The Myth of the Free Market & Other Dangerous Delusions!

The Myth of The Free Market & Other Dangerous Delusions!

I want to start off by stating that I am probably the least qualified person when it comes to writing about economics and I feel childlike to some extent in my economic naivete. Yet, in my defense, sometimes children can come up with some profound insights that adults and experts are blind to. Politics and economics are as intertwined as flesh and blood and therefore, the more I learn about and understand economics, the more light is shed on the inner workings of politics. These two spheres of power i.e. politics & economics, influence and impact our lives greater than any other institutions or forces on earth. A little tidbit for your information which intrigued me years ago when I learned of it, is that I read somewhere that in the past, they used to teach politics and economics together under political science. In other words, they arbitrarily separated them. This roused my natural inclination to conspiratorial thinking i.e. the powers that be separated the subjects to make it a little more difficult to see their interconnections & hence keep the rabble hopefully a little longer in the dark. And since my purpose is not to dwell in the dark, whether the dark side of conspiracy theories or ignorance, but rather to hopefully enlighten myself and perhaps my readers, let’s return to my central thesis which is that we are living under some very dangerous delusions or myths which are not only causing great pain & suffering currently but pose serious threats to the very survival of humanity if they are left unchecked. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic & my intention is not to add more fear to an already terrified majority of the world’s poor. But, I’m a firm believer in knowledge as power in the sense that it is our greatest weapon against those who want to keep us subservient and themselves in power. And in order to empower ourselves, we first must inform ourselves.

Therefore, let’s begin our journey. I purposely chose the word ‘delusions’ to use in the title of this essay because of the phrase ‘delusions of grandeur.’ You have probably heard this phrase used in reference to various psychopaths throughout history and in reference to modern psychopaths who have gone on killing sprees? And one of history’s most infamous psychopaths, Hitler, went on a killing spree that murdered six million Jews along with a few million gypsies & other ‘undesirables.’ I’m not equating our current nut-case, George ‘Dubya’ Bush, with Hitler but, they do share some frightening similar characteristics. I make this what may seem outrageous accusation and comparison because of a checklist of psychopathic characteristics I first came across in an excellent documentary called The Corporation based on a book of the same title by Joel Bakan. And I make this accusation against Bush Jr. because his administration is the most blatantly crony-capitalist that I have witnessed in my lifetime. Here are the characteristics listed in Bakan’s book:

“Unlike the human beings who inhabit it, the corporation is singularly self-interested and unable to feel genuine concern for others in any context….The corporation is irresponsible, Dr. Hare said, because ‘in an attempt to satisfy the corporate goal, everybody else is put at risk.’ Corporations try to ‘manipulate everything, including public opinion,’ and they are grandiose, always insisting ‘that we’re number one, we’re the best.’ A lack of empathy and asocial tendencies are also key characteristics of the corporation, says Hare—‘their behavior indicates they don’t really concern themselves with their victims’; and corporations often refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions and are unable to feel remorse: ‘if [corporations] get caught [breaking the law], they pay big fines and they …continue doing what they did before anyway. And in fact in many cases the fines and the penalties paid by the organization are trivial compared to the profits that they rake in.’

Finally, according to Dr. Hare, corporations relate to others superficially—‘their whole goal is to present themselves to the public in a way that is appealing to the public [but] in fact may not be representative of what th[e] organization is really like.’ Human psychopaths are notorious for their ability to use charm as a mask to hide their dangerously self-obsessed personalities.” (pg. 56-7, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power)

Also, while I don’t want to belabor the pathological and/or socio-pathological similarities between President Bushwhacker and corporations, I do want to note that some have compared Bush with Ronald Reagan. And, in fact, the two areas where Bush & Reagan are very much alike are; 1)both were/are noted for their personal charm in person, and 2)both of them were/are very aggressively militaristic in their foreign policy & were/are very callous in their cutbacks and dismantling of every social welfare program they could get their hands on. To illustrate from this point on, I’ll specifically refer to our current, resident, crime-lord i.e. Georgie Porgie. In terms of ‘manipulation,’ Bush’s spin-team have set the standard for manipulation that will probably be emulated for decades to come. Bush’s image is first and foremost a textbook case of deception and disguise. He pretends to be a down-home country boy from Texas by putting on a cowboy hat and posing for pictures with a chainsaw—I bet they don’t let him handle it by himself—but this impostor went to the best of the Ivy League schools including Andover, Yale, & Harvard. Of course, he couldn’t have gotten into any of them had it not been for daddy pulling strings. Georgie’s grades were a family embarrassment just like his partying and repeated AWOL adventures from the Texas Air National Guard which daddy got him into also. In short, Dubya failed at everything he tried including his business adventures e.g. the baseball team, The Rangers; Harken Energy, which the Bush family’s friends in the Saudi Royal family financed & which Bush should’ve been busted for insider trading for, etc. Yet, Bush struts the world stage like he’s some kinda self-made man. Lastly, but certainly not leastly in terms of manipulation, the most egregious example was the pack of lies Bush used to manipulate the American public into supporting his invasion and occupation of Iraq with the resultant loss of over 2,000 Americans and perhaps over 100,000 innocent Iraqis to date.

