Is it Still Democracy?

Tax day is fast approaching. By April 15th, you will have met your obligation to fund the US government and all its services. 

How do you feel about spending for the highest incarceration rate in the world? How do you feel about allocations for the NSA to collect broad sweeps of communications from you, me and every other American? How do you feel about our country's recent wars, costing over a trillion tax dollars?

Perhaps you can take some comfort in knowing that all of us citizens have the power to elect those who make these decisions. That in a republic, we have the last word.

What are the functions of government that most of us would consider reserved for accountable government alone?  Here is my highest priority list.
  • Making laws
  • Police work
  • Administering justice and punishing criminals
  • Diplomacy
  • Control of our military
  • Waging war according to the principles of the US and international law
  • Gathering and managing intelligence
  • Creating budgets and allocating public resources
  • Running and verifying elections
There are others but these are the biggies. Now consider the following facts:
  • Congressmen depend on the generous campaign contributions of those who benefit from their decisions. Worse yet, passing laws to benefit specific companies is highly lucrative. 60% of retired Congressmen became lobbyists, thereby increasing their salaries by 1,452%. 
  • Today's McCutcheon decision by the Supreme Court eliminates fifty years of efforts to reign in corporate influence on our lawmakers. 
  • The profitable prison industry has exploded with the growth of incarceration, where the cost of holding each federal prisoner is now about $30,000.  While private prisons still house a minority of prisoners, they now house about half of those held for immigration violations. 
  • 70% of intelligence collection, storage and analysis is contracted out to private businesses. Remember that Edward Snowden didn't work for your government; his access to secret intelligence was as an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, which is almost entirely (99%) funded by federal government contracts.
  • In the Iraq War, there were more boots on the ground loyal to their well-paid corporate employers than those answering to all of our military branches combined. Each pair of those boots costs us $1,222 per day. Big players in our recent wars were Haliburton spinoff KBR with $39.5 billion in a no-bid contract allowing them to name their price and Blackwater (now Academi), best known for its reckless killings and abuse of Iraqi civilians, making our soldiers less safe by generating animosity toward Americans.
Novelist John LeCarre called it the "Deep State".  Anyone who values democracy and government by, of and for the people will be horrified to learn just how deep the tentacles of industry reach into our government.  Recently, I watched Mike Lofgren, former GOP Congressional budget-crunching analyst, interviewed on Bill Moyers and Company. This is an interview every American should watch. Click the link to see the full 26-minute episode.

It's scary enough to envision the power of the government to invade our personal lives. Far scarier when the government hands that power over to even more unaccountable private corporations. And today, from the Supreme Court, we have five Republican-appointed justices deciding to give money and corporate power unlimited sway in our government. 

Where does it end?

See also:  Leave Me Be