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SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
Awake and Take Back Your Republic!

Gangsta Government

by WILLIAM O'CONNOR

“I’ll let you have the $10,000 for three points. That’s only because I know you.”

I’m listening to Tony yak, my Shylock. Yak, yak has earned the moniker. He never gives his mouth a rest.

Yak’s giving me the loan at street price: $30 for every $1,000. That’s “juice.” Every week I’ll pay $300, but nothing comes off the top.

Usury’s a felony. The Yak did a three-and-a -half year stretch for it.

That’s the way it was back in the day.

Now, credit card companies make cash loans at 28 percent with Congress’ blessing.

Many Credit card companies call Delaware home.

Corporate-media-labeled “liberal progressive,” Joe Biden, championed these thieves for 36 years. Bankers contributed mightily to keep him in office and advance his career.

Our vice president’s no liberal progressive, anymore than our president’s a socialist. If they are, they’re piss poor examples of both.

In America, money doesn’t talk, but screams to a comatose public, a criminal government and a corrupt media. You don’t have to listen hard to hear it.

*  *  *

After Bush’s “reign of error,” our “socialist” received more money from Wall Street, Big Pharm and the insurance companies than McCain. Corporations knew Obama would win. The $1 billion the president spent on his campaign didn’t come from the poor, the unions, or the N.A.A.C.P.

In this era of doublespeak, bribery’s commonplace, and referred to, euphemistically, as campaign donations.  Once elected, our venal legislators forget campaign promises and become baptized pragmatists.

Law enforcement locks up the occasional campaign donor but rarely locks up congressmen who solicit the bribes.

Lock up the prostitutes but wink at the Johns.

Of the $2 billion spent on the last presidential election, 65 percent of it was “donated” by less than 250 powerbrokers.

This shrieks campaign finance reform.

Over 90 percent of incumbents outspent their opponents. America holds auctions, not elections.

When George Soros or the Koch Brother’s vote mean more than yours, the Republic is broken. Our legislators are millionaires, and people in power make laws to benefit themselves.

The status quo ensures that the cries of the poor will go unheard over the whispers of the rich.

* * *

Our investment bankers and financial systems have gamed the system. In the last decade, Wall Street donated almost $12 billion to both corporate parties. Major corporations hire the best accountants to avoid taxes.

G.E. throws some poor schmuck working for the IRS a 72,000-page tax return form.

“Go ahead. Find something wrong. I dare you.”

Our Congress has neither the resources, nor the inclination to prevent corporate tax dodgers.

Indeed, many congressmen would be grateful for access. Who hires an honest accountant?

Our legislators did agree to repeal the law that prohibits its members from insider trading. A Congress that couldn’t pass a fart through cotton comes together finally to screw its citizens.

Hear the cash howling yet?

* * *

When banks go broke, they borrow money from the Fed at near zero interest.

Students don’t contribute to congressmen’s coffers, so our nation’s future will pay back loans at a six times higher rate than the Wall Street thieves who robbed us.

Even more egregious, Federal student loan rates are set to double on July 1. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation to ensure students receive the same loan rates the Fed gives big banks on Wall Street: 0.75 percent. Senate Republicans blocked the bill – so much for investing in America’s future.

The same righteous pricks who will run to the barricades to ensure not one dollar trickles down to public education, yet insist our inequitable tax code remains the same, say that students must pay 6.8 percent.

Congress must keep the populous uninformed and uneducated. If citizens analyze what they receive for their 35 percent tax burden, the ruling class, who pay only 15 percent, will only get richer buying futures in pitchforks and torches.

 * * *

Investment bankers steal $3 trillion, and not one act of jurisprudence against any of them: zero, zilch, yet, Republicans scream,

“Deregulate Wall Street.”

We’re told bankers are honorable men.

Imagine a bank robber screaming,

“We have too many cops.”

Our bankers tell us regulations hinder growth. Trust us. Prosperity will trickle down.

Trickle down economics?

In my neighborhood, we called that piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.

Regulators are too fucking far between as it is.

