A Country Based on Deception and Lies
I include this discussion under global warming because I want to show you how the US is operating with low morality, lies and deception in our every day life.
This damaging behavior would destroy our national effort to fight global warming, because many institutions and industries will use similar tools to cheat, to mislead, to escape the laws that could help us fight global warming.
And the US used to have some of the highest adherence to our laws. Just think what will happen in China, India and other developing countries where national laws are rarely adhered to.
We still ignore reality with our lack of any national effort to restrict global warming. Congress is selling its responsibility to the highest bidder, not working for our urgent national needs.
It is so sad to see our country with such a good constitution, with so many promises, with so many good, decent people, deteriorating to the level it has, by deception and lies. The people with power- that means money, have been doing nearly everything they can to gain more income and more power at the expense of the average person.
Yes, the United States' economy and our political system are based on deception and lies. From one side of the country to another the average person has to continuously struggle to keep his/her head above the water because of the wide-spread deceptions in the financial sector, in most of the economy, and in much of our state and federal politics. This economic burden has been increasing for several decades and reached it zenith during the housing crunch. And it is continuing since Congress is under the thumb of donors to their reelection. Our federal government is part of this deception by not preventing it, and by letting it continue. Both political parties are part of this problem.
The deceptions and lies are in front of us but we ignore them because we want to think nicely about our country. It is time to open our eyes, see reality and not bury our heads in the sand. Unless we open our eyes to these facts, they will continue to damage our country and cause a larger and larger percentage of the population to struggle for survival.
Let's look at some details:
1. The powerful advertisement industry: Buy, buy, buy.
I have watched several times the 2 hour PBS program on the Advertisement Industry. It is fascinating how they research tirelessly, using the best brains in our universities, to find how to appeal to our raw, base emotions to pressure us to buy, buy, buy. They use sex, the macho feelings, the desire to impress our partner, elevate our bruised ego, the need to show off. These elements and more have been utilized to strip us of our ability to make rational decisions, both economically and politically.
A minor example: the price of whatever we want to buy is misleading. We buy gas at $2:99 a gallon. So who cares? We are smart and educated, we know it is really $3:00 a gallon. But is it that simple?
First, not every one is smart and educated and has the time to discern this common deception. The best brains in the marketing/advertisement industry have been developing methods to mislead us to think every thing we buy is less expensive than it is, that is much better than it is, or that it will make us better persons, or improve our "unfulfilled" lives. You may say, I am aware of these, I am above these manipulations. But the relentless twisting of our minds is an effective psychological tool that has proven very successful. The best paid brains, with the highest IQ, have been working tirelessly to find way to mislead us to buy things we do not need and do not really want. Look how we have been consuming beyond our abilities for years, putting us in deep personal debts many can not come out off, and the country can not afford.
Our economy has tanked. We have over 10% unemployment, yet we purchased 30 million large, wide screens TV in 2009. The drive to "see the football game" on your new, high definition TV overcome logic and your empty wallet. You have no money in the bank, you owe money on your expensive credit cards, you have no assets, you can not afford to buy this huge flat screen TV, yet you buy it and proudly show it to all your friends. You would not be able to pay your bills, or you will borrow at higher and higher interest rates, but you must have this "necessity."
We watch TV five hours a day. Well designed, appealing advertisements have worked on us, drip by drip, for decades, without your awareness, to let your emotions overcome our common sense. In fact, very few Americans do have common sense when it relates to any thing we want, when it relates to money- to health, to food intake, and recreational drugs.
We strongly object to the notion that we are manipulated, but how else can you explain the nation-wide mania of buying more and more things we can not afford nor need while ignoring our empty bank account?
2. The Banking industry buying Congress:
I just watched a PBS program how the banking industry is lying to us and how it is controlling Congress. The banking industry carry so much political weight that it even impacts the federal controlling agencies that are supposed to protect the public from bank manipulations.
The country is running on the easy availability of money, to any one who is willing to pay immense fees could get a loan. Some of the interest rates are: 466%. Yes, that is true when you get into any of the thousand of early paycheck shops mushrooming across the country. And the people using these services are the least able to afford them. And they are repeating these draining experiences monthly. They do not know better, they do not know how to stop the cycle. Don't blame them, you never were in their shoes! These are the people the government must protect.
But this is only one of many financial institutions that are bilking the public from the left to the right.
It is a fascinating story how the banking industry fought against limiting their credit cards hidden fees and high interest rates. They make tens of billions in profits every year by donation of some $30 millions to members of the Senate Banking Committee. An immense return on investment.
