There can be no democracy without a well-informed citizenry.
Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.
Money in Politics
NOTE: Many thanks to Cenk Uyger and Bill Moyers, among others, for inspiration and information used in creating this presentation.
Current State of the Union
• Too many Democratic politicians and all non-Tea Party Republicans do NOT want to not rock the boat
•Media figures ditto
These politicians and media pundits sing the same tune:
"We can't have real change, or much change...
just itty-bitty change now and again...
That's the mature, practicalview of the world."
HOW / WHY DO SUCH "PRACTICAL" PEOPLE
RISE TO THE TOP?
• fictional example: BROADCAST NEWS – experienced and passionate reporter Albert Brooks vs smooth-and-bland newcomer William Hurt. One is a real journalist, the other a pretty face who reads a prompter. The William Hurt character does not see himself as a corporate stooge, nor did he sacrifice any values to attain the position. No, he was CHOSEN for that position by the corporate owners BECAUSE he already was the bland, obedient personality they were looking for.
Real Life Example: Ditto too many corporate-owned politicians today. They did not have to sacrifice integrity to become stooges for their corporate donors. No, they were CHOSEN by those corporate donors to run for office BECAUSE they were already willing to sell out The People for the sake of their own personal gain.
•The system self-filters because wealthy Corporate donors pick the winners (and prior to 2016 the candidate with the most money won 98% of the time).
•“Winners” are picked because they are willing to serve Corporations.
Real-World Media Examples
of what happens to those who do NOT
toe the corporate line
“Liberal” MSNBC fired both Phil Donohue and Pat Buchanan because they voiced opposition to Iraq War.
Jesse Ventura signed contract for millions of dollars, but when MSNBC learned he was against Iraq War, they refused to put him on air. Would not let him out of his contract. They paid him the millions – to keep his voice silent.
Ashleigh Banfield – rising star on MSNBC until she gave a fiery speech against the war on a college campus. Immediately pulled from the air – but again, they would not let her out of her contract, so she was unable to speak on air, anywhere.
Ed Schultz - lost his prime time show after he criticised TPP.
Message to all other on-air talent:
Bow your head, toe the line.
It was not always like this.
We used to have a free press.
Walter Cronkite spoke against the Vietnam War… without repercussions.
Back then, the political establishment was afraid of him and his influence as an experienced and respected figure.
Progressives used to be LIONS
They took on the biggest guns in the Establishment – and they WON.
• From 1969 to 1972, the entire American Big Business community experienced a series of political setbacks without parallel in the postwar period.
• Washington undertook a vast expansion of its regulatory power, introducing tough and extensive restrictions and requirements on business in areas from the environment to occupational safety to consumer protection.
•Ralph Nadar pummeled Richard Nixon and Big Business – victory upon victory:
Clean Air Act
Clean Water Act
Consumer protection laws
Environmental Protection Agency
The Rights of Citizens were ascendant.
The right to live free from being deliberately polluted or endangered by reckless, profit-hungry corporations.
Time and again...
The People Won.
•In corporate circles, this pronounced and sustained shift was met with disbelief... and then, alarm.
What happened between 1970 and today…?
The Chamber of Commerce
Lewis Powell, Jr.
wrote a MEMO in 1971:
“American economic system
is under broad attack.”
This attack required mobilization for political combat:
“Business must learn the lesson... that political power is necessary;
that such power must be assiduously cultivated;
and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively
and with determination — without embarrassment and without
the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.”
“Strength lies in organization,
in careful long-range planning and implementation,
in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years,
in the scale of financing available only through joint effort,
and in the political power available only through
united action and national organizations.”
Corporations of the World, Unite!
•The organizational counterattack of Big Business in the 1970s was swift and sweeping — a domestic version of Shock and Awe.
•The number of corporations with public affairs offices in Washington grew from 100 in 1968 to over 500 in 1978.
•In 1971, only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in Washington, but by 1982, nearly 2,500 did.
•The number of corporate PACs increased fr
om under 300 in 1976 to over 1,200 by the middle of 1980.
What the numbers alone cannot show is something of even greater significance: Corporations learned to work together to achieve shared political goals.
What Made Such Dramatic Change Possible?
Nixon liked Powell’s ideas so much…
That he appointed Powell to the Supreme Court in 1972.
FYI, Powell was among the 7-2 majority who legalized abortion (Roe v. Wade) - goes to show how much the Repubican Party has changed in 40 years.
[Historic Footnote: a famous legal decision of the 1800’s (attributed to an error by a transcribing clerk) referred to the Railroad Corporation plaintiff as “a person” with standing. This was later interpreted as “corporations are people.”]
Powell is better known for two other cases:
1976 Buckley v. Valeo
Legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court on January 30, 1976, struck down provisions of the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)—as amended in 1974—that had imposed limits on various types of expenditures by or on behalf of candidates for federal office.
