Random Thoughts

Hundred Million Dollar Man

- Money, US Politics and Elections

The Clintons released their tax returns from 2000 to 2007 (seven years). They earned 109 million dollars, 50 million were from the trash books they wrote and 52 million dollars were from Bill Clinton's speaking fees. It averages to 7.4 million dollars each year for speeches given by him at approximately 200,000 dollars a speech. He must have given 37 speeches every year. It amounts to over three speeches a month. In addition taxpayers picked up an expense of probably 5 to 10 million dollars for their travel, secret service and sundry expenses.

People to whom he had done favors or who expect future favors donated 250 million dollars to his presidential library and towards Hillary's presidential campaign. Bill received 12.5 million dollars investment adviser fees from billionaire investor Burkle over the seven years. His economic expertise includes the passage of NAFTA which de-industrialized America with manufacturing jobs moving to Mexico and later to China. Service jobs moved to India.

Currently, manufacturing is 12% of US GDP and the US manufactured imports are 14% of GDP. This makes it mathematically impossible for the US to improve its trade deficit by exporting manufactured goods. Food grains, commercial planes, armaments, entertainment items (movies, TV serials, music), intellectual properties (software, pharmaceuticals, patents) and financial sleight of hand (sub-prime securitization, derivative, credit swap, stock, bond and commodity trading, insurance) are the only fields where the US is leading. No wonder the administration is pushing to strengthen intellectual property rights, open developing countries financial (banking and insurance) markets and refuses to reduce subsidies to its corporate farmers. This explains the strategy to make alcohol from corn and diesel from rapeseed to reduce American oil imports and engineer a rise in grain prices. The US annual oil imports are nearly 500 billion dollars at present and rising due to increased oil prices and dwindling domestic production.

The obscene enrichment of the Clintons is not unique. Reagan and Bush Sr., raked in speaking fees and used commercial ventures (Bush through Carlyle group and Saudi enterprises like the Bin Laden group) in the same way. Others like Senator Phil Gramm, Rep. Bill Tauzin have steered legislation favorable to banks and pharmaceutical companies and have left Congress for million dollar jobs with the industries they had oversight of. Many losing legislators have turned to lobbying and some have moved from the Congress directly to federal prison. There is a prevalent culture of corruption or conflict of interest running through the very fabric of American government and other ones like Germany, Ireland, India etc (world over).

Chancellor Kohl accepted illegal contributions. Chancellor Schroeder after losing German elections joined Russian company Gazprom. Recently an Irish minister had to resign for inappropriate acceptance of political donations.

Jain havala scandal for the BJP, coffin and Tehelka scams for George Fernandes' party, fodder scam for Lallu Prasad Jadhav, Bofors and fertilizer scandal for the Congress, the Mayawati gift imbroglio, scams involving the Akali Dal and Congress chief ministers in Punjab and others too frequent to enumerate, confirm the pervasive culture of influence peddling and selling and corruption, which is part of human nature and rampant in politicians.

It is patently ridiculous to claim that money only buys access. The record of the US Supreme Court is even more blemished. When justice is corrupted, society crumbles. It has equated campaign contributions and pornography with free speech, given corporations the status of immortal individuals and in the Dred Scott decision, converted individuals to property. Its political usurpation of the presidency in favor of the retarded idiot Bush Jr., was a travesty of justice and a judicial farce for a right wing cabal of five, trumping their own principle of states' rights by stopping the Florida recount.

Evolution has two specific forms of altruism, kin and reciprocal. The first rationalizes self-sacrifice to promote the survival of a larger number of close relatives whose combined genetic complement is identical but greater than that of the animal that sacrifices itself. The second is doing a favor in the hope of it being reciprocated in a group of animals of the same species which are subject to unpredictable vagaries of food supply in nature. Vampire bats partially vomit a blood meal without which a fellow bat would die, and expect the favor to be returned. Many male insects offer a dead prey to females of the species as a meal, to obtain sex. Female chimpanzees offer sex to the males to thwart aggression and protect future progeny by creating uncertainty of male parentage. Perhaps the gift of flowers, jewelry and dinner for female human dates by males has an eerie parallel. In human beings a third form of altruism is seen when strangers rescue an unrelated individual from drowning, slavery or holocaust.

