Who’s in charge here?

Do you still think America is a country with a government best described as a democratic republic? Or more simply, as a democracy? Hah! How quaint. I would respectfully suggest you need to update your position. We now live in a political system that’s best described as a corporatist oligarchy.

Many of you have already made this crucial update. Many of you stubbornly lag behind. For those who need adjusting, an oligarchy is a form of government in which the ruling power belongs to a few. In this case, a few corporations. Here’s a helpful image: think of a new American flag, where the 50 stars are replaced by 50 logos, such as swooshes and golden arches.

The signs of this corporate power are now common, and sometimes blatantly so. Take for example the recent vote in the House on oil subsidies. Believe it or else, the American taxpayer gives billions of dollars every year to oil companies, which just happen to be the most profitable businesses on Earth. Last year, the top five Oilers posted profits of $77 billion. $77 BILLION. In one year.

So a proposition to cut oil subsidies, which run anywhere from 5 to 15 billion annually, was fired up by House Democrats. They undoubtedly thought that with all these new raving, anti-spending Republicans in the House, the time was right to get rid of this absurd and wretched welfare program. They were wrong. Dramatically so. The measure came up for a vote on March 1st, and it was roundly defeated by a vote of 246-179, with every Republican in the House (233) voting against it. Every last one. Looks like somebody straightened out them folks real quick-like once they got to D.C. (think of Ned Beatty layin’ it down to Peter Finch in the climactic scene of the now-essential flick Network.)

How do we explain this vote? How do we explain something that appears to not just be a bad vote or a misguided vote, but a genuinely crazy vote, one that’s so disconnected from common sense and logic that it’s best described as a vote of madness?

Well, if you persist in thinking that our current Congress is filled with fine honest citizens installed to do the will of regular working people, you can’t explain it. It simply doesn’t make sense. But if you realize that the new political reality is that of a fully functional corporatist oligarchy, it becomes instantly understandable.

The corporate masters must be pleased. So corporate taxes get cut even as deficits rage out of control. Raising taxes on the wealthy to a fair rate is off the table. The estate tax gets cut from 45 to 35 percent. The Supreme Court gives corporations the power to fund its candidates without limit. But … it’s worker’s unions that are causing all the financial pain?

You better go home. Watch Idol. Beg for a job. Hope for a few crumbs. Have a nice life.