires amassing millions of dollars, anyone who wants to get elected has to swear allegiance to the ruling class to even have a chance of winning. MORE
RELATED: For the first time ever, according to Forbes magazine, the 400 richest Americans have more than $2 trillion in combined wealth. And, a fifth of that amount is held by just 10 individuals. Of those top 10 richest Americans, six hail from two families—the Kochs and the Waltons—who are destroying our economy and corrupting our politics. We all should be outraged. Arguably, the two most urgent tasks in this country are to transform our economy and to clean up our politics, and these two families stand in the way of both. Our economy is marked by stagnating wages, which have sunk to poverty levels for millions of workers. The key driver of our low-wage economy is Walmart, with its 11,000 stores worldwide that pay so little that many of its workers get by on food stamps. The four main heirs to Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, rank numbers six, seven, eight, and nine on the billionaires list. Three sit on the Walmart board, including Rob Walton, the board chair. The problem is, of course, not just economics. It’s the way that economics interacts with politics. The Waltons—experts at tax avoidance—exercise a subtler, but equally corrosive, influence of our politics through their continued role in the world’s largest global corporation, Walmart. Here is an example of how they operate. A year ago, Walmart announced it wanted to build six stores in Washington, D.C. This past summer, after a spirited community campaign, the D.C. City Council passed a resolution that would have required giant big box stores to pay a living wage. The day before the vote, Walmart very publicly announced that it would not build three of the stores if the resolution became law. The threat worked. The D.C. mayor vetoed the living wage bill. MORE