I could list 100 reasons but let me start with these 3:
- It is NOT a political campaign. It is every thing a political campaign is not
- It is focused on SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-Based) SOLUTIONS
- It is structured to ultimately self-fund (i.e. will not resort to repeated solicitations for donations) - as well as refund any initial Jump-Start Contributions
Come below the orange squiggly to learn more about this exciting & unique campaign.
"It used to be that Parliament was meant to tend to the issues that mattered most to voters. But now voters are being called upon to tend — through their votes — to the issues that matter most to parliamentarians...the two are not necessarily synonymous."(Chantal Hebert - Toronto Star Columnist - in 'Our Federal Politicians Are Mired In Trivia')
"Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money -- or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses -- have the power.In this day and age, this means that banks, corporations, agribusinesses, and big real estate developers, working separately on most policy issues, but in combination on important general issues -- such as taxes, opposition to labor unions, and trade agreements with other countries -- set the rules within which policy battles are waged."(Professor G. William Domhoff - author "Who Rules America")
Professor Domhoff's article - The Class-Domination Theory of Power - provides a very good background (context if you will) for this diary.
In the last couple of weeks, the media has been saturated with news about the government shut-down, debt limit hike (and default as a possibility) and the [PP]ACA ([Patient Protection &] Affordable Care Act) roll-out.
The unfolding plot makes for good soap opera or reality TV - except that there are real victims.
With your permission - let me say that most of us are missing the larger picture. A dysfunctional & gridlocked political process is not the disease - it's just one of the symptoms. Noam Chomsky in his article - The US Behaves Nothing Like A Democracy - explains the root cause. Any regular reader of Daily Kos diaries knows this already anyway.
What the 5P5C ($5 Plus 5 Campaign) does is to refocus attention on [while proffering out of the box solutions to] the root cause of all that is wrong with capitalist democracy:
- No democracy for anyone - except capitalists (capitalist here means billionaires [i.e. multi-billion dollar corporations, their owners and/or managers] - not small business owners)
- On economic issues (taxes, jobs, quality of life,and so on) - there is at least 90% agreement that things [i.e. as currently structured] are not right. It'd be 99.5% once the folks in the 90 - 99.5 percentile figure out how they are victims of the top 0.01% as much as the bottom 90%
- Corporations rule the day - write the laws, own the judiciary, control the media & information, run the whole political process (such that it doesn't matter whether Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, win). It matters on social issues (guns, abortion, same sex, etc) - but not on economic (pocketbook and quality of life) matters and policies
- Unpopular trade agreements like NAFTA and the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership currently being drafted in shush - secret!) get enacted into law - by Democratic presidents for that matter! The Taft-Hartley law that was the first act in kneecapping organized labor was facilitated by Democratic congressmen (more of Democrats - well, Dixiecrats, who have now found a more natural home in the Republican Party - than Republicans voted to override the subsequent veto) - over Truman's veto! What's funny is that every presidential platform (of the Democratic Party) since 1948 has promised a repeal - which will happen in the near future (when scientific progress make it possible for pigs to fly!).
"In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy (Matt Taibbi)People are effectively defenseless against corporate power - especially if you choose not to disrupt the existing order. The word 'disrupt' in this case does not refer to extra-legal actions - but rather a new way of solving problems that turns existing paradigms upside down. For example, Amazon.com has effectively disrupted the book distribution business
- Many small business owners (of the mom & pop variety) have seen their investments & work destroyed by the arrival of Wal-Mart. In the technology sector, it is customary for the giants (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, etc) to demand that upstarts sell to them or see their businesses destroyed by subsequent anti-competitive [Rockefeller 'Standard Oil' style monopoly] tactics. For example, Amazon.com set out to invade the diaper category by telling Quidsi to sell out [to Amazon.com of course] its Diapers.com business 'or else'. The beauty of the system as structured is that the victims have no recourse - none, whatsoever!
- Taxpayers (i.e. the least wealthy 99.5% of the population) fund basic scientific research - the sort that leads to game-changing breakthroughs like the world wide web [i.e. Internet] or various bio-tech drug therapies - which are than monetized ('profitized' you could say) by giant multi-national corporations that will dodge payment of the taxes that should otherwise fund the next breakthroughs. Furthermore, the economic impact of job losses occasioned by technology (high unemployment, lower unemployment benefits, reduced income tax revenue, increased Medicaid & low income health care expenditure, etc) are borne by the mass of taxpayers - not the billionaires profiting from it
- As you read this (even decades before now, and decades into the future) - someone, somewhere (e.g. Wall Street Journal - Why Software Is Eating The World OR Disruptive Innovation - Ten Things To Stop & Think About) is working on a plan for your job (or that of someone you know who may even be related to you) to automate it and/or outsource it and/or reduce your pay & benefits and/or privatize it (if you work for the government). And guess what? You can't do anything about it (zip, nada)! Those actions will generate billions of dollars in wealth for a very tiny few - and (concurrently or consequently) misery, coupled with a lower quality of life for everyone else.
