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Capitalist Fracketeering

Gadfly | July 15th, 2015

Capitalist Fracketeering: The Idea That Anything That Gets Between Them And A Dollar Is Bad

We all know what fracking means in the oil industry. It’s the process of injecting water and mysterious chemicals at high pressures so that the last drops of oil and gas are forced out of rocks and shale so it can be recovered and sold. Now the high pressures in fracking are being used to separate the last drop of economic blood from the middle-class before it disappears. Ian Martin of The Guardian has invented a new economic term in his article “Fracketeering: How Capitalism Is Power-Hosing The Last Drop Of Value Out Of Us All.” Take the “F” off to get a clear understanding—and here is some of Martin’s evidence: (1) Real estate agents are beginning to charge “client progression fees” --and any other admin fees they think they can get away with--to buyers who accept their offers on a property, (2) Airlines charge many fees for luggage, printing tickets and for all those little “niceties” from peanuts to pillows, (3) Restaurants are charging “cakeage fees” up to $15 a person if celebrants want to bring their own birthday cake, (4) Hotels charge “tray charges” if room service is used, and (5) Theaters put surcharges on the most popular movies. There are dozens of other examples. Martin writes: “The problem for fracking capitalism is finding new territory. It is an immutable law of economics that the rich have to keep getting richer, otherwise the whole system collapses and then what happens? … The rich drop hints from time to time that if their margins are eroded we might all find ourselves hunting for food again while keeping wild dogs at bay.”

The Shady Role Of The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce In The Business Of Fracketeering

The US Chamber of Commerce, the strong union of business capitalists, is fighting any proposition that will get between its members and the Almighty Dollar, even if products kill millions of people. The U.S. Chamber got into the tobacco business when the World Health Organization, recognizing the extreme damage done by tobacco products, negotiated a treaty with about 190 nations to work on reducing smoking in those countries. The present anti-tobacco treaty, which took effect in 2005, has been ratified by 179 countries, and only a few, including Cuba, Haiti, and the United States, have not signed it. So the world-dominant American tobacco companies “hired” the U.S. Chamber to create a world tobacco lobbying campaign. How did they do it? With corporate tobacco money, of course. Even 400,000 premature deaths annually in the U.S. from tobacco products does not get between the tobacco conglomerates and dollars. So why does the U.S. Chamber push well-known poisons and toxins on poor world populations where governments are trying hard to curb smoking and chewing? The Chamber’s response: “The Chamber regularly reaches out to governments around the world to urge them to avoid measures that discriminate against particular companies or industries, undermine their trademarks or brands, or destroy their intellectual property.” Oh my, isn’t that sheer innocence when making a kill? What’s that old Mafia line? Something about “Hell, it’s business! It’s not personal!” The list of countries where the U.S. Chamber has lobbied against any laws restricting the use of tobacco is too long to name here, but here are some recent ones: Ukraine, Uruguay, Moldova, Philippines, Australia, and Nepal. The Chamber, with over three million members and operating revenues of about $165 million, has affiliates in over 100 countries so it has easy access to governments.

Is The Chamber Backing A Losing Cause? A Dying Marlboro Man On A Dead Horse?

We have some idea what the political philosophy of the Chamber is when it reveals it contributes 93% of its political funds to Republicans. It is a pro-business union which opposes labor and public service unions, tax increases, minimum wage policies, Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley laws which attempt to control the excesses of Wall Street, anti-tobacco legislation, ObamaCare, the sciences connected to climate change, and citizenship checks on the status of immigrants, thus ensuring cheap labor for business. How could we keep the undocumented from crossing 25,000 miles of our borders? It’s against the law to hire undocumented workers. What would have happened if we had put six members of the richest family in the world, the Waltons of WalMart, in jail for hiring and making billions off the backs of illegals from all over the world? Name me one businessman who has been put in jail for violating that federal law. That’s the simple way. Fences and borders are always penetrable over and under to people seeking a better life. A country must take away access to jobs by making it impossible to provide them without severe penalty. That calls for jail time for violators.

