Friday, June 18, 2010

Congress, Brought To You By...

Representative Joe Barton of Texas has been rightly excoriated for his comments at a committee meeting, to discuss the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster with representatives of British Petroleum. His intemperate, offensive, and ill-conceived remarks -- equating the Federal Government's requirement that BP contribute to a twenty billion dollar restitution fund to a "shakedown" and apologizing profusely for it -- point out a fact, which, though in evidence now for some time, escapes the notice of the average American.

It was made clear in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that Corporate America has been given the keys to the country. The billions of dollars that companies can harness towards their own ends cannot be fought so easily by the average American citizen. The Federal Government, the only force capable of reining in their excess and egotism, is slowly, inexorably being gobbled up by them, in the form of lobbyists, watered-down regulations, and corporate malfeasance disguised as political speech. The Federal Government, the instrument of the citizenry created to ensure our freedom and liberty, is being eroded by a relative handful of legislators and judges, placed their by us, who have been corrupted by the power in their hands, and who, lacking the personal will, are selling themselves to corporate masters, to the detriment of all Americans.

As oil gushes up from the deep, and the livelihoods of those along the Gulf Coast are being threatened, bickering, finger-pointing, and inanity reign in Washington, D.C. It has become evident that the gravity of the situation escapes even the most seasoned Congressman, far more interested in putting on a tar-and-feathering session before cameras to show they are "dealing" with the situation, than assembling the necessary resources and knowledge to actually fix the problem. They must appease the public, and so they put on a dog-and-pony show to how they are taking BP and its minions to task for their negligence, even as they continue to rake in campaign contributions from the corporations they are needling.

If it can be said that Joe Barton made a mistake, other than being elected and being in the pay of big oil corporations, it was in exposing the whole charade to the light of day through his ill-considered remarks. Once launched into the air, the words hung and the silence was palpable. At once, his colleagues were shocked at his stupefying insensitivity, but more importantly, that he was so ignorant as to let slip that he was obviously in the employ of others. The farce that is legislative oversight of business, revealed for all the world to see in the great Wall Street collapse of 2008, was now pegged to its true face, the corporate underwriting of Congress.

Eventually, smart people with brilliant ideas will gain control of the oil. The Gulf Coast will be cleaned up, the environment restored. What must happen concurrent to this, is for smart people with brilliant ideas to replace the power-hungry demagogues now seated in Congress, to break the grip of corporations on the throat of Americans. Congress must be cleaned up, integrity restored. It is up to we, the people of the United States, to wipe the slate clean, and begin the process of re-taking our government, while we still have the power to do so. If the ballot box and the courts are not enough, then there must be a Constitutional Convention, in the spirit of the Founding Fathers, to write out the possibility of anyone other than individual citizens being able to steer the country.

Now, in the glare of lights and with the oil spreading, is the time for Americans to restore the balance of power in our nation. Corporate America must be led to understand that it exists and gains its power only through our hard work, sweat, and buying power, and that, as such, that does not give them the right to circumvent or override us because they feel it is inconvenient. It is not enough for them to provide us with goods and services, but with goods and services that are clean, safe, and above all, affordable. They cannot compromise our safety and security with impunity, and expect to remain in our good graces.

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