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All Three Holding Hands, Skipping and Dancing

by Sudhama Ranganathan Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012 at 5:40 AM
uconnharassment@gmail.com

Politics is such an easy thing to get caught up in. This is especially true when there are issues of such critical importance as we face currently especially with regards to the economy and our military. Right now American politics seem so polarized and in many ways it can be, yet on the larger issues it hasn't been that way at all. The talk has been there, but when actual moves were made regarding the larger issues, the only two parties we have weren't so different at all.

The first stimulus was supported almost unanimously by both parties. The second was not, but then again it didn't have to be, there was the super majority of the Democrats at the time. There was never an issue, so the Republicans could focus a laser like level of heat on their opponents with the freshly corralled and shaped into the perfect little vehicle for astroturfing Tea Party, which they needed after the disastrous Bush/ Cheney administration. That was all just talk, as it turned out, because once the Tea Party helped the GOP get a strong position back in Congress and after all the pledges made by Republicans, including that list of promises they trotted out, in December of 2010 the GOP helped president Obama craft and pass a huge under the radar stimulus. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/09/AR2010120904472.html)

The president, after campaigning in 2008 to end the war in Iraq as soon as possible and Afghanistan as soon as they got the man responsible for 9-11, changed tune his also after his having been elected. He tried to actually extend the Iraq War beyond the Bush timeline. When he failed he announced to the country he was keeping his promise to honor the Bush timeline. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/21/iraq-rejects-us-plea-bases) With regards to Afghanistan he said once we got Bin Laden we would come home, and stop having to pay in lives and blood. He did what Bush failed to do and got Bin Laden. It's been almost a year since Bin Laden's death and the plan is to stay indefinitely fighting over and over even though Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is essentially gone and are in Pakistan, Yemen and a host of other countries currently. The Taliban are entrenched in Pakistan and just keep coming across the border, attacking and then fleeing to safety.

Both Republicans and the president want to stay there and just keep fighting with no set definition for defeating whomever and no firm objectives. One thing they never say is where the money will come from. They both say, besides terrorists like Al Qaeda, China will be our biggest threat militarily in the future. Yet, who are we borrowing the most money from and are most in debt to?

So their plan to secure the USA against the biggest future threat is to get us deeper and deeper in debt to the government of the nation supposedly posing that very threat? It doesn't sound right. Sounds like we're having one pulled over on us again.

There is something Afghanistan has that the Pentagon was salivating at the very thought of, at least from the sound of an internal Pentagon memo leaked, regarding Afghanistan. “An internal Pentagon memo [...] states that Afghanistan could become the 'Saudi Arabia of lithium,' a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html?_r=1) Saudi Arabia supplies 13% of the world's oil. Sounds like Afghanistan's a big deal to people wanting to profit from lithium.

That's where we see the two parties are not so different. That's where we see the circle of three supposedly distinct groups of people all holding hands, skipping and dancing. The third player is of course wealthy corporations. The two stimuli have by far benefitted large financial corporations. They were supposed to inject fresh cash to “save the economy” and thus enable our economy to continue. Without the injection of cash it was said those large financial corporations wouldn't be able to make transactions like loans to small businesses for payday loans possible, and our entire economy would crash and burn. (Gasp!)

Yet in the end those large corporations sat on the cash. We entered the worst recession ever, but we survived just fine without the loans until they decided they had played with those tax dollars enough on the stock market and freed up some cash for loans. We never crashed and yet we never really benefitted. In fact one of the things most touted regarding the stimulus' supposed success is how Detroit has roared back and been saved. It's as though the people saying it haven't even been keeping up with the internet news aggregators, let alone TV news channels and programs. Right now Detroit's in a death spiral and trying to pull out. (http://www.thedaily.com/page/2012/04/05/040512-opinions-column-detroit-emergency-dalmia-1-2/) We're years out from the auto bailout. Either say what's happening or say nothing, but don't lie to us.

The presence of US troops overseas whether in war zones or not has helped large wealthy corporations protect their interests as if our military were security guards for them. But, we pay for the heaviest chunk of the bills for the military – middle income and lower income Americans that is, not wealthy corporations. The majority of tax dollars used to do that come from you and me.

