Friday, May 10, 2013

We need Guillotines, or a Big Stick

If a parent doesn't punish, or threaten to punish, a child for any wrongdoing, how does that child behave in the future? It's the same for CEOs, bankers and politicians. While spanking them might not get the desired results, the threat of prison might.

There are many things that many people would do if civilized societies didn't impose rules with subsequent punishments, that's why governments impose laws, have courts and build jails. Governments can also enable certain behaviors by incentivizing people to act in certain ways.

Our leaders (as do leaders in other countries) create laws allowing for, and even encouraging, their major business concerns to invest in foreign countries, promoting the economic development of their corporate institutions (legal entities), but foregoing the economic development of their own domestic workforce and economy. Our leaders actually allows for the economic misery of million of their citizens.

While although a proportionate percent of our corporate and political leaders may be apathetic sociopaths, we don't want to believe that many of them are actually evil; we'd prefer to believe that the CEOs and members of our Congress are just human beings who are only doing their jobs. But we shouldn't allow multi-national corporations to use their "carrot and stick" tactics to have their own way, in both their host countries and in foreign ones. What we need are strong leaders who can speak softly, but carry a big stick when dealing with these corporate entities.

Maybe many in Congress were corrupted only after being elected; and maybe CEOs became greedy only after joining a board of directors --- but their corporations would like nothing more than to have employee-free places of business --- profits being more important than real people to these soulless legal entities.

Obama (just like Romney) supports these corporations. Why did Obama nominate Penny Pritzker, a billionaire and owner of Hyatt Hotels, as Secretary of Commerce when she is clearly very anti-union? Because she's a big Obama campaign donor. Why does Obama support "free-trade agreements"? Because lobbyists (the Chamber of Commerce) pushes for them. That's just how our political system works, our elected representatives being beholden to corporate interests rather than the interests of the majority. That's why so many members of congress become lobbyists after leaving office, for money, period.

Is there one unethical, immoral or criminal activity that a major corporation won't engage in to increase their profits and executive pay (e.g. lying, bribery, theft, etc.), up to and including manslaughter, murder and genocide? The executives have immunity and escape personal responsibility by incorporating their businesses. So displacing domestic workers for cheaper labor overseas takes no absence of conscience or any guilt at all.

Outsourcing for cheaper labor in other countries has become a standard business practice, and businesses say they must do this to remain competitive in a global marketplace. But the trend has shown that their products could still be priced competitively if their corporate executives (and major shareholders) didn't insist on instant windfall profits (rather than stable and long-term growth) and massive year-to-year increases in executive pay packages.

The fact that corporations currently have over $2 trillion (that we know of) in unrepatriated profits in offshore bank accounts, shows that, because their cash is idle, it's not being reinvested in their business, but instead is being hoarded. These major corporations would rather sit on a pile of cash rather than pay taxes and reinvest in their host country's infrastructure and domestic workforce.

Rather than pay an employee (a domestic worker) $20 an hour with benefits and paying their executives $1 million a year, they would naturally prefer to pay foreign workers $10 a day with no benefits at all and pay their executives $20 million a year. The CEOs are just doing what their governments allow them to. This is how the Walton family (of Wal-Mart) was allowed to amass over $100 billion in personal net worth. What human being needs this kind excessive wealth, if only to pass it on to their future generations, depriving so many other people of a reasonable standard of living today?

Governments can impose caps on executive salaries, and some recently have, in European countries. But American politicians seem to think that executive pay caps are "un-American" and an infringement on "free enterprise" --- and that ANYTHING that is good for a major bank or corporation is somehow supposed to be good for the economy overall. We've seen that this isn't true. Many of our leaders also believe that anything a European government does is Socialist, and uses them as a bad example, disavowing America's European heritage.

These major business concerns, the multi-national conglomerates with no borders, have no ethical, moral or legal responsibly to the indigenous people or their host governments, but only to their major shareholders (such as the big banks) and the corporate executives themselves (who often sit on each others board of directors). That is just the nature of a limited liability corporation.

