In the United States government has been privatized by the Citizens United ruling of the SCOTUS. Government is now really up for sale and auctioned off to the highest campaign contributors. The Supreme Court 'Citizen's United' decision opened the floodgates for big money in our politics, allowing giant corporations and a handful of the wealthiest families to spend obscene amounts of money in our elections. Citizens United is just one of a line of terrible Supreme Court decisions holding that money equals speech and corporations are people under the First Amendment — thereby allowing huge corporations and the super wealthy/oligarchs to buy undue access to members of Congress, and to effectively dictate legislative outcomes. This is significant in policy decisions reinforced by influence of corporate lobbies, now further enhanced by the Court's decision which favors the very small 1% sector of the population that dominates the economy. Our society is run by a class-conscious 1% business community dedicated to reducing the political and economic power of the 99%.
VOTERS DISMISSED AS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO THE 1%
U.S. voters popular desires cannot be achieved because there's no vehicle to express their unhappiness, and there's no way in which American voters can express what they want either in the Democrat or the Republican parties because they are really the same party and are in full agreement with what they are doing. Not only have both major U.S. political parties abandoned ideas and innovation, but also abandoned most voters. Republicans and Democrats alike are merely reactive to events/problems as demanded by their sponsors/donors in big business, oligarchs, and large unaccountable corporations. Today, politics in the US has devolved into one party, the "business party," with two branches—Democrats and Republicans—both of which engage in and promote distracting contests giving us the illusion that they are basically different from one another on basic economic issues. Buffoon politicians from both parties have become shameless, beholden tools and lackeys of corporate America. They offer us a devil's bargain mix of self-serving toxic programs and policies, frequently changing their positions as fast as others change socks.
The voters don't matter because the American definition of democracy is oligarchy. Polls have shown, for example, large popular support by citizens for Medicare for All, but neither political party has supported it. Economist Michael Hudson writes that by "conquering the brains of a country by shaping how people think, you can twist their view into 'unreality economics' and make them think you are there to help them and not to take money out of them, then you've got them hooked. This is how Big Insurance and Big Pharma maintain control of U.S. health insurance. Our system is privatized, financialized, and unregulated so that private, big insurance companies can make money."
PRIVATIZING GOVERNMENT/PUBLIC SERVICES
Like other states, Florida governors from Jeb Bush, Rick Scott to Ron DeSantos, the GOP legislature's plan is to privatize all state-run social services, from schools to prisons to Medicaid. They sought to gain political advantage by upending the system, and would do anything they could do to undercut unions, public social welfare entities, mental health/public health, school teachers, public schools and state employees for a political return from corporate benefactors. GOP and some democrat governors defunded state social services, health/mental health services, contracted with profiteering private corporations, and slashed taxes on the rich.
On the national level, President Biden and many Democrats have spent their careers defending the financial sector, including Big Insurance and Big Pharma, whose policy is also to maintain and further privatize basic healthcare financing and infrastructure. Economist Hudson further notes that "Biden's long political career has been right-wing. He's the senator from Delaware, the country's most pro-corporate state—which is why most U.S. corporations are incorporated there. As such, he represents the banking and credit-card industry. He sponsored the regressive bankruptcy "reform" written and put into his hands by the credit-card companies. As a budget hawk, he's rejected Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), and also "Medicare for All" as if it is too expensive for the government to afford—thereby making the private sector afford to pay 18% of US GDP for health-insurance monopolies, far more than any other country. That means blocking governments from providing basic services at cost or on a subsidized basis—education, health care/health insurance, roads and communications. Privatized and financialized economies are high-cost."
RESISTANCE TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Resistance to true campaign finance reform, and strong support for the U.S.Supreme Court's Citizens United decision by unaccountable/unregulated large corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals/families is based on their Machiavellian understanding of the purpose of dark money in politics: to use dark money to change political outcomes to favor themselves, the 001% oligarchs and becomes a threat to democracy because its source is not made public. Dark money is corruption that erodes confidence and trust in local, state and national government and in both major political parties. It's used to throw referendums and elections from which can come many of today's social, economic, public health, mental health and environmental problems. Dark money is used to hide conflicts of interests and self promotion with bogus scientific controversies, fake news and fake grassroots campaigns.
