MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It is a good time to reach for the upchuck bag when a politician or billionaire lectures Americans "to work hard and play by the rules" when the idle rich regard such an attitude with undistilled cynicism.
In fact, you could argue that for many, if not most of the 1%, their motto is to get as much pleasure, leisure and opulent comfort out of life by not playing by the rules.
Here are five examples of why it is brazenly hypocritical for the super wealthy and their political puppets to advise time-clock punching Americans to work hard and play by the rules:
1) The wealthy, their lobbyists, and the politicians that they control in Congress, the White House and in legislative bodies throughout the land write the rules. To put it mildly, that is a conflict of interest. In short, the rules that the working person plays by are written to favor the richest in the land -- and to assist them in becoming richer.
2) Financially, the rules are infamously structured so that a George Romney pays about 14% in taxes (due to low long-term capital gain and other tax rates that benefit the rich -- not to mention the taxes that the 1% don't pay because of offshore accounts and the like). Warren Buffet wasn't the first one to note that he pays about 14% in taxes while his secretary pays in the 30 something tax bracket. Again, that doesn't even include all the tax shelters and avoidance schemes employed by gilded elite.
3) Then, of course, there are the ongoing fines (although, of course no major criminal prosecutions, because the financial elite play by a special "shield of immunity" rule) for how Wall Street and global financial institutions -- guided by their CEOs -- push at the edge of the envelope and break the rules. They know that no fine levied by the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission will exceed the profit that they make by violating regulations or the law -- and they know that Eric Holder and Barack Obama will not hold them criminally accountable because of the courtesy extended among members of the ruling elite. Wall Street is just one example of how corporations and the excessively affluent regularly bend and break the rules in order to achieve profits that used to be the dreams of kings and queens.
4) Let us not forget that is it is a major financial gain for the super wealthy that the laborers of America work hard and follow the rules. That is because given that the game is fixed, the richest in the nation stand to profit from those who work legally for so little (think the current minimum wage) and are obedient to a systemic oppression.
5) When President Obama and other elected officials piously assert that people who "work hard and play by the rules" should be rewarded, they are whistling into the wind of their own hypocrisy. That is because they help set up the system that ensures that the working class will have one set of inflexible rules applied to them, while the masters of the financial universe will have few rules short of being prosecuted for an individual murder for which they are accountable. Of course, if you head a firm whose toxic policies result in the deaths and illnesses of hundreds and thousands of people (think Monsanto and the hundreds of thousands of grain farmer suicides in India or Chevron and the deaths and disease due to toxic oil pollution in Ecuador -- see the BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary from yesterday on this), you get a seemingly automatic get out of jail card.
The bottom line is that the rules for the 99% are created by the rich, and the rich don't follow the rules; they break them without prosecution (with rare exception).
"Work hard and follow the rules" is one of the biggest nostrums -- a true opiate for the masses -- of the modern US and global oligarchy.
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