The Founding Fathers were wary of institutional threats to liberty and the citizenry’s sovereignty, which included centralized concentrations of power (monarchy, central banks, federal agencies, etc.) and the tyranny of corruption unleashed by small-minded, self-interested, greedy grifters who saw all elected offices and positions of government influence as nothing more than a means to increase their own private wealth.
The Founders feared the dominance of self-interested, greedy grifters because they had no concept of the public good: to the greedy grifters, the government existed solely to serve their petty private interests and the interests of their fellow grifters.
The Founders understood that a republic required disinterested leadership capable of looking past petty self-interest to the common good of the people and their nation. They feared the election of self-interested, greedy grifters because once no one served the common good, the republic would fall into a fatal disunity.
We are living the Founders’ nightmare, for America is corrupt to the core. While everyone gorging at the public trough bleats about the “common good,” their single-minded focus is on aggrandizing as much power and private wealth as possible, and feeding their corrupt crew of insiders, lobbyists, “business interests,” bankers and assorted other legalized looters.
America has plenty of law enforcement, prosecutors and prison cells for those who loot a Whole Foods, but none for those who loot the public treasury, commit stock market swindles or financial fraud on a monumental scale. Not only did no one go to prison for the rampant institutionalized fraud of the 2008 looting, a.k.a. the Global Financial Meltdown–the looters were bailed out by the Federal Reserve and Treasury.
More recently, no one was even questioned when a biotech company issued a press release about a Covid-19 vaccine trial that boosted the stock’s price just long enough for insiders to dump millions of dollars of shares on a credulous public and also sell new shares in the company at a premium: a classic looting strategy known as pump and dump.
Members of Congress were caught red-handed in what amounted to insider trading, selling millions of dollars in their stock portfolios based on their secret briefings of the coming pandemic, while they reassured the public Covid-19 was no biggie. The farcical “investigation” found no wrong-doing.
Corruption in our political parties is so endemic nobody even bothers listing it except as a parlor game of pondering which party is more corrupt.
Our ruling elites, devoid of leadership, are little more than the scum of self-interested, greedy grifters who rose to the top of America’s foul-smelling stew of corruption. As for the nation’s infinitely greedy billionaires, if there was any justice left in America, Apple CEO Tim Cook would be rotting in a cell on Devil’s Island for buying back billions of dollars of Apple stock–buybacks were illegal not that long ago.
The cells next to his would be crowded with Big Pharma CEOs who advertised their products directly to consumers–also illegal not so long ago.
America is now a pay-to-play paradise of greed and corruption. The “public good” is a PR cover for legalized looting, much of which now depends on the Federal Reserve’s free money for financiers, parasites and predators.
If you think this is far too harsh on our current crop of greedy grifters and looters, please read historian Gordon Wood’s epic account Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, which details the many critical debates between founders with fundamentally different views of what structures and safeguards were essential for the Republic’s survival.
When we look back at the genius of Hamilton, Madison, et al., and Washington’s obsession with ethics and promoting national unity, we are forced to weep for the pathetic, venal scum that passes for “leadership” in America today. The feedback loops the Founders designed to restrain the tyranny of corruption have all failed, as the biggest looters serve their interests under the guise of legality.
The Founders’ weren’t saints; they were flawed as are all humans, and like all humans, they were products of their era. But they did have a keen, abiding sense of the public good, and when they clashed over ideas about banking, the power of the presidency, etc., it was not for personal gain but for their vision of the common good.
If any of America’s “leadership” over the past 30 years had an ounce of concern for the common good, why did they enable financialization and globalization to hollow out the nation’s economy and social order? Why did they enable the frauds, skims, scams, cartels and monopolies that are the foundation of virtually every American billionaire’s “we pay no taxes” empires of greed?
The tyranny of corruption thrives in an amoral cesspool of anything goes and winners take all.
In today’s America, the tyranny of corruption has been so normalized that America’s polarized populaces are blind to the profound corruption of their parties and institutions. As in the last days of the Western Roman Empire, the masses are made complicit with bread and circuses, mimicking their “leaders” debasement of the public good to feeding at the public trough.
These are the troubled years that came before the deluge (Jackson Browne), for as Mr. Dylan put it, a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.