Earlier this year, I heard the story of Benton Harbor, Michigan. I watched this textbook example of corporate and banking control over our political systems play out in what turned out to be a preview of what has now befallen previously sovereign nations in Europe. The story, if you aren’t familiar with it, is an absolutely sickening example of the complete corporate subversion and corruption that has infected our political systems.
It shows that democracy in America is now subject to big corporate interests and big banks bottom lines. It is run by and for the welfare of the 1% and, as the historical record shows, that is in direct opposition of the people’s welfare. It requires ‘government led crackdowns’ on the resulting
civil unrest to enforce this transition, as the population will always rise to resist such measures.
Flint, Michigan is the latest city to undergo a hostile takeover of their democratic processes. The city’s fall into economic oblivion was made famous by native Michael Moore’s first foray into film, as it was one of the first victims of corporate greed. Once again, we can look to the poor city of Flint as they are once again blazing a sad trail in the history of America.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican (not that it matters anymore), appointed an EFM for the city of Flint. The Emergency Financial Manager title is not a new one in Michigan, as Flint becomes the fourth city in the state to have its democratic processes taken away by the appointment of such an overseer. Detroit’s Public School system has also been placed under the control of unelected technocrats. It has been rumored and threatened that Detroit will be the next victim of this stripping away power from the votes of people. It would appear that turning this power over to private institutions, accountable to no one, is in season for Michigan.
Mike Brown, a Democrat (see above disclaimer) who formerly held the position of mayor of Flint, was named EFM. He came in with scissors
blazing and immediately hacked away the salaries and benefits of the city council and took abolished city council meetings. He fired city employees and, in a move that shows forward thinking, eliminated a complaint investigation office and the staff administering civil service laws for employees.
Democracy in Detroit is not far behind. Detroit Mayor Bing has come out in favor of the appointment of an EFM to take over making decisions for the city. Detroit has already begun instituting austerity measures that have included forcing city union workers to accept massive cuts to wages and benefits while their costs for health care increase. They intend to cut more than 2,300 city jobs. This also means, for those of you keeping score at home, that there will be fewer fire fighters. I honestly don’t know if these cuts include the police force, but I doubt it. They likely anticipate a need for them as they continue to enforce American Austerity. If this weren’t enough, Detroit’s workers are being forced to take pension reductions and a face upcoming changes in ‘work rules’.
That last vague threat suddenly reminds us that here in our own state of Missouri, politicians have changed our rules regarding child labor to allow for our advancement toward a Chinese modeled workforce and for the insane notions of the corporate conservative viewpoint that poor kids should be janitors to be a reality.
The internet and free flow of uncontrolled information it allows for has shown Americans that we are not alone in our plight, even though our major media refuses to acknowledge that. Corporations have managed to globalize our banking systems, our economies and are bent, it seems, as events in Europe continue to unfold, on extending globalization to our political systems.
What they did not count on was that they have also globalized resistance to this philosophy.
We stand in the midst of a global awakening as the methods that support oppressing the 99% are used in country after country, in the Middle East, in Europe, in Oakland. We are seeing clearly for the first time, the intentions of the 1%, as they simply take the power they’ve bought and paid our politicians for and use it against us. They are forcing us into austerity by socializing their debts to us, worldwide. They are using our political system against us in a free-for-all of pro-corporate legislation and deregulation, while taking away all of our people’s benefits, rights and now, votes.
We are the 99%. We are the 99% in Russia. In Egypt. In Tunisia. In Greece. Spain, Italy, France, Germany. In the UK. In Durbin, South Africa. In Bahrain. In Yemen.
We are the 99% in New York, in Oakland, in Minnesota, in Phoenix, in Philadelphia.
We are the 99% in St. Louis, where they stand strong in defiance against both the efforts of the police to discourage them and the elements.
We are the 99% in Kansas City, where side by side, men and women of both political stripes have managed to find plenty of common ground to stand on in defense of our common good.
We are the 99% who live and work in the direct heart of this state and, as pointed out by the latest round of census data, the nation.
We will maintain and protect our rights, our liberties. These are rights of our birth, paid for in blood. We will use them to resist this subversion of our union by the corporate forces massed against us. We stand against the corporate control and corruption of our institutions and we stand against your agenda to further eliminate the rules you have to follow.
The time of the 99%, contrary to popular reports, is far from over. People of all stripes are beginning to see the truth and are coming to the same conclusion. It is time to protect our democracy from those who would do it immeasurable harm.