Book Review: Dollar Democracy: With Liberty and Justice for Some; How to Reclaim the American Dream for All

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by  | American News Service | Book Review

Many questions torment America in the dark night of its soul, but its seems Corporate CEO pay emerges as one of this year’s hottest trending issues. At the midway point to the next election, this and other hotly contested issues  are shackled and tackled in Professor Peter Mathews’ must-read new bookDollar Democracy: with Liberty and Justice for Some; How to Reclaim the American Dream for All.


Despite the country’s dire state of affairs, Mathews remains optimistic, and closes the opus with some viable plan for the people to reclaim the American Dream. The literary equivalent of a one-man million-man march for equality and justice for every U.S. citizen.” Review by Kam Williams, Syndicated columnist

Read this book about Corporations and their pampered and panderingpolitical offspring.  Act Accordingly. Our country is in the midst of an uncivil war between the alarmingly powerful, determined to destroy the middle class and the intentionally left behind.

Professor  Peter Mathews’ book  serves as a counterpoint to those who luxuriate in denying the reality of America’s  rapidly changing social landscape. We are dangerously close to cementing a permanent American catastrophe. Mathews  boldly and unapologetically asks questions and gives solutions that the media/propaganda machine purposefully ignore. He  closes the tome with a checklist of high crimes and misdemeanors and an urgent call to conscience and about what needs to be done next.

Determining our actions today can move us towards either a stronger, more positive future, or a future shrouded in fear, poverty, war. This book is written as a primer for people of all ages and all classes who want answers.

Professor Mathews speaks in a voice that resounds with clarity and conviction as he examines the direct and intentional outcome of  separate policies that were advocated, starting with the Reagan administration, to intentionally deceive and destroy the middle class.  In a full frontal attack by the corporate manipulators  Mathews  details how the middle class has become superfluous to the very rich and why various policies were deliberately created to eliminate them. Their defining characteristic is dirty, scorched-earth partisanship carried out regardless of cost.  Conservatives are anxious again to finish first – with the big prize-monopoly control of the American government, and the power to turn their ideology into the law of the land.  Quite a bargain at any price. People want answers, but our compromised leaders can’t provide them because bold actions carry too much political risk.  Meanwhile the corporations are booming and running roughshod over us. They are operating in their own time and space continuum that is increasingly supranational – disconnected from local concerns and their home markets.

Mathews reveals that there are fat corporate balance sheets ready to create jobs and prosperity – just not in America.  While corporations feign heartfelt pledges of allegiance to the U.S., they still must depend on the government to protect intellectual property and keep waterways safe so they can deliver their made-in-China supplies to us.  This formidable book brings to light of day important new information regarding how the Corporate manipulators are destroying our country.

       Dollar Democracy is a riveting read, the text, defiantly disturbing. Mathews’ writing style passionately grounded in integrity and reality. The conclusions of his detective work fit together like sword and scabbard. He gives his reader so much juicy information, a veritable tsunami of corporate skullduggery. He doesn’t mince words and he doesn’t hold back when identifying the cauldrons of chaos they have created. He exposes these and others among the secret corporate power elite as the coolly vicious orchestrators of wars and grand-scale theft. Mathews  also details the mind-boggling sums of money their CEO’s reap from the proceeds of their crony capitalism. And what’s interesting is that the fortunes of corporations are totally delinked from the fortunes of the rest of the world. The 2008 financial crisis devastated hundreds of millions of people, but the following year Wall Street revenue hit US$60 billion, a historic high, thanks in large part to the massive injection of public money they received. Average wages in developed countries have dropped since the crisis, but the median pay for CEOs in the US now exceeds $10 million. A CEO now makes about 357 times more than the average worker’s salary in the U.S., up from 181 times in 2009 and 40 times in 1980.  The divide between the have-nots and have-yachts  is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent capture about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

Crony politicians have made decisions that led to outsourcing good middle class jobs, dismantling our public education system kindergarten through college and university; deteriorating  health care that leaves Americans in danger, sick and broke; the destroying of our environment and lives; the polluting of our food through deregulation of big agribusiness, pesticide use and the proliferation of Genetically Modified (GMO) foods; the crash of Wall Street and the Great Recession from which the bottom 99% of Americans have not yet recovered; while the super wealthy are doing better than ever.

Mind-blowing from the beginning, Mathews’ book takes an even more astounding contemporary turn when he declares their efforts over the past thirty years have succeeded. The middle class democracy that made America great is in seemingly irreversible decline. Mathews clearly shows how the Corporations and their crony politicians  have hoodwinked America by separating speech and thought.

But wait, Mathew is a political pugilist, ready to lob a whole arsenal of answers on how we can reverse these trends and return middle-class democracy. He proposes comprehensive, bold, visionary solutions to restore America’s formidable democracy and make this country great again.

