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09.25 Labour wants green energy to power most UK homes by 2030

09.25 US to be hit worse than almost any other country by climate change, report says [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

09.25 Climate gentrification: the rich can afford to move – what about the poor?

09.25 Monsanto's global weedkiller harms honeybees, research finds

09.24 Everything you've been told about plastic is wrong – the answer isn't recycling

09.24 Unlocking secrets of sea level rise in Greenland [15 minute video]

09.24 Air pollution rots our brains. Is that why we don’t do anything about it?

09.24 What are public lands?

09.24 The Netherlands Unveils the World's First Recycled Plastic Bike Lane

09.24 Americans: the next climate migrants 'We're moving to higher ground': America's era of climate mass migration is here [estimates do not include migrants from other nations even more affected]

09.24 Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years [wonderful for fossil fuel investors; terrible for all plants and animals]

09.23 Nasa launches satellite to precisely track how Earth's ice is melting

09.23 Climate study ‘pulls punches’ to keep polluters on board

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09.25 Dozens Arrested as Survivors Flood Capitol Hill to Share Trauma of Sexual Assault, Demand Senate Reject Kavanaugh

09.25 Why I find the Kavanaugh/Ford case so unsettling

09.25 The Republican party is about to face the wrath of women

09.25 Trump has given women yet another reason not to report rape

09.24 Sexual assault is fun if we can all 'lighten up' about it

09.24 Brett Kavanaugh faces second allegation of sexual misconduct09.23 MARYLAND GOVERNOR REBUFFS CALL FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO BRETT KAVANAUGH ATTEMPTED RAPE ALLEGATIONS [Republicans above the law...]

09.23 Trump Is Strangling the U.S. Refugee Program to Death

09.23 Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 11/9" Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise

09.23 The Trump Administration's Latest Tax Scam for the Rich [video]

09.23 One Tiny Tax Reform, Billions for America

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09.22 Making Tariffs Corrupt Again

09.22 Why isn't Mark Judge testifying about Kavanaugh? He is an alleged witness

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09.20 Trump Should Be More Worried About the Brennan Dossier

09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]

09.19 ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

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09.23 The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire [1:18:01 documentary video; the Book]

09.23 Why We Have To Break Up Amazon

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09.25 US Isolated: Europe’s Big 3, plus China & Russia Outmaneuver Trump to keep Iran Deal at UN

09.25 Spain to Recognize Palestinian State, work for European Union Acceptance

09.25 The male cultural elite is staggeringly blind to #MeToo. Now it's paying for it

09.25 'A smell of death:' Mexico's truck of corpses highlights drug war crisis

09.24 'Stop this disaster': Brazilian women mobilise against 'misogynist' far-right Bolsonaro

09.23 For This Year’s International Day of Peace, Korea Takes the Lead

09.22 Which nation is 'most generous' to refugees? Certainly not the US

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  Print view: The Secret Big-Money Takeover of America
POLITICAL ANALYSIS:

The Secret Big-Money Takeover of America

Here's what citizens can do to take back our democracy.

by Robert Reich
According to FEC data, only 32 percent of groups paying for election ads this year are disclosing the names of their donors. By comparison, in the 2006 midterm, 97 percent disclosed.

OCTOBER 8, 2010—Not only is income and wealth in America more concentrated in fewer hands than it’s been in 80 years, but those hands are buying our democracy as never beforE—and they’re doing it behind closed doors.

Hundreds of millions of secret dollars are pouring into congressional and state races in this election cycle. The Koch brothers (whose personal fortunes grew by $5 billion last year) appear to be behind some of it, Karl Rove has rounded up other multi-millionaires to fund right-wing candidates, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funneling corporate dollars from around the world into congressional races, and Rupert Murdoch is evidently spending heavily. No one knows for sure where this flood of money is coming from because it’s all secret.

But you can safely assume its purpose is not to help America’s stranded middle class, working class, and poor. It’s to pad the nests of the rich, stop all reform, and deregulate big corporations and Wall Street—already more powerful than since the late 19th century when the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of cash on the desks of friendly legislators. Credit the Supreme Court’s grotesque decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates. (Even though 8 of 9 members of the Court also held disclosure laws constitutional, the decision invited the creation of shadowy “nonprofits” that don’t have to reveal anything.)

When the Senate recently considered a bill to force donor disclosure, every single Republican voted against it.

According to FEC data, only 32 percent of groups paying for election ads are disclosing the names of their donors. By comparison, in the 2006 midterm, 97 percent disclosed; in 2008, almost half disclosed. Last week, when the Senate considered a bill to force such disclosure, every single Republican voted against it—thereby revealing the GOP’s true colors, and presumed benefactors. (To understand how far the GOP has come, nearly ten years ago campaign disclosure was supported by 48 of 54 Republican senators.) Maybe the Disclose Bill can get passed in lame-duck session. Maybe the IRS will make sure Karl Rove’s and other supposed nonprofits aren’t sham political units. Maybe pigs will learn to fly.

In the meantime we face an election that marks an even sharper turn toward plutocratic capitalism than before—a government by and for the rich and big corporations—and away from democratic capitalism.

As income and wealth has moved to the top, so has political power. That’s why, for example, it’s been impossible to close the absurd tax loophole that allows hedge-fund and private-equity managers to treat much of their income as capital gains, subject to a 15 percent tax (even though they’re earning tens or hundreds of millions a year, and the top 15 hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion last year). Why it proved impossible to fund expanded health care by limiting the tax deductions of the very rich. Why it’s so difficult even to extend George Bush’s tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of Americans without also extending them for the top 2 percent—even though the top won’t spend the money and create jobs, but will blow a $36 billion hole in the federal budget next year.

The good news is average Americans are beginning to understand that when the rich secretly flood our democracy with money, the rest of us drown.

The good news is average Americans are beginning to understand that when the rich secretly flood our democracy with money, the rest of us drown. Wall Street executives and top CEOs get bailed out while under-water homeowners and jobless workers sink.

A Quinnipiac poll earlier this year found overwhelming support for a millionaire tax.

What the public wants means nothing if our democracy is secretly corrupted by big money.

But what the public wants means nothing if our democracy is secretly corrupted by big money.

Right now we’re headed for a perfect storm: An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top, a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy, and a public in the aftershock of the Great Recession becoming increasingly angry and cynical about government. The three are obviously related.

We must act. We need a movement to take back our democracy. (If tea partiers were true to their principles, they’d join it.) As Martin Luther King once said, the greatest tragedy is “not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

What can you do?

  1. Read Justice Stevens' dissent in the Citizens United case, so you’re fully informed about the majority’s pernicious illogic.
  2. Use every opportunity to speak out against this decision, and embarrass and condemn the right-wing Justices who supported it.
  3. In this and subsequent elections, back candidates for congress and president who vow to put Justices on the Court who will reverse it.
  4. Demand that the IRS enforce the law and pull the plug on Karl Rove's and other sham nonprofits.
  5. If you have a Republican senator, insist that he or she support the Disclose Act. If they won’t, campaign against them.
  6. Support public financing of elections.
  7. Join an organization like Common Cause, that’s committed to doing all this and getting big money out of politics. (Personal note: I’m so outraged at what’s happening that I just became chairman of Common Cause.)
  8. Send this post to your friends (including any tea partiers you may know).

© 2010 Robert Reich. Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations and Locked in the Cabinet. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on public radio RSS feed and iTunes.



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This story was published on October 12, 2010.
 



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