Secondly, let’s examine the Bush record in terms of ‘lack of empathy.’ The first thing that comes to my mind is Bush’s astounding tax breaks for the elite and his simultaneous cutbacks in programs like Head Start, food stamps, veterans’ benefits including medical coverage & combat pay, his attempts to eliminate overtime pay for workers, his prolonged campaign to subvert the solvency of our Social Security Program, etc. Or what about the gross incompetence & indifference to the plight of the poor victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans? Bush once again was on vacation & remained on vacation for days after the hurricane struck. Condoleeza Rice was shopping for shoes in New York & enjoying Monty Python. Cheney was on vacation also. Only after repeated pleas and warnings from those lower down in the bureaucratic chain & seemingly reluctantly, did Bush put on a pretense of compassion and concern for the helpless & destitute of New Orleans. And guess what? To show what a true humanitarian he is, one of the first things he did was to award Cheney’s sugar mama, Halliburton, the major contracts to ‘clean up New Orleans.’ And next, he suspended the law requiring that the workers be paid the prevailing wage. Yes, compassion for the wealthy and a sneer for the poor.

As for ‘lack of ability to accept responsibility for their actions,’ in over five years in office, only recently and in a very superficial, half-hearted manner, has Bush publicly accepted any responsibility for all the death, dread, & despair caused by his policies both domestically and foreign. One of the most glaring examples of his inability to accept responsibility was at one of the rare, presidential press conferences held a few years ago when a reporter asked him if he felt he had made any mistakes. Bush stared dumbfounded for several minutes, mentally stumbling and floundering for a response. Finally he said something like, ‘Gee, it’s tough to come up with an answer to something like that. I wish I had it ahead of time and then I could give you an answer.’ Yeah, it’s tough having to think for yourself when you don’t have your teleprompter pre-programmed by your sinister, spin-meister, snake-oil salesman, Karl Rove. Finally, in terms of an inability to feel remorse, this should come as no surprise to those who can recall that when Bush was governor of Texas, there were a record number of executions. If there were true justice in this world and the rich couldn’t buy their way out of the crimes they commit, Bush and his entire cabinet would be locked up for life. Ah! You can’t blame a guy for dreaming. In conclusion regarding the subject of Bush’s pathological personality and his being nothing other than a front man for the worst of the corporate cockroaches driving the U.S. and the rest of the world by extension, toward economic ruin and possibly igniting WWIII, I recommend a book by Justin A. Frank, M.D., Bush On The Couch. I am often guilty of overkill in terms of trying to support my arguments. Its probably due to the fact that I have often been mocked or ridiculed when engaging in heated political arguments over the years. Because I read a lot of stuff that the average person isn’t familiar with in the course of my search for the truth, a lot of what I say sounds pretty far out to most people and naturally they are inclined to write me off as a nut case. So, here is a sampling from Frank’s book and by-the-way, I have only browsed through a bit of it.

“…even sadistic—indifference to human suffering (pg. xi) …send our soldiers into combat under false pretenses and then joke about the absence of weapons of mass destruction in the Oval Office (pg. xii) …an individual whose psychological challenges are profound, pervasive, and deeply ingrained (pg. xvii) …attempts to seek escape through substances, exercise, and religion (pg. xviii) Bush is sadistic and paranoid (pg. 212) Most megalomaniacs are in hospitals not in the White House (pg. 215) …like his business ventures that failed, Bush is pushing the U.S. into failure (pg. 219) We need to remove Bush from office before it’s too late (pg. 219) Frank finds in Bush’s childhood the roots of a dramatic psychic split that remains a dominant influence on his adult worldview. Frank argues that this split has inevitably hampered Bush’s ability to manage his emotions, charging his psyche with restless anxiety, and conditioning him to view the world in the black-and-white terms that have so evidently shaped his administration. Among the other subjects Frank explores: *Bush’s false sense of omnipotence, instilled within him during childhood and emboldened by his deep investment in fundamentalist religion. *The president’s history of untreated alcohol abuse, and the questions it raises about denial, impairment, and the enabling streak in our culture. *The growing anecdotal evidence that Bush may suffer from dyslexia, ADHD, and other thought disorders. *His comfort living outside the law, defying international law in his presidency as boldly as he once defied DUI statutes and military reporting requirements. *His love-hate relationship with his father, and how it triggered a complex and dangerous mix of feelings including yearning, rivalry, anger, and sadism. *Bush’s rigid and simplistic thought patterns, paranoia, and megalomania— and how they have driven him to invent adversaries so that he can destroy them.

