Note: Please consider reading the final chapter, “Conclusion: What’s Next?, inserted below. It is from Denis Marker’s book “The Fifteen Steps Toward Corporate Feudalism“. In it Marker offer some excellent solutions to reversing Corporate Feudalism in America. They are well worth considering in developing a plan to move forward, away from the present Trump debacle and toward democracy and fairness for all. In the chapter he notes:
(Below) are just a few of the ideas that should be considered. The important point is that the top 1 percent ﬁgured out a step-by-step plan to convince the middle class to eliminate themselves in thirty years, and now it is time for the 99 percent to develop a step-by-step plan to reverse this disastrous direction and restore America’s middle-class democracy. (Dennis Marker)
Here is biographical information about Marker. As you can understand when reading this, Marker’s experience in Congress, and with the government overall, helped him to witness first hand what was happening to undermine American democracy, and then he wisely wrote about it in his book:
Dennis Marker was twenty one when he embarked on his career in Washington, DC. While there he worked for the US Congress, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), various political campaigns, and Jim Wallis at Sojourners magazine. In addition, he helped launch and directed Washington, DC-based progressive nonprofits, including Witness for Peace and The Pledge of Resistance, where he specialized in national and international media operations. This work took him from every country in Central America to Iraq and many countries in between, where he negotiated with government officials and nongovernmental organizations looking for ways to avoid war and limit civilian causalities. Marker has appeared on numerous network and cable television news and talk shows in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and throughout Europe. He has also been used as an on- and off-the-record source by many publications, including Newsweek, Time, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, USA Today, and other major newspapers in the United States and internationally. In addition, he has written, edited, and been the on-air voice for a weekly UPI syndicated political radio commentary.
Here also is a listing of the Fifteen Steps – the book provides detailed information about all of these steps:
The Fifteen Steps Toward Corporate Feudalism
Step One: Controlling the Media
Step Two: Rush Limbaugh and “Foxaganda”
Step Three: Destroying the Unions
Step Four: The Magic of Tax Cuts
Step Five: Teaching People to Hate Their Government
Step Six: Privatizing (“Piratizing”) Government
Step Seven: Deregulating American Business
Step Eight: The Global Free Trade Hoax
Step Nine: Destroying Public Education
Step Ten: Promoting Unnecessary Wars
Step Eleven: Conning the Evangelical Church
Step Twelve: Developing the Policy of Lying
Step Thirteen: Exploiting the Lack of Accountability
Step Fourteen: Corrupting the Courts
Step Fifteen: Bankrupting the United States
Conclusion: What’s Next?
After reading about the plan for Corporate Feudalism, it is natural wonder: What’s next? But before creating a strategy to move forward, we need to carefully examine where we are. The ﬁrst thing to realize is that the Corporate Feudalists have won this round. Their efforts over the last thirty years have succeeded. The middle-class democracy that made America great is seemingly in an irreversible decline. The concentric circles of poverty will continue to grow as more and more formerly middle-class people will be unable to maintain their middle-class status. At the same time, the wealth of the top 1 percent will continue to increase at staggering rates of growth.The second thing to understand is that incremental change will not bring back our middle-class democracy. The Corporate Feudalists have rigged the system in their favor to such a degree that the massive changes needed to restore the America middle-class democracy are completely out of reach using normal political channels. We cannot simply reverse the fifteen steps that brought us here and return to where we were. If we had a magic wand and could turn all of our legislators into true public servants like Senator Bernie Sanders or Congressman Dennis Kucinich, we would get the job done. But there are no magic wands, and the closest thing to one is the huge cash advantage Corporate Feudalists use to buy pro-corporate legislators and lobbyists.Even so, we need not abandon the traditional political process. Using traditional political measures we can slow down the realization of Corporate Feudalism. People wanting instead to reverse this trend who were disappointed with President Obama might take into account the fact that during the administration of Georgie W. Bush and the Republican-ruled Congress, the nation moved at breakneck speed toward Corporate Feudalism. During the Obama administration, progress continued but at a much slower pace. Although this is not what people hoped for when they voted for Obama and “change,” it may very well be all that is possible at this country’s current political juncture.
One change that may make a long-term difference is the Occupy movement, which has already altered the debate in the United States. By simply identifying the “99 percent” and the “1 percent,” it opened the eyes of many middle-class Americans to a more accurate view of the wealth and income disparity between different groups of people in this country.
