USA

All Hail the Corporatocracy

If you seek a source for the unrest, the conspiratorial insanity, and the burgeoning economic inequality gripping America look no further.

Russ Linton

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Americans instinctively know a nefarious illness has rooted itself deep inside our republic. Subjected to an inescapable and self-serving political duopoly, they’re divided. Driven to blame one another, they aim their frustration everywhere but the true cause. The resulting chaos threatens to tear apart our nation at the behest of an oligarchic power masquerading as a benevolent force.

This claim will naturally sound like more conspiracy. But articulating the true source of our concern is absolutely necessary so we can begin to hold our representatives and the powers they answer to accountable. These failed representatives will never willingly surrender their entrenched position and the methods they’ve chosen to defend it are guaranteed to end our democracy.

Due to decades of apathy, citizens of the United States have ignored the slow power creep of a pay-to-play political system. In this system, political power and will follows the demands of monetary donors, gradually consolidating as the winners wield ever-increasing influence.

Some have tried to voice concern. They’ve failed for numerous reasons.

Dragged down by the toxic baggage of the duopolistic political parties, populists movements have failed. They’ve fallen sway to personality cults or had their efforts poisoned by the very political apparatus these challengers are forced to use to contact the American people. Their message reaches the public distorted and twisted because of this. To be heard, they must run the establishment gauntlet and be poisoned by a corrupted system that now lashes out wildly as it clings to power. We the people end up capitulating to “safe” candidates or being taken in by opportunistic grifters who amplify divisions.

We can no longer clearly see the enemy for who they are. And that suits them just fine.

Even talking about this problem conjures images of dark rooms and hooded figures. These aren’t Satanic pedophiliac boogeymen or even Nazi-esque figureheads. They are the paragons of an economic engine gone awry and not even they realize the extent of the damage they’ve caused.

An article in Forbes recently cited Bill Gates as the largest owner of farmland in the United States. It should come as a surprise that this distinction doesn’t belong to the agricultural industry giants who’ve displaced everyday farmers. Gates’ interests lie in a perverse notion of philanthropy wherein he and other billionaires have set out to save the world from their decades of efforts to destroy it.

The reason the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been acquiring tracts across the United States involves a plan to develop climate change resistant crops. They want to ensure our food supply in the face of a now imminent catastrophe. A catastrophe caused by greed and unsustainable consumerism these same billionaires have gorged themselves on for decades to the point they more wealth than even they can imagine.

Gates himself struggles to divest his fortune. He’s donated thirty billion dollars to his foundation and secured 365 billion more in pledges from fellow billionaires. With these funds, he seeks to solve not only our future problems, but the developing world’s troubles as well by providing fresh water, sewage treatment, and the eradication of disease.

Never mind the fact his fortune was built on the backs of developing nations producing his products for slave wages. Robbing those economies of their proper funding by paying less than a living wage was never his intention; or so we’re to believe. Bill only wants to help. He’s their savior.

The same Forbes article mentions Jeff Bezos’ rise in the real estate investor ranks with massive purchases in West Texas. Highly suitable for wind and solar farms, this area also offers an excellent launching pad for a billionaire’s next realm to conquer and subjugate: space.

Privatizing space is often sold as the means to open up the universe for all to see. We feed these industry giants and they’ll give us the stars. Such efforts are far less private and far less Democratic than we’re being told.

Elon Musk, presumed darling of the tech revolution, has accepted five billion dollars in government subsidies covering his range of futuristic products. An economic opportunity zone tax break meant to assist impoverished regions of the country has become his latest windfall and another massive tax break for the ultra-wealthy.

From this subsidized seed, Tesla has risen into the ranks of our new “too big to fail” category. Joining the monopolistic giants of the stock market such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, Musk’s empire can be guaranteed growth through the sheer weight of its presence.

These companies have become the only place for an increasing number of Americans to store their savings. With bond yields and interest rates kept at historic lows by federal fiscal policy and with the looming insolvency of social security, average investors have been forced to use stocks and ETFs as their piggybanks and safe havens. By controlling trillions of dollars of assets and vast chunks of stock indexes, these megacorporations soak up more and more of the public’s dollars from sheer inertia.

This on top of the subsidies.

By diverting public and private funds to Musk’s enterprises, the mogul has slowly assumed the role that belonged to a publicly-funded program you may have once heard of — NASA.

But not to worry. You’re in good hands. When humanity reaches Mars, he’ll be your benevolent corporate overlord.