At once a compelling portrait of George W. Bush and a damning indictment of his policies, Bush on the Couch sheds startling new light on an administration whose record of violence and cruelty seems increasingly dependent on the unstable psyche of the man at its center. Insightful and accessible, courageous and controversial, Bush on the Couch tackles the question no one seems willing to ask: Is our president psychologically fit to run the country?” (front & back flaps of dust-jacket for the book) Pretty spooky eh? Especially when you recall that Bush could launch a nuclear war with the push of a button in a moment of religious frenzy for example. Fundamentalists believe in Armageddon and the Rapture & there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they are doing everything they can to instigate the Apocalypse e.g. Christian fundamentalists have been making pilgrimages to Israel and developing close ties with Israelis in hopeful anticipation of this ‘great event.’

Moreover, what scares and worries me is the ever-growing closeness of government under Bush with fundamentalist Christians and free market fundamentalists. Both the religious and the politico/economic fundamentalists are notoriously short-sighted and don’t give a damn about the environment or the suffering masses. We are on a dangerous & slippery slope towards a sort of theological totalitarianism. George Orwell in his classic book 1984, wasn’t just writing entertaining science fiction. He was warning us of the dangers of totalitarianism and though many readers thought he was depicting Stalinist Russia, he was also saying that it could happen in America and Great Britain as well. And appropriately, it was a documentary that I was watching recently Orwell Rolls in His Grave which was the impetus for this essay. What specifically sparked my imagination was a lengthy commentary by Robert McChesney, a media critic whom I greatly admire. He was talking about the fact that our media is now almost totally owned by five or six corporations who have monopolies over the entire media industry because each of the giant media corporations now in control own not only most of the nation’s largest newspapers but also the magazines, the movie studios, the video/dvd rental stores, the movie theaters, etc. In other words, they have a stranglehold on not only the manufacturing but also the distribution of nearly all the ‘news’ and the entertainment media. It occurred to me that it seems that for my entire life I have heard repeated like a national mantra or truth that we are a democracy and have a free marketplace where everyone sinks or swims depending on their efforts. We practice free trade and we outlawed monopolies back in Teddy Roosevelt’s days with the introduction of the Taft-Hartley Anti-Trust Legislation, I believe? Obviously, the days of monopolies have returned and yet we hear incessantly of the glories of the free market and now the free market lords of the ‘free world’ are pushing for the spread of the free market under the guise of globalization to every corner of the globe.

However, what these free market fundamentalists mean by the ‘free market,’ is laissez faire capitalism. This quite simply is a thinly disguised call for the freedom of corporations and the businessmen to do whatever they want in the name of pursuing profit with a minimum of government intervention/regulation. In brief, laissez faire capitalists feel that the only valid reason for the government to collect taxes from them is to pay for the police and the military. They are not stupid and they have read history. People will take poverty, abuse, injustice, etc. for only so long and eventually they rise up in rebellion. And this is why the wealthy are willing to pay at least something in taxes. They need and they have used the military to do their raping, pillaging, & plundering of other countries dozens of times. I’m not going to go into it here but check it out for yourself. Look up the history of U.S. invasions of Central America in the 20th century. We invaded Nicaragua alone, nine times. Of course the corporate/political propagandists always whip up the public’s patriotic passions and convince them that it’s necessary for us to invade these tiny, Banana Republics in the defense of democracy but if you do your homework you’ll soon learn that most of the time it was specifically for United Fruit Corporation’s freedom to steal the land, the natural resources, & the slave labor of Nicaragua and her neighbors. And lo and behold, guess who was a major shareholder of United Fruit? Yep, the Bush dynasty! Just as today, the Bush family along with the rest of Georgie’s cockroach cabinet are getting richer by the day due to their oil industry investments and the blood invested in the deserts of Iraq & Afghanistan by our young soldiers. This is the true free market these swine believe in and practice. Everything they spout in front of the television cameras is just to keep the ignorant masses ignorant so they’ll continue supplying the murderous & mercenary military with their children. And by shutting down the manufacturing base of America which during WWI helped to make us not only the world’s preeminent economy but also the premier military superpower, they are now pushing us back into a second or even third-rate economy. The result is that the vast majority of young people who graduate from our disgraceful public high schools have little or no choice but to join the military in the hope that all those promises they’ve seen on t.v. in military advertisements, are real. And this is another truth which I can attest to from personal experience. I saw and experienced the false advertising and the lies the army recruiter told me back in 1971 when I was fresh out of high school.

