During the past 40 years or so, the powerful and wealthy have staged a slow-motion takeover of our government. These oligarchs now have tremendous influence over the legislative and judicial branches of government as well as many of the regulatory agencies. Here are a few examples that demonstrate the advanced state of the takeover.
Two recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign financing, the 2010 Citizens United case and the April 2, 2014, McCutcheon vs. the FEC decision, have opened the floodgates to huge amounts of corporate, union and individual money pouring into elections. These decisions allow the wealthy and powerful to exercise more influence over candidates and the outcomes of elections.
The pilgrimage to Las Vegas this past weekend of some of the Republican candidates for president to participate in the "Sheldon Adelson primary" and to meet other wealthy Jewish donors demonstrated the lust for campaign money. In case you don't recognize Adelson's name, he and his wife invested $93 million in the 2012 election. A key Adelson position is support for Israel, and the candidates shamefully tried to outdo one another in showing their devotion to Israel. Is this unseemly process, including pledging fidelity to another nation, how you want candidates to be selected?
In March, the leaders of the Senate Banking committee announced an agreement on a housing finance reform proposal. The proposal, despite all its great claims and support from President Obama, appears to be another huge rip off of taxpayers. A key provision of the proposal would limit investors' losses to 10 percent of their investments in mortgage-backed securities. Taxpayers would be required to reimburse investors for any greater losses.
Provision of this assurance, along with no real improvement in upgrading the criteria for qualifying for a mortgage, essentially guarantee another financial disaster. Instead of providing more corporate welfare for the too-big-to-fail banks, a reasonable reform would be to continue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as public entities.
The fact that 600 representatives from the corporate world, and almost nobody representing the public interest, are working with the U.S. trade negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty speaks volumes. Obama also supports these secret negotiations to further entrench corporate control at the expense of our democracy and sovereignty.
We can fight back by joining the Colorado Community Rights Network's effort to promote local self government. Learn more at cocrn.org.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.