Political Thoughts with Richard Bleil
In medieval and Renaissance times, lords were landowners. They had a variety of titles, but in essence they were powerful because of the property to which they laid claim, along with everything on that land. In this case, “everything” includes the peasants, the people who worked and lived on the land, and they were the literal property of the lordship. They weren’t called “slaves”, but the lord could tax them at any rate desired (or, perhaps more appropriately, allotted to them the fruits of their own labors at any meager amount desired), restricted their travel (they were not permitted to leave the land), and even had the power to imprison or kill any of them at will. And why not? They belonged to the lord, so why not use them for all of their worth?
A disturbing thought occurred to me. Things really have not changed. Instead of “lands”, now we have “countries”, and instead of “lords”, now we have “politicians”. Our travel is restricted through passports, which amount to permission to travel, and restrict the properties, uh, I mean immigrants from other nations into ours. And, of course, taxes. The control of the lords, uh, politicians is legitimized through laws.
Yes, I said it. Laws are nothing more than legitimization for those of power and wealth to do whatever they want. Once you have sufficient wealth, tax loopholes allow you to pay less in taxes than you should. These loopholes may technically apply to everyone, but without a certain level of money, they’re out of reach for most Americans. Shipping money to offshore accounts, squirreling it away in tax-exempt investments, and, frankly, having enough money to hire accountants and lawyers to safeguard it from the taxation that the rest of us pay is beyond most of us.
We, you and I, are required to acquiesce to legal summons under penalty of the law. If I’m given a subpoena to give a deposition or appear in court, failure to do so will result in imprisonment or financial penalties. And yet, today we see many politicians attempting (and often succeeding) to weasel their way out of such summons through legal trickery and overpaid and often unethical attorneys. Sometimes it fails. One such case recently resulted in a four-month jail term, but the case was rather exceptionally blatant. And, frankly, four months is not much of a penalty. It’s ironic that many of these same people criticize others for trying to get out of testifying and have even gone so far as to say that they wouldn’t try to get out of it if they were innocent and had nothing to hide.
Perhaps one of the best examples of what I mean is something that has long bothered me, but I’ve never really thought of it in the context of today’s blog. Some laws passed by our politicians are so blatant that they don’t even try to hide them. Some years ago, when the Republican party was going after the Affordable Healthcare Act so harshly, they passed a law striking down a portion of the act. This law removed certain requirements of health insurance that helped the wealthy health insurance companies, but hurt the American peasants, er, workers, I mean. But written into the law was an exemption for politicians. The people writing and passing the laws could still require this for their staff members. A law that doesn’t affect everybody equally is far from just, and to give themselves a benefit that they are denying the rest of America is as lordship like as I’ve ever witnessed. But because it was done through the law, they can claim it as “legitimate”. But is it really?
The law should be leveling the playing field to give everybody a fair opportunity. It’s not about giving handouts, but rather it should ensure that the opportunities are distributed evenly and not hoarded by those with the means to do so. And yet, with the wealthy and powerful loading their friends and allies into every aspect of our government (including, most recently, the Supreme Court), laws far too often tip towards the wealthy and powerful at the expense of those people that they own, specifically the working class. Corporations like Walmart pay their employees so little money that many of them still qualify for (and are on) food stamps, and yet, Walmart itself gets handouts from the government and breaks. The earliest relief from Covid was directed towards lordships, uh, I mean corporations, not people. The relief was meant to keep people employed and paid, and yet most of the money went into the pockets of the company owners, often through things like stock buyback plans. And even though these were technically “loans”, the bar for loan forgiveness was set so low that most recipients never did. But today, a loan forgiveness program for the rest of us (the student loan forgiveness program) is under heavy criticism and fire because it benefits the rabble instead of the royalty of the nation.
So I have a solution? No. A friend of mine advocates for the collapse of the government, but that wouldn’t help. Those with the means to do so would simply take over again. What we need is a government that is about justice. What we have is one that is about hoarding wealth.