Another impetus for forward momentum will come from learning how the Corporate Feudalists succeeded in implementing their plan and then imitating their strategy and tactics. True, they have a distinct advantages over middle-class citizens, but then middle-class citizens have a few advantages of their own.
How did the Corporate Feudalists nearly succeed in transforming our country from a middle-class democracy to a corporate feudal republic in thirty years? First, they had a goal to replace they middle-class democracy with Corporate Feudalism. Second, to accomplish this goal they created a plan that was radical, comprehensive, visionary, and not limited in any way by what seemed possible at the time. And third, they were able to convince a large segment of the population that their plan was good for the middle-class and for America.
It’s easy enough to state a new goal. Let’s say our goal is to reverse Corporate Feudalism and the decline of America’s middle-class democracy. Now we need to create a plan to accomplish this goal. Like the Corporate Feudalists’ plan, it must be radical, comprehensive, visionary, and not limited by what seems possible. And it must contain specific steps for exactly how to accomplish it.
Throughout this book you have been asked to imagine what you would do, as a useful exercise to help see how the plan for Corporate Feudalism might look to the people benefiting from it. In addition, this exercise makes clear just how well thought out each part of the plan was toward accomplishing the over-all goal of eliminating America’s middle class. Used well, the exercise can also help stimulate answers to the question: What would you do to reverse the trend toward Corporate Feudalism and restore America’s middle-class democracy?
Even when a goal is easy to identify, the steps necessary to accomplish it may not be. For example, one obvious step toward the goal of reclaiming middle-class democracy would be to change how political elections are ﬁnanced in the United States. The “whoever spends the most money wins” system now in place clearly serves the interests of Corporate Feudalists. We might think we could accomplish this step by simply convincing legislators to change the system. But many of our legislators have already been bought and paid for by the Corporate Feudalists and benefit directly from the current system. We might consider appealing to the highest court in the land. But, as discussed earlier, the majority of the current justices of the Supreme Court already side with the Corporate Feudalists.
Consequently, to achieve our goal our task must be to formulate a plan outside the box that is not limited by what we think is possible and clearly lays out the changes we want to see. Efforts are underway to amend the Constitution so it states that corporations are not people and to make public financing of campaigns the law of the land are examples of this approach.
Part of the brilliance of the Corporate Feudalists has been the way they set out to accomplish all of their steps at once to reverse Corporate Feudalism in order to return the 99 percent to a place of power will need to adopt this same strategy. Let’s look at a few possible ideas for moving in this direction.
One idea is to eliminate voting and return to the original Athenian custom of election by lottery. The reason Athenians, the originators of democracy, used a lottery instead of a vote was because they feared elections could be manipulated by very wealthy or powerful families. A look at our current system shows that the Athenians were right: big money wins elections. While this system work great for people and corporations able to spend the amounts of money required to buy elections, it no longer works for ordinary people. If a lottery by congressional district was used for elections, then housewives and plumbers would be as likely to be members of Congress as lawyers and millionaires.
Another idea for reversing the advance of Corporate Feudalism is to put a 90 or 95 percent tax on all lobbying, or even outlaw lobbing altogether. It’s no secret that corporate lobbyists are having a significant negative impact on our democracy. The least we can do is insist they help pay for all their damage.
Yet another idea is for a massive public works program like those of FDR’s era, including a project to build nationwide water pipelines crisscrossing the country to help alleviate at least some problems related to the effect of global climate change on the economy. Due to global climate change, the weather is much less stable than even a few years ago. We have seen an increase in the number and intensity of floods, droughts, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes, and scientists say to expect this pattern to continue. Shipping water from overly wet areas to drought-stricken regions could reduce ﬂooding; help end crop loss due to droughts, and give dry communities water for daily needs and to fight fires. A project this massive would also create jobs in every state in the nation for building, managing and maintaining the water highway. It could be required, by law, that all equipment needed to complete this project be manufactured in the United States as well. The millions of jobs necessary to complete a project this large would be a game changer for America’s middle class and would help restart the US economy. What would it take to initiate such a project, and how could we prevent the Corporate Feudalists and their political allies from privatizing it to reap excessive profits from it?