Unquestionably, the power elite could not maintain their stranglehold over us if they didn’t control public opinion by controlling the mass media and most especially television because that’s where most people get their ‘news’ from. Although the right-wingers had been building up their base in terms of gradually taking over the news talk shows and etc. with their reactionary ideologues, a major turning point was in 1996 when they succeeded in eliminating the Fairness Doctrine which required them to allow opposing viewpoints when they used the public airwaves to promote their political, economic, social, etc. opinions. And the network that is the most egregious example of partisan, one-sided ideology is the FOX network which has the gall to call itself the Fair and Balanced News Network. If you watch the documentary Jeff Greenwald produced called Outfoxed!, you will get ample evidence of their lies and hypocrisy. As several critics of the FOX network have pointed out, it really shouldn’t even be referred to as news. It really is nothing more than political ideology, punditry, opinions, and infotainment i.e. lies masquerading as journalism. And that’s why Bill O’Reilly, perhaps their most popular circus master, got so pissed off at Al Franken’s book Lies, & the Lying Liars Who Tell Them!, because Franken particularly targeted O’ Reilly, one of the biggest blowhards there are on television & only equaled by Rush Limbaugh on radio.

Because we are so inundated with right-wing ideologues on television, radio, and in print, they seem to make sense & the average American has no clue as to the extent that they are being lied to and manipulated by the rich. And this is why I am incredulous that so many people I talk to, actually believe the right-wing mantra that there is a liberal bias in the media. Take the case of the New York Times which is known as ‘the paper of record’ which is to say they set the standard for the rest of the country’s newspapers. According to the rabid Right, the New York Times is the bastion of the liberal media yet this one time, venerable paper led the drum beat for our invasion and occupation of Iraq. And what did this champion of free speech and representative of journalistic integrity base their ‘reporting’ on? One individual i.e. Chalabi, wanted by Syria for embezzling millions from a bank he worked for in Syria. Chalabi, who sat right behind the Bush family on national t.v. at Bush’s inauguration. Chalabi, who our CIA arrested and accused of playing double agent for Iran & purposely lying to us to suck us into invading Iraq and serving Iran’s interests in doing so. What’s more, after all this & Chalabi’s arrest and proven lies which happened about a year ago I believe, a month or so ago I see on t.v. that Chalabi is back & visiting high-level officials again? Have those warmongering greedy pigs in the Bush cabal have no shame? And equally important, how can the American public sit by once again & let this known crook Chalabi, who has served the Bush team’s purposes i.e. deceive us into going to war, and who has served his own agenda of positioning himself to be our man in Baghdad i.e. the next dictator of Iraq, walk the streets of America a free man? Personally, I don’t believe anybody should be held and tortured in Guantanamo but, if anyone ever deserved such a fate, it’d be Chalabi. The only possible explanation I can offer for this mind-boggling state of affairs is that the reactionary right-wing extremists in control of the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, & the mass media right now have been more successful at manipulating and intimidating the media than any administration this country has ever known. In addition, many have gone on record to state that they’ve never seen an administration more secretive than this one. Recall that journalists tried to find out who attended Cheney’s ‘Energy Summit’ a couple of years ago & he fought them all the way to the Supreme Court where his duck hunting buddy, Justice Antonin Scalia, protected him from having to reveal this information. Why do you think Cheney felt it was so important to not reveal this information? Could it be that as some have surmised, Cheney and his cohorts in the oil & energy industries were plotting out how to divide up the prize of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East because once we are firmly established in our control over Iraq, we are strategically located to also control the flow of oil from the other oil producing countries in the region?
Granted, you may think these ideas merely the ranting & raving of a frustrated and bitter guy, so check out for yourself a few world famous scholars & intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky—referred to by some as the most quoted man alive & in the top ten most quoted throughout history which includes Jesus, Confucius, Socrates, etc.—Chalmers Johnson, Larry Everest, & Zbigniew Brzezinski—whom I believe was the National Security Adviser for some republican president like Ford or someone, not exactly a left-wing champion. In fact, the very title of a book by Brzezinski which I own, reveals his political point of view The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. I gave you the title of Brzezinski’s book because I believe it is illustrative of just how these warmongering imperialists think and how callous they are. The mass of humanity is indeed little more than pawns in their grand scheme or perspective of the world as one giant chessboard in which a handful of the most powerful players, compete for the grand prizes of oil and other natural resources along with the slave labor provided by the billions of people completely at their mercy. This is their game and its most recent name is Globalization. And once again, don’t take my word for it, see for yourself what Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics & one of the Chief Economists for The World Bank for three years, has to say about it in his book Globalization and Its Discontents. You see, unlike the pseudo-intellectuals & the talking heads you see on television who expect you to just take their word for whatever opinions they spew out as fact, I encourage my readers to do their own work because if you only rely on others to do your thinking for you, you will remain a child intellectually and always be at the mercy of the clever charlatans. Don’t be suckers, read, think, discuss with others & come to your own conclusions. I could be full of shit. I could have my own agenda. I could be wrong—I have been plenty of times. All I know is that I am sincerely searching for the truth for me and my hope is that I inspire a few to join in and see how fun it is to feel empowered and start to connect the dots for yourself. Fortunately, not all our Supreme Court Justices have been dishonorable men like Antonin Scalia and here are some profound words from a former Justice of that court.

