United States: From Democracy To Oligarchy And Plutocracy

Election 2010: The  Best Congress Money Can Buy

According to opensecrets.org, there are 130 foreign companies that sponsor PACs ( Political Action Committees) using their US-based subsidiaries to finance countless campaigns in the 2010 election cycle. Together, they have donated more than $12.6 million (and still counting) to political campaigns through various PACs. The electoral contributions seem recession proof, since this number is higher than any other federal midterm election cycle, and second only to the 2008 presidential election, when foreign-connected companies spent a record $16.9 million.

Up until the 2006 election, the foreign connected PACs greatly favored Republicans. But since then, they have “hedged” their betting on the US electoral process, and have become bi-partisan. The top companies involved in this scheme which should be completely illegal, but is not, include British pharmaceutical giant Glaxo, Belgium mega beverage producer Anheuser-Busch, Netherlands-based tax advisory firm KPMG, and UK-based defense company BAE Systems. The PACs of these companies US-based subsidiaries have each spent more than $500,000 (and counting) on the 2010 elections. You can see all the details on how foreign based companies are “investing” on the 2010 election cycle here.

Unfortunately for the survival of our democratic system, the Federal Electoral Commission rules state that as long as the American subsidiary of the foreign based company has enough money in its own account to provide such donations, there is no issue in giving unlimited amounts of money to PACs. Foreign connected PACs, by law, may not use foreign funds to finance their political efforts, and the PACs must raise money from US citizens or green card holders. However, needless to say, enforcing the law with mega-corporations with such extensive reach appears to be a lost battle.

Beside these foreign-based corporations, US-based ones are also heavily invested in the US electoral process. From 1989 to 2010, the top ten list of the largest US donors were: AT & T with $45.6 million, Goldman Sachs with $36.7 million, Citigroup with $27.5 million, UPS with $24.9 million, Altria (AKA Philip Morris) with $24.3 million, Microsoft with $21 million, JP Morgan with $20.3 million, Time Warner with $20 million, Morgan Stanley with $19.8 million, and last but not least Lockheed Martin with $19.3 million.

The Political Class As The Agent Of The Rich & Powerful

Recently journalist Bill Moyers was paying tribute to one of his mentor, John Gardner, the founder of Common Cause, for the organization 40th anniversary. Bill Moyers, in his remarks, fondly recalled the era of Lyndon Johnson, when the sense of social justice and progress still had a strong meaning in our social system. Moyers argues that 1980 was the beginning of the end for the progresses  made first by FDR, than later by Johnson.

“The conservative movement, once embodied in Goldwater, found its new hero in Ronald Reagan, and launched a campaign to bring back radical laissez-faire, when there was no social contract and all but the privileged and powerful were left to forage on their own,” said Moyers.

Further in his address, Moyers said that the right “propelled by cascades of cash from corporate chieftains like Coors, the Koch brothers, and Jack Welch marched on Washington and succeeded brilliantly.” Moyers also quoted a very candid but extremely revealing statement made by billionaire Warren Buffet concerning this issue:”There is a class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that is making war, and we are winning.”

In his remarks, Moyers deconstructed the myth of “limited government” which is so much at the center of the Tea Party activists “philosophy”.

“Freedom in America would come to mean the freedom of the rich to buy the government they wanted and to write the rules to their advantage, even if it meant leaving millions of Americans behind. Advocates of “limited government’ were never opposed to government, only to one that would not tolerate their social Darwinism,” said Moyers.

To read Bill Moyers’ full speech celebrating the 40th anniversary of Common Cause click here.


16 Responses to United States: From Democracy To Oligarchy And Plutocracy

  1. Liam Fox October 19, 2010 at 5:59 am

    If the Tea Party and the Conservatives have their way, government will be made just small enough to be able to be easily purchased.

  2. Mark Jackson October 19, 2010 at 7:20 am

    I find it interesting that everyone has bought into this idea that we are a “democracy”. We are not, nor have we ever been one. The united states is a republican form of government (not to be confused with the party). The founding fathers referred to a democracy as the “tyranny of the majority”.

    When they sold us on the idea of democracy, the idea of personal freedoms went out the door, which is unfortunate. It’s too bad that even in our mainstream media, they continue to perpetrate the idea.

    I’d like to see someone pick up a copy of the constitution, somewhere, sometime (which explains which form of government we are intended to be). We know that the politicians don’t, but it might be nice for the media.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier October 19, 2010 at 8:45 am

      You do make a point here on a fundamental question: Is the United States a democracy or a republic? It is useful to go back to the etymology of both terms. Democracy comes from the Greek word Demos (“common people”) and Kratos (“rule”), so democracy means: the rule of the common people or popular government. Republic comes from the Latin term Res Publica. Res means affair, matter or thing and Publica means public. The modern version of the term Republic was re-invented by French philosophers (pre-French revolution during the XVII century) as Republique, it means “state in which supreme power rest in the people”.

      So, indeed the founding fathers designed the US constitution to be more a Republic than a Democracy, but the problem here is about “We The People”. Unfortunately, and because the constitution was put together by rich slave owners who wanted to keep their privileges, and stay in power, the “We The People” left out the common men, women and of course the slaves. So instead of saying “All men are created equal”, it should have said: All rich white men are created equal. In other words, people like yourself are defending a document which was deeply problematic to start with, and needed countless amendments to make it more viable.

  3. Bilgeman October 19, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Mr. Mercier:

    It’s a pity that your partisanship is blinding you to the fact that everything you say about Republicans taking foreign money PACs is even more true of the DemocRats.

    Since the Alleged Hawaiian opened his mouth and orated this latest desperate scare tactic, research has shown that DemocRat candidates and causes have benefited more from foreign money PACs than GOP has.