Can the truth change the course of history? If the truth can heal, then this book is a prescription for accountability. It is a must-read for anyone who believes that following our constitution must be mandatory for the pursuit of good government and that our once vibrant and powerful democracy is not for sale to the highest bidder and the too-clever-for-word machinations of the Corporate Pollution Politics.

Dollar Democracy is really a blueprint for Americans that have had enough. And that means 99% of us.

 


LBCC Philosophy Club presents Dollar Democracy with Peter Mathews

Based on his book, ” DOLLAR DEMOCRACY: WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR SOME; HOW TO RECLAIM THE AMERICAN DREAM FOR ALL, radio/TV Political Analyst and Professor of Political Science and Sociology Peter Mathews, holds a talk and town hall at Long Beach City College, sponsored by the Philosophy Club and Students for Equal Education.

Vigorous audience participation resulted over many of the topics covered: the American Dream and the “good society”; Corporate Personhood and the Buying of American Elections; Voter Alienation and Low Turnout; the Dismantling of California’s Tuition Free World Class Public Higher Education; the Huge Student Debt Burden; the Defunding of Public Investment through Corporate Tax Loopholes; the Reversal of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Concept of the Common Good (“General Welfare”) by Ronald Reagan and the “Supply Side” Economists; Industrial Policy As Practiced by Germany and Other Countries that Sustains a Strong Economy and Strong Middle Class; the Effects of Private Money in American Politics Resulting in Inadequate Health Care, Education, Food Safety (GMOs, Pesticides) Environmental Sustainability, Clean Water, Air, and Soil; the 2008 Wall Street Crisis and the Great Recession and its Devastating Effects on the American Middle Class and Poor; the Huge and Rising Gap between Rich and Poor; Social Mobility in the U.S. Versus Britain and Sweden; and Solutions to These Fundamental Crises: Senator Paul Wellstone’s Example, Clean Money Elections as Pioneered in Maine and Arizona, and a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that Would Declare that Corporations Are Not Natural Persons With Natural Rights and that Money Is Not Speech. Professor Mathews explains how these reforms would move us from a “Dollar Democracy” to a “Real and Deep Democracy”.

Continuing with Questions and Answers:

Peter Mathews’ ‘Dollar Democracy’ offers roadmap for Social and Economic Justice

examiner.com (book review originally printed by examiner.com)
by Bryon Delear
September 10, 2014: Updated 11/3/2014

In many ways our current economic paradigm is driven by wealth; wealth of resources, wealth of knowledge and so forth. The accumulation has been abundant as evidenced by the first Green Revolution which accelerated the rapid population growth of our species. In 1800, we were at one billion people. Starting in the 1940s, increases in agricultural productivity helped continue the upward curve with some end-of-century projections now standing at more than 10 billion souls. Only an overabundance of resources could support such exponential expansion—but in a world where democracy and notions of equality have also risen to unparalleled heights over the last two centuries, wealth, and in particular material wealth, has yet to be democratized in any substantive way. In fact, the gap between the rich and poor is growing.
     This is one of the many points driven home by college professor Peter Mathews in his new book, Dollar Democracy: With Liberty and Justice for Some. It’s not a novel argument, but Dollar Democracy does not claim to field a spate of innovations. Mathews’ book is a compendium of evidences and cases covering the historical background of how America’s experiment in democracy has been subverted to largely serve select interests. In a phrase, Big Money.
     Big Money rules the roost in Washington D.C. by steering legislators around by nose rings made of campaign contributions. Mathews, a former candidate himself, does not equivocate on the matter.

“Rich individuals and corporations hire lobbyists to walk into the offices of Congresspersons to whom they donated, and ask them to vote in favor of their corporate interests against the public interest.”

Veteran legislators serving the status quo might even get an honorary gold nose ring for their wound-up, toy robot loyalty—which is usually expressed by a punch-drunk dance of obfuscation whenever the topic of inequity is broached. Political theorist Noam Chomsky explains that often what is not discussed is really a symptom of these monied interests pulling the puppet strings.
     “One of the ways you control what people think,” says Chomsky, “is by creating the illusion that there’s a debate going on, but making sure that that debate stays within very narrow margins. Namely, you have to make sure that both sides in the debate accept certain assumptions, and those assumptions turn out to be the propaganda system. As long as everyone accepts the propaganda system, then you can have a debate.”
     The propaganda is served up by the mainstream media, which basically acts as the PR-arm of Big Money. Indeed, it’s this narrow field of debate that in many cases works to dilute the voice of everyday Americans with the greatest threat to democracy, perhaps, being the issues held in common by the two major political parties rather than the trivial issues of debate that separate them. For some, this may be hard to conceive of initially because the light-and-sound show we all almost constantly bathe in has been designed to accentuate conflict and debate as the chief means of capturing high ratings and advertising revenue—again, Big Money calling the shots to the point of, as Mathews describes, “selling out the American dream.” It’s a condition that reminds one of the infamous mantra from All The President’s Men—”follow the money”—a useful truism to diagnose what ills society in general.