The only one that applies for campaign contributions and speaking fees is reciprocal altruism. The donation of tens of thousands of dollars is done to return past favors or in anticipation of obtaining future ones. Hillary Clinton will always be a compromised candidate with a tendency to sell out to her big donors. The same applies to Obama, though he claims he does not accept money from lobbyists. His ambiguous positions on total withdrawal from Iraq, his unconditioned and total support for Israel (a change from his prior support of Palestinian rights), and his opposition to single payer national healthcare (administered by the government like Medicare and Medicaid) are a clever obfuscation, to win the nomination and presidency without challenging the powerful patriotic nationalist defense, Israel and insurance lobbies.

Interested readers should read Carroll's book, 'House of War', the story of Hillary's healthcare plan debacle and Mearsheimer and Walt's book on the Israel lobby.

John McCain has over twenty lobbyists working in high posts within his campaign, including senior-most managers. If elected he will continue the war till we are bankrupt or run out of recruits. He has even backed down on his opposition to torture and is even likely to revert to his prior Keating Five scandalous behavior. His views on the economy are socialism and rescue for the rich, and Hobbesian jungle survival for the poor and voiceless.

There is considerable opposition to the war amongst Democrats but it lacks the depth of commitment that was there against the Vietnam War. There is no military draft and the children of the middle class are not in jeopardy. The wealthy like Cheney and Bush Jr., have always escaped personal sacrifice and are eager to fight till the last poor American is dead.

Very few people understand that America is not a true democracy. It was established as a Republic, with the vote limited to propertied free white males. A lot has changed, but the president is not elected by popular vote but by the electoral vote. Delegates constituting the electors may be morally bound to vote like their constituents, but are not legally bound to do so. This is why many states have caucuses and the Democrats have super-delegates to counter and thwart the public vote. The Republicans prefer to use the Supreme Court for similar nefarious purposes. Madison, the father of the Constitution was deathly afraid of the tyranny of the majority, which he observed during the Shay and Whiskey rebellions and like John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who stated that those who own the country (monetary and land assets) should rule it, believed in the same principles. Alexander Hamilton was even more restrictive and favored the bankers, merchants and manufacturers over the landowners.

Throughout its history the American government and politicians have been hired hacks of vested interests. They have exploited the masses who everywhere are stupid, ignorant and apathetic. There have been periods of populist uprising and gradually and grudgingly, the elite have made concessions, but only enough to prevent open revolt, revolution or mayhem. Even the 1776 War of Independence was fought because the rich resented their lack of real power and subservient status to the upper class British overlords and wanted to extinguish their debts of profligate living, incurred by aping the titled British amongst them. The poor were incited to rebel, because the British and their treaties with the Indians forbade westward expansion and prevented the poor from grabbing oodles of fertile land, which they coveted.

Similar false explanations are propagated that the Civil War was to abolish slavery, despite Lincoln's clear statement that it was to preserve the Union and he was willing not to free the 'blacks', if he could save the Union without doing so. In fact he kept slavery in the Union States (Maryland, Kentucky etc.) , while issuing an edict to abolish it in the Confederate States.

Similar false pretenses were used to start the Mexican War and deprive Mexico of half a dozen present southwestern states by unprovoked American aggression. Spain was bilked of Florida, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam under false pretexts. The lie and fraud of the Tonkin resolution were used for the Vietnam War, secrecy and lies to bomb Cambodia and Laos, Monroe Doctrine to exploit Central and South America, lies to attack Grenada and Panama and false WMD pretexts to start the Iraq War.

Thus no matter which of the three hypocrites contending for the presidency wins, do not expect any change for the better. Even if one of them suddenly acquires honesty, integrity and intelligence by being struck by lightning, the disastrous policies from Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Bush Sr., have blunted our options. Like one story of the universe with a Big Bang that led to expansion of the universe, followed by inflation, then slowing of expansion and finally the recently postulated accelerated expansion likely to proceed to a dark cold end, America has been put on a trajectory of disaster by its lying, corrupt, greedy and stupid presidents and congresses with the tacit consent of its ignorant, stupid and apathetic populace. There was this strange inflation due to Johnson, Nixon and Carter. The temporary slowing was a false respite under Reagan who with his massive deficits started the new accelerated decline. Clinton, selfish and obsessed with power and other lusts, knowingly (he ain't stupid) and Bush Jr., by his stupidity, steered us to a cold dark end, due to our debt load, de-industrialization, trade, budget and current account deficits and exorbitant arms and war spending.


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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