“When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas—that the best test of truth is the power of thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.” (Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 [1919], Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)

I guess if I had to narrow down this entire essay to a simple sentence or two it’d be; A truly free marketplace of ideas is crucial if we are to have a truly free marketplace in the economic arena. Without reservation though, I unequivocally state right here and now, the rich, the powerful, the elite have spent billions of dollars to do everything in their power to dumb us down in forcing us to attend public schools which were in effect, conditioning factories meant to shape us into docile and obedient little robotic workers. And via the mainstream media which has been slowly eroded and neutered to the point that it is basically about as blatant a state/corporate house organ not that different from Russia’s former national paper Pravda, which happened to be the word for ‘truth’ in Russian. As an illustration of how big money, the government, and the media team up to deceive us yet again that we are living under a free market economy, consider the following facts about WalMart, that beacon of good ol’ fashioned hard work, American ingenuity, and entrepreneurship. And mind you, I am only scratching the surface of this beast from Bentonville, Arkansas. If you’d like to know more, I recommend the documentary on WalMart by Jeff Greenwald which I’ve only heard about but haven’t seen yet.

I had been hearing over the course of the last several years of WalMart’s invasion of small towns across the country and how the local hardware stores, retail stores, etc. would soon be forced out of business because they couldn’t begin to compete with the ridiculously low prices that WalMart offered. At first I must admit that I thought, ‘well, that’s just the way the free market works i.e. if you make a better product and sell it for a lower price, you’re going to succeed and your competitors are going to go out of business.’ Well, as time passed I began to see that this was clearly a matter of a rigged game. I think that WalMart’s founder’s rabid hatred of unions was perhaps the first and major contributing factor which went a long way towards building Sam Walton’s personal empire? I just remembered a book I read a couple of years ago which I can use to substantiate my charge that WalMart represents the worst and most hypocritical claims of those free market fundamentalists. The book is The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast. Before I begin, let me remind you that the free market in one of the simplest definitions of it is suppose to be about free i.e. unfettered competition with no coercion on the part of any of the players e.g. businesses, corporations, government officials, etc. And lest I forget it, let me now share with you that this corporation which has been called the largest retail industry in America or maybe it is the world, I’m not sure, because of its Simon Legree (cartoon character of the 1950s & 60s notorious for throwing widows & their children out in the snow for not being able to pay their rent) policies of keeping their workers hours just under 40 per week so as to not have to pay medical insurance, forces the majority of its workforce to turn to public assistance for medical care. This is the free market? This is something they leave out when they are praising and holding WalMart up to the world as the exemplar of the honest, hardworking entrepreneurship & representative of free market capitalism’s superiority. This is a major hypocrisy to the right-wingers’ rhetoric about the evils of government handouts. If it weren’t for those bleeding-heart liberals social welfare programs—which the miserly right-wing extremists—are trying to wipe out, their wonder boy corporate successes like WalMart, would go under because if a corporation doesn’t provide for their employees health care, sooner or later, the corporation will self-implode sort of like the Soviet Union which neglected its infrastructure in its mad attempt to compete with our military/industrial complex. People get sick and if they can’t see a doctor either through their company’s medical insurance plan or a government sponsored program, the business will suffer and the ripple effects will eventually destroy or undermine the company’s ability to stay in business. Employees, contrary to common cockroach capitalist wisdom is and will always be the life-blood of any company or corporation.

Equally important is the fact that I’ve read and seen a documentary on PBS that WalMart has grown so powerful that it bullies & intimidates manufacturers around the world and most notably in China where the bulk of its products come from. WalMart tells manufacturers how much it will pay & this is a major reversal of the way business used to be practiced because the manufacturers used to set the prices but due to the power of WalMart in terms of its economic clout, manufacturers are forced to capitulate to unfair prices for their products. Now, we or the apologists for the avaricious could argue that this is merely the ways of business, but I say that this is clearly another example of coercion on the part of the big boys of business and is obviously not an example of free trade or free market. By the way, I don’t believe Palast mentions the fact that some of WalMarts’ merchandise comes from prisoners in Chinese prisons? Okay, here’s some of Palast’s words from his book:

“At Wal-Mart’s 1992 general meeting, company founder Sam Walton asked his shareholders to stand and sing ‘God Bless America.’ The 15,000 Wal-Martians responded emotionally to Sam’s call, even though Mr. Walton had been dead for two months.

Walton’s request to the stockholder-cum-revival meeting in rural Arkansas—channeled through an executive, spotlit and on bended knee, speaking to the departed Deity of Retail—was not surprising. Wal-Mart is the most patriotic, flag-waving company in America.