They aren't hiring Americans to work those foreign oil fields, they get the cheapest labor possible – even shipping it in from outside those nations if it will save money. We protect their factories in Eastern and South Eastern Asia also with bases there – the same factories that left America's shores for cheap labor overseas starting the slide of the American middle class backwards. (http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/21/news/economy/middle_class_income/index.htm)

According to that internal Pentagon memo, guess whose interests get protected on our tax dollars in Afghanistan? They won't be hiring Americans in those Afghani mines.

The profits from the oil, cheap labor, mineral resources and more will not be going to repay the money we spent making inroads for and being used as muscle and an intimidation factor for those wealthy corporations. They could care less. The politicians only care about having their campaign coffers filled and those wealthy corporations are the only ones that can do it. Not you and me.

Want proof of how little those large corporations care? Ellen Schultz writes,” A little over a decade ago, pension plans had 0 billion in surplus assets. But employers siphoned billions from the pension plans to pay for restructuring costs, often by providing additional payouts in lieu of severance, and by withdrawing money to pay retiree health benefits -- and in some cases parachutes for executives.

“When the market cratered in 2008, there was no surplus to cushion the blow, and today, pensions collectively are underfunded by 20%. With one big exception: Pensions for top executives continue to spiral, and account for much of the growing pension cost companies complain about.” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204138204576605482876191482.html)

So these large corporations had huge surpluses enough to set their pension programs on cruise for a little while with no worries about covering their employees. Instead, they decided to finagle ways to raid what were the retirement savings being counted on by loyal employees like you and me, not just to use for the company, but in many cases to fatten upper management's pension programs, benefit programs, golden parachutes etc. Upper level management made the decisions to get money for the pensions of normal folks for themselves. They already had huge comfortable retirement programs, salaries, bonuses etc. They wanted more.

They did not care and showed utter contempt for you and me. Further, just like the mortgage bond scam that led to the financial crisis, you and I were forced to cover the deficits. Once the recession hit and those wealthy corporations were unable to honor their now dried up pension plans, taxpayers got stuck with the bill via the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. And we still are.

For those that don't know, “the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation(PBGC) is an independent agency of the United States government that was created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to encourage the continuation and maintenance of voluntary private defined benefit pension plans, provide timely and uninterrupted payment of pension benefits, and keep pension insurance premiums at the lowest level necessary to carry out its operations.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pension_Benefit_Guaranty_Corporation) The Washington Post reported that, as of November 2010 while we were struggling to figure out how to pay the basic bills at home, the PBGC had a total of 2.5 billion in obligations and .5 billion in assets. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/15/AR2010111507470.html)

For every law that gets passed to stop the raiding of pension funds, another huge loophole gets written into the law. “Oops! Did we do that?”

That's one part of the bailout we haven't heard about. Yet these people want us to foot the bill for military excursions that benefit them with no financial payback for us. They aren't even hiring Americans over there, save in some upper management positions – maybe.

They could care less about the lives of those men and women dying in the field to safeguard, secure and protect financial assets for them. When the wars first broke out in Afghanistan and Iraq parents of service men and women had to pay to send bullet proof vests over to kids fighting the wars because there was apparently no money in the military budget for it. There weren't enough armored vehicles either.

While that was going on there were military owned golf courses both stateside and overseas on foreign bases some of which cost US taxpayers millions of dollars annually just on maintenance costs alone. (http://www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com/golfcourses.html)

Corporations rely on legislation being approved that protects them and makes them wealthier. Politicians rely on big money from wealthy corporations to keep them in office. Yet in all that it is you and I that suffer. Right now the system is rigged in favor of wealthy corporations, and also so the two parties stay in power. The only way to change this is to begin electing other alternative parties to Congress, not the oval office first, but Congress so we get real representation and real alternatives. These corporations have left us high and dry and are leaving us behind more and more with no thought about what happens to us. They take what little we have to make themselves wealthier.

It's time we started looking at them the same way – that goes for those that protect them also. Both of the current two parties are to blame no matter the rhetoric. That won't change until we change it. All we'll get from them is more talk, no action while they hold hands and dance in a circle celebrating the fact we have done nothing to stop them from gaining wealth and power at our expense.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.

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