For a better local government
By Carl H. Tannert, Jr.
This week, I have postponed putting the spotlight on some of our public servants, businesspersons and community groups who are working hard to improve the quality of life for all the people in Galesburg and Knox County. Instead, moved by a timely article written by Frank Kaiser for his own web-site audience (suddenlysenior.com), I felt it important to pass it on. Frank and his wife Carolyn reflect much of todays highly-touted family values and many of the fears and concerns we the people share as we struggle to live in todays America, which Frank has labeled "Corpocracy." I think its a neat phrase ... "core-pock-racy" ... sort of rolls off the tongue, innocuously, but really is quite deadly for too many of us and our families. Especially our valiant troops returning home in pieces and caskets.
I am jealous of Frank and regret not being able to tag Corpocracy as my own. But alas, my Republican parents brought me up in a God-trusting, loving-family atmosphere and taught me the values of tradition, honesty, morality ethics and patriotism. Like the best of us, I have erred, slipped and slid along lifes road, leaving a trail of mistakes in my wake that have injured myself, my family and others. But I have learned a lot from my many human errata and have endured, thanks to the support, understanding, advice and love from my wife and best friend, Sandy, and our three fabulous daughters: Barbara, Catherine and Ruth.
I get even with Frank later in this article. But first, heres his:
Frank Kaisers Perfect Job for Carolyn?
My wife, Carolyn, just got fired.
It was a crummy job with crummy pay.
But to Dollar Generals credit, they provided health insurance, albeit after six months employment. Thats why Carolyn worked there. And, quite possibly, it was the high cost of that insurance got her canned.
Now, like millions of others, Carolyns in that rock-and-hard place: too young for Medicare, too old to suit most employers.
I advised, "Run for Congress. Its a dream job. With the best health insurance in the world."
"Yeah, right." She was underwhelmed.
I continued my pitch: "Pays good. About 160 grand a year. With guaranteed increases, an unlimited expense account, and a pension plan that beats the Sultan of Bruneis. Not to mention an army of ass-kissers, a big office, limo, and government-subsidized everything."
"Dont you have to be a lawyer or something?" she asked.
"Heck, no! Qualifications for Congress are less than Dollar General demands for their minimum-wage jobs.
Be at least age 25 and a citizen.
Have two facial expressions: a smile for corporate contributors; a look of concern for constituents.
"No lifting. No stocking. No late-night robberies. Well, citizens get mugged, but thats another story. And you cant be fired for being too old."
Carolyn shook her head. "Of course," she replied, "it helps if you lack conscience and heart."
She would have to work on that.
Im so old I can remember when our representatives in Washington sometimes cared about citizens.
Hard to believe today, but back when we had a democracy in America, Congress often voted with their constituents in mind. Now, of course, with most all congressional seats gerrymandered safe, voters dont count. Todays constituents are the corporations that fund campaigns.
Rule #1: The Voter is an Idiot
"The beauty of the New Corpocracy," I explained, "is even if no one runs against you, corporations give you tens of thousands of dollars. And all you have to do is vote their way."
Carolyn laughed. "I guess if youre going to be a whore, you might as well be a rich one."
"Thats the attitude!" She might make Speaker of the House with that kind of forward thinking.
"What about real citizen problems?" Carolyn asked. "Like medicine for the 14 million seniors without coverage? Id have to be seriously sleazy to ignore that, wouldnt I?"
"Not in todays Congress," I replied. "Congressmen once had to listen to seniors moan about how they must choose between eating and taking the medicines their doctors prescribe. As a representative of the people, they weighed the benefits of providing lifesaving drugs to seniors against issues like budgetary restraints, patent policy on taxpayer-developed drugs, even free trade with Canada."
"And today?" Carolyn asked.
"You wouldnt have to bother your little Congressional red head with such complications. Instead, you simply apply Congressional Rule #2: Give business what it wants; make it sound like a citizen benefit."
Carolyn seemed perplexed.
"In the case of drugs for needy seniors, theres the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. Sounds wonderful, doesnt it? Whod guess that it benefits the pharmaceutical companies with a $300 billion windfall profit?"
Carolyn winced. "Thats terrible!"
"No, Honey. Youve got to think like a congressman, and to him, thats wonderful! Three hundred billion buys you and your party millions in legal bribes from the high rollers at Big Pharma. Everybody wins."
"Except the voters," Carolyn said.
"Thats the beauty of the system! Voters get frustrated; feel impotent, and stop voting. Already half the country has succumbed. And with every nonvoter, business and their Congressional toadies grow stronger. Its the new America!"
"Sounds more like America Lite," my wife grumbled. "By the way, whats Congressional Rule #1? When in doubt, pander?"
"The voter is an idiot."
"Perhaps. But whats the rule?"