Until you look under the flags. Stores are decked out like a war rally, with Stars and Stripes hung from the ceiling and cardboard eagles shrieking BUY AMERICA! But one independent group sampled 105,000 store items and found only 17 percent made-in-the-USA items. Many gewgaws on sales carts marked ‘Made in America!’ came from such red-white-and-blue locales as Honduras and Indonesia….

…Regarding abuse of child workers, I tried but failed to reach Wal-Mart’s former lawyer, Hillary Rodham. We now call her Senator Clinton, but Sam just called her ‘my little lady’ when he appointed her to the Wal-Mart board of directors, a well-paid honor left off her official White House biography.

Despite the bothersome gripes of a few skinny kids from Guatemala, Wal-Mart maintains a folksy image based on Sam Walton’s aw-shucks six-pack Joe Bloke manner. Joyous clerks, say the company, chant pledges of customer service, which end with shouts of ‘So help me Sam!’ The multibillionaire took time to go into his shops and warehouses, put on a name tag and chat with employees over doughnuts. An employee told me about these folksy chats. In 1982, well on his way to becoming America’s richest man, Sam dropped by an Arkansas distribution center and told the loaders, as one regular guy to another, that if they voted to join a union in a forthcoming representation ballot, he would fire them all and shut down the entire center.

The words, corroborated by eight witnesses, may have been in violation of U.S. labor law, but they were darned effective. The workers voted down the union, keeping Sam’s record perfect. Out of 2,450 stores in America today, exactly none in unionized.

Who needs a union anyway? Arkansas headquarters would not tell me the company’s wage rate for clerks. So my paper arranged for volunteers to call Wal-Marts nationwide to apply for cashier jobs. In 1999, offers averaged a big $6.10 an hour, though in deference to an old American tradition, the corporation offered only $4.50 an hour near Indian reservations. But these wages are before Wal-Mart deducts for health insurance ‘copayments.’ Because the deductions could wipe out their cash paychecks, most workers cannot accept this ‘benefit.’

There is a pension plan and profit sharing. But Sam Walton didn’t make his billions by sharing profits. Wal-Mart invented the disposable workforce. About a third of the workers are temporary and hours expand, shift, contract at whim.

The workforce turns over like the shoe inventory, so few ever collect full pensions or profit shares.

But Wal-Mart does provide free meals—sort of. Most workers’ salaries are near or below the official U.S. poverty line, so those without second jobs qualify for government food stamps. With 1.3 million workers, Wal-Mart has the nation’s largest payroll, if you call that pay. Taking over the care and feeding of the Wal-Martyred workforce is a huge government welfare program. It could have been worse, but the courts rejected Walton’s plea for exemption from the U.S. minimum wage.” (pgs. 208-12, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Truth about Corporate Cons, Globalization, and High-Finance Fraudsters, Greg Palast)

Obviously, when we, the U.S. taxpayers, are forced to subsidize Wal-Mart’s employees through food stamps, Medicaid, & other social welfare programs, Wal-Mart is not succeeding because its adhering to free market principles & practices. And when Wal-Mart gets millions of dollars in tax breaks from local communities it invades while other, smaller companies receive no such breaks, it again isn’t a level playing field in the monopoly game of free market capitalism. Wal-Mart’s four surviving members of the Walton family have a combined worth of $400 billion dollars and claim they can’t afford to pay their employees more than minimum wage or health benefits. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to clearly see how they have amasses such a personal fortune. Moreover, I cannot believe the free market fundamentalists who have the gall to proclaim Wal-Mart such an exemplar of free market capitalism’s superiority & simultaneously calling for the elimination of the welfare state as a drain on America. In fact, what we have is welfare for the rich and the free market for the poor. The government and big business work hand-in-glove with one another in no-bid contracts, sweetheart deals, tax breaks, subsidies, raising tariffs when it suits them & lowering tariffs when it suits them. But the little guy, the small businessman is left to sink or swim entirely on his own. Take the case of Chrysler which was going bankrupt several years back but the federal government bailed them out and Lee Iacoca is held up to be such a success. If the small businessman is going belly-up, the government and the bank say tough shit!

Naturally, the free market fundamentalists argue that the large corporations deserve special treatment or exemptions from the rules of the game because they employ many more people. And this was the excuse used for Reagan’s tax breaks to the corporations which were suppose to hire back the employees they had laid off in the 1980s but instead chose to merge with other corporations, give themselves handsome raises, and posted record profits while Americans lost their homes and their dignity. And our current Commander in Crime i.e. the boy from Bush country, is doing the same thing all over again. I can’t believe that the American public isn’t calling for Bush’s impeachment with such blatant cronyism going on? While millions of American jobs are being shipped overseas and the corporations who are doing it are being rewarded with tax breaks and Americans are losing their homes, their medical coverage, their pensions, etc. And these corporations aren’t even paying their fair share of taxes because they open a mailbox in the Cayman Islands and claim it as their headquarters. Yet, these corporate robber barons enjoy and profit off the infrastructure of America in terms of our highways, bridges, police forces, military, etc. which are all funded by tax dollars. What’s more, as I stated earlier, if it weren’t for our military supporting the invasions of foreign countries for our corporations, where would these so-called ‘successful’ corporate plunderers be? Please don’t get me wrong, I in no way support their evil deeds. I am just pointing out another contradiction in the long list of capitalist hypocrisies.