You should find time (probably later) to read CITIGROUP's October 2005 Equity Strategy Report titled Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances. You can compare their 2005 predictions with what has actually transpired since then. Chrystia Freeland's article in the Atlantic - The Rise Of The New Global Elite - is also good reading. Why is it important to read these stuff - it tells you what is happening beyond the 'dumbing down' propaganda/reality TV that passes for news in the corporate-controlled media
All the foregoing happened and will continue to happen even as Democrats win (or won) many elections (and lose some) - many of them will happen even when there is unified control of government by Democrats - like in the 2009/2010 congress.
The summary of the foregoing is that winning elections, electing more & better Democrats from the progressive/democratic wing of the Democratic Party will not - on its own, alone - make things better (on economic issues).
So, if our only hope (of bringing about change) is to win elections for the Democratic Party - we are effectively hopeless! That's analogous to being glued in place in the path of an oncoming train without any means of either changing the train's trajectory (course) or running away - just hoping that it will lose momentum and slow down or stop and/or that it will derail. The important part is that you depend on external forces & factors (that you don't control - and which ordinarily work against you by default) for a favorable outcome - while it's the opposite for billionaires.
The good news is - we don't have to be hopeless. We should certainly do our best to elect many & better Democrats - but that is no longer enough. There are other things that need to be done - for which there are no mainstream vehicles. This is where I think the 5P5C fills a void.
Let's be clear - the 5P5C is not the be all & end all. It is just another vehicle for solving the problems we face as a society - but at this point in time, it fills an important void per the logic below:
- There is no popular democracy (i.e. of the people, by the people, for the people) - we have a capitalist democracy (of [large concentrations of capital working through typically global/multinational] large corporations, by and for large corporations)
- While citizens are allowed to choose (by their votes) their political government representatives - only money (via shareholdings - largely concentrated in a few hands) votes, when it comes to control of large corporations. So, if you have noticed that 'big money (available only to a few)' has an out-sized influence on the political process - that's the root cause.
- The percentage of large (multibillion dollar) corporations controlled by the bottom 99.5% of the population - that work for a living - is effectively zero
- The percentage of funds (regular bank savings/deposits, retirement savings, college savings, etc) 'belonging' to the bottom 99.5% that is used (by <0.01% of the population) to exercise control of the large corporations is higher than 50% of the total. Without pension funds & the pooled retirement savings of working people, Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and others of similar ilk, would not have been in a position to wreak as much havoc as they have in the last generation. Of course, Ronald Reagan's laissez faire experiment also helped
- All the institutions that aggregate resources (government via taxes, large Wall Street banks, venture capitalists, mutual funds, hedge funds and so on) are controlled by <0.01% of the population - the owners & managers of the large corporations. They use their control of these resources to further the selfish wants of their elite group to the detriment of the majority
- If the bottom 99.5% (that work for a living - however highly paid i.e. including the doctors, dentists, corporate executives, multi-million dollar news anchors & TV/radio talk show hosts) decide to aggregate their resources (>50% of the total) on platforms outside the existing order, that are not controlled by <0.01%, but controlled by 99.5%, that don't work for the benefit of <0.01%, but for 100% - there will be positive change
- Control by 99.5% will lead to much fairer outcomes (across the board i.e. 100%) than the current control by <0.01% for the benefit of 0.01%. Although the people in the top 10 percentile also benefit as a group, it is still very easy for the top 0.01% to cut them loose, as the need arises - if history is any guide to the future, it's not a matter of if, but when. Conversely, it is almost impossible to dislodge the top 0.01% - under any conditions - but alternative platforms allow the bottom 99.5% to defend itself against the worst instincts of the top 0.01%
- The existing institutional structures mentioned above are designed to exclude as many people as possible from the best rewards available - occasionally, someone from outside the existing (i.e. inherited) money order breaks through into the elite group, but their numbers are controlled. In any generation, such 'grafted' new money will always constitute a tiny minority of the combined ruling class
Things I Like About The 5P5C & MOPEC
- First I like the accountability part. The first 2 reports are already available here.
- I like the MOPEC (Member Owned Private Equity Cooperative) idea. It is structured to execute corporate acquisitions like Mitt Romney's Bain Capital - with different results i.e benefit the majority. Instead of using excessive debt and laying off workers, it will use more of equity, and seek to increase worker incomes/benefits.
