Random Thoughts

A Dirge for the Republic

The essential ingredient of a functioning democracy is an informed and participating population. When polls one day before the election shows nearly a third of the voting population as undecided, it is an indication that those people are ignorant of the issues and candidates, indifferent to both or intellectually handicapped.

The first fault maybe of the voters, but is more likely that of the media, whose primary function is to keep the public informed. A free press does not exist in America and it is not the Constitution that deserves the blame. The media, controlled by large corporations with their own agenda are unwilling to displease advertisers who provide the revenues. The print, radio and television reporters are hand in glove with the powerful or power brokers and generally try to be politically correct.

The recent book by Woodward is not true historiography of a decision by a current administration, but a sacrifice of independent unbiased reporting at the altar of economics or status. Reporters spin around in the revolving door between the media, executive branch and think tanks and learn to use their connections to earn a comfortable living without making any real waves and parroting the propaganda and philosophy of the donors or powerful. There is constant stifling of the real issues and make believe debates. News shows and talk shows become entertainment circuses. They skim
important matters, avoid probing or persistent questions and pretend to play at a democratic free press to dupe the public. There is a conspiracy of silence or disinformation, with repeated loud proclamations and hyperbolic chest thumping. No one asks the election candidates, how the large looming deficits in the state and federal budgets, social security and Medicare are to be handled.

When the candidates give evasive answers or ignore the question, no reporter has the courage, integrity or interest in holding their feet to the fire. They blithely move on to some inconsequential irrelevant topic like school prayer, flag burning or reciting the pledge of allegiance. All candidates talk of tax cuts, morality, crime and reducing government spending while gorging themselves at the public trough. No reporter questions candidates, who have raised and spent twenty million dollars or more of political contributions for an elected position paying less than 150,000 dollars.

At some time the piper has to be paid and every elected person accepting large political donations is a prostitute, betraying public trust.

Voter participation is dwindling. The apathy maybe out of frustration and inability to fix the corrupt system. If this is the case the seriously malady needs emergency measures. If the problem is the intellectual handicap of the voters then the patient is dead. One way to resurrect is to have mandatory voting with a choice for the voters of none of the above to administer euthanasia to the aspirations of professional leeches, if the count of none of the above exceeds that garnered by the candidates. The greater curse is betrayal by Fates.

Take Clotho, who spins the thread. The legislative branch hoodwinks the dumb public. It was obvious to a half-brained idiot that supply side economics was a myth and even Reagan's Budget director didn't believe it. Vice President Bush had called it voodoo economics during the campaign for the republican nomination. No respectable economist believed it would lead to a balanced budget. The Democrats voted for it overwhelmingly and grumbled afterwards for rescinding it, without having any intention to do so. They were repaying the fat cats who had financed their campaigns.

The modus operandi is that the Republicans favor the rich and frame the legislation giving the bonanza to the rich. The Democrats happily go along and then voice feeble cries about reversing the giveaway, without having the slightest desire or intention of doing so. In the meantime both parties try to divert attention to some other issue. This tragedy was replayed by the current congress. They passed the Bush tax cut and now the Republicans talk war with Iraq and the Democrats talk of corporate and accounting scandals and the economy. No one talks of canceling the tax cut. What is even more likely is that the Republicans, faithful to their chosen constituents and betraying the electorate are enacting tax cuts and generating deficits, which will paint future congresses into a corner from which they cannot get out. The Democrats betraying their backers, the common people are auctioning their principles and conniving in this Republican charade by voting for the cuts and selling out. We, the people are being shafted again.

Take the example of the estate tax. They raise the ire of the public by touting the heartless tyranny of a government stealing from the coffin of the dead by calling it a death tax. Less than a fraction of one percent of the population will pay the tax and then only if they have been careless, made no estate plans or their worth exceeds tens of millions of dollars. The disinformation program will talk of family farms, almost none of which face the tax. The conniving collaborating media will loudly echo the lies till they reverberate in the nation and drown out the truth, dissenting voices or competing agenda. The newest scam is homeland security. The idea of protecting the public is great, but it is becoming a pretext for privatizing the Federal employees primarily to hand out contracts to captive contractors compelled to make political contributions, and to be a Christmas tree to hang goodies of tax breaks and immunity from liabilities to vaccine and security equipment manufacturers. The democrats passed the bill and will now rant about the pork in it.

