H/t: @nathanhjb for the photo
There are two L.A. Times articles today that I want to juxtapose. One is an op-ed by
Christopher Ketcham (who wrote “The Reign of the One Percenters: Income Equality and the Death of Culture in New York City” in the current issue of Orion magazine). The other is a piece titled Major election spenders to remain secret until after first votes.
Let’s take a look at the op-ed first. As you know, the Occupy Wall Street protesters are speaking out against economic inequality and targeting the top 1%, corporate greed, and corruption:
They hold signs that say, “People not profit” and “Populism not corporate fascism.”
It doesn’t get a lot more specific than that. One of them, a 25-year-old ex-Marine named Brian Phillips, told me he quit his job in Washington state and hitchhiked to join the protest in New York. “We want to start a new way of living,” Phillips said. “We want to start a new society. We want to destroy a system that benefits only the 1 Percenters. It’s not working for us. It’s putting us in poverty. No more making laws that benefit corporations and banks.” [...]
During the housing bubble that ended in our current calamity, the average income for the 1 Percenters in New York went up 119%. [...]
Middle-income New Yorkers — defined broadly as those earning between $29,000 and $167,000 — saw a 19% decrease in earnings. Almost 11% of the population in New York, about 900,000 people, lives in what the federal government describes as “deep poverty,” which for a four-person family means an income of $10,500; the average 1 Percenter household in New York makes about that same amount every day.
Read that again: Middle-income New Yorkers saw a 19% decrease in earnings. The top 1% made the same amount in one day that nearly a million people made in a year.
Now on to those big, undisclosed campaign donors. We can thank the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision for this:
The new committees, known as “super PACS,” are changing the nature of political races by allowing wealthy corporations and individuals to contribute unlimited sums to support a favored candidate [...]
It is unclear how much money will be raised and spent by the new groups. But the amount will be significant. Make Us Great Again, a pro-Perry super PAC formed by a former chief of staff to the Texas governor and one of his top donors, set its early fundraising goal at $55 million, according to a planning document that was first reported by NBC.
A super PAC founded by allies of Mitt Romney reported raising $12.2 million in the second quarter, compared with $18.2 million reported by Romney’s official campaign.
And Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have announced plans to raise and spend record amounts, over $300 million in outside ads running across the country in the 2012 races.
President Obama “is looking for $1 billion to fund his campaign.”
Think about how all those millions (soon to be billions) could be used if, instead of going toward elections, that money was used to help the needy, the ill, and even to help fix the budget. The obscene amounts of money being spent by candidates is not only eye-poppingly appalling, it’s morally wrong.
Politicians waste their time having to put their hands out day after day, month after month, when they should be dedicating that time and energy to their constituents and, you know, doing their jobs, as in governing, making laws, providing decent oversight, and watching out for their fellow citizens’ safety and well-being.
That money could be used to help the very Americans who (individually) donate. Then all those donors could be spending their money on goods and services, which would go right back into our economy to help force it out of this disastrous recession that continues to affect all of us. Well, nearly all of us.
Occupy Wall Street is focusing on those issues and much much more.
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members. That our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors. That a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people, and the Earth, and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.
We come to you at a time when corporations — which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality — run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here as is our right to let these facts be known.