Mathews explains, “The problem is that only the top 1% can afford to pay and get to play. The rest of America, the bottom 99%, can’t afford to pay and don’t get to play in the game of politics which effects many aspects of our lives: access to good jobs, quality affordable education, adequate health care, good roads and clean efficient public transit, safe neighborhood, good parks and recreation, public libraries, dependable infrastructure, after school academic and arts programs, and leisure time, such as guaranteed paid vacations, to spen with our children, families, and friends.”


Mathews laments the fact that the political machinery has been hijacked by special interests and has been manipulated into subservience to Wall Street. Shouldn’t policy be based primarily on its merits? Why can’t we have a robust debate where all Americans can be heard with at least some level of parity? These kinds of questions have been asked by reformers throughout the ages, and when certain conditions emerge, fundamental reform is a necessity—or else revolution becomes inevitable. If self-determination is a vaunted American ideal, surely much of the population, effectively silenced and suffering the conditions of wage slavery, has been closeted out of the “American dream.” Dollar Democracy delivers a progressive point of view which makes the case for political inclusion, not exclusion.
     The book also lays out charts and tables which show the structural imbalance instigated by Big Money… Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Insurance, Big Defense, Big Pharma—big, big, big. A Christ-like motif emerges which is woven throughout the fabric of progressivism: shouldn’t the least among us have a say? —that this is the spirit of democracy and equality, but in a world where wealth equals food, water, transportation, health care, education, access to power, the inequity we are beset with is staggering. Wealth amassed by a handful of people equals the wealth of half the nation and recent studies confirm the political bias that this engenders.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing  business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” ~ Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University. 

Clearly, we’re due for a gargantuan political enema and Mathews offers several real world solutions to help flush out the corruption.

 
Separation of ‘Buck’ and State
Just as much as the Separation of Church and State promotes religious freedom and works to eliminate prejudices and bigotry by supporting minority views, a new axiomatic ideal that contends with Big Money is needed. This axiomatic ideal must be made into law to elevate popular opinion and reassign control of our democracy to the people. One might call this the “Separation of ‘Buck’ and State.” The Separation of ‘Buck’ and State is an ethical wall built between our private and public institutions to get the corrupting influence of money out of our corridors of power.
     The current number of efforts and groups dedicated to this goal are legion. But these myriad movements toward fundamental campaign reform have one thing in common: they are all faced with confronting the weight, leverage, and control that makes up the very lifeblood of the global economy, and here it is again… Big Money. And Big Money pushes back hard. The disparity in power makes most efforts at reform look like “tilting at windmills.”
 
So what are we to do?
Mathews, a 30-year Professor of Political Science and former U.S. House candidate, opens Dollar Democracy with a quote from one of his heroes:

“Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives.” ~ U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone.


Indeed this is what politics should be about, but it’s not. What is needed is a plan to get it that way. Dollar Democracy offers a concrete roadmap for social and economic justice by going after root causes.
 
Clean Money is an incremental step towards the “Separation of ‘Buck’ and State,” or what Mathews calls a “Real Democracy.” Clean Money provides an alternative funding path for candidates for office. A candidate can declare that they are “running clean,” and after proving they have wide support among constituents (relatively speaking), the Clean Money candidate receives public financing for their campaign operations. Imagine that, a publicly supported campaign for public office. Seems obvious huh?
     Clean Money legislation has been initiated in several states but can’t seem to gain traction nationally because the gatekeepers are Congress itself. They are the masters of the current “pay to play” system and only give lip service to public financing of campaigns. Evidently, the cure for the political plague of Big Money is going to have to doctored in by the people.
 
Rise of Big Money and Corporate Personhood
Dollar Democracy documents corporate-sponsored Supreme Court rulings over the last century that have created the monster. Several legal abominations have been parasitically grafted onto Lady Liberty; one is, money isn’t “property” per se, it’s really Free Speech. Translation? Some people can buy a lot more Free Speech than others. So much so, that, as stated earlier, Big Money dominates the airwaves, the debate, and policies concocted in D.C.
     Another legal abomination is something called “Corporate Personhood” which grants the rights of Free Speech, religion, etc. to corporations. Problem is, this introduces into society an eternal “super-citizen” that, for example, can invest in 1000 candidates, buy 1000 homes, where you or I would be fortunate to own just one (home, that is, not owning a candidate, that’s what Big Money does).
     The most poignant distillation of Corporate Personhood I’ve ever heard was written by Jan Edwards and Molly Morgan in their 2004 paper, Abolish Corporate Personhood:

“Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate Personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.”