Again, I can’t believe that we have a president and cabinet that are so obviously enriching themselves through the federal treasury via their connections to the oil and energy industries & yet we barely hear a peep from the mainstream media i.e. the corporate media. But in the alternative media there has been a steady outcry and almost daily revelations pour forth on yet more examples of their greed and criminal activities. In case you may not be aware of what I’m talking about, I’ll give you just one of the most glaring examples of corporate cronyism being practiced by our Commander in Chief and his administration i.e. Halliburton. First we illegally, immorally, & under a carpet of lies, invade & bomb Iraq—formerly one of the most advanced Middle Eastern countries, where women didn’t have to cover their faces, could drive & held professional positions as doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., and the cradle of civilization—back into the Stone Age. And the weapons used for this inhumane destruction of another sovereign nation are paid for by the U.S. taxpayers who can’t find work or work at minimum wage at Wal-Mart or McDonalds. Our invasion of Iraq and the preceeding ten years of sanctions and bombing is a classic case study of what President Eisenhower warned us of in his Beware of the Military-Industrial Complex speech as he was leaving office.

Because, the industrial or corporate sector of America builds the weapons and the military uses them to invade other countries in order to open up ‘markets’ for the corporate crustaceans and provide it with cheap labor and cheap resources. It’s an evil, symbiotic relationship that belies everything America supposedly stands for e.g. freedom, democracy, justice, equality, etc. And the front-men or public relations prostitutes for the military-industrial complex are the politicians who whip up the passions of the public with their fear-mongering i.e. the commies are coming; the terrorists are coming, etc. In a nutshell my friend, I’m not saying that communists and terrorists weren’t ever a threat but I am saying that the threat was definitely wildly exaggerated in order to convince us to keep on transferring most of our nation’s wealth from the sweat and toil of the working class and the middle class to the rich via their ‘defense’ corporations and etc. Equally important is my belief that if we were to truly practice democracy and not capitalist piracy, murder, & plunder of the rest of the world, the threats of communism and terrorism would be miniscule. These terrorists are not attacking us because they’re jealous of our freedom as that dipshit ‘Dubya’ claimed but rather because of the evil-doings of our corporations, military, C.I.A., etc. And don’t forget that many of the million and billion dollar military projects we have funded have proven defective taking the lives of our soldiers and wasting our tax dollars yet making the corporate and political crooks rich while we as citizens keep falling farther behind no matter how hard we work. In case your skeptical of my charges, once again I urge you to check it out for yourself and I suggest you check out Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins.

Although I didn’t read the book, I listened to it on a set of CDs I checked out from my local library. So, I can only give you my brief synopsis of it. Mr. Perkins went to a prestigious private academy because his father was a teacher there & even though he was from a modest family in terms of class and finance, he was also able to attend an Ivy League college and studied economics. He had an uncle in the C.I.A. who got him hired at an exclusive engineering and consulting firm. This firm did work for the World Bank, and through its C.I.A. contacts approached and seduced leaders of various countries into giving Perkins’ firm contracts for massive engineering projects for water systems, energy development, etc. And Perkins’ job was to grossly inflate or exaggerate the costs so as to make his company rich and to arrange the loans necessary to fund these projects through organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Of course, the bosses at Perkins’ firm knew that the countries wouldn’t be able to keep up their payments because the figures they had been given were outrageously false. As a consequence, the nations who fell for the scam were then forced by the World Bank & etc. to sell off their public works e.g. water companies, power, gas, etc. This is what privatization is all about i.e. taking every last public utility or public welfare program and making it privately owned so the people have no rights and are completely at the mercy of the greedy and heartless. And Perkins confessed that he used any means necessary to sell the various countries’ leaders on his company’s scheme e.g. beautiful hookers, wine, bribes, etc. Yes, my friend, yet another example of good ol’ free market capitalism.