An old adage states the best way to rob a bank is to own one, and every child knows that more money can be stolen with a pen than a gun.

* * *

Years after the largest heist in history, no one has done shit to the Wall Street shysters who robbed us in plain sight.

No investment banker has gone to jail.

No new regulations put in place.

Nothing’s changed.

Indeed, the nation watched stunned as our Congress apologized to the well-heeled felons on national T.V.

Government’s not the noose around the thieves’ neck but the stool beneath their feet.

Yet, the narcoleptics who pass for voters say nothing. Watching the NFL and American Idol has become the American equivalent of Nero’s fiddling.

As Lord Acton reminds us,  “Where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.”

* * *

Back in the ‘60s, my Bronx buddy, Vinny, did three years for a mob boss. After his “bit,” he was rewarded with a $300,000 house, and, so he could earn, six number shops: not on Park Avenue, not on Sutton Place, but in Harlem.

Illegal numbers is a poor man’s game. Our State Governments know that.

Although lotteries are sold in bodegas and newspaper stores across the states, they’re most successful in poor neighborhoods, where the hopeless line up with $2 dreams. The State doles out welfare with one hand, and then tugs a bit back with the other  — to the tune of $50 billion a year.

Mob number shops caused less harm than today’s government sponsored lotteries.

Black markets couldn’t advertise on television or erect kiosks in grocery stores. The wise guys never took in anywhere near what state-run lotteries do.

* * *

When the mob owned Vegas, I could count cards and make a buck: no more.

Corporations made a subtle, yet substantial, blackjack rule change. No longer must the dealer stand on all 17s. Now the dealer must hit soft 17 – an ace and a six. This swings the edge back to the casinos at an astonishing five percent. Count all the cards you want. You can’t win anymore. The MIT boys changed the game.

Corporations sign the checks and pay for the bottom line. Vegas gamblers received better odds from the mob than the corporations.

The same could be said about America’s taxpayers.

CEOs are the new Dons.

Only these vampires want to drink your blood, not dip their beak.

American Airlines CEO Tom Horton wants a $20 million payout after he bankrupted the airline, cut jobs and froze pensions.

According to Forbes, McKesson’s CEO, John H. Hammergren, “earned” $131 million last year. That number rolls easily off the tongue, yet it breaks down to over $2.5 million a week.

No one “earns” that kind of money. No amount of labor justifies it.

That’s theft not compensation.

A capitalist creates wealth, a socialist distributes it, but whatever the euphemism, a thief is a thief. When the world’s top 400 people earn more than the other 4.5 billion, that’s not economic capitalism, but economic cannibalism.

Under communism, man exploits his fellow man, and under capitalism it is EXACTLY the opposite.

We need financial oversight and fast.

* * *

Gorilla advertising sells just about anything.

I’ve a Jack Russell Terrier.

Oliver eats anything: vegetables, potato chips, even canine feces.

On a long car trip, I forgot to eat breakfast.

Worse, I hadn’t fed Oliver. I decided to suck it up and buy two fast food burgers.

Despite his hunger, Oliver sniffed and twisted his head. I peeled the excess and offered the patty alone.

Still adamant, he’d rather starve.

Google the ingredients used to make this worldwide conglomerate’s ribs. It’s not even food.

Their legendary boneless pork sandwich, famously molded to resemble a rack of ribs, is both a feat of modern engineering and shrewd marketing.

A Nebraska professor, Richard Mandigo, developed the “restructured meat product.” He says it contains a mixture of tripe, heart, and scalded stomach, mixed with salt and water.

It’s then re-molded into any specific shape — in this case, a fake slab of ribs.

Is it any wonder America lead the world in obesity and cancer and our health care costs spiral?

Budget cuts and shrewd lobbying have defanged the FDA, and to attract our innocents, colorful sliding ponds and clowns help peddle “happy” meals.

Mothers who take children through the golden arches should be arrested for child abuse, and the infamous clown should be led away in handcuffs.

But in my America, fast food means money, and currency speaks louder than common sense.

