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Lloyd Chapman

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Do You Really Think Your Vote Counts?

Posted: 04/ 2/2012 11:46 am

President Eisenhower was clearly correct in his 1961 Presidential exit speech when he warned America of the growing power of the 'military-industrial complex'.

"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex," Eisenhower told the nation as the power of the defense and aerospace industry was in its infancy. "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Eisenhower's vision of "a disastrous rise of misplaced power" was depressingly accurate.

Today, it doesn't really matter who the President is or who is in Congress because big corporations run our government. To a large degree, they decide who gets elected and what legislation gets passed. Every committee in Congress is controlled by the very industry it's supposed to regulate.

Look at the oil companies.

Back in 2005, as the oil industry was making record profits and oil prices soared, the public demanded an answer. In one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, executives from top energy companies testified before the House Commerce Committee and lied about their involvement in former Vice President Cheney's energy policy taskforce. Luckily for these executives, Commerce Committee Chairman, Rep. Ted Stevens (R-Ala.) had protected these executives from swearing in prior to their testimony, so they did not end up perjuring themselves in a legal sense.

In 2009, Exxon Mobil paid no taxes at all to the U.S. federal government on domestic profits of nearly $2.6 billion by legally funneling its profits through wholly-owned subsidiaries in countries like the Cayman Islands and reinvesting earnings overseas. In 2011, Exxon Mobil made $41.1 billion in profits, equal to about $5 million an hour, and spent over $13 million on lobbying efforts. Exxon's current effective tax rate is 17.6 percent, lower than that of most Americans. ExxonMobil received so much in federal subsidies during the Obama administration, that Citizens for Tax Justice released a 2011 report, finding that:
"Over the past two years, ExxonMobil reported $9,910 million in pretax U.S. profits. But it enjoyed so many tax subsidies that its federal income tax bill was only $39 million -- a tax rate of only 0.4 percent."

The bottom line is that, if you're a Republican, Democrat, independent, Green party, undeclared, whatever -- it doesn't matter -- because the president is going to work for the Fortune 500 corporations that call the shots in Washington D.C. They're the ones that fund thousands of lobbyists to influence our government.

Wall Street intentionally sold worthless investments to people all around the world and then they lobbied Congress for trillions of dollars to bail themselves out.

Bailout money was supposed to stabilize the banks so they could help the middle class, the general public and small businesses. That never happened -- the banks just kept the money and used it to pay for themselves. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office even found that half of all the money that big banks have paid back from the TARP bailout was actually paid with other federal funds, including millions of dollars in funds earmarked for small business loans.

Corrupt relationships between massive corporations and our government are the reason our economy is still sputtering and unemployment is still high.

So, if you think it's going to make a big difference if your candidate wins -- then think again.

I'm encouraged by the fact that recent polls show that close to 90 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress. What's discouraging is that they're not doing anything about it.

I admire the people of the Middle East, the repressed in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria and other countries affected since Arab Spring, who have raised hell to kick dictators and cronies out of their countries.

These people were willing to die to change their government.

But I'm disappointed in America. The best thing we can do is camp out in the parks. That's our huge response to the government completely destroying our economy and plunging our nation into senseless wars that benefit the big corporations, especially the defense and aerospace industry (which obtains nearly 70 percent of all federal contracts annually). So let me close this piece with a quote from one of my favorite people: Thomas Jefferson.

He said: "Every generation needs a new revolution."

I think he was right.

Who's with me?

 

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