So it’s imperative that we get this turned around. Mathews endorses a effort led by former Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb called “Move to Amend.” Move to Amend’s “We The People” 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would “void Corporate Personhood and declare that Money Is Not Speech as understood by the 1st Amendment.” They have amassed hundreds of thousands of signatures in support of this effort and have introduced legislation.
There is one noteworthy tool for rebooting our political system not mentioned in Mathews’ book. The Article V Convention, which I’ve written about at length, is a method for change that is gaining in popularity. Essentially, when our Constitution was crafted, the Founders anticipated the eventual rise of a Federal government unwilling or unable to pass reforms that have wide support. In short, Congress is directed by the Constitution to convene a “convention for proposing amendments” should 2/3rds of the state legislatures apply for one. Over 700 applications have been sent in from 49 states (only 34 need apply), and yet, they’ve never been “counted” by Congress, so no convention. Yet.
     Dan Marks of ArticleV.org has formally asked Congress for an official count of the state applications, and Congress is, of course, trying to slow walk the request. Their fear is that if they really count the applications (which is their implicit duty), it will only confirm Congress’s dereliction over the last century. America should have had her first convention as early as 1911 as research by FOAVC co-founder Bill Walker has shown and is displayed on FOAVC’s website. Of course Congress would rather retain their unconstitutional monopoly over the power to propose amendments. So, much like public financing of campaigns, some occasional lip service is offered without any real recognition of this sacred right that’s never been allowed to see the light of day.
     There are “Fiver” activists from both the right and left supporting the Article V Convention who are trying to get past the polarizing issues of debate and work together. Things like Corporate Personhood and Money as Speech could be debated on the left, while a Balanced Budget Amendment could be debated on the right. Any ideas approved by the convention must go to the states before they’re added to our constitution—75% of the states then must agree which would eliminate anything radical. Overly partisan amendments would be nonstarters.
     The fact that the opportunity exists for everyday Americans to become more fully engaged and grab the reins of control from a cynical, professional political class is exciting and hopeful. Power back to the people. Or maybe, power to the people in ways never seen before. Meanwhile, Congress continues to violate the direct language of the Constitution by NOT counting the applications for a convention. They would rather us all go away and not bother them while they work. But as Dollar Democracy intones, it is self-evident who they’re working for, and it’s not us.
     With help from tireless activists like Peter Mathews who have been on the front lines for decades and do not show any signs of wavering, movements like Clean Money, Move to Amend, Friends of the Article V Convention, Convention of the States, Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday PAC, Cenk Ungur’s Wolf PAC, and countless others, will help pave the way for much-needed reforms. One thing’s for sure, we’re going to have to keep bothering them, especially while they work. Press in, check out Dollar Democracy, and join the fray.

Reviewers statement: A copy of Dollar Democracy: With Liberty and Justice for Some’ was provided by publicist Ilene Proctor, and the author, Peter Mathews, was interviewed by phone.

 

Head On! radio show with David Cruz and Peter Mathews – 141004

KEIB AM 1150 and iHeart radio with host David Cruz of the HEAD-ON radio program: October 4, 2014: Peter Mathews’ segment “Money and Politics”. Topics include:

  • Voters sour on Congress and the country’s direction
  • Job growth rebounds while wages lag
  • databases show doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical industries have financial ties
  • ::Financial Ties between doctors and big pharma seem ‘Conflict of Interest’
  • Health Insurance Industry spending millions to beat pro-consumer measures (in California)
  • Mortgage case strikes back against fraudulent lenders, including a Wells Fargo owned company
  • Conservative Economist tries to ‘wish away’ Income Inequality
  • Germany moves to Tuition Free education modeled after former California Pat Brown’s Master Plan for Higher Education.
  • The State of Tennessee is only U.S. state with similar Tuition Free Higher Education.
  • Ebola virus has already come to the U.S. with several outbreaks, including a Texas man. U.S. Department of Health officials and the nation’s hospitals appear woefully under-prepared and ignorant of the potential pandemic despite warnings.

A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE MENTIONED TOPICS IN INDIVIDUAL LINKS MAY BE FOUND BELOW

MSN – Poll: Voters sour on Congress and the country’s direction. Democrats could lose the Senate majority. Lower voter turnout expected.

Online Wall Street Journal – Job growth rebounds while wages lag.

LA Times – Health Care Costs: Database show that doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals have financial ties. Shows conflict of interest.

New York Times – Financial: Ties Between Doctors and Hospitals are Detailed

LA Times – Database shows $3.5 billion in industry ties to doctors, hospitals

LA Times – Health Care Costs: Health insurance industry spending millions to beat pro-consumer measures

LA Times – Economy: Mortgage case strikes back against fraudulent lenders

LA Times – Economy: Conservative economist tries to wish away income inequality.

ThinkProgress.org – Cost of Education: Germany moves to Tuition Free education.