    It is also a fairly well known fact among those who pay attention, that Wall Street poured far more money into the Obama campaign than they did McCain’s.

    And lest we conveniently forget, Obama broke the pledge he had made to McCain about using public campaign funds.

    So Obama is no-one to talk on this subject at this late date.

    The political campaign contributions are only the tip of the iceberg, though.

    Foreign funding of issue groups and academia are the real murky unknowns here.

    If you were a Saud prince, or an executive at Statoil or PeMex, would you not have a vested interest in keeping the USA dependent upon your foreign oil?

    And in furtherance of this aim, would it not be a smart business investment to fund American ecological pressure groups like GreenPeace and Sierra Club and Save the Earth?

    Sure it would.

    We know from history that the Soviets had very deep pockets to subsidize galaxies of front groups dedicated to “Peace”, all of which agitated to weaken America’s military defense posture as well as furthering Soviet strategic interests around the globe.

    This is the same game, but with nominally different players.

    To write such an article that spins this issue as a disease limited exclusively to the Republican party only reveals which sack of foreign bastards you prefer to flack for.

    And that makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier October 19, 2010 at 7:55 am

      READ the article again. I never wrote that this problem of election financing affects only Republicans. It affects BOTH Republicans and Democrats. It is a completely bi-partisan issue. Also, if you were truly reading our articles at NJP, you certainly would not say that my “partisanship is blinding me”. Once again, READ what I write elsewhere about Obama and the Democrats.

      • Bilgeman October 20, 2010 at 5:54 am

        Is there something amiss with your comment moderation?

  4. Bilgeman October 19, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Mark Jackson:
    “I’d like to see someone pick up a copy of the constitution, somewhere, sometime (which explains which form of government we are intended to be). We know that the politicians don’t, but it might be nice for the media.”

    The media will be the LAST people to do so. They serve their masters, and it’s cheaper to buy One Big Government than it is to co-opt 50 smaller parochial ones.

    We lost the republic between Appomattox and the adoption of the 17th Amendment.

    Once the state governments were banned from having a voice in the Federal structure, they became little more than the thralls of the Imperial Fed…see: “unfunded mandates”.

    If state legislatures still appointed the members of the Senate, as the Founders intended, I doubt very seriously that the Fed COULD make many mandates upon the states at all, let alone unfunded ones.

  5. gatherdust October 19, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Bilgeman makes literal what up to this point has been only metaphor: a bilge sodden pigs bladder that passes for a sentient puppet. Big business has been greasing its wheel wherever it can and their efforts has always been bi-partisan. The difference between the parties is more attitude than behavior. Democrats prostitute themselves whenever it suits them. Republicans are into BDSM and somehow have confused their slave role as a point of virtue. After 30 years of Reaganism and the farce that has been Republican rule (either from 1994 or from 2001) Bilgeman and it’s teabaggin’ crowd would hold their heads in shame for what they’ve wrought, if only they could hold onto even a rudimentary moral capacity to take personal responsibility.

    • Bilgeman October 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm

      “Bilgeman and it’s teabaggin’ crowd would hold their heads in shame for what they’ve wrought, if only they could hold onto even a rudimentary moral capacity to take personal responsibility”

      Insulting and demeaning copy is not conducive to open discussion, and according to the editor, is not tolerated here at NJP.

      Right, O-cubed?
      Do your thing.

  6. TZ October 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Bilgeman , I quit reading your post at the end of this passage . . “It’s a pity that your partisanship is blinding you to the fact that everything you say about Republicans taking foreign money PACs is even more true of the DemocRats.”

    Derogatory punning name calling is a sure fire indicator of low intellect.

    Open your mind, learn some respect,and nurture some compassion for yourself.

  7. Peter Voth October 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Why shouldn’t foreign countries be able to influence the American government? The American government has no problem using every available means at its disposal to violate the sovereignty of other nations. Can you blame other nations for wanting to have some say in American politics?

  8. Eric October 20, 2010 at 4:26 am

    Indeed, it was already bad enough before the ruling of the Supreme Court, and now corporate cash is flooding the electoral process without any check and balance. Campaign finance contributions should be capped for corporations, and especially for entities that are foreign based. Otherwise, and it might already be too late unless the SCOTUS ruling is overturned, we are on the slippery slope of corporate fascism.

  9. Konic October 20, 2010 at 4:26 am

    Are you kidding me? Odd? It was entirely predictable.

    Republicans are usually slow, but not THAT slow. Did you hear the interviews of Newt Gingrich cheerleading the Citizens United decision THE SAME DAY it was decided? He knew right then that Republicans could easily outfundraise Dems because they are more “corporate friendly”. Newt is probably one of the smartest R’s out there, all you needed to do was watch the sand fall from the hourglass for a bit until the rest of the party caught up with his slimy but completely logical and predictable tactics.

  10. Mark October 20, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Kinda makes sense why they weren’t upset over the SCOTUS ruling that corporations, whether foreign or domestic can pump funds into campaigns, essentially giving them the rights of a human.

    • Bilgeman October 20, 2010 at 6:01 am

      Well, chum, however you may feel about giving a corporation the rights of a human, I reckon that you don’t seem to mind when you impose the responsibilities of a human on them.

      I’m talking about business taxes, (which is one of those cherished myths of the DemocRats and their dupes…that business somehow just pays the vigorish to the government without passing that cost along to its customers).

      Then there is the requirement for a business, in order to BE a business, to secure a business license.

      What human needs a license from the government in order to simply exist?

  11. Matzpen October 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    The Filthy Rich are the most self-absorbed of whiners. They’re not being oppressed, there not being attack, this isn’t “class war”.This is a depression we are in! It’s the people who can’t afford a Gulf Stream 5, let alone the heating bills, who are suffering, all because of the economic crisis that the rich started.

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