RULING SPURS RUSH FOR CASH IN BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES
(New York Times Headline, April 4, 2014)
Returned to the US after close to four months away, I arrived to the cacophony of money. It is, as the phrase goes, bottom-line American. The All-Mighty Buck. Follow the money. Money talks, bullshit walks. It’s the American way, just ask Justice Scalia, or his StepnFetchit, Justice Thomas.
Money is a kind of poetry.– Wallace Stevens
Money, the long green,
cash, stash, rhino, jack
or just plain dough.
Chock it up, fork it over,
shell it out. Watch it
burn holes through pockets.
To be made of it! To have it
to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles,
megabucks and Ginnie Maes.
It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
holds heads above water,
makes both ends meet.
Money breeds money.
Gathering interest, compounding daily.
Always in circulation.
Money. You don’t know where it’s been,
but you put it where your mouth is.
And it talks.
Adding insult to injury, following Citizens United, backing their decision with specious arguments asserting it wasn’t in any way a mode of corruption, the Robert’s Supreme Court this past week ruled that Federal caps on many forms of political campaign donations were unconstitutional (McCutcheon v. FEC.) Just as the prior ruling had it that corporations are people, and hence have the same First Amendment rights as the two footed form. And so the flood-gates opened, resulting in the NYT headline cited above. Yep, money is, says the Supreme Court, a mode of “talk” and the First Amendment prohibits any clamps on our mouths by the government. Let ‘er rip. Of course the same Court has few compunctions about intervening at other orifices and apparently sees no contradiction therein, and I am sure in other instances the same court would happily rule to shut some mouths.
Returning was a narrow and selective chance to see the effects of money in the real world. Arriving in NYC, a ramble through the once hot artistic bohemian realm of Soho revealed an ever more glamorous shopping mall, to serve the new denizens of the area, awash in wealth. Gucci Prada Luis Vuitton as well as more local practitioners of sucking up the money from the very rich. Nearby areas reflected a similar trajectory making much of Manhattan a play-ground mostly for the very well-off. Some visits to Brooklyn showed a down-scale version of the same phenomenon: Green Point, Red Hook, Williamsburg, Gowanus. There the young hipsters, priced out of swanky Manhattan, have taken over run-down swathes of the city and, as in many other places I know, displacing the locals (poorer, most often of color other than Anglo) and bringing in their “culture.” Soon enough condo’s sprout, the economic level shifts up a few more notches, and “gentrification” happens. This is all done under the Mystical Invisible Hand of the Market, so it is, ahem, ideologically free, not racist, etc. Once again the rumble of cash turns into a tsunami, wiping out all in its (s)way.
Moving on from New York, where I got a few harsh reminders of the current economic trends as they apply to the likes of me, I caught a mix of Amtrak and buses on down to Columbus Ohio, a trip which put me in the company of the sorts shoved out of Brooklyn and who can’t afford airplanes. At one point the bus had to stop as an altercation was going on, and finally the police were called and took the soul away. He was not Anglo colored. Another bus jaunt northward brought me back to Cleveland where I had a chance to see another once-industrial city dying as the slosh of massive money shifted to other climes in the name of “Globalization.” This policy was put into effect at the behest of our larger corporations, with the assurances it would bring jobs and all kinds of good things to America. Both our permitted political parties, eagerly embraced these policies, singing a siren song of praises for what it would do for the Nation. It brought instead the ubiquitous Wal-Mart boxes and boarded up small town Main Streets, along with the larger decimation of places like Cleveland, Detroit, Toledo and a long string of other once productive American cities. The children of old Sam Walton are among the richest people in the world, having sold their Arkansas snake-oil to the country while laying waste to it. Ironically the country which most “capitalized” on this policy, China, has equally been laid waste with horrendous ecological damage, corruption, and sometime soon an economic crash as rapid and vast as its ascent.
Other travels have taken me to the quasi-abandoned northwest corner of Missouri, and across Missouri, Iowa and rural Illinois to Chicago. The seeming story remains the same: small towns sucked dry of their economic ground, family farms taken over by corporate ones, jobs swept away, leaving boarded up towns, a litany of For Sale signs, weathered and hopeless. Meanwhile, our government, in collusion with our biggest corporations, secretly negotiates the terms of the TPP (TransPacific-Partnership), kissing cousin to NAFTA (of which the long forgotten Presidential candidate, Ross Perot, accurately predicted – to predictable ridicule from the establishment – that the giant sound you would hear would be the jobs being sucked away….). Obama, the candidate who promised “transparency,” is fully involved in this scam, along with the NSA one.
As spring arrives, haltingly in many parts of the country, already the noise of the mid-term elections are upon us, and with it, the massive noise of money. Money in the form of endless political TV ads, money in the form of bought and paid for “representatives” of the people: Federal, State, local. Money in the form of long since paid-off Supreme Court “Justices” who bend to the siren song of capital. The NSA keeps silent watch over us, as an army of co-conspirators, such as Mr Clapper, pull the levers, violating “the law” everyday, and suffering no response. Just as did our previous President and his entourage. We live in a criminalized Nation, with the great criminals residing, naturally, at the very top of the pyramid of power.
It is spring time in Tornado Alley.