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March 29, 2014

I was required to memorize a poem called “Patriotism” when in school which started “Breathes there a man with soul so dead” and (in its body) continues with “High though his title, proud his name, boundless his wealth as wish can claim, the wretch, concentered all in self. . . . . “ The poet was alluding to lack of patriotism in his effort, but I find his words to be descriptive of the uncaring and snarky zillionaires among us today, zillionaires who define any attempts to slow their attempts at further acquisition for the good of all as socialism, envy, class consciousness etc. Would that it were that simple!
Pelf, or the ridiculous accumulation of assets so idolized today, has been eulogized with the majesty of questions from the Supreme Court bench, where in oral argument preceding decision in Citizens United (which ranks with Dred Scott as the court’s worse ever), Justice Scalia posited his view of the case with a question to counsel suggesting the answer. He suggested to counsel in his “money is speech” view that if one has more money, then one is entitled to more speech! Donald Trump gets 10,000 votes?
This hearkens back to the day when members of Congress in our new country could not understand why anyone who did not own real estate should want to vote since the landless, having nothing at stake, could not possibly have any interest in legislative outcomes. We now know that this was an overly narrow focus and that there are issues ripe for legislative scrutiny other than matters arising solely from real estate, all quite aside from the Athenian requirement of the democratic model of the governed voting for their governors. The justice’s leading question to counsel in Citizens United tells it all, i.e., money has been substituted for real estate and may be freely utilized to buy the votes of an unwary electorate, thus violating the fundamental doctrine of “one man-one vote” democracy.
Citizens United cannot stand as the law of the land since its implementation effectively denies perhaps the most fundamental of democratic freedoms, the right of the governed to vote for their governors. Its holding is also subject to the celebrated dictum of renowned Justice Brandeis who observed that “You can have great wealth in the hands of the few, or you can have democracy, but you cannot have both.” He was and is right. The ultimate outcome of the application of Citizens United will either be the end of the tattered democracy we now know or a version of it decided by the superrich and not by the people subject to its new dictates, a version that will continue to favor acquisition of new wealth by the already rich at an accelerating pace and at the expense of our former middle class (before its final dismantling).
Failure to rid ourselves of this cancer on the electorate will hasten our descent into Third World status, aided and abetted in such descent by our catastrophic trade policies (designed for further enrichment of the few while Joe Lunch Bucket’s job is outsourced and he is unemployed). What with the promise of even cheaper labor available under the terms of the new trade pact (the TPP) and the automation of robots from within, our economic future is rocky and uncertain at best, and adding the new standard of pelf into the voting booth under the pretense of furthering democracy may do us in as a viable nation state, a Rome or Athens that died from greed within and is now ensconced in the dustbin of history.
The preceding is prelude. I will write in subsequent parts of this essay on the reaction of angry pelf-ridden billionaires to populist cries for reform such as I regularly produce, reform necessary to (literally) “save the country” (from my view of this developing electoral tsunami). Stay tuned. GERALD E

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