So, unless a civilized society no longer cares for the health and welfare of its people, then their governments will continue to allow and encourage these major business concerns to do almost anything they please in their insatiable and ruthless quest to maximize their profits and executive pay packages, while paying the least possible back to their host country in the way of taxes or jobs that pay a living wage.

The CEOs are just doing their jobs; it's our politicians that are failing to do theirs. But the people can not get their elected representatives to do their will, because the campaign and election process is corrupt --- and once in office, our elected officials blatantly do the will of the big banks and corporations.

After the top .001% extracts all available capital by way of out-sourcing, in-sourcing, wage & benefit cuts, layoffs, increased worker productivity, automation (robotics), monopolies, market manipulation, commodity rigging, price gauging, tax evasion and capital hoarding (etc.) --- when more money is needed to run the government, the Federal Reserve (our central bank) uses "quantitative easing".

Injecting more cash into the economy in this way allows us to bail out the banks, provide bankruptcies for corporations and subsidize profitable businesses. After the top .001% again extracts all the newly injected capital, a new cycle of "quantitative easing" begins. That's why the nation is now $16 trillion in debt, the cost-of-living is so high (prices rarely go down), and millions are left unemployed.

We can't outlaw the outsourcing of jobs and place caps on executive pay when most politicians (in both major political parties) continue to always do what's best for the big banks and big businesses, rather than what's best, just, and fair for the masses ("the little people"). This indifference by other leaders in the past is usually what precipitated the downfall of previous corrupted presidents, monarchs, despots, plutocrats, oligarchs, czars and kings in other empires and governments.

Our government leaders (working on behalf of the people, instead of the large corporations and banks) could rectify most of the problems our economy suffers today if only they weren't so concerned with saving their own jobs. Maybe term limits would be a good idea.

Not only don't our elected officials impose laws against outsourcing, they refuse to reform the tax code, investigate abusive offshore banking practices and crack down on dummy corporations; and they deliberately under-fund the IRS so that they can't pursue massive tax evasion. Our leaders don't even threaten punishment to the major banking executives who have committed unlimited and massive fraud.

We use capital punishment as a "deterrent" against murder, why not use prison as a deterrent against theft and fraud that is committed by the bankers? It would only take a few examples to put them in line. And despite what Attorney General Eric Holder claims, it wouldn't bring down the economy. If a banker ever threatened economic retaliation, why not use "National Security" as a reason to nationalize their bank?

When these wealthy and powerful people become "above the law", then we no longer have a civilized society --- not when only "the little people" must abide by the law.

The reprehensible and unpunished offenses of theft and political corruption must cease --- and those guilty of these acts must receive a meaningful penalty or sanction as retribution for their transgressions. Fining a large bank a few dollars for illegally foreclosing on homeowners is a pittance; the CEOs should have went on trial for fraud. But instead, our government would rather put "the little people" in prison for years for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

But making new laws is one thing, enforcing them is quite another (Do you hear me Eric Holder?). In France (where there was a true revolution) "the little people" turned the guillotine on their King and Queen. Maybe that's our problem...we don't have enough guillotines, or at least, the perceived threat that we might actually obtain and use them one day if the banks, corporations and politicians stop crushing the masses.

During the Vietnam War millions of colleges students protested against the war, many because their lives were in danger due to the military draft. I have news for our college students today, their lives (livelihoods) are still in danger if this trend continues. If they don't protest in the streets today, then they may end up sleeping on them tomorrow.

The biggest banks, private equity firms, hedge funds and largest corporations, from the pharmaceutical companies to the college universities, must be reined in and better regulated --- and our political system completely reformed --- or this country will be destroyed by the unadulterated and infinite greed of a few. We need a strong leader who's not afraid to use a big stick. It now appears that Obama was not "the one", and Mitt Romney definitely wasn't.

The South Carolina voters recently forgave Mark Sanford for adultery (and re-elected him to his old House seat), but it seems the party of "family values" has also forgiven him for theft and deception as well. Sanford famously jaunted off to Argentina to consort with his mistress (now fiancée) while he was governor, using government funds. So we can also blame THE PEOPLE for where this country is now. But it's a shame and a pity that the most ignorant among us are also able to take down the more enlightened with them.

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