The Mason Missile, April 21, 2019

Greetings!

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Plutocracy on the march! The scandal emerged of the actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman paying bribes of $500,000 to the University of Southern California to have their children admitted; additional charges were of money laundering and fraud. The federal grand jury also charged 16 other parents, including Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Massimo Gianulli. Laughlin and Giannuli have been in denial of the severity of the charges against them, and refused to go for a plea deal, thinking the judge was “bluffing.”

Laughlin and Gianulli tried to have their daughters placed into the rowing team, but one of Laughlin’s daughters Olivia Jade Gianulli, had an indifferent attitude about education, saying in a video, “I don’t know how much school I’m going to attend, but I’m going to go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope I can balance it all. But I do want the experience of game days, partying, I don’t really care about school, as you guys know.” There were reports that Oliva Jade was partying on a yacht owned by a trustee of USC when the charges came for her parents. (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lori-loughlin-olivia-jade-money-education_n_5c8f5e9de4b0d7f6b0f5723c) The issue of college admissions favoring the wealthy over talented poor kids goes beyond USC, Huffman, Laughlin, and their daughters, it is endemic.

The march to oligarchy goes one step further with the report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) showing the several Fortune 500 companies not only paid NO taxes-after billions of profits- but attained tax refunds. These include such corporate behemoths as Amazon, IBM, General Motors, Molson Coors, and Netflix. (https://itep.org/wp-content/uploads/04119-Corporate-Tax-Avoidance-Remains-Rampant-Under-New-Tax-Law_ITEP.pdf) Meanwhile, schools, roads, libraries, and public health are falling into ruin-we the working and low-income people are paying for this, and our finances are depleting.

Georges Clemenceau once said, “War is too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.” I say capitalism is too dangerous to be left to the capitalists, who donate to candidates and lobby for bill to their liking-many times the lobbyists sit with legislators to write the bills. The idea, promulgated to death by Ronald Reagan and too many others, that if we left the capitalists to do their capitalist thing without the government-i.e., the public-interfering, the economy would flourish, and we the workers and consumers would flourish right along with them.  

Case in point: In February, General Motors announced layoff of 4,000 workers in their North American plants. (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/01/gm-readies-to-make-4000-involuntary-layoffs-next-week.html) Meanwhile, GM CEO Mary Barra was reported to be among the top 20 highest paid CEOs, with an annual compensation of $21.87 million, 281 times higher than the average GM employee. (https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/general-motors/2019/04/18/gm-ceo-barra-compensation-22-million/3415415002/). THIS is the game rigged against workers, folks.

It’s a common idea in American history-the cult of the Businessman, the economic wizard who builds an industry or corporation, and we need him to apply his genius to run our government in a “businesslike” fashion. We had this during the 1920s, with the talk about running Henry Ford-union-hater, anti-Semite, and friend of Adolf Hitler-for President; then came the Depression of 1929, and the corporate elite were shown to be useless in dealing with the problem, other than repressing workers’ struggle to organize, and fighting Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs-which included the Wagner Act,  the basis for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the legal carte-blanche for workers to organize.

Again, the Cult of the Businessman revived, and we have Donald trump touting his business and deal-making skills for negotiating trade deals favoring American workers, saving their jobs. Now we have Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, talking about running for president, publishing his manifesto book (mandatory for presidential candidates today) and threatening to run if the Democrats run a candidate too “radical” for HIS liking, deciding all by himself what the “center” (whatever that is) is, again associating his profits with the good of the nation as a whole. (For myself, I’m boycotting Starbucks until Schultz stops his silly campaign to nowhere.)

These politics of corporate dominance and public exclusion have got to come to an end. The only way is for us to-right NOW-get politically active in our local communities. In Philadelphia, I’m engaged in local elections for Mayor, City Commissioners (in charge of the election system), City Council (district and at-large), Register of Wills, and judge-ships. Becoming active in politics at this basic level is great education for engaging in politics at the federal level, as with voters vetting the upcoming presidential candidates throughout the primaries.

Together, we can reclaim our democracy-what’s left of it-and expand on it.

Bye!  

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