- It provides the possibility of a corporate philosophy counter to today's mainstream - people before profits. Right now, aspiring corporate ladder climbers must pledge allegiance to the profits before anything else philosophy or they will never get to the top ranks.
- Unlike everything else (politics, banking/finance, large corporations) - where we work through the institutional framework established by the ruling elite, and rigged to keep them up and us down - we (the people) have a real chance to build something from the bottom up and design it to achieve positive tangible benefits for all (including the ruling elite)
- Jump-Start Contributions are to be used to promote the MOPEC idea - through web videos, small group information seminars, etc. It will also take the idea from its current bootstrap status to a professional, credible level - because more often than not, perception trumps reality. That's why politicians continue to peddle all sorts of snake oil
- It does not need any change of laws to function - because it is apolitical. It makes the best of the perverted laws in place. It will work under Republicans or Democrats - and equally has crossover appeal to everyone laboring under the yoke of corporate overlords
- I also like the simplicity - make a $5 Jump-Start Contribution and personally invite 5 people you know to do the same. It is not looking for a few big money 'owners', but rather a large group of small money stakeholders.
- In a political campaign,the strategists seek your money & volunteer time - but their focus is on winning the election (if a re-election for the same candidate is on the horizon, they may worry 10% about fulfilling campaign promises to the bottom 99.5%+ of working folks - of course, the selfish wants of the <0.5% big money donors is a top priority). The 5P5C has no big money donors - and is therefore structured to reflect the need of its many small money stakeholders. It even seeks to refund your Jump-Start Contributions; if you don't convert it to a MOPEC Registration at a discount
- Michael Dell has MSD Capital. Paul Allen has Vulcan Inc., Vulcan Capital and similar structures. Bill Gates has Cascade LLC while the Waltons (Wal-Mart) have Walton Enterprises. Without a MOPEC like structure, 99.5% of us have nothing - because via private equity and the capital market, the billionaires & Wall Street have perfected the art of separating the 99.5%+ of the population that work for a living, and rely on conventional banks, from their share of the rewards of capitalistic enterprise
- The 5P5C is focused on the business world - specifically on the large global (or multi-national) corporations. Why is large important? The large corporations control everything - including the political process. Consider that (per David Cay Johnston's Sacramento Bee article)
"More than 80 percent of all corporate assets in America are owned by just 2,604 of the 6 million companies, Internal Revenue Service data shows. A million of those firms have no assets and another 3.9 million have less than $500,000 in assets."Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/...
The 5P5C is also agnostic on social (divisive, wedge) issues - beyond a commitment to equal treatment for all. It leaves resolution of divisive social issues to politicians. Because the 5P5C is interested in protecting the majority on strictly economic issues, it is a better platform for bringing working folks of all stripes (Socialist, Libertarian, Republican, Democrat, Green, religious, non-religious) together. It is premised on the fact that no one wants to live in a democracy exemplified by dual 'dystopian' rules in which:
- 99.5%+ work for a living, pay taxes at high rates (especially payroll taxes) due immediately - while a tiny (also the richest) few pay (often deferred) taxes at much lower rates (sometimes 0%) using financial & corporate structures not available to at least 99.5% of the population
- The same few (who pay the least in taxes) turn around to collect huge subsidies, tax exemptions/abatements running into billions from the public purse - under the guise of job creation - while either destroying (outsourcing, offshoring, etc) or degrading good jobs and the overall well being of the working 99.5% majority
- Regulators are owned by the large corporations they are paid to regulate - via a revolving door policy. Or the judiciary becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of large corporations twisting the law and upending reasonable precedent to satisfy the large corporations
- Criminal law enforcement by government officials is selective. Harsh and unjust for the poorest, but non-existent (or slap on the wrist) for the richest
- Large corporations can steal your pensions, retirement savings, personal residence (via wrongful foreclosure) or home equity - legally. Or better still, rewrite (pervert actually) the law to decriminalize unethical, immoral, unconscionable behavior - so that no one can hold them accountable
- Workers are perpetually giving wage/benefit concessions, governments at all levels tax concessions (see Stiglitz: Inequality Is A Choice) while mobile global capital[ists] (i.e. large corporations) smile[s] to the bank with the ill-gotten gains of asymmetric globalization
- The bottom 99.5%+ (of hard working folks, playing by the 'old' rules) - the victims of the foregoing dual rules - have no means of defending themselves, obtaining reasonable legal recourse or in any way, participating from the benefits available to <0.5% of the population
- Anti-trust regulators fail to prevent anti-trust, anti-competitive, monopolistic/cartel behavior - and it is no longer enough to just own a business. If you don't want to become prey, you need to own - much more importantly, control - a large business.
