Fritz: It's All About Money
By Number Six
Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 06:41 AM
Being a Palmetto state liberal doesn't come easy; among such things you wish were different was that we still had our beloved Senator "Fritz" Hollings back in his office. He was interviewed the other night on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, and what he said didn't surprise nor shock me.
But, I damned near vomited all the same...
During the interview, he stated one of the biggest problems with Congress to this very hour: They're too effing busy running around raising money. Not legislating. Not impeaching CheeseWhiz or Quickdraw. Not worrying about jobs, housing, failing banks, or anything important. No, just that congresspersons now spend more time....raking in moolah:
FRITZ HOLLINGS: All the time is fundraisers. All the time is money, money, money, money. In 1998, ten years ago, I ran and had to raise 8 an a half million. The record is there. Eight and a half million is 30,000 a week. Every week for six years. Each and every week for six years. Oh Dick Russell of Georgia-And?
BILL MOYERS: Former senator.
FRITZ HOLLINGS: He says, "Now a senator is given a six year term rather than a two year term. He's given six years, the first two years to be a statesman. Then the second two years to be a politician. His last two years a demagogue." We use all six years to raise money. That's why I wrote the book. To try to get the government off its fanny and cut out all the politics and let's work for the country for a change.
BILL MOYERS: What do you mean, it's not working? You say you can't get anything done in Washington anymore. What's not getting done?Our worst fears confirmed: Our senators and reps are too busy collecting campaign dollars to do anything like legislation. In a strange way, it is as if they are all rock and hip-hop stars; constantly "on tour" to promote their latest CD's.
FRITZ HOLLINGS: Legislation. Anything meaningful. They fill up the tree both sides, it's nothing wrong with Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, they're durn good leaders and they're doing what the senators want done. And they're all smart senators and they're all responsible people. But they're playing the game and the media hadn't exposed. That's why I wrote it. I'm trying to expose-
BILL MOYERS: The game? What's the game?
FRITZ HOLLINGS: The game is money. I got to get the money to heck with constituents, I gotta get contributors.
And Mr. Hollings doesn't pull any punches as to why the current two prez candidates don't mention "jobs" either...it is not a surprise:
BILL MOYERS: What do you make of the fact, as you point out in your book, three days before the first presidential primary in Iowa; The New York Times listed the positions of all the candidates on eight important issues. Not one of them on trade or outsourcing of jobs.Yeah, I was reaching for the Mylanta about then. Moyers and Hollings concluded their chat with the fact that the darling MSM couldn't care less about reporting things like this, but then, why should they? The MSM is part and parcel a huge part of the very mechanism itself, and admitting to the truth...that our government is now owned not by you and me, but by those with huge campaign coffers...and it's now as useless at a kickstand on a tank.
FRITZ HOLLINGS: That's right. And they came way out. We had, in South Carolina, since President George W. Bush has been in; we have lost 94,500 manufacturing a net loss. We're getting' some more jobs in BMW in Spartanburg, but a net loss. And they never mentioned it in the early Democratic primaries. They're-
BILL MOYERS: Why?
FRITZ HOLLINGS: Because they gotta get the money.
BILL MOYERS: And who gives them the money?
FRITZ HOLLINGS: Wall Street, the banks, and business.
BILL MOYERS Yeah, you say presidents negotiate trade agreements not to open markets, but to protect corporate America's foreign investment. That's how you see it.
FRITZ HOLLINGS: Well, I know it. I mean look at the Congress. Under article one, section 8, the Congress shall regulate. Not free-
BILL MOYERS: Regulate--
FRITZ HOLLINGS: Congress regulates trade both domestic and foreign.
BILL MOYERS: And you say in your book that Congress is not doing that.
FRITZ HOLLINGS: They can't do it because they've gotta get the money. You put in a trade bill and down on your head comes THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and the big banks and The Business Round Table and The National Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers; they're not for domestic. They're for Chinese and Indian manufacturer even The National Chamber of Commerce is not worried about Main Street, Peoria, Illinois; Main Street, Shanghai.
You see, Henry Ford built up the middle class along with organized labor. He said I want the fellow making the car to be able to buy the car. So, he doubled the minimum wage. He put in health care and retirement costs and everything else of that kind, benefits. And so we had a good working relationship between labor and that-- now, all of these trade agreements for the investors to protect their investment in China and India, but, uh-uh forget about labor.
