Enraged in the Enron Age, p. 2

Now, in the wake of Enron-Gate, Washington hacks and politicos have said that now they're serious, now they'll crack down on corporate greed. Give me a break! Corporate greed, and the political system it pays for, is what put them in office in the first place!

SEC chairman Harvey Pitt says he'll propose tough new standards for the audit of public companies. Right. Pitt regulating big business is about as likely as a dog regulating ass-sniffing. Get real. The abuses will go on. Because the system just fuels itself. For most people, money is the easiest and most exciting thing to want. And as long as people want money more than they want fame, love, beauty, pleasure, morality, approval, posterity, or as long as they think that money is the best way to get any of those things, auditors will continue shredding, and hiding profits and losses; businessmen will keep on lying (or pleading the Fifth); politicians will keep on barreling pork. Frauds, fiddles, and fibs always go on, of course, but the more greed, the more lies. Today we've got plenty of both.

No, the 'system' hasn't been reformed, and it isn't going to be. It is going to be refined so that greed like the Gramms' and the Cheneys' and the Lays' will be harder to catch. Ironically, for a system that prizes competition, Capitalism is doing its best to become a monopoly. No more competition for Capital as Ultimate Good! The criteria of quality: ethics, beauty, morality, experience, sustainability, justice are being given price tags, bought and then dumped in the river.

- The Rich Have all the tools of power

The food we eat is being genetically modified (over in England, they call it 'Frankenstein food'), patented and stuffed full of hormones and antibiotics. I'm not talking just about cows and chickens, either -- it's fish and veggies too. The beautiful mangrove swamps of Thailand have been excavated to provide shrimp farms for the Japanese. In the USA, fish swim around in a murky mixture of their own excrement and antibiotics. And the trace nutrients in vegetables are down by factors of up to 10 because of exhaustive factory farming. Is anything safe to eat anymore?

Why don't we hear more about issues like this? Because the rich have all the tools of power.

First, they control the paychecks of their would-be critics. Any scientist who talks about Frankenstein Food suddenly has trouble feeding their family. Where are you going to work, when vast agri-business controls the vast majority of decent jobs in your field? But make no mistake: the big food conglomerates don't farm this way because it is tastier, more sustainable or easier to distribute. They work this way because they make more money doing it this way, even given the costs of paying to convince people that it is safe to eat.

Second, the rich control the media. Critics of Big Farming are laughed at as hippie "activists" who don't shower properly, while network news anchors yammer on piously about the latest baby-killer of the month. Corporations kill thousands of babies every year, but Peter Jennings never talks about them. Is it a coincidence that ADM sponsors ABC News?

And of course, the rich control the political system. Since the political purges of the 1950s, the USA has been a one-party state masquerading as a democracy. It rules the world - with 5% of the world's population, it has 90% of the world's millionaires, and creates 40% of the world's waste - and cries "Terrorism!" when the world bites back. American political choice is between Republicans who think that the government steals individuals' money and are intent on proving it, and Democrats who basically believe the same thing but want to make sure that they are in charge of what money is spent. With the scrapping of the Inheritance Tax, the Republicans threw away the last pretences of believing in merit and became the party of entrenched power. Whether through money, weapons, stolen elections, or just fists, Republicans are the party of "we're gonna kick your butt." After Clinton's withdrawal from national healthcare prepared the way, Gore's whimpered concession speech giving in to a crooked vote and an unconstitutional Supreme Court was the last sound of the Democrats becoming a party to the tyranny of the rich.

We are caught in a vicious cycle where money buys power, power makes money, and the whole system makes money more useful and everything else less useful. People in power have more money and spend it on getting more power so that they can make it easier to get more money. People who work 9 to 5 will get smaller and smaller paychecks, health insurance will cost more and more, and soon there won't be any social security left because of 'deficits' (read 'tax cuts' to the rich). Anyone think it's going to get better should take a look at who's running all the machines of power: multi-millionaires are at the top of all three branches of government (including the judiciary, which has an even higher proportion of millionaires than the Senate). It's totally systematic: the people with the most power are the wealthiest, the whitest, the most thoroughly corrupt. They paid their way in, we can't afford to kick 'em out. But we really can't afford to keep 'em either, can we?

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Channel your rage at the people responsible for September 11 -- and I don't mean the cavemen in Afghanistan.
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March 2002

jay's head