- The share of value added (GDP) in the economy paid to labor is dropping, capital[ist]'s or corporate share is increasing while at the same time corporate tax revenue is dropping
The foregoing pictures make nonsense of conventional wisdom on bringing about progressive change
Control of the largest predator corporations is vested in a few hands - less than 0.01% of the population. Their selfish wants & insatiable greed (past, ongoing & future) are responsible for the collapse of popular democracy.
Do you know that large corporations are actually private governments - they can get their employees, vendors & contractors to do all sort of things that the public government would have a hard time matching. So the regular (public) government is overrated by 99.5% while the private (corporate) government is underrated - this is why we pay more attention to who wins elections rather than whose agenda gets implemented irrespective of the winning side.
For example, imagine Wal-Mart honchos woke up tomorrow (of course, this is very hypothetical - pigs would more likely become as clean as cats & fly first) and decide to give preference to suppliers with union labor - not as a public relations gimmick, but in good faith. Its suppliers would immediately arrange to have their work force organized - of course, the reverse also holds.
Unfortunately, the largest corporations are run by criminally minded psychopaths - even the feeble efforts of government officials to rein them in are almost always circumvented. To force change through the corporate system (which I believe is ultimately more effective - especially if you agree that the breakdown of popular democracy is corporate-driven), it is better to gain control of the largest corporations and install new leaders accountable to a different set of principles. For example, under the MOPEC model - no Wal-Mart executive would have health insurance or earn more than $150,000 per annum (if the lowest paid worker earns $15,000 per annum and has no health insurance). The idea here is that the highest paid worker should earn no more than 7 - 10 times the lowest (no special carve outs, stock options, incentives, etc - every employee should be on the same reward system)
The only problem with these private governments is that they are controlled by, and run for the benefit of a tiny few. Imagine what would happen if they are controlled by, and run for the benefit of the majority.
So, although most people don't realize it, the majority of us have been colonized already - by a tiny few. The political process will not solve that problem.
Every one is suffering in silence - because we are not organized for solutions (to some extent, there is organization for winning elections, or organizing unions).
Organized greed is having a field day - at the expense of the disorganized majority. What little organization we have is focused on the political process - when it should be targeted at control of the largest corporations
The genius of the 5P5C is in identifying the path of least resistance. Ideally, we should be seeking to rewrite the laws and restructure the institutional framework that we currently have - and that remains a long term objective.
In the near term, the 5P5C makes the next best thing possible - open the door to everyone to participate in the benefits currently reserved for the wealthiest few. This kills multiple birds with one stone
- Provide proof to the citizenry that the rules (if you can even call them that) are rigged - in favor of a tiny few
- Make certain benefits available to the victims of the ruling elite - that have been hitherto (up till now) reserved for the wealthiest few. So that you don't think I'm making stuff up; consider an insurance policy (available only to counter-parties with a minimum net worth of $10 million - structured to be funded with a high probability of no cash out of pocket). In Year 1, pledge acceptable collateral (stocks, bonds, home equity, etc) starting at $0.7 Million rising to peak at collateral requirement of $1.5 Million in Year 8 and then dropping to collateral of $0 by Year 15. This buys an insurance policy (permanent/whole life!) of $20 Million which begins to pay annual tax free cash distributions of $0.525 Million in Year 16 and the death benefit rises from the original $20 Million to $45 Million if the beneficiary lives for 42 years after the contract commencement. Now, my question is - who needs [not wants] to fund an insurance policy with no cash out of pocket? The rich guy, or middle class Jane/Joe? Why shouldn't that worker [me or you] be allowed to execute the same deal for 10% of the numbers above - i.e. $2 Million whole life insurance - assets pledged ranging from $70,000 - $150,000 (let's say home equity if you have any) and annual tax free cash distributions of $52,500 starting after 16 years. That would be a better retirement plan than what the banks are offering. But right now, to buy that (10% or $2 Million) policy would cost anyone in the bottom 99.5% of the population at least $29,000 per annum - payable in cash out of pocket! All this is executed through capital market instruments (unavailable to 99.5% of the population) - more about this in a later diary. And guess what? The fact that the beneficiary in this case is not paying [cash out of pocket] means everyone else (99.5%) is paying. How? through the depressed rates on your savings accounts - 0% - <2% per annum
- In the long run, allow the majority to reclaim control of capitalist democracy
It is impossible to cover all the ramifications of the 5P5C in one diary - but I certainly think it is worth supporting. It gives us a chance to tackle the problem from another angle - without discontinuing traditional support of political campaigns. In other diaries, I will address some other dimensions.
In the meantime, you can also read the 5P5C Flyer.