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April 29th, 2017

People vs. Money

Editor,
The ongoing battle between the wealthy one percent and the rest of the people for control of the government appears to have concluded with the capitulation of democratic government to the autocratic rule of capital. This was achieved through democratic process in which a politically naïve mass of Americans made a billionaire businessman its president. How this popular mass imagined that this elitist would act in its interests is beyond understanding. Money has literally Trumped the people and is already using its immense weight to crush them. Our democratic government is now a business, and as such, will adhere to the singular capitalist mandate: maximization of profit. That means, among other things, attempts to privatize every government function essential for social wellbeing – be it education, health care, or Social Security.

Among those already nominated for key government posts are: Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education Đ a multi-billionaire who has devoted her life and fortune to the destruction of free public education; Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State – former Exxon Mobil CEO who denied climate change; Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor Đ a fast-food magnate who fought against the unionization of his workers and paying them a living wage; and, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt who, as Oklahoma Attorney General turned his back on earthquake-causing fracking and chose as his campaign manager an oil and gas CEO.

However, government cannot be a business. Our children must not be educated only if it’s profitable; public health must not be administered only if a handful of people get rich from it, as is currently the case in large part; a safe and convenient infrastructure must not be subject to a profit-only mandate; clean air and water must not be contingent upon profit Đ as should not the preservation of the planet; and the world’s people should not be decently housed only if some individuals or groups make money on it. In fact, it’s self-evident that the bulk of life’s necessities, which are provided by or overseen by public institutions, must not be subject to the profit motive. If they were, world society would be decimated, since most of the world’s people could not pay for them. Nonetheless, many people who depend upon government as we all must, decided to turn it into a business guaranteed to deprive them of the basic necessities that they rightfully took for granted. Already under repeal is Obamacare that gave health coverage to tens of millions of people who never had it before.

One is tempted to tell Trump voters who caused this aberration, “You’ll get the punishment you deserve.” But impugning a large segment of society is not constructive. These voters were simply conned into their support by promises of deliverance to a Promised Land impossible to construct under current circumstances. That they fell for the con is not surprising in our con-prone society. Every six minutes on television we are urged to buy something Đ be it a car, an insurance plan, or a drug Đ that will transport us to paradise. We are victims of a commercial culture that rewards con and stifles thought that current education doesn’t necessarily promote.

But all is far from lost. More people voted against Trump than for him Đ and many who voted against him are already organizing opposition to his business-only administration. The forthcoming Women’s March of protest on Washington is perhaps a better harbinger of things to come than racist promises of a coerced Muslim exodus and a right turn to a business-only government.

Andrew Torre
Londonderry, VT

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