CONFESSIONS OF A CONDOR:Unholy Trinity

I agree to this Constitution. . . [it] is

likely to be well administered for a course

of years, and can only end in Despotism

as other forms have done before it, when

the People shall become so corrupted as

to need despotic government, being

incapable of any other.

-- Benjamin Franklin, Sept. 17, 1787

Occupy Wall Street chose the most recent Sept. 17 to begin its protest against the ills of our current society. It prefaces its Declaration document with stark words: "We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments." A Tea Party then, for those able to sift through the dense corporatized media fog. It is growing and will continue to do so because it intuitively understands at least two of Condor's Unholy Trinity of ideological beliefs underpinning the elites who run the U.S.

First, that markets are rational and assign prices rationally. In 1970, the CEOs of the largest 100 U.S. corporations made 45 times what the average worker did. By 2008 that figure was 1081 (this is not a misprint). Capitalism on steroids came at precisely the same moment in history when the financialization of our economy shifted into high gear. In 1970 the largest bank accounted for less than 3 percent of our GDP. Today, the largest six banks comprise 63 percent of GDP. Too big to fail, these banks are too big to exist. That they need to be broken up by Barack Obama ala Teddy Roosevelt and the trusts is not difficult to comprehend. That doing so will not be easy is punctuated by the fact that Wall Street figures now litter the top echelons of government.

The second belief is that the U.S. must police the world for the safety of its citizens. This is the greatest ruse since P. T. Barnum. Sacrificing our reputation throughout the globe, our economic prosperity, and the document Franklin signed have become nonissues for our ever expanding military, which is larger than the next 17 combined. We now have unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, that kill suspected militants in Pakistan and other countries, frequently hitting civilians (aka "collateral damage"). We just assassinated by drone an American citizen in Yemen, denying him a trial and rendering the Fifth Amendment worthless. The U.S. Air Force now trains more drone operators than actual pilots; research and development on manned aircraft has been virtually stopped. But for those worried about neglect of our cities, police departments will within a few years be using drones to issue speeding tickets from directly above our vehicles. No word yet on what kind of witnesses they will make when citations are challenged in court.

The third belief of the elites (one that is perhaps only partially grasped by OWS) is that environmental and ecological destruction of the planet is manageable. A century ago, with one billion people, exploitation of Earth's untapped resources was not foreseeably problematic. But in the past 50 years the world economy has grown fivefold, and this month planetary population hits seven billion. Two billion of these live on less that $2 per day.

But we other five billion leave an ecological footprint of 30 percent to 50 percent more each year than what the earth can replenish, and rapid growth in India and China suggests the rate will only increase. So our way of life under the capitalist growth model will soon hit Tim Jackson's wall that reads: "An ever expanding economy divided into a finite planet does not compute."

In the meantime, President Obama Hamlets over whether to allow the Alberta tar sands to be pipelined to the Gulf of Mexico. If he does, the world's leading climatologist James Hansen says, it's "game over" for the planet's climate as we know it. No stakes have ever been higher. Predictably, no story has been more ignored by mainstream media.

Can our "democratic" two-party system save us? Unlikely. Between 1955 and 1961 the Senate filibuster was used one time to block the legislation the majority wanted. In 2009 and 2010, this device was used 84 times. The elites know they only need to own a small part of the government to control all of it. Though an overwhelming majority of Americans favored increased taxation of millionaires to pay down our debt, no tax will pass. Most favor a withdrawal from the Afghanistan quagmire, but nothing will change there either. This is broken government at its most fundamental meaning.

The fear of the elites, though, for the vast waste they've laid to our nation and world, is palpable. A perfect example is the $4.6 million "gift" bestowed on the New York City Police Foundation earlier this year by J. P. Morgan Chase, the world's largest public company. The message is clear: Protect us from the rabble, and we'll cut you in for a nice slice of the pie now shrinking for everyone but us. The cauldron thus begins to boil.

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Mark J. Plawecki is a District Court Judge in Dearborn Heights. Confessions of a Condor offers a dissenting opinion on our current American status quo.

Published: Fri, Oct 14, 2011

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