What’s more, Perkins admitted that when his methods of seduction didn’t work, his firm via the C.I.A., would send in the jackals i.e. hit-men who would kill the uncooperative national leaders. And if this failed, as a last resort we’d send in the U.S. military. So much for free trade and a free market! Naturally, the powers that be must hide their true game plans and that’s why they’ve come up with the smoke screens they deliver to us via their media e.g. NAFTA, GATT, CAFTA, FTAA, etc. These are little more than legal fictions. These various ‘economic treaties’ are supposedly designed to level the competitive field internationally but in reality are nothing more than elaborately worded disguises to guarantee that the top players i.e. the G8 for example (U.S., Great Britain, Germany, France, etc.) remain in power. For example, the big boys can erect tariffs against the poor, developing nations but they can’t erect barriers against the big boys. A writer much more eloquent than I, puts it very succinctly:

“In the new era, apartheid as formal policy is generally considered antiquated and unnecessary. International instruments of trade and finance oversee a complex system of multilateral trade laws and financial agreements that keep the poor in their Bantustans anyway. Its whole purpose is to institutionalize inequity. Why else would it be that the United States taxes a garment made by a Bangladeshi manufacturer twenty times more than it taxes a garment made in the United Kingdom? Why else would it be that countries that grow ninety percent of the world’s cocoa bean produce only five percent of the world’s chocolate? Why else would it be that countries that grow cocoa bean, like the Ivory Coast and Ghana, are taxed out of the market if they try and turn it into chocolate? Why else would it be that rich countries that spend over a billion dollars a day on subsidies to farmers demand that poor countries like India withdraw all agricultural subsidies, including subsidized electricity? Why else would it be that after having been plundered by colonizing regimes for more than half a century, former colonies are steeped in debt to those same regimes and repay them some $382 billion a year?” (pg. 89, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy)

By the way, not only one of the most brilliant socio-political writers I have ever read but also one of the most beautiful. In other words, the song remains the same. The rich and powerful elite cling tenaciously to their power and prestige and their PR firms continue in their never-ending spinning of the facts to disguise the truth. These sub-humans will never give up their ill-gotten gains without a fight to the death. And we had better take it as seriously as they do because it is indeed a matter of life and death for us. For the rich bastards it’s just that they don’t want to have to be forced to actually work for a living or give up all their perks and pleasures and comforts. For the rest of us, it’s a matter of putting a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and of being able to get proper medical care when we’re sick. And it’s a matter of being able to hold our heads up and retaining a semblance of self-respect.

In conclusion, Bush and his ilk didn’t get to where they are because they deserved it, earned it, or because of that mythical ‘egalitarian’ system we supposedly live under but rather because they were born with silver spoons in their mouths. And America hasn’t gotten to the place of the world’s sole superpower because of its intrinsic moral superiority or because of the superiority of democracy or capitalism over communism or socialism. We have arrived at this position through a combination of corruption, luck, & crimes against humanity. We have invaded country after country and stole their land, their labor, & their resources. And the countries that we haven’t actually physically invaded, we have seduced into suckers’ deals which gave us i.e. the corporate cockroaches, a free hand to rape them. This is not free trade, free market, free anything. This is clearly evil! And all those fundamentalist Christians who blindly support the butt-boy Georgie Bush, are complicit in the evil and will have to answer for their crimes when their time comes!

When we are left in the dark by a handful of corporate media conglomerates, we can’t exercise our democratic rights or freedoms. We can’t compete in the economic arena and we are effectively locked out of the political system. Our supposedly democratic political system is now almost entirely composed of millionaires and billionaires who have sold their souls to the corporate devils and sold us down the river. But thanks to that corporate media masquerading as a free press, we don’t grasp the full significance of just how desperate a situation we are in. I believe Russia basically collapsed because they were foolish enough to keep on trying to compete with our military-industrial complex. And like us, the Russians continued to ignore their infrastructure in terms of their people and health, education, welfare, economy, roads, etc. and continue to put every kopek they could into their military. I submit that we didn’t win because of any ideological superiority and certainly not because of any moral superiority but simply because we lucked out and their economy collapsed. Our greatest enemy is our national hubris or belief in our superiority. We are in hock up to our eyebrows and we too can go the way of Russia. Empires have come and gone. What makes you think that America will be the one exception to the long historical record?

Besides, these corporate cannibals clearly have no loyalty to America and believe that we are here to serve them. The government and the business community is suppose to do what is right for the well-being of America i.e. we, the people. Isn’t that what they taught us in school? That we are a nation that was formed on the premise that we are each sovereign individuals free to pursue our God-given talents and make a life for ourselves with little intervention on the part of the government, free to be and free to compete on an equal playing field? We find ourselves in a topsy-turvy world where instead of the government representing and working for our benefit, we are now working for the benefit of the corporations via their government lap-dogs who have been bought off. This is suppose to be a country of, by, and for the people, not the corporations. I guess they have become confused and think they are human? They are in fact, cold, money-making machines who care nothing about human suffering, the loss of our soldiers’ lives, the destruction of the environment we need to live or anything. So, it’s up to you and me. Are we going to roll over and play dead. Are we going to beg for scraps from their tables of plenty? Or are we going to demand what’s rightfully ours? We need to take the advice from that classic movie of the 1960s Network and raise our windows and shout out “I’m as mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” The choice is ours my friend and the responsibility is ours. We certainly can’t count on any leaders!

—Rob DeLoss, Jan. 3, 2006


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