The Fourth of July just passed and we heard a lot about American “exceptionalism” and patriotism from some sections of our society. What is real patriotism? Isn’t it all about the citizens of a country coming together for the common good? Societies around the world are becoming more complex and expensive by the minute. Everybody must pay a fair share toward keeping us going when they can if we are going to preserve our democracy. The One Percent have to be kept from buying politicians by the gross. Dozens of countries are doing better for the common good than we are. We have about 50 million people going hungry in this country. We have 35 million without health insurance. France has come up with a partial solution for the hunger problem. The French have banned the disposal of unsold food. Instead, the unsold food must be given to charity or fed to animals. If given to charities, the food must be fit for human consumption. This law pays for education programs that inform schools, businesses, and the general population about eliminating food waste. The tax-cutting fever spread by organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in many states has cut public support of higher education beyond the bone, increasing tuition costs beyond the reach of the middle-class. Student debt of those over 60 is becoming a major problem for those about to retire! Many retirees have their Social Security garnished because student debt is not eligible for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, private colleges and universities are creating huge nest eggs from the One Percent. Maybe we should find out why countries like Germany, Iceland, Brazil, the Scandinavian countries—and even Panama--offer tuition-free programs. England has a program of student loans based on income, and if students can’t pay the loans off in 30 years they are wiped off the government books.

Pope Francis: “Unbridled Capitalism Is The Dung Of The Devil”Whew—And Phew!

Since Thomas Donahue took over as CEO of the U.S. Chamber he has been the leader of far-right turns, so much so that some Fortune 500 companies and have parted ways with the business union. Apple, the wealthiest corporation in the world, left the confines of Donahue years ago over economic and political philosophy. Nike is another. The American subsidiary of the Swedish construction giant Skanska broke with the Chamber because it opposed environmental international building codes. Billionaires Bill Gates of Microsoft and Michael Bloomberg of the Bloomberg Corporation have set up an international fund to support anti-tobacco legislation in direct opposition to the Chamber’s lobbying. The CVS Health Corporation, fresh from stopping sales of tobacco products in all of its pharmacies and stores, has quit the Chamber because the recent lobbying activity for tobacco sales “is counter to its mission to improve public health.” Donahue claims the Chamber’s only purpose is to safeguard its member “business interests.” Evidently the Chamber does not want to put itself between death and dollars. What a psychopathic attitude! Democrats, with the leadership of Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, and Richard Blumenthal, blasted the Chamber for its “craven and unconscionable” lobbying which sullies the name of other businesses. CVS operates 7,800 business location nationwide and also operates about a 1,000 walk-in clinics headed by nurse practitioners.

On Pope Francis’ recent trip to Latin and South America, he really unloaded on those who fight to clear the path between themselves and a dollar by using this blunt language: “Unbridled capitalism is the dung of the Devil.” The Pope called for global movements to rid the world of “new colonialism” that has brought on income inequality, materialism, and “the exploitation of the poor.” I wonder when Donahue and the Chamber will attack the Pope for being a Latin lefty—and a person who appreciates Che Guevara. He is the first Pope to attack multinational corporations, global capitalism, free trade treaties, and the unlimited pursuit of money and profits in the modern era. The Pope added: “Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money. Let us say no to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy destroys Mother Nature.”

What Would The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Think Of Bernie Sanders’ Political Platform?

By all accounts the United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Capitalism put us in that position—but occasionally we take the bridle off and let billionaires and millionaires run the country. Many get rich, but they always lead us off a cliff because of greed. Check depressions and recessions. Sanders asks a most important question: “Why are we so far behind so many other countries when it comes to meeting the needs of working families and the American middle-class?” We seem to be on the cliff now. Sanders continues to ask key questions: Why doesn’t every American have access to healthcare as a basic right? Is healthcare a privilege of the wealthy? Why are we the only major industrialized country that does not provide universal health care for all its citizens? Why do we have 35 million with no health insurance? Why are we the only one of the top 22 countries that does not guarantee sick leave? If you have cancer treatments, Canada grants 22 days, Germany 44, and Norway 50. Americans get 0. Why can’t every American who is qualified get a higher education, regardless of family income? Over 41 million Americans have an average student debt 0f $30,000 and are saddled with debt that now exceeds the total credit card debt. Why can’t we have full employment at a decent living wage—instead of $7.25 an hour? Why can’t working parents have access to affordable, high-quality childcare? We are the only major nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee time off for new parents. Of 182 nations, more than half give at least 14 days off. New mothers in Great Britain get forty days, new dads get 14 days. Denmark and Austria also give new dads 14 days. If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce advocates even one of these family-oriented positions, please let me know.

Former president George W. Bush reminded us all of Republican and Chamber policies, principles, and philosophy when he charged an annual charity fundraiser for the Texas-based Helping a Hero charity $100,000 for a speech. The charity builds specially-adapted homes for severely wounded vets missing limbs and other parts from the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dubya, the hero of stopping the Cong at the Rio Grande, really needs the money. His net worth is close to $20 million. Bill Clinton tried to evade the draft, but he never charged a dime for addressing veteran’s groups. Slick Willie at least exhibited some good character traits besides being sexy.

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