A time bomb, I feel has been assembled by neo-cons and others; the creation of a slow cancer that has transformed democracy into a plutocracy, with we the taxpayers as the pivot boy in this huge circle jerk. If we use truth, then campaign contributions are bribes and nothing else, and our legislators common and petty thieves, all of them.
Crap. Where's my Zantac?
It's MONEY in the largest sense of that word. I mean, come on, the "capital" part of capitalism is MONEY. And capitalism is, in many ways, contradictory to our other beloved concept of democracy. If MONEY is too concentrated at the top, the people without MONEY are tempted to exercise their democratic rights to alter the system.
America continues to practice one of the most extreme forms of capitalism; most other democracies actually practice a hybrid of capitalism and socialism (hence talk radio's and conservatism's unending ridicule of the European "nanny state").
And since capital is virtually equivalent to MONEY, pure capitalism is literally synonymous with MONEYism, or a belief in MONEY. MONEY is considered an indicator of intelligence, wisdom, goodness, and so on. And the two things people with MONEY want are (1) to keep the MONEY they have and (2) to get more MONEY.
Publicly traded corporations are open to purchase by whomever has the requisite amount of MONEY--so any corporation that influences public opinion will eventually be bought by someone rich enough to want to control public opinion about the rights and responsibilities of the rich.
Being human (benefit of the doubt time), legislators are susceptible to bribes of all kinds if the bribes are big enough. And if the bribe doesn't work, the person with a ton of MONEY will pour enough of those funds into politics to replace the honest politician wiith one who can be bought.
And the key is to have the people with the MONEY organized enough that they can act in concert to control the debate about what role MONEY can and should be allowed to play in public life. Which brings me back to the 1971 Powell Memo from soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell to the head of the national office of the Chamber of Commerce setting out a plan for the MONEY people to combat the shift of public opinion against them.
I know I've linked to the Powell Memio before, but as far as I'm concerned, we can't have enough people aware of it, so go here to read it.
For purposes of this discussion, here's an important part of Powell's memo:
The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism [of "the American economic system"] come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.
Moreover, much of the media-for varying motives and in varying degrees-either voluntarily accords unique publicity to these "attackers," or at least allows them to exploit the media for their purposes. This is especially true of television, which now plays such a predominant role in shaping the thinking, attitudes and emotions of our people.
One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.
From that excerpt you can see that the solution for Powell and his type is going to include gaining control of the instruments of communication. And they did. I assume anyone reading this blog knows how few corporations control almost all media in this country.
All of which underlies the specifics of Fritz's complaint. The MONEY folks can simply buy the major media, but it's bad taste to literally buy government. So the people with MONEY have to find some other way to control government, just to ensure that government doesn't, by some odd quirk, actually govern for the benefit of the people.
What better way to do that than to astronomically increase the role that MONEY plays in getting elected to government? If you need MONEY, who ya gonna call?
The sad fact is that the very idea of government "for the people, by the people" was always limited. The founding fathers limited "the people" to white males, and even that was a victory over the many who wanted to limit it to white males who owned property.
Making Government Work!!!???
Back in the early 90's Senator Hollings introduced legislation to put 3 cents per gallon on gas which was 85 cent per gallon at the time in South Carolina. This additional revenue was to be used for R&D for alternative energy. It was defeated by the Oil and Automotive lobbyist who controlled Gingrich and his Republicans (like Lindsey Graham, Mark Sanford, Henry Brown, and Jim DeMint). They didn't want to give Bill Clinton and the Democrats credit for making government work.
Ford Motor Co. was just starting to market its big SUV and figured if consumers had to pay more than 85 cents per gallon in South Carolina they wouldn't be inclined to buy the Excursion. Gasoline was more than a dollar per gallon prior to the marketing of the Excursion but mysteriously dropped in price just before the unveiling the big SUV.
Had these Republicans adopted Senator Hollings proposal we would well be on our way to energy independence and not in this mess.
We've seem this sham before. The oil prices in the early 70's were raised to allow the Shah of Iran enough revenue to purchase expensive fighter planes sold by the Military Industrial Complex.
We invaded Iraq because Saddam was "just saying no" to OPEC's manipulation... period.
After President Carter established the visionary Department of Energy Reagan/Bush appointed a Dentist, James B. Edwards, as Secretary. They never wanted Government to work. The Bushies want to dismantle it so
their 1000 "points of light" business buddy cronies can run things.
The subtitle for Senator Hollings book "Making Government Work" should be "for who...the many or the few?"