While Gates assumes the role of steward of a ravaged Earth’s welfare, Musk has a backup plan for when those efforts fail. The space baron has declared plans to build a self-sustaining city on Mars. There, Musk has declared international law will not be recognized. His company instead will enforce still-to-be-determined self-governing principles.

He claims these will be democratic principles. Instituted, of course, by his corporation and ignoring established international laws…

Musk’s other well-known venture involves the launch of tens of thousands of satellites to provide the entire world with broadband access, another effort receiving government subsidies of nearly one billion dollars. Again, we are expected to appreciate the efforts of our corporate overlords for this could never go wrong or be used against us.

Like, say, when Amazon, Google, and Apple silenced a social media competitor to Twitter and Facebook for accepting the human garbage fire Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Dorsey’s Twitter incubated and unleashed on the world.

Why not give these self-styled saviors of humanity the power to black out entire regions?

Arguably, we may have benefitted from this sudden ban at a time of national crisis (a crisis which, again, they helped cause). But chillingly, it was these corporate overlords who decided the limits of free speech and not our courts and elected representatives. That legal ruling may still happen. However the precedent can’t be ignored. Especially not in light of this same corporate elite’s desires to direct the fate of our planet and beyond.

Tired of buying yachts and mansions, these billionaires one hundred times over seek to assuage their guilt for being complicit in our downfall. If necessary, they’ll abandon the planet altogether and start over elsewhere.

By controlling such an outsized portion of our economy and essential services, none of these companies can be dismantled without serious damage to the whole. Further, in a system of government so compromised by money, the political will to challenge them cannot be found.

Facebook and Microsoft have already demonstrated this in court. Their being taken to task by the FTC and the U.S. Senate amounted to little more than political theater and fines equivalent to speeding tickets. Their empires were left intact.

The argument that if these corporations hadn’t soaked up every possible public resource we might not have been driven to the brink of societal, ecological, and economic collapse is perhaps an academic one by now. That they are currently moving to secure immense powers formerly relegated to nation states, isn’t.

This consolidation is the result of a long-lived push toward privatization championed by conservatives and neo-liberals alike.

In a perfect world, where economic opportunity isn’t concentrated in the hands of so few, privatization might actually work. With a truly free market, we’d all share in the wealth and prosperity brought about by business-friendly legislation.

In the Age of Corporate Giants? We follow the well-tread paths of Robber Barons and Moguls which have historically led to first economic subjugation, then collapse.

Are we doomed to repeat the same pattern?

Claims of a collapse, whether societal, economic or ecological, are bound to be dismissed. We’ve been taught by the duopoly to politicize every statement, every study, every claim, and ignore rational evidence in favor of maintaining the status quo.

But since we subconsciously know something is awry, things such as conspiracy theories thrive to try and explain the obvious imbalances. And as the entrenched duopoly self-servingly encourages us to argue and deny the reality of dangers like climate change and wealth inequality, these well-placed billionaires know those forces are very real indeed. Because of this, they’re fervently working to shape our destiny without our participation or consent before we can dethrone them.

We cannot let moguls and billionaires many times over dominate the industries of the future like they have the ones of today. Renewables, space travel, viable food supplies, future broadband access, DeFi banking — letting them shape and control these industries will destroy the promise of individual freedom inherent in these advances. Decentralization forms the core of this coming revolution. If corrupt politicians are allowed to legislate away the power of individuals in favor of the corporation, they will keep us from realizing the true potential.

Our only defense is to vote. Offer up a sweeping change of the political landscape.

Before we can find the right candidates however, we have to shake off the entrenched duopoly’s hypnosis. Understand our fellow citizens aren’t the enemy. Accept only unburnished truth. Elect only those who work not for a party first, or a moneyed individual, or a special interest group, but for usall of us, We the People. Not red, nor blue, nor black, nor white, but the whole diverse and downtrodden mass of us who’ve been feeding our collective wealth to these leviathans for far too long.

Our future is certainly in jeopardy and at the hands of nefarious forces. But they are neither shadowy nor secretive. They pretend to be the best of us. Walking among us as the moneyed elite, peddling their influence and amassing control over the public good, then using our own wealth against us in a cynical pretense of saving us from ourselves. Their only weakness? An end to partisan rancor and a united effort to hold our elected officials accountable.

Unless we change course, it looks like our corporate overlords will have a long and glorious reign on this planet and beyond.

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