MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The takers are on the loose, mugging most of the American population and destroying a vital economy and representative democracy in the process. They break the rules, think only of themselves, and take unaccountable advantage of decent people in society.
No, they aren't the Americans who have earned their Social Security benefits, or those who were laid off their jobs so venture capitalists such as Mitt Romney could earn an extra billion or so, or the urban and rural poor who can't find jobs because factories have been sent overseas to charnel house sweat shops (such as the one in Bangladesh in which more than 1000 slave-wage workers were killed just a short time ago).
Who are the takers in our society? The corporations who make record-breaking profits at a time when workers are enduring decreased (adjusted for inflation) pay or losing their jobs – and the too big to fail financial institutions who take advantage of an all but monopoly-hold on our money supply.
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The following are just a few examples of the takers in action.
Banks: Yesterday, we talked about this largely over-looked fact in terms of media coverage: seniors and the working class are not only squeezed by the threat and actual decrease of earned benefits and pay, they receive virtually no interest on their hard-earned savings. What do the banks get (which are really now multi-faceted, hydra-headed financial institutions)? A robbers' take by using the money on which they pay literally pennies in interest to loan out at up to near 30% on some credit cards. That's not to mention the still shady sub-prime mortgage market, hedge fund insider trading, and large bank penalties and fees for everything from checking accounts to loans.These banks aren't banks: they are financial entities with tentacles that control DC to ensure lack of regulation, which allows them to take and take and take from those of us who actually labor for a living.
Agri-business: First they came and squeezed so many of the small farmers out of business. Now they are taking away our fundamental human right to own and farm the basic grains of life: seeds. That's the ultimate taker, taking away the building block of the food chain by patenting seeds and agricultural products, and then suing farmers and others who through no negligence of their own end up with patented seeds blown onto their fields. You can't be more of a taker than one who steals the agrarian seeds of life and forces payment for them throughout the world.
Logo Brand Corporations: Naomi Klein brilliantly detailed how consumers were being sucked in by omni-present advertising that sells "aspirational" products internationally. Just look at Nike, Apple, or Calvin Klein. These are highest-profit/lowest-possible-wage name brands that we often purchase for their logo life style identity image. Yet, in doing so, we allow such companies to exploit labor overseas, abandon it in the US, and make enormous profits on items with retail prices that far, far exceed their costs of production and shipping. Logo brand corporations take our dollars, increase their record profits, hire exploitative labor sub-contractors in financially desperate nations – and they make relatively minor financial investments in building the domestic US economy.
Predatory Venture Capitalists: Mitt Romney represented the ultimate $250 billion dollar venture capitalist blood sucker on the US workforce and economic structure. All he did was implement strategies to take companies down, sell off their parts and decrease labor costs. Maybe he did more than that – after all he has five children – but not much except fly around clueless between his mansions and donate to the Mormon Church. There are some good venture capitalists who actually build businesses (including sustainable projects), but they tend to be the excepton rather than the rule.
Corporate Intellectual Capital: Who provides the education that allows companies such as Apple, Microsoft, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman to prosper? Do they pay for the education of their workers? Not a chance. The public school system – and public and private colleges – are the fundamental basis of the brain power behind US corporations. Not to mention that major businesses are making and have made billions and billions of dollars off of the public commons such as television airwaves and the Internet. Many inventions that came through publicly funded research were privatized for a song and have earned endless profits for corporations and the one percent. Corporate intellectual capital is a gift from the American people. The corporations take it without paying it back and then pocket the profits from the brainpower that we have paid for and nurtured as a nation. Can you be much more of a freeloader than that?
BuzzFlash at Truthout can go on with this list, but it's Friday, and we don't plan to spend our weekend getting up to a hundred reasons we know who the real takers in our society are.
They are the 1% freeloaders, freeloaders on a society that provided everything they needed to become the ultimate gilded grifters.
Note: Inspired by the style of frequent BuzzFlash at Truthout columnist Paul Buchheit.
(Photo: Nisha A)