COMMENTARY - We cosmopolitan coastal progressives tend to look down on any hint of conspiracy theories, especially after the plethora circling the drain of the Trump oligarchy.
However, at least some are real. Primarily the incestuous relationship between multi-national corporations, western governments, and the uber-wealthy in the years since the Second World War.
Then to that add in the more recent confluence of Big Ag, Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Pharma and Big Government. By Big Government I mean government directed by the plutocrats for the benefit of the multi-nationals, an approach that allows mega-corps to rape the world and enslave its people for their obscene profits.
Big Coal directs Joe Manchin’s calculated decisions, and Big Pharma controls Krysten Sinema, which has created havoc in DC and despair among many Americans. Despair because even those who rabidly oppose Joe Biden and the Democrats still want most of what was in the Build Back Better plan – universal preschool, upfront child tax credits, expanded Medicare/Medicaid services and reduced prescription drug costs, tax cuts for ordinary Americans, investments that will reduce global warming, free community college, and affordable housing – all desperately needed across every state.
Meanwhile Big Ag and the multi-nationals are stealing water rights, poisoning our water and destroying local agriculture, again for their profit while people starve to death.
Remember how Big Oil fought the cities and state of California with lies and deceit to prevent the banning of plastic bags?
These businesses see their need for upwardly spiraling corporate profits as a life and death issue. For them.
We the people must continue to fight them because this IS a life and death issue… for us and the planet.
Governments are responsible for taking care of people in the aftermath of disasters but should our tax dollars continue to absorb all of these costs when those disasters are increasingly man-made and preventable?
How about requiring a sliding-scale bond from a few hundred to billions depending on risk for every operation on American soil?
Why should a Cuban-born trucker who killed 4 people when his brakes failed be sentenced to 110 years in jail (yes, it’s been reduced but it’s the principle of the matter) while the executives who kill tens and hundreds and thousands with wildfires, collapsing dams and mining disasters walk off scot-free with even their fines paid by their consumers?
In California, PG&E faced no real accountability for the murders they committed by their choosing to prioritize profit over basic maintenance that was the direct cause of the Paradise fire. And the piddling fines they incurred are being paid off by increasing the cost of electricity for those who survived.
Why should we allow our governments, egged on by multinational provocateurs, to negotiate and commit to trade agreements that eviscerate our own rights?
WTO, USMCA (pka NAFTA), and all their illegitimate acronym offspring were devised to explicitly remove barriers to corporate profits by hobbling legislation here and around the world that protected workers and the environment and intellectual property, that improved health and quality of life for millions, and entrenched the corporate right to sue for loss of potential income.
Do you think that the build-up of the US military is necessary? Or is it, in fact, driven by profit – both personal and corporate?
Check out the last time the United States actually won a war that wasn’t in support of foreign factions favorable to American business interests, or wars against indigenous Americans, or the US military sweeping in after others have done most of the heavy lifting, such as in the two world wars?
The American military behemoth is, in fact, deliberately driving up the fears of individual Americans to justify the ever-increasing ramping-up of the armaments industry.
And every war, every “incursion” is just a bonus requiring the replacement of weapons expended or lost.
Lives don’t count in this world.
Nor do they count in the corporate environment of most industries who carry insurance policies to cover the odd death or dismemberment as just another item in their profit-and-loss statements.
Getting back to corporate greed which is clearly egged on by the Wall Street profiteers while the quality of life for those living on Main Street is ignored.
Companies – Amazon, Deere, Kellogg’s and even film studios focus on reducing both pay and benefits for those who work to increase the profitability of their businesses.
The main intent is to reduce ordinary workers’ pay, pay that actually generates the goods and services from which the company derives its profits, pay that goes into the workers’ communities to purchase food, housing, other essential products and paying taxes to provide for education and infrastructure.
This reduction is not reinvested in the businesses or their workforce, but these often obscenely excessive profits are shifted to overseas tax havens, used to buy back stock to inflate the shares held by the companies and their stockholders and paid out in bonuses and executive perks to senior management.
Wage theft is rampant.
This includes making people work more hours than they are paid for, pretending employees are actually “contractors” to avoid payer employer taxes, changing shifts without notice so their employees incur additional child-care costs, deducting tips so they receive below minimum wage (as if people can actually live on minimum wage in most areas of America), paying people under the table, and threatening to turn immigrants over to the USCIS if they complain about workplace violations.
Because corps are now gods, and they have the power. We the people don’t.
Then there is the union-bashing that has been prevalent in the United States to a greater or lesser extent for over 100 years. After successes that actually led to the economically profitable decades following the Second World War, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s crusade to get a decent job for every American, Reagan’s band of greedy profiteers tore into workers’ rights, launching the era of profits at all costs and down, down with the people.
All too soon becoming not only about paychecks, but also about health, clean water, and knowingly exacerbating global warming for a buck.
A more recent approach in both labor and the public sector unions has been to create two or three tiers of workers which reduce production costs with lower-tier workers brought in at lower pay and benefits and destroy the unity of unions as management figures, often correctly, that existing union members won’t scream as hard if their wages and benefits are maintained.
Unfortunately, union workers who don’t fight the tier system are stealing wages from their own children who have yet to enter the labor market.
Corporate interests – whether gutting our workforce, destroying our planet, poisoning our water, requiring farmers use trademarked seeds they cannot own and buy toxics chemicals to eradicate naturally beneficial ecosystems, playing footsie with the taxman, or indiscriminately dumping waste – are not those of we the people.
Corporations, their lobbyists and flacks, and those they have bought in Congress are positioned to skim their money off the top and leave the rest of us to foot the costs.
And to make sure those purchased politicians do their bidding exactly as directed, we have the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which portrays itself as America’s largest nonpartisan organization. It’s nonpartisan alright, all about profit, anybody’s profit, and certainly not about the people.
Their so-called dedication to limited government and free markets means direct attacks on legislation crafted over decades to protect Americans from the consequences of corporate greed and. moving forward, the further commodification of water, food, air, energy, and life.
Is this a conspiracy theory? Conspiracy, yes.
And more than just a theory since it is visible everywhere, here and around the world.*
Now that you can see it, now that it’s real, are you willing to take steps to fight it?
* If you want to be really disenchanted with this country and its leadership, read John Perkin’s The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman.
(Liz Amsden is an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)