"Thats it," I said. "Congressional Rule #1 is, The Voter is an Idiot. Think about it. About the way Washington treats us."
Carolyn moaned, "Geez! To run, Id have to have any sense of decency and shame surgically removed." She thought for a second. "Hell, if I do that, I might as well run for President."
What a great idea, I thought. Id vote for her. Think of the health benefits Id get as First Guy.
Copyright © 2004 Frank Kaiser
I hope you enjoyed reading Franks discourse with Carolyn.
They are real Americans with solid family values and a solid work ethic. They talk straight and possess a lot of common sense. They can laugh at themselves (something we all need to do more often) and their life together would, perhaps, satisfy todays even most ardent evangelical, born-again Christian who holds the secrets of the religious universe dear to his heart, and wants everyone to be exactly the same.
Corpocracy has caused many of us to slip from the comfort of a high standard of living into the shadows of the struggling, working poor. It has forced us to live an unhealthy and unsafe environment. I have a hope that the masses (we the people) are finally awakening to the reality that they have been had, by a fanatical Corprocratic executive and judicial branch of our government, supported by a do-little-for -the -people-and-a-lot-for-ourselves-and-our-elite friends-who-pay-our-way Congress. Maybe, after removing all the abusive offenders on both sides of the aisle in this years elections, we the people can finally end the human, health, educational, environmental, safety and unjust tax abuses that are crushing us all.
Sadly, in todays fast-paced world of the almighty dollar, materialism and win-at-any-cost attitudes, too many of us must work two or three jobs just to exist; just to make meager ends meet, without proper healthcare (that use to be provided by employers), without equal educational opportunity for the hundreds of thousands of children who have been left behind. They struggle while others enjoy their wealth, gained from the labors of others, indulging themselves in a pampered life style of security and trust funds for their children and grandchildren. Sadly, too, our government politicians, on both sides of the aisle, with their self appointed big salaries, exorbitant health benefits, payola from special interest groups and a pension plan to kill for, are part of the problem that is destroying our Nation, and our countrys mainstay: we the people. Most of them have forgotten the little people who helped them make their fortunes.
It is my fervent prayer (yes, even guys like me can talk to God) that the many minorities who will vote their own narrow cultural beliefs, in many cases to their own economic detriment and to the detriment of their children, will take the time to think, and then vote for those who will best serve their own family interests, ethics and values, and put caring for their own families first and ideologies second. Only when we the people refuse to no longer tolerate the insulting assault on our intelligence by the ads foisted upon us by slick, well-schooled, mind-controlling, unprincipled professionals (hired by every politician to slant the truth), will we be able to reach our common goal of an America that is strong, just, prosperous and capable of caring for and taking care of the less fortunate, to the best of our collective ability. Dont let any condescending ad person pin a divisive label on you. Join we the people and look at America through your own, sharp eyes. Its proven that network media slants everything toward the mind of a child (with almost no attention span). To me, that alone is an insult that makes me more determined than ever to fight back. We the people, in the end, usually do the right thing. Count on it.
Our current system is broken. It is terribly wrong and unjust. But only we the people, as a powerful oversight committee, can force a change that will benefit everyone. Human nature has proven, time and again, over the past 2,000 years that people who are not restrained by an powerful, unbiased oversight committee will grab all the money and power they can, with a total and destructive disregard for any form of life but their own. With all our human faith, we have shown that, without oversight, penalties (to both our person and our wallet), backed up by swift, sure, enforcement of the law, we soon become corrupted and patently dishonest.
If we the people do not have the will to stand together, to insist that our elected President, Vice President and Congress be forced to provide us with a system of government that benefits all of the people, all of the time, then we deserve every bit of the abuse, disdain and injustice that has already been heaped upon us. And with your inaction it will even get much worse over time. Only we the people have the collective power, and only we can force our fellow, elected brothers and sisters to do the right thing. Simply by voting our honest conscience.
Trusting any politician, no matter how charming, to do the right thing is a form of self-destructive, mass insanity. Trusting them instead of making them carry out the will of the people is a recipe for disaster, and worse. Bear in mind that our constitution provides many safeguards that allow we the people to remove any public servant, including a President, VP, Congressperson, Supreme Court Justice or Federal Judge, any time any one of them overstep their bounds and begin to force their own ideologies on the public. Perhaps thats why so many government attorneys, hired with taxpayer dollars at ridiculous fees, have banded together to attempt to change our Constitution. I firmly believe that only when we the people speak with one voice will America once again be respected as the strong, compassionate nation it once was. Only then can we all celebrate the God-given freedom that millions of American lives have been sacrificed for, and are still being sacrificed in one mans war.
Remember that the truth is out there if you really want to find it. If you are satisfied and swayed by the warped facts (and blatant lack of facts) that our sorry networks and media dish up, and by the paid personal-attack political ads that you see and hear from all sides, then I am sorry to say that you are part of your own problem and one of the still-slumbering masses.