 * * *

If a citizen throws a candy wrapper on the street, he receives a fine for littering.

When big oil pollutes our air and oceans they receive kickbacks disguised as tax breaks.

Only 35 government inspectors patrol over 56,000 oil wells in the Gulf.

Like Wall Street, they’ll police themselves.

Exxon and British Petroleum run ads over our airways about their company’s clean energy and clean environment policies.  If the once proud fourth estate exposes the gangsters, they’ll lose their advertising.

Big money’s din deafens the media as well.

* * *

Our government spends millions to keep marijuana users incarcerated.

Cigarettes kill. Alcohol kills. Pills kill. How about a war against a worthy adversary? Who has ever died from pot?

Big Pharm donated twice as much as big oil to political parties last year. They don’t want marijauna legal.

Go to an A.A. meeting in any American suburban town. I guarantee there are more attendees under 25 than over.

Most of these kids are hooked on Percocet and Oxycodone. Many graduated to a cheaper habit: heroin.

Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of New England Journal of Medicine, published an article damning the over-prescription of psychoactive drugs.

Since the launch of Prozac in 1987, the number of people treated for depression has tripled. Ten percent of Americans over age six are taking antidepressants.

Antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa and Seroquel are replacing cholesterol-lowering agents as the top-sellers in the U.S., largely because they are being prescribed to children.

The business insider informs us that painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

Imagine a heroin dealer advertising on television? Yet pharmaceutical companies advertise freely over the public airwaves with Congress’ blessing.

When big money talks, even little children listen.

* * *

The word Privilege is derived from the Latin meaning private law.

When Wall Streeters sniff coke, law enforcers treat it fairly benignly but treat crack smokers like malignant growths that must be removed. They’re both addictive forms of cocaine, yet one’s snorted through silver straws.

When a wise guy broke the mob’s code, he had to answer for it, egalitarian punishment. Business was business. He couldn’t buy his way out. When’s the last time a rich man in America received the death penalty?

Money makes an eloquent case for innocence.

* * *

The IRS got Capone for tax evasion.

How the mighty has fallen.

If the Feds dare question the legitimacy of political write offs (501s), the corporate media attacks them.

Recently we had a candidate for the presidency that took the political hit rather than release more than his last two-years-tax returns.

According to the Wall Street Journal, an estimated $23 trillion – more than the GDP of USA and Japan combined — is hidden offshore.

When busted for tax evasion or illegal earnings, mobsters lose everything. Why can’t the Rico Act be applied to white-collar crime? It can but won’t, because our lawmakers are routinely complicit.

Deaf to corruption’s cacophony, they hear only money.

* * *

Imagine my Shy, Yak, going broke and borrowing from me at 0 percent, so he can loan my money back to me at three points.

Banks have been sticking it up our keisters since the Republic’s birth.

Mortgages pay back the interest first, which insures, like the street Shylock, little comes off the principal. And our benevolent bankers even charge points for the privilege of exploitation.

Mortgage – from the Latin – Death Grip.

* * *

How much longer will we allow corporations to abuse the system? When will the rich be punished the same as the poor?

Our athletes go to Disneyland, while 15 million children go to be bed hungry. Legislators spend more in five hours on defense than five years on healthcare.

Our Republic’s purchasers should take a tip from the wise guys. Grease the pan. The cookies are sticking. People are wising up.

Ninety three percent of recovery gains went to less than two percent of the population. First, Wall Street architects the meltdown and then benefits from the “recovery.”

The party is over, and it’s time for those who enjoyed it to pay the fiddler. Educated bandits chipped, chiseled and finally drove down the American promise.

Awake and take back your Republic.

Run these bastards out of town on a rail.

William O’Connor is a Vietnam veteran, former Bronx firefighter and pub and restaurant owner. He is a stand-up comic and a UF journalism graduate.  O’Connor has a weekly column that can be found on-line entitled, “Confessions of a New York Bookie.” He can be reached at: Oconnor.WilliamP@gmail.com