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September 17, 2017


I read an article in a magazine recently in which the author wrote that the world is run by thugs. I went to my Webster Handy College Dictionary, Third Edition, and found that a thug is “a professional cutthroat” and that the term originated from the Hindu “thag, thief, orig. members of an organization of assassins and robbers in India.”

I then looked around the world to determine whether one could fairly say that the world is run by thugs and I think the author is on to something, but that the thugs are not all politicians. Those who finance and otherwise aid and abet the thugs in gaining power for their own benefit are clearly accessories before, during and after the fact and are thugs as well, one or more layers removed. Thus defined, are Putin and his oligarchs anything but thugs? The African dictators? The Saudi family? The North Korean dictator? Trump and his Wall Street greedhogs? Retailers who require their employees to work overtime off the clock? Don’t these retailers who front for policies of greed as well as the greedy meet the dictionary definition of robbers and thieves when they steal an employee’s labor under threat of outsourcing, being fired etc.?

Should we define a thug only in pecuniary terms? What else is available for theft, like the right to vote and earn a living? What about Jerry Falwell, Jr., the preacher who endorses thugs in power in order, presumably, to come up with a theocratic state where he and his ilk would share power? Would he destroy our constitutional wall of separation of church and state, and if so, which church or temple or mosque does he propose to blend in with government? How about state governors with their voter suppression and right to work activities? Aren’t they thugs as well with their thievery of the rights of people to vote and make a living wage?

The only substantial distinction between absolute dictatorship and what the thugs are doing is that the thugs are operating under a pretense of legality and propriety via legislation and contorted judicial decisions by those elected by libertarians with deep pockets such as the Kochs and Mercers. who are also thugs one layer removed from the action. Absolute dictators are more honest than these thugs in that they operate from a position of brute power and make no pretense of representing the people they govern.

The thugs frame the issues to make it appear that their thefts are in consonance with democratic institutions and the common good when they are plainly neither. No? Then tell me how Republican proposals for hundreds of billions of dollars more in tax relief for the superrich advance the common good. Trickledown? Hardly. Try trickle up, i.e., from the poor to the rich. I call it highway robbery, and in broad daylight!  We cannot afford another such increase in our multi-trillion dollar debt, especially at the expense of programs for the underrepresented needy and working class. Unconscionable!

Why are corporations freely organized to do business in states with weak corporate governance laws (deliberately weak in order to draw “home office business” while vying with one another in a race to the bottom for who can be weakest, e.g., Oklahoma and Delaware – General Motors, for instance, is a Delaware corporation) while at the same time passing strong right to work laws which make it almost impossible for unions to organize and represent the human capital of their members? I think that can be classified as thuggery and dictatorship under the cover of policy choice, which it is not, but rather a payoff to those who elected such legislative dictators in order to puff up their corporate bottom lines via payment of slave wages to their workers.

I could but for time and space cite scores of such demonstrations of thuggery masquerading as policy choices for the common good when the result is plainly one that was bought not for the common good but due to enormous payoffs by the secondary thugs in this exercise of corporate ownership of our politics, a process quaintly known as “campaign contributions” but which are in truth bribes, and much more such bribes now with the unleashing of corporate contributions resulting from the holding in Citizens United, a decision that unless reversed or modified could signal the end of our democracy.

So is the world run by thugs? Not altogether. There are countries like Canada, Germany and Sweden and others who actually legislate for the common good and their political leaders are not on the take so far as we know. Then there are the Putins and the Trumps and Third World dictators who pretend to represent the people who elected them (if they are elected – unlike in China’s case) but actually represent the people who provided them with the bought votes to obtain and consolidate political power and deliver the quid pro quo to those whose money elected them. This is, to reiterate, an exercise only one step removed from the “destruction of the administrative state” and dictatorship favored by Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, who was fired but still remains in an unofficial advisory capacity to the Trump administration.

Putin is a dictator and Trump calls him “a strong leader” and the North Korean dictator “a smart cookie,” so the reader can draw his/her own conclusions as to Trump’s politic

al aspirations. Both Putin and Kim are, in my opinion and by any reasonable definition, thugs. So though perhaps the entire world is not run by thugs, large and/or influential countries in international politics such as Russia, China, the U.S, North Korea, Iran, and some of the African states are currently run by thugs as defined in Webster’s Dictionary and by the policy initiatives they have undertaken that are clearly opposed to the common good and a peaceful planet.

So what to do?  In our American case remove such thugs from power at our earliest opportunity and replace them with representatives of the people who govern for the benefit of the many and not the few with deep pockets. As to thugs on the international level, I leave that to the people involved and hope all such changes can be accomplished without undue civil commotion.         GERALD       E


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