Another easy-to-imagine publicly funded project could be to end all oil and nuclear subsidies and use the money saved to install solar collectors on every residence in the United States. The benefits would include thousands, if not millions, of jobs in this country, a radical reduction of greenhouses gases, elimination of the need for more polluting power plants, and much more localized generation of electric power.
We know giant multinational corporations are destroying our middle-class democracy, so we need to consider how to limit the influence and power of such mega-corporations and their owners. One idea is to limit the lifespan of mega-corporations to twenty-five or fifty years, after which their assets would go to the US Treasury to benefit the US government. A second idea is to limit executive pay to a certain percent more per hour than the average worker at the same company, such as 15 or even 45 percent, instead of the 450 times more per hour currently paid to some CEOs. This restriction would bring pay equity more in line with that of other developed nations. A third idea is to require that all corporations with more than one hundred or even five hundred employees be unionized and that boards of directors be made up of workers and management. In addition, if we reversed global free trade and went back to the trade policies and tariffs in place before the Reagan Revolution we might be able to stop multinational corporations from benefiting at the expense of American Workers. A fourth idea is to eliminate the mega-corporation model completely in the United States. Maybe the opposite of “too big to fail” should be “too big to exist.” A more moderate approach would be to return taxes on giant corporations and their millionaire owners to levels that preceded the Reagan Revolution, when the US middle class was thriving. A 75 to 90 percent tax on all income assets and dividends over $1 million per year might be reasonable.
A plan to reverse the trend toward Corporate Feudalism could emerge from the following ideas as well: publicly finance all political campaigns and outlaw all campaign contributions; reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act to re-regulate the banking industry; create an independent board responsible for examining media accuracy and for stopping the media from using the word “news” if they are are found to be consistently wrong or misleading; reinstate the fairness doctrine; begin Medicare single-payer health care for all citizens; provide free public education at all levels; reinstate trade protections to keep jobs in the United States; make all trade agreements reciprocal, ending the practice of letting a country maintain a different policy for imports and exports; stop exporting natural resources and only export finished products; abolish any law that gives corporations the rights of individuals without the responsibilities; punish political and economic criminals like the people whose lies got us into the wars in Iraq and created the housing crash; institute a mandatory national service requirement for all citizens; add an annual surtax to all estates worth more than $5 million; return to pre-Reagan tax rates; tax capital gains at the highest level; change the 1872 mining law to recover fair return for government resources; and tax all transactions in the ﬁnancial markets.
These are just a few of the ideas that should be considered. The important point is that the top 1 percent ﬁgured out a step-by-step plan to convince the middle class to eliminate themselves in thirty years, and now it is time for the 99 percent to develop a step-by-step plan to reverse this disastrous direction and restore America’s middle-class democracy.
Reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of the Corporate Feudalists’ strategy can help the 99 percent more clearly envision its own advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage the Corporate Feudalists have is their access to unlimited money. This has allowed them to create their own national television network and hundreds of smaller media outlets, as well as inﬂuence politicians at every level of our political system. One disadvantage the Corporate Feudalists have the need to convince people that black is white and up is down, in order to hide the true goal of their plan from the middle class. This is why they need to create movements like the Tea Party to keep middle-class people from discovering the true causes of the decline of the middle class.
By contrast, the two most obvious advantages of people wanting to reverse the trend toward Corporate Feudalism and restore America’s middle-class democracy are numbers and openness. The nature of Corporate Feudalism requires that a very small number of very powerful people and corporations control all the wealth and power, meaning that potentially 95 to 99 percent of the population, upon becoming more aware of what the Corporate Feudalists have done to America, could be mobilized to oppose them. The second advantage is that once the people who want to reverse the trend toward Corporate Feudalism have a plan, they don’t have to hide it or pretend it is doing the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. An obvious disadvantage for this same group is that they lack unlimited money and therefore cannot buy their own television network, major media outlets, or enough politicians to restore the middle class through legislative means.
We don’t know which people or organizations created the plan for Corporate Feudalism in the ﬁrst place. However, we do know what their plan has accomplished. We are aware of the legislators who have been behind it. And we can identify and benefit from it. The challenge for those of us who are not part of the top 1 percent is to create a radical, comprehensive, and visionary plan to reverse the trend toward toward Corporate Feudalism and restore the middle-class democracy that made this country great.
What will you do?