A prescription coverage bill is likely to pass, but with concessions to drug makers. Some boondoggle will be handed out to enrich and fatten intermediaries gorging at the public trough, while reducing the medical care that people's premiums can buy, as was done with health insurance. The Democrats will vote for the bill and then criticize its inequities. Thus both parties are beholden to and owned by fat cats with vested interests. Big Brother Admiral Poindexter, who lied during his congressional testimony, was involved in clandestine activity contrary to the constitution, which the elected clowns have sworn to uphold. He is in charge of creating a program to monitor the routine activities like banking, shopping, travel and communications of all citizens and both parties are
silent accomplices to this unprecedented invasion of privacy of all, which matches Orwell's '1984'.

Even the ivory towers are not free from these perverse distortions. The debate is focused on affirmative action. Whatever its demerits are, they are far overshadowed by another discriminatory practice viz., the preference given to children of alumni and prominent or rich personalities. Why the current President would probably have had a tough time getting a place in a selective college on his merits! It is the job of honest Presidents of higher institutions, corporations or the nation to set limits to the twists of crooked spinners. They keep chasing money to feather their institution, nest or party and hire and promote spin-doctors, while abandoning their role and duty of being Lachesis. They do not limit the length of the thread of life of these public scams that pass by the name of legislation, by vetoing it. They go along and sign it to perpetuate privilege and pork barrels. Thus, Lachesis, the Executive branch is the second Fate betraying the citizens.

We know that money is the means of human happiness and much effort of most people is spent in obtaining it. It has often been called the route cause of evil and has an addictive quality of becoming an end in itself and lead to insatiable craving. This is not meant to moralize and condemn money, but to demonstrate the absurdity of equating it with free speech. Everyone would consider it odious if the voting power of individuals was proportionate to their wealth. It is equally clear that in the era of airwave saturation, telephone solicitation and provision of free transport with escorts to voters, the size of a campaign chest provides an almost insurmountable advantage to the candidate. To allow unrestrained use of wealth, personal or collected by contributions is surely to corrupt the election process and hence the government. To grant corporations the status of an immortal person, thus allowing them to accumulate enormous sums of money and to grant money the status of speech, thus equating its use to free speech is like taking a drunken teenage boy with raging hormones and putting him in a private room with a naked girl with a prophylactic and expecting that they will spend the time in philosophical discourse and will indulge in a Platonic relationship.

Many large corporations give soft money to both parties and it is usual for them to donate money for the campaigns of specific democrats and republicans, who are members of a committee that regulates their particular industry. The purpose is not expression of free speech or a political preference but the buying of influence. To attribute this action to participation in the political process is like calling a mug patron in a casino betting simultaneously on black and red in every spin of the roulette wheel, a shrewd calculating gambler. The corporate bigwigs are not fools. Let us take the case of Mr. Sanchez, a Democrat running for governor of Texas. In prior elections he, a democrat was one of the biggest financial backers of G. W. Bush who is a republican. This is not a change of heart but a clear attempt to buy access and influence future decisions. He wised up and decided to run and finance his own election without success, instead of bribing the candidates. Yet the Atropos of the Supreme Court keeps unraveling this yarn instead of severing it as it did in the momentous betrayal of states' rights by appointed Republican Judges.

The runt citizenry cheers foolishly while the select cavort in the golden mire of affluence, sucking greedily from governmental teats under the guise of free enterprise. State judges need campaign money for elections and they sit in judgment over cases being argued by contributors. The judges do not recluse themselves and do not perceive a conflict of interest. Thus the third Fate betrays us!

The educational institutions keep us ignorant, the media keep us misinformed and the legislature, executive and judiciary have sold out to vested interests. The anointed, the elected, the appointed and the ignorant have become the pallbearers of the Republic in this Orwellian funeral march!  


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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