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Paula Gordon Headshot

"Big Business Is Doing Fine' -- How Are You Doing?

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Foreign policy is clearly well outside candidate Romney's grasp. His principal claim to our votes is his economic prowess. He is standing on sand.

"All for one, and one for all"* has always felt iconic to me, like that other French gift to America, the Statue of Liberty. "One for all" perfectly describes the job we elect our president to do. Alas, "all for one" -- the one per cent of the nation -- defines almost precisely adherents to the doctrines of the Republican Party, many of whom cling unabashedly to massive wealth as some kind of divine right. I remember real Republicans. Young as I was, I understood there was something unbalanced when Senators Charles Percy or Everett Dirksen championed the wealthy establishment. But they did understand the essential give-and-take of politics. They would have acknowledged that those elected to serve the public interest should... serve the public's interest.

Not so today's extremists in the no longer Grand Old Party. Call them neo-Republicans. They're indistinguishable from the scary "Birchers" I grew up with. Truly. These really are the same people who felt free to bully kids collecting pennies for UNICEF -- red faced adults yelling "Commie!" at a little girl (me) standing on the doorstep asking for pennies to help kids in developing nations (rather than the traditional Halloween candy). It's no accident that neo-Republicans look a lot like the John Birch Society. The Koch brothers are bankrolling the neo-Reps. Their father co-founded the John Birch Society. Small wonder that Romney would say, "Russia is our Number One geopolitical foe"? Pure Bircher rhetoric, an antediluvian world view.

Mitt Romney's inextinguishable sense of entitlement has led him to embrace (sometimes) far-right extremism. All Romney's very privileged life, he's been blind to the "one for all" idea. He is the poster boy for Wall Street greed. Romney's life-long, utter tone-deafness to the realities of regular people appears to be his principal connecting point with neo-Republican sneers at "one for all."

It's no surprise that Mitt Romney inhabits America's one percent bubble world. How else can one explain what little we do know about his income or about the tax returns he refuses to release or about his still secret plan to pay off America's debt?

Paul Ryan's nonsensical budget, embraced by Romney, simply reverses an idea core to American citizens: government exists to serve the American people. Corporate psuedo-persons have a totally different idea which they are spending billions to sell: trust us, trickle-down works; and, if that doesn't convince you, corporations are people and we're bigger and meaner than you are... and we're taking over.

The preamble to the U.S. Constitution is very explicit:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The People of the United States created the governmental system of the United States (via the Constitution) to be of, by and for the people (paraphrasing Lincoln at Gettysburg). The current, highly ideological Supreme Court has perverted the Constitution and ignored history in order to create the Frankensteinian fiend of corporate people. Mitt Romney is an almost perfect avatar for this fiction, which he treats as gospel. Last month, in Hopkins, Minnesota, candidate Romney said:

Big business is doing fine in many places, They get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses.

"Big business is doing fine." How are you doing?

Big business is doing fine because big business has fixed the game: heads I win, tails you lose. Small and middle-sized businesses are NOT doing fine because big business has fixed the game. Heads they win, tails you don't.

Few of us want to pay taxes. As Romney says, big corporations view it as their duty to pay as few taxes as possible. Courtesy of the Citizens United decision, big corporations can now spend as much money as they want selecting the politicians who will do as instructed and allow big corporations to pass along the tax bill to you and me -- real people, not ersatz corporate people. To add additional insult, many of those same big corporations are living off the taxes real people pay. They get direct subsidies or indirect subsidies, or they over-charge us for services and goods as recidivist hustlers in the defense-industrial-prison-security-financial complex. History provides abundant evidence that Republicans will diligently strive to transfer our money to their gilded coffers.

We (the People) pay taxes because taxes are a part of the deal, part of establishing "a more perfect Union." Big corporations apparently are not interested in "a more perfect Union."

In addition to being dead center of the etiquette of Wall Street, Mr. Romney comes from a tradition which has evolved into a full-frontal prosperity gospel. In "How the Mormons Make Money", BusinessWeek details the tax-exempt Mormon empire of which Romney is such a prominent part.

This all leads me to one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs: "Gotta Serve Somebody." In the song, often-prescient Dylan says that, regardless of who you are, what position you may hold, how much you own, how powerful you may be, you do serve somebody. We all make choices between right and wrong. Whom do we choose to serve?

The neo-Republicans have clearly chosen to serve big corporations, not the authentic American people. There is much more to America than greed. Trickle down economics (a.k.a. "voodoo economics") is not divinely inspired. Check out "Parables of the Not-So-Social-Gospel" for one Jesuit's clever and clear-sighted parody on the corrosive consequences of the Romney/Ryan/neo-Rep's cynical version of "All-for-one."

In "The Financial Cliff We All Saw Coming," BusinessWeek (again) -- hardly a radical rag -- reminds us, in detail, exactly how the national debt skyrocketed under George W. Bush. When Bush-Cheney and their neo-Republicans ran up the federal deficit with tax cuts for the richest, it was common knowledge among Republicans and Democrats that these outrageous gifts to the rich would land us in precisely the financial fix in which we now find ourselves. And that was before ruinously delinquent regulation of Wall Street led to the debacle of the Great Recession. BusinessWeek asserts: "There is nothing we know now that we didn't already know a decade ago ... The fiscal crisis shouldn't come as a surprise: The Bush tax cuts had an expiration date because Congress knew they'd lead to big deficits."

At the Democratic Convention, Bill Clinton neatly paraphrased neo-Republicans' cant, "We left him (President Obama) a total mess, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in." No thanks.

Without "One for All," the prescription is incomplete, unbalanced, unhinged. We owe it to ourselves and to America to be Doing Much Better. Mr. Romney and the neo-Republicans are opposed to that agenda.

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*The phrase was originally associated with Alexander Dumas' novel The Three Musketeers and the Musketeers' "un pour tous, tous pour un."

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