Ergo... “Money is Speech”
1978 Supreme Court decision: “Corporations (since they are people) can give money directly to politicians”
The three cases together added up to:
1800's -- Corporations are people
1976 -- Money is speech
1978 -- Corporations therefore have “the right to express themselves” by giving money directly to politicians
shot an already-dead horse –
democracy began dying in the 1970’s.
So... Thanks to two Supreme Court decisions in the 1970's, legalized bribery became the new standard operating procedure in Washington DC.
What effect did the flood of corporate money have?
Spend 5 billion... Get 4.4 Trillion back.
1950’s – of total taxes paid, 35% were paid by Corporations
Highest marginal tax rate was 91% (that’s how we financed the interstate freeway system and other massive infrastructure projects)
Payroll tax was less than 10% of total taxes paid
(BTW - Payroll tax is the most regressive tax, being paid only by working and middle classes – wealthy do not pay it)
Then in the 1970's the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could direct-pay politicians, and thus opened the floodgates for legalized bribery in Washington.
2017 – of total taxes paid, only9% is now paid by Corporations
Payroll Tax now accounts for 37% of total taxes paid.
Which amounts to...
transfer of wealth
In a brutal DOUBLE WHAMMY that struck Working Americans below the belt...
as payroll taxes went up, workers' wages STOPPED going up (failing to even keep up with inflation).
Wages had been going up and up steadily since WW2... until mid-70's, then wages flat-lined.
Meanwhile profits from worker productivity continued to climb, to record heights today.
The difference between what workers earn today vs what they WOULD be earning if their wages had continued to rise in proportion to productivity is…
12 Trillion Dollars
That’s 12 Trillion LESS paid to workers since the 1970's,
and 12 Trillion MORE profit to the corporations.
Ain't legalized bribery great? (If you're a corporation )
Here's the deal...
Corporations are an invention. Humans invented them.
Corporations are just like Robots. Humans invented them, and humans wrote the code that programs them.
In the case of Corporations, there is only one line of code:
Remember Isaac Asimov's warning about Robots? They need to be programmed not to cause harm to humans.
We forgot to program the corporate robot with the very important rule:
“Thou shalt not cause harm to human beings”
We need to reprogram the robot!
How to rewrite the code...?
That process cannot even begin until two things happen first:
1)Reclaim the media, so people have access to the truth.
Right now, corporate-owned media is the mouthpiece for the Corporate Oligarchy/Establishment – the ones who select/promote only those media personalities who do not challenge the status quo.
2) Get Money Out of Politics
If you watch the corporate media, you have been conditioned to believe that it is unrealistic -- impossible! -- to get money out of politics. As if "its always been this way."
NO!It has not always been this way.
SCOTUS-created Legalized Bribery only dates back to the 1970’s.
That’s only halfway through one human lifetime.
A problem that is no older than half a human lifetime...?
We can fix this!
In fact, #1 is already happening.
Internet = New World
Millennials (the single largest voting block in the country today) do not watch Corporate Media. They are on the internet, watching live-streams or downloading podcasts or videos to lap-tops, iPads, iPhones, Androids...
There are digital media outlets that tell the truth. Among them isthe largest online news service in the world.
It has NO corporate owners or sponsors.
70% of its audience are 18-35 years old.
Of 18-35 year olds who “Follow the news,”
over half of them get their news from this outlet.
This news outlet is largely the reason why people under age 40 today
are (to quote one Fox News pundit) “terrifyingly liberal.”
This news outlet is changing the world.
(If the above graphics look puzzling to you... You are not a millenial.)
As a recent Commenter on the TYT Members page pointed out...
Media presence is the shadow cast by the generation in the majority. There is a reason Fox and MSNBC are becoming sidelined, while objective and independent media… is becoming the front line. Millennials can fact check faster than politicians can lie, which is why Bernie created a revolution, times they are a changing.
Laura Flanders wrote recently in The Nation:
Anyone questioning the vitality of progressive media in the United States needs to check out The Young Turks. This online video channel claims 80 million unique views a month. This puts it in the same league as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
TYT (The Young Turks) is the largest online news service in the world.
•Online, TYT has larger audience than CNN
•Much larger audience than MSNBC
* * * 6.2 Billion views on You Tube * * *
On November 8, over 4.5 million viewers tuned into TYT’s live stream to watch the election results.
TYT started as a one-man show 15 years ago (from his living room), and today it employs 60-70 or more staff and has several teams of investigative reporters and camera operators covering stories around the country.
TYT has NO corporate owners or sponsors. It owes its allegiance to its audience MEMBERS who support the network with monthly subscriptions and generous donations.
TYT has an international audience and Members all over the world. Mostly... young. "Terrifyingly liberal."
Among this age demographic, "socialism" polls positively, while "capitalism" does not.
