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Commentary :: Politics
Power Drain
15 May 2013
As a nation we have become dependent upon political system that views most Americans as a means to an end. The people tasked with serving, no longer see their jobs as a way to work on behalf of the nation. The job of an elected official, especially on the national level, has devolved to convincing us that moves made to benefit wealthy corporations, be it by passing legislation or failing to do so, were actions taken on the behalf of the average person. In part that also requires sharing power between the only two parties Americans are allowed to vote for, and become a part of, thus the two parties need to constantly keep us focused on two parties only. We need to be convinced that our being denied real choice is also for our own good, otherwise we may begin to elect people that could threaten their business of working for a very small group of wealthy corporations and being good at pretending it's really about us.
To be honest about how the two party system operates, and on whose behalf it operates would be to risk their positions. Those positions allow them to collect large salaries, reap the benefits of being in public office and, they hope, retire to a cushy seven figure job sitting on a board or two, lobbying or consulting. It's their reward for serving less than 1% of Americans, ensuring that they are allowed to stay wealthy. Further, it is to ensure that 1% become wealthier, often at our expense.

For decades both parties have worked hard to convince us, in one form or another, that by keeping the wealthy getting wealthier, we become wealthier. They have worked to convince us that when the wealthy become wealthier, it is for all of us. They have worked to convince us that when fat cat corporations get wealthier, they then create more jobs for Americans, and they raise wages and can pay us more.

Bill Clinton had that idea when he worked on and signed into law the North American Free Trade Act. That piece of legislation actually started as a Republican bill being worked on by the administration of Clinton's predecessor President Bush (1). Clinton, after spending his campaign criticizing and poking fun at, among other things, “trickle down economics,” a term the GOP had popularized meaning when the wealthy got wealthier it trickled down to the rest of us, turned around and quietly worked to further that philosophy. It was a gimmick to market the status quo and essentially allow the wealthy to get wealthier.

No matter what, the theory went, as long as the wealthy were getting wealthy, so would we. They would become more prosperous and that would make us more prosperous. It was as if money would magically appear, and was of course crafted that way to keep us from thinking otherwise. It was to keep us from saying to ourselves, “wait, there is only so much wealth, and if they get more, then that means there will simply be less to go around. The pie doesn't just grow larger when a few take larger slices for themselves, it gets smaller and if unequally distributed, it just means there is less to go around, leaving all others with less to split up among themselves.”

Bill Clinton, was supposed to be a blue collar background, former hippie that would bring a perspective drawing from those two backgrounds, along with his high level education and sharp intellect, to the Oval Office. He would be a smart progressive that favored the average middle-class folks. At least that is the way he was marketed to us.

Just like today, Democrats on the whole, at that time were marketed towards us as the guys that fought for the middle-class and the underdogs. Republicans were supposed to be all about money and wars. So when he picked up on NAFTA and passed it, he spun it off as being good for us. It was a bill that would allow the wealthy to get wealthier, in no small part by shipping good paying American jobs to other countries where those wealthy corporations could benefit by paying workers less. We were supposed to trust it was for our own benefit. We were supposed to think, “but he is a Democrat, and they fight for the middle-class, minorities and underdogs, so it must be good for us.“

That was the trick. That was the sleight of hand, but the fact is NAFTA was a job killer and it has only benefitted the wealthy since its enactment. The middle-class have not become more prosperous along with the wealthy since that time, we have become less so. ( They worked together, while criticizing each other publicly. They let the “party of the middle-class” ship our jobs overseas, and told us to have hope and be patient, and the results would come. But the rest of the nation has gotten poorer, and is still getting poorer. (

As an article written in April of 2013 pointed out, “NAFTA cannot be called anything but an economic disaster for the United States, but that is not to say that profits have not been made. Multinational corporations have seen their profits grow as a result of NAFTA, but those profits have not created jobs in the United States. When the public is sold on free trade agreements, they are told that free trade agreements create economic activity through increased trade. Unfortunately for American workers, that economic activity usually means a few rich individuals are profiting at their expense.” (

President Bill Clinton also ended the Glass Steagall Act which limited the ability of banks to engage in securities activities on the advice of Wall Street insiders he appointed to advise him on the economy. Ending Glass Steagall allowed banks to engage in the kinds of risky practices that led to a destabilized banking system. People, including the former president argued that this allowed for banks to acquire securities firms, which in turn helped mitigate the financial crisis. However, had the walls not been removed in the first place, many of the practices that led to the crisis would never have been allowed to occur to start with.

For example, he also signed off on the piece of legislation that allowed for the derivatives market such as it was that exacerbated the crisis when it hit, and increased the amount we ended up being forced to fork over whether we liked it or not. These were bets that the companies that engaged in the scheme to defraud the public of money, once the house of cards they knew would collapse eventually fell, by forcing us to pay for their debts once the hustle ran its course, took out against the likelihood of their hustle succeeding past a certain time. In other words when they knew the end was near, they bet against themselves, and then when the companies they placed those bets with could not pay, because their debts were simply too high, the American taxpayers had to bail them out there too, by paying them the winnings the companies they placed the bets with could no longer cover. He signed that into law, and is to this day trying to tell us it was for our own good and benefit, like our jobs leaving the country.

Of course the Bush administration just made things worse, and incredibly so. They grabbed the deregulation baton handed to them by President Clinton and worked like heck to make Wall Street happy, and to convince us it was for our own good. Both are trying to convince us to this day it was all for our benefit. Clinton is making the rounds as he gears up for his wife's 2016 presidential run, telling us it did benefit us, and he throws out dizzying arrays of numbers, something he was always good at. But, just like President Obama suffered because of decisions made under the Bush administration, so did the nation suffer because of decisions made under Clinton. They were then made worse by the Bush administration and both left Obama to clean up. The philosophy so permeated the Clinton Administration that Hillary Clinton said she would have appointed Allen Greenspan to advise on how to best solve the crash in 2008, a crash brought about in no small part because of actions taken by people following Greenspan's philosophy of letting Wall Street do what the heck ever it wanted.

In all that time we grew poorer and are poorer still today. The bailouts, both Clintons supported, and Bush (2) started were supposed to free up banks to lend. Instead, they kept it and invested. They took our dough and went right back to it, and refused to lend to us. While this was happening, all the political players mentioned worked to convince us it was all for our good. They all throw out numbers and some are better at dazzling and confusing us than others, but their numbers in the end are lies to absolve them of guilt. The majorities of Americans are poorer and have become more so ever since the tail end of the Clinton Administration. The wealthy have become wealthier and exponentially so. They can sell all the snake oil they want, but we are not better off. Democrats and Republicans together – working together, have let us down.

As long as we have the same old faces, we will continue to get the same old results, period. We will continue to have our lot worsen and our say further limited while slick talkers try to tell us that our becoming poorer, is for our own good. We will continue to have politicians that view the public, not as people they serve, but as people they want to simply use to get what they want for themselves, their parties and their wealthy contributors.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to
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