Every U.S. citizen knows the story of the American Revolution. We heard about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and John Hancock. We read about the signal lanterns in the church tower and Paul Revere’s gallant ride. (The only woman I remember was Betsy Ross, and she was sewing.)
We learned about the famous Tea Party when colonists dumped sacks of tea into the harbor to protest taxes. In fact, our school books emphasized that the fundamental reason the American colonies revolted from the British crown was summed up in the catchy phrase “no taxation without representation.”
The victorious American revolutionaries created the “republic” of the United States of America, and promised a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” This time, the “people” will determine how taxes are spent.
Now, fast-forward to 2015.
The U.S. military is the biggest consumer of petroleum in the world. With installations deployed all over the world, and with active participation in several on-going military conflicts, the Pentagon is turning over billions of dollars a week of taxpayers’ money to private corporations.
According to the latest polls, do the majority of taxpayers want this? No.
The U.S. government continues to allow the nation’s biggest banks to speculate in “financial derivatives,” while still maintaining eligibility for government bailouts with taxpayers’ money. (Remember the crash and bailouts of 2007-2008.)
Do the majority of taxpayers want this? No.
Congress reduces taxes on the rich and corporations in an effort to “stimulate” the economy, while CEOs still make tens of millions annually. Congress creates “foundations” especially constructed to allow the super-rich to evade inheritance taxes.
Congress continues to relax regulations on corporate activities, including a proposal to “open up” national parks and reserves to “commercial development.”
Washington, D.C. is awash with thousands of lobbyists, activists, industry associations, think tanks, institutes and foundations, all clamoring for attention and favors. In fact, the entire electoral process has been overwhelmed completely by huge amounts of money – much of it from industry-related “superpacs”
Do the majority of taxpayers want any of this? No.
The American people are not being fairly represented.
It’s partly our fault because we voted for these people. But we don’t usually have much choice. We’re constantly presented with professional politicians (“Republicans” or “Democrats”) whose true allegiances reflect the interests of their top donors. Essentially, positions of power in the U.S. government are for sale, and any sale is an exchange of goods and values.
This is no way to run a country.