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.


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