TYT and its young audience are the future of democracy in America.
And, democracy's best hope.
(And yes, rather geeky :o)
But TYT is more than just a news organization.
It is expanding into advocacy and political action.
Some years ago, TYT founder Cenk Uyger (and others, like Move to Amend) determined that we need a Constitutional Amendment to get money out of politics. Amend the Constitution to make it clear that only human beings are people, and money is not speech.
90% of all Americans agree.
Americans of all parties agree.
"Get Money Out of Politics" is a non-partisan ideal, embraced by nearly everyone (outside of Washington DC).
Two ways to achieve this goal:
2/3 of Congress votes for it -- doubtful :o(
(unless they are pressured -- see footnote below)
2/3 of States pass resolutions calling for Constitutional Convention*
* Important Footnote:
At this moment, the internet is awash in false narratives about the so-called "dangers" of a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con). Whatever your poitical affiliation -- left, right, center, far-right, far-left, everything inbetween -- there is a narrative that has been written for the express purpose of pushing your psychological buttons.
These narratives are written with the intention that people who share your views will forward such emails to you, or share them on Facebook. Therefore, these narratives circulate widely via email and social media:
"BEWARE the Constitutional Convention...! If we have one, the entire Constitution will be re-written to... (insert whatever you fear most)."
These false narratives are FAKE NEWS. Cenk Uyger addresses this topic in this news clip (and a New Mexico senator also addresses this topic in his floor speech in the same clip):
And by the way... as both Cenk and the New Mexico guy point out, odds are that there will never be a Constitutional Convention, because before that can happen... Congress will scramble to pass the Constitutional Amendment itself (getting ahead of the ball).
How often does that happen...? Often. HALF OF ALL AMENDMENTS to the Constitution began as a threat by the States to hold a Constitutional Convention... and only then did Congress act on its own, to pass the Amendment by floor vote. HALF.
So Cenk created Wolf-PAC:
Now has 35,000 volunteers in all 50 states
Their mission: Pursuade legislatures in 34 states to pass Wolf-PAC resolution to get money out of politics.
There is no time limit for how long it can take for 34 states to pass the resolution. However, for any state to pass it, both houses (Senate and Assembly) must pass the resolution within the same year.
How is that going?
Wolf-PAC has won 5 states so far (only need 29 more!)
CA * IL * NJ * VT * RI
When Rhode Island voted, the gallery (packed with Wolf-PAC members) was forewarned not to make noise or be disruptive during the debate and voting.
The vote in favor of the Wolf-PAC resolution was UNANIMOUS. All Republicans joined all Democrats in voting in favor of
GETTING MONEY OUT OF POLITICS.
The entire Rhode Island Senate rose to its feet,
turned to face the gallery, and
gave the Wolf-PAC volunteers a standing ovation.
(How sweet was that?)
Even When We Fail, We Win
In Missouri, it did not pass the Senate in time for the whole state to pass, but in the House, 86 Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of getting money out of politics and it did pass the House. Wolf-PAC will try again next session.
Similar situation in Texas -- many Republicans voted with Democrats to oppose money in politics. Not a total victory yet, will try again next session.
THEN THERE'S CONNECTICUT
A fascinating thing just happened in Connecticut, where the Wolf-PAC resolution did not pass.
Wolf-PAC remembers the names of those who vote in favor of corruption. One particular Republican who voted AGAINST getting money out of politics wound up running for a vacated seat in a special election this spring.
This was a seat that had been held by Republicans for over a century. The last election held for this seat was 4 months ago, and at that time, the Republican beat his Democratic challenger by 36 points.
This is the kind of "hopeless" seat which the Democratic Party refuses to even contest, and certainly won't invest money or resources.
But the fact that the Republican running in the special election had voted against Wolf-PAC got Cenk's blood up. Time to try something new.
With just two weeks' notice, he deployed the "TYT Army" to Connecticut, where 500 volunteers hit the streets and began knocking on doors... "Did you know that (the Republican) voted in favor of corruption? Did you know that he opposes getting money out of politics?"
Remember, 90% of all Americans from all political parties are opposed to the corrupting influence of Money in Politics.
When the final votes were counted, the Republican still won... but only by 10 points.
From 36 points just four months ago, to 10 points two weeks ago. That is a 26-point swing...! And remember, Wolf-PAC only had two weeks to work the vote.
So, here's a question asked by Wolf-PAC to any politician - Democrat or Republican - who votes in favor of corruption:
Can YOU afford a 26-point swing
in YOUR next election?
The times they are a'changin
How to find and watch TYT news broadcasts for free on You Tube: instructions in PDF.
Try it for just one week. If you have been in the habit of watching ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or MSNBC... TYT will blow your mind, and change your view of the world.
Hold onto your socks -- you may find yourself becoming "terrifyingly liberal."