After a lot of public protest and anger, Congress finally put some constrains on the credit card business. But immediately the banks developed new tools to milk card holders by increasing interest rates arbitrarily and reducing credit limits. Watching the arrogance of the spokes lady for the banking system left me cold: you made new rules, we react to them and did every thing allowed us legally to increase our income.
Both the banks and the federal agencies "controlling them" are against limiting the high interest rates people have to pay. The banks say that as long as the rates are clearly stated, the buyer should be aware. The problem is, as a specialist on the issue explained, the bank statements are misleading, hidden, and hard to understand. And the people who suffer the most are people with low income, low education and probably also low ability to grasp the complexity involved. Congress allowed the bank to take advantage of the people less able to deal with this high and confusing interest rates and special payments.
Here is an interesting gimmick Congress use:
The Democratic chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senator Chris Todd said that he is not affected by the $6 millions given to him over the last few years by the banking industry. Not at all. Look, he said, I initiated a bill to control them much further, but I did not have the votes. How did he do it? It is very simple, he developed a bill, with advice from the banking lobby that he knew would not pass. Then he can show that he is defending the public, without a fear that his proposed bill will pass and hurt bank's income - his sponsors. Senator Todd seats for 23 year on this committee, and he knows the rope. Look at his web site and read the lies he says about him protecting the public financial security: "...Chairman will continue to focus on helping working families and protecting our nation's economic security."
(You can see this important Frontline program, dated 1/26/10 on PBS.com,)
3. Congressional stability- a job for life, paid by lobbyists.
With some significant exceptions, Congress does not represent the will of the American people, it represent the will of powerful corporations.
Congresspersons want power above all. I have taken courses, and learned about Congress studying each and every member of the Houses some years back. Their voting records, their district composition, their attitudes too. I also talked privately with several Congressmen. I watched their faces, listen to their emphasis, paid special attention to their body language. Fascinating how similar is their desire for power, for being special - one in a million (actually one House member per three quarters of a million).
An historian wrote that President Teddy Roosevelt was addicted to politics before, during and after his presidency. When one is addicted to any thing, he/she stopped representing the need of the public and fight diligently to continue to be in politics. And that is what most members of Congress have been doing for a long time. And for the last few decades it is beyond control. Every house member has to go for reelection every two years. This is mostly TV struggle that costs several millions in many contested districts. They have to raise thousands of dollars every week from the time they land first in Congress. Money controls votes and money mostly comes from lobbyists. And most of the money from big corporations. Which will have even less limitations after the latest supreme court ruling.
Many congresspersons remain in their seats for decades, and those are the most influential and get the most amount of lobbying money. Which means: the longer you are in Congress, the more influential position you have and the more money you receive to achieve the desire of your sponsors- the people with money. To many Congresspersons deceive us, they use double talk, some cheat and steal, and they are still reelected. Forget about representing the needs of their district or state, their need for continuous power is the motivating force in their lives.
As was said may times: We have the best Congress money can buy.
The self interest of Congress members is why we, the richest country in the world is unable to solve almost any of our important national problems. It is so well known, no one is surprised, money is controlling our politics- but most Congress members would deny it. And we shrug our shoulders and do nothing.
Here is what a highly influential commentator just wrote about Congress:
"So we're paralyzed in the face of mass unemployment and out-of-control health care costs....Blame our political culture that rewards hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than serious effort to solve America's problems. And blame the filibuster, under which 41 senators can make the country ungovernable, if they choose - and they have chosen.
I am sorry to say this, but the state of the union - not the speech, but the thing itself - isn't looking very good."
Paul Krugman, Noble prize winner economist. NYT. 1/29/10
4. The Housing Collapse.
For several years, millions of homes were sold under false pretence. It was a wide spread deception. Most of it by immoral real estates, lenders, loan officers and their unethical organizations. We are not talking here about a few CEOs heading unethical financial corporations and banks. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of our nice neighbors, people like you and me. They go to church on Sunday and help their kids with their homework. But they did not stop to question the wrongs they were doing, because the extra large amount of money they were pocketing told them they were right. After all, every one was doing it.
This dishonesty is a deep national disease. Spread all across the country, with wide participation all across the housing/lending business. Take what you can and forget how many people you are cheating.
How many of us would have participated in a scheme like that if we could have been so prosperous overnight too?
Money and power control our country to an extreme extent. It is no surprise, most of the time it was like that. The disappointment is that we did not grow up yet to grasp how we are destroying the country.
That it the way the game is played in the US. And we have no voice in this game.
How can we expect that the effort to slow global warming will have a chance with this selfish bend of our country?
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