If you would like to see and hear real journalists and solid reporting, tune in to PBS on your local TV or AM and FM radio stations. Its a peoples network that has a staff of real journalists and real reporters. And they all strive to present facts, not fiction. They have yet to be tainted by the corpocracy (which even now is trying to gain control of them). But thanks to a few corporate sponsors, some great charitable trusts and, yes, we the people, rich or poor, who donate what we can afford, PBS is alive and well and is, in my opinion Americas last line of defense against corpocracy. Its the network you can trust. Not CNN or any of the others. Matter of fact, PBS is the only network to publicly honor our valiant service men and woman who have been killed in Iraq. Each night, the station provides photos and details on each soldier killed in Iraq, as the photos and data become available, following the News Hour at 6pm CDT on TV.
A new Propogandocracy. In our label-filled, acronym-loving world, the propogandocrat (thats a phrase I coined, just to stay even with Frank) has now taken center stage throughout America. Men and women, both Democrat and Republican, with brilliant, Goebbels-like minds (many with about the same scruples as he had) are hard at work to capture, change and/or distort my mind and thoughts, and yours as well. If you do not feel that todays big-business corpocracy is out to control our thinking as the so-called journalists you see on TV or hear on your radio spout party-line garbage, look behind the web of deceit and please think again.
At a recent meeting of Americas dwindling small media networks (which have not yet been swallowed up by the wealthy elite) to explore suggestions and methods to insure a fair distribution of nonpartisan news by honest men and women, Michael Powell, the head of our countrys Federal Communications Commission (a peoples agency paid for by our taxes), showed his disdain for we the people with a quick, showy, hello and goodbye before getting on the jet that swiftly took him, 3,000 miles to a vacation retreat on Cape Cod, where he could share some fun in the sun (and perhaps a few laughs) with his elite clique of wealthy associates. He left behind some of his fellow FCCers to deal with the issues and BS the little owners. Mike, you see, is already in the pocket of the big media conglomerates, part of the corpocracy that makes no bones about telling you they, with their wealth, will control all the media at some point in time. They scoff at we the people, like you and me, but together well have the last laugh if you want to awaken to a better world by Thanksgiving.
My family and I lived quietly on the Cape for almost a decade and it was indeed a great place to live. We left when the crowds, traffic and costs became intolerable. Just in case you didnt know, Mike Powell is the son of General Colin Powell, your Secretary of State (makes one wonder, eh!). If you want to ask him why he left an important meeting with folks dedicated to protecting your interest and future, you can direct your comments to Michael@fcc.gov, and maybe you can find out which interest holds him captive. It certainly is not the people who pay his salary, like you, me and all the other long-suffering taxpayers around the nation.
I try to achieve any personal goal, and try to help groups achieve their goals, with simplicity. When people can meet in an ego-free environment of Cooperation, Collaboration & Consensus, the odds are good that everyone will benefits and goal attainment will achieve any expectations. I have proven it many times over. I invite you to join me in a soon-to-be-held meeting of individuals who are committed to making Galesburg and the surrounding areas a better, healthier, more prosperous, place, for every person and every family, family in which to live, work and play; providing a bright future for our children and grandchildren.
No matter who you are, rich or poor, male or female, young adult or senior, republican or democrat, businessperson or employee, join me in an upcoming program to help make things better in our homes, our neighborhoods, our towns and maybe, in our state and country. Lets each of us begin by becoming good neighbors. If we can t be good neighbors, how the hell can we ever be anything to anyone else? How can we expect to join hands across our great land as part of we the people of America if we dont set an example in our own community?
I ask all our readers to spread the word. Tell anyone, from any church or community group, within any ethnic, political or other organization, to please contact me via e-mail and allow me and my colleagues to tell you about our plans to form a Galesburg/Knox coalition of truly bipartisan citizens and groups who want a better government, starting right here in Galesburg. I look forward to hearing from you... E-mail email@example.com
Checking Up On Congress
Here are the links Frank listed. You can read his article and connect to these links by going to suddenlysenior.com or check the following:
See what your Congressman takes in legal bribes: opensecrets.org/politicians
See how your Congressman voted: congress.org/congressorg/home
Track Legislation Online: Thomas.loc.gov
Holding Power Accountable: commoncause.org
National Taxpayers Union: ntu.org/main
What you pay for Congress: pbs.org/politics/congbenefits.html
Carl Tannert is a graduate of New York University. He has been an editor for Prentice-Hall and written many articles for national publications. As a corporate development executive, he retired from one of the nations top Construction Management firms in 1998. Since he has been serving as a pro bono consultant, advisor and board member for non-profit community-oriented organizations in Galesburg and Rochester, NY. He now lives in Galesburg. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org