Corporate big business ideology asserts that human society is a market, and social relations are commercial transactions with a "natural hierarchy" of winners and losers. Attempts to limit competition, change social outcomes eg, estate tax issue, mandated health insurance, etc. is treated as hostile to liberty and big business interests. Count on the neocons/GOP/ many democrats to crush unions and collective bargaining, minimize or eliminate tax and public protection regulations, privatize public services and promote privatization of all social/mental health/health insurance programs. Inequality is okay since it results from a reward for merit and generates wealth for the tiny .001%, which the false neoliberal myth says trickles down to enrich everyone in the 99%. Tax and other social policies to create a more equal society are dismissed as counterproductive to the interests of the ultra wealthy.001%.
WALL STREET NOW IN CHARGE OF GOVERNMENT
Neoliberalism support for privatization of health insurance/other social welfare programs is grounded in the philosophy espoused by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. Friedman said, "the corporations should not take into account the public interest" and added that "the government itself should not take into account the public interest. The job of the government is to simply let everybody make as much money as they can, however they can."
Classical economist Michael Hudson notes that Big Pharma , like Big Insurance, doesn't want any kind of anti-monopoly legislation. "Essentially you have what is called a free market, as advocated by Milton Friedman. A free market means the wealthiest people dominate the market and the supply of credit, the management of the economy that allocates credit, and who gets what shifts from Washington to Wall Street. It shifts from the government to the private financial sector, and allows the financial sector to do the planning. One problem with this is the financial sector lives in the short run. So, it means that they only look for the next three months, the next year's balance sheet, because the free market is so complex you don't know what will happen. Well, of course, since you're managing it from Wall Street you in reality do know what's going to happen but you don't want to tell people exactly what's going to happen."
The assumption that whatever the market produces is rational and functional is the bedrock of Western economies. And it's wrong, as notes Michael Hudson, because it "negates the fact that you really need some government power strong enough to override the self-serving special interests of oligarchs and other 1% corporate interests. And that takes a very strong government, which is why the free market people have always opposed strong government and why their economic models don't give any acknowledgement for government investment in infrastructure that Biden wants or any government activity that is able to override that of the 1% rentier/profiteering class, the financial class, the property-owning class and the corporate monopolists. That's the problem we have."
In the Democrat Party, for instance, every Democratic representative has to raise a given amount of money from campaign contributors to give to the Democrat National Committee. Whoever can raise the most money gets to be the committee heads. Big Pharma will give a lot of money to some representative they want to be head of the health committee. Bankers give money to whoever they want to be the head of the banking committee and so on. Once privatized, the basic function of government is to make money for the donor class, which basically is the financial and monopoly class. Banks have always been the mother of monopolies and the financial sector's largest business market is in creating monopolies. So, you have basically the privatization of monopolies.
POLICYMAKERS AVOID REGULATION OF THEIR DONORS
Policymakers, regulators, employers, and the media have shown little interest in closely examining, regulating or changing the taxpayer-reliant business practices of large insurance companies, which wield substantial lobbying power that they deploy against any effort to transform the United States' fragmented healthcare system. "They've essentially been bailed out by taxpayers," health policy expert Wendall Potter said of for-profit insurance giants. "And members of Congress, and various administrations, have remained on the sidelines, avoiding paying attention to what their wealthy campaign donors have been doing." Meanwhile, The Commonwealth Fund found that the United States spent nearly twice as much as the average OECD nation on healthcare while achieving worse outcomes in critical areas such as life expectancy at birth and death rates for treatable conditions.
We now have several decades of experience with neoliberal conversion of mental health services/insurance
into a business. Our health care is being rationed, with health care insurance guidelines determined by profitability and secrecy decided in private Wall Street corporate boardrooms. To realize large profits demanded by Wall Street investors, our health system must attract the healthy and turn away the sick, disabled, the poor, many of the old, and the mentally ill. So far, this country has been unable to eliminate private control of health insurance even in spite of the small value it offers when 15 to 25 percent of the healthcare dollar is skimmed off for private corporate profit and overhead.
SUPPORT DEMOCRACY FOR ALL AMENDMENT
With elected officials spending more and more of their time raising millions of dollars to defend themselves from multi-million dollar smear campaigns from outside groups, it has become harder for everyday Americans living on a budget to be heard in the post-Citizens United era. In addition to concluding that donors receive greater access to legislators than non-donors, several academic studies have now confirmed that elected officials' growing reliance on large dollar donations has skewed the agenda in Washington towards special interests and away from the priorities of ordinary voters. To repair this problem, U.S. citizens should support the joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections. The amendment grants Congress and the states the power to implement and enforce this amendment by legislation.
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams and was authored by F. Douglas Stephenson.