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…of Today’s Capitalism with Marianne Williamson
By Todd Telford
At a recent interview in Iowa, presidential candidate Marianne Williamson dove deep into a glaring truth in American politics today: money and greed have driven us from the moral path set forth by our founders. This deviation stems from the domination of the dark side of capitalism. As Williamson puts it, America has fallen victim to “moral rot” when the profits of giant corporations trump the goal of growth and success throughout society.
We started back in the ‘80s moving away from the idea that a corporation has a moral responsibility ethically to all its stakeholders…to the worker, to the community, to the environment…Instead [corporate America] bought into this idea that its only responsibility was fiduciary responsibility to its stockholders. It completely obliterated any sense of moral, ethics, compassion, remorse, any sense of deep human responsibility on the level of our humanity.
When an individual has completely disconnected from conscience, from compassion, and from ethics, that’s a sociopath. And an economic system which is similarly disconnected from any sense of compassion and ethics is a sociopathic economic system.
Now the idea that market forces and short-term profit maximization for multinational corporations should be the bottom line in the organizing principle for our society, this has replaced democracy. You can’t be that and also be democracy. That is a moral disfunction. It is a spiritual disfunction. That moral rot has led to political corruption that leads to human devastation.
This “moral rot” that has put America on the brink is like hard liquor to a binging alcoholic. And if you compare the arc of American history to the lifespan of a man, our nation has regressed to a hedonistic alcoholic over the last 40 years. The intoxicants are oil, greed, and power overriding any semblance of justice or compassion. And as with an alcoholic careening towards rock bottom, the buzz is worth any price.
It started with Reagan choosing to throttle back the Sherman Antitrust Act, allowing corporate America to consolidate power. That power manifested in massive lobbying, steering politicians towards the desired legislative results through lavish meals, gifts, trips, and favors for relatives. And of course by Reagan cutting the top tax tier from 74% to as low as 25%, the path to oligarchy through political power was made far easier.
Then the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 allowed corporate donors to sustain the careers of their persuadable targets. Favorable legislation resulted, creating a feedback loop that has been like a keg in the bedroom of our 28-year-old embodiment of America. Let’s call him Uncle Sam.
Sam likes his drinking buddies. CEOs are buying him rounds all the time. In the rush of merriment, he exaggerates. He lies. He ridicules others for how they look or move, the color of their skin. And when he’s feeling down, they are the ones he blames.
Sam barely thinks about his other friends anymore. He’s lost the reason to sustain good relationships. He’s physically going to pot, taking his body – the environment – for granted. Sam is burning the candle at both ends, using up reserves he’ll need later and drilling wildly when he knows he shouldn’t.
Sam always gets more credit cards when he reaches the limit on his current ones. And he’s not doing a great job at work; his inattention is causing massive entropy in the government.
But deep down, Sam knows that his debt, depletion, and dishonesty will come back to haunt him. He’s smoked so much for so long, he kind of suspects that cancer is a part of him that he isn’t willing to face. And when he has kids, they’re going to have it pretty rough. He might not be healthy enough to play hoops with them. Yet these factors are not enough to make the effort to change. But of course, they do provide the reason to keep drinking.
That is the moral rot that’s plaguing Uncle Sam. And the time is right for us to plan an intervention. It will start at the ballot box, when Democrats control the White House and Congress. The next step will be to pass HR 1, ending Citizens United, mandating paper ballots, enacting severe lobbying restrictions, and requiring public not private funding for campaigns. When we take away the sauce, those in it for power and personal gain will no longer want to play.
And when sober, Sam will remember what he’s capable of. Marianne Williamson details that path to sobriety in the Issues section on her website http://marianne2020. And one of the cornerstones along that path is No. 7 in her Economy page:
Restore a modern Glass-Steagall, separating commercial banks (which take deposits and make loans) from investment banks, ensuring that banks cannot make risky investments. If they fail, they should not be bailed out by the government. Hold Wall Street accountable.
Ending the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 was what allowed for the creation of banking tools like credit default swaps and bundling sub-prime mortgages. Millions lost their homes and savings when these devices made a select few very rich while the rest of the economy tanked in 2008.
This kind of greed exemplifies the breakdown in human values that Williamson is lamenting. And America can no longer afford those types of priorities. With climate-induced challenges, resource scarcity, and overpopulation looming, our nation needs to think about our 22nd century, not the next quarter’s profits.
As Williamson said, the price of a sociopathic economic system is human devastation by way of unchecked corruption. Trump and the complicit GOP are willing to #MakeAmericaMediocre to retain power and continue to build obscene wealth for their donors. Integrity, honesty, and the rule of law are not guiding lights, merely obstacles easily stepped over and forgotten. These politicians are not patriots, they are only leeches sucking middle class prosperity from the American dream.
Williamson sees that big picture, and knows that with unity, integrity, and ingenuity, we have the guts to overcome what I call the #CORPservative agenda. There’s enough good in enough people to get us there.
But it has to start legislatively. And leaders like Williamson, who shed light on the disproportionate power of corporations, provide the vision of an inclusive future where corporations operate as partners of society instead of parasites. This is where the Democratic Party needs to go. And on the debate stages starting in June, Williamson will share how she intends to reel in the corporatism that diminishes every family’s potential for a comfortable future.
Todd Telford is the founder of We Party Populists and the creator of the miniprotesting technique for curbside activism. He won the 2011 American Dream Scholarship to that year’s Take Back the American Dream Conference in Washington, D.C. for the miniprotesting concept. His opinions are his own.