|March 11, 2005|
The Corporate "Ownership Society"
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
The Bush administration constantly refers to its pursuit of what it calls "an ownership society." But average Americans have been deceived if they believe that term applies to them. Actually, of course, Americans have always owned houses, farms and small businesses; that isn't exactly earth-shattering news. In fact, the strength of the American economy and our society overall have long relied on a stable, ever-expanding middle class.
But something extraordinary has happened. The concept of an ownership society has come to mean corporate rather than individual ownership. Halliburton, for example, profits from the war in Iraq, does business with countries on the "enemies list" and gobbles up tax dollars with no-bid contracts. And if the pharmaceutical complex seems more benign consider that these companies spend millions of dollars marketing prescription drugs (more in fact than they spend on research and development) and boast one of the largest profit margins in the country for the sale of products consumers need desperately not only to maintain their quality of life but often life itself.
No one, however, can match credit card companies for their market share of America's indebtedness, and how clever of them to use their influence to get Congress to write new legislation favoring their industry. No amendments governing personal bankruptcy were passed, leaving credit card companies free to charge unbridled interest rates. Neither were allowances made for people whose medical emergencies had driven them into debt nor were the families of active military exempted from the economic disaster they may face when breadwinners fight in foreign lands. As Paul Krugman wrote in his 3/8/05 NY Times column, "The bankruptcy bill was written by and for credit card companies" and represents "a steady erosion of the protection the government provides against personal misfortune, even as ordinary families face ever-growing economic insecurity."
And what about those insurance companies the president is so anxious to protect from large court awards to plaintiffs. It seems as if these companies are more intent on protecting their own interests than in underwriting benefits for customers. For all the talk about tort reform and the effect of large awards, in states where caps have been put in place, there have been negligible results in terms of rate reductions.
Then of course there are the energy companies, unnamed and unaccountable to the electorate, who helped write national energy policy behind closed doors with Vice President Cheney. What with a press corps that has become more stenographic than investigative, less and less is heard about what an affront to the general public this secret and one-sided policy is. Never before has the media been so manipulated and silenced by an administration. As John Nichols comments in his book Dick The Man Who is President, about Cheney (Page 120):
One can only hope that it will become increasingly clear to more and more people that most of us don't have much input with respect to the decisions the government makes in our name. Many of us have already figured out that, in fact, we are not so much the owners as the owned - - by an insider operation that is not concerned with serving the interests of its "unconnected" members.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Interested in contributing an article to BuzzFlash? Click here for more info.
Articles in the BuzzFlash Contributor section are posted as-is. Given the timeliness of some Contributor articles, BuzzFlash cannot verify or guarantee the accuracy of every word. We strive to correct inaccuracies when they are brought to our attention.