The United States of America was never meant to be a Socialist or Communist society. Not merely because Communism has been characterized by the Soviet or the Chinese or the Cuban models as a pagan system. Nor that they turned out to be top-down authoritarian dictatorships. There was never the idea that each person in the United States would share equally all his goods with his neighbor so that everyone would be equal.
First of all, our forefathers, with a few blind spots…like slavery…were extremely visionary. They were in favor of ownership rights to private property, even people. They knew a great deal about comparative governments and they basically sought two things.
The first was freedom of religion, freedom from an oppressive government and freedom to develop their skills to the best of their ability. The second was to avoid the kind of monarchical despotism that had ruled European society for centuries.
What they sought was meritocracy. To bring the idea current, if you invented a software system to make personal computers work efficiently and easily, you could become a billionaire. You would have some obligations to society, some taxes and some regulations on your business to insure that you did not cheat customers or take unfair advantage of your competitors. Other than that, you could do pretty much what you pleased. That is true to this day.
But we have inadvertently set up a kind of political aristocracy. It has not always been a deliberate stepping-stone to individual riches, but sometimes it has. It has done so enough times that some very smart people have decided to use politics as a way to get rich. And stay rich through several generations.
Of course it has also happened the other way. Often the rich decided that they would be still be able to influence politics when they thought that people would not vote for them personally or when they simply did not like public exposure. So they sponsor others who have identical viewpoints to do their bidding. This is the way the United States of America has run since its beginnings.
By the time Abraham Lincoln was coming of age as a young man in a small village, which is still there and looks the same, called New Salem, Illinois, politics was already a becoming a rich man’s game. Lincoln became an attorney the hard way and he immediately entered politics. He became a circuit judge and he worked as an attorney for the railroads.
Although Lincoln was born into grinding poverty near the edge of the frontier, by the time he died his estate was worth $175,000. Most people today don’t have a net worth of $175,000. He spent much of his time as a lawyer but much of his recognition before he became President was from politics.
His son, Robert Todd Lincoln, graduated from Harvard, went to the predecessor of the University of Chicago Law School, became attorney for and later President of the Pullman passenger car company, which at the time was one of the largest companies in the United States. Primarily because his name was Lincoln, although he was an accomplished man, he was appointed various posts in government, considered for President to succeed Grant, and by 1900 was worth $2 million.
The Kennedys worked the opposite way. Joe Kennedy, Sr. became a rich man before he was forty and decided that all of his children would enter politics or some means of benefiting society. Whether this was something to do with a bad conscience or patriotic motives is left for others to decide.
No one needs be told more than that. We know about Joe, Jr. and how he died in the war, how Jack Kennedy served honorably and became President, about how his brother was also murdered, how his youngest brother served in the Senate and how all of the next generation of the Kennedy family served the public, either part time or full time.
The Rockefellers were another family, perhaps the prime example of a family that went from overwhelming business success to philanthropy and public service in one generation. Places like Acadia National Park, Colonial Williamsburg, the Cloisters in New York, and the Grand Tetons National Park would not exist were it not for John D., Jr. and Abby Rockefeller.
Their children became huge benefactors and public servants, as governors of New York and Arkansas, and grandchildren also dedicated, such as Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
Some people went from great fortunes directly into politics, like Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, the founder of ADP, the giant payroll processing firm, or Herb Kohl or Mark Dayton of the department store families.
But now we have another type of politician. That is the one that trades on the pure celebrity of politics in order to make financial gain and then makes financial gain to send other members of the family into politics.
Prime examples of this are the Bush Family and the Cheney family.
Prescott Bush was a financier and a Senator from Connecticut. His son George went to Yale, became a legitimate war hero, a scholar and a successful businessman. But early on, he entered politics with the Republican Party even though the state where he lived was primarily Democratic.
He became a loyal party member, however, and was appointed head of the CIA, ambassador to China and head of the Republican Party. From that he launched an unsuccessful campaign for President but eventually became President after Reagan.
His son was a fop, a drunk, a lightweight intellectually…which is being kind…and a young man who traded heavily on his family name. He was good looking and genial, which, combined with being the son of a famous man, was sufficient celebrity in a place like Texas to be elected Governor. Once the billionaires realized that he was for sale, they made him President by hook and chiefly by crook.
His smarter brother was also able to use Daddy Bush’s name to become governor of Florida. Brother Neil used Daddy Bush’s name to become something in the Savings and Loan Business for which he was later castigated. But he at least did not go to prison.
There have been meritorious family political dynasties, like the Tafts of Ohio and the Stevensons of Illinois, where all members seem to have served with honesty and dedication. But now we have the Cheneys and the Pauls.
Dick Cheney is one of the most dangerous, disgusting, self-promoting and predatory men ever to enter politics. He has constantly proclaimed his philosophy of smaller government while encouraging more government through more wars…in fact, deliberately starting one unnecessary war…which is an international criminal offense for which he should be indicted.
He worked exclusively in government, rising in the Republican Party for his efficiency and his ruthlessness, until he became Secretary of Defense during the time that Generals Powell and Schwartzkopf and the first President Bush were winning the first Gulf War overwhelmingly.
What was Cheney doing? It is pretty clear now that he was setting up his own future. When his term as Secretary of Defense was up, he joined a largely non-defense company, Halliburton, as President. He was able to obtain for them about $3.5 billion in government military contracts. He then organized the Presidency of the bumpkin George W. Bush, trading on Daddy Bush’s name, and made himself Vice President.
During that Presidency, his main job for the people for whom he still worked…unheard of in the history of the country…was to start another war and get them…which he did…another $9 billion in highly priced, no bid contracts with the military. Who were the executives in this company…some of them were the ex-Generals who had promoted the people who were now in the purchasing departments. Career purchasing officers who complained were removed by Cheney’s hand-picked Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Cheney made over $50 million dollars. From the wrong kind of politics.
And now, Dick Cheney’s daughter, a mother of five, who now wants a job in politics, and was given one by her father as assistant deputy of something or other in the State Department, is promoting herself as the next line in the Cheney dynasty. It is sickening, and, frankly, as a cipher for her father’s disastrous policies, she is sickening.
And finally, we have the fruit loop division. Ron Paul a sometimes sane, sometimes wacky politician from Texas…where else…wants smaller government, less intrusion into our lives, no wars—and a return to the good old days of the Frontier. Ain’t gonna happen. We may have cut our national revenues to the point that we are in debt by almost as much as we generate in total goods and services in one year…but we now have—not 100 million, but 300 million people. You can’t serve a group of 300 with a budget for a staff that is set up for 100. It just doesn’t work.
Now wacky Dad Ron Paul has created a wackier son, Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist who has been doing good charitable work for several decades. But he has also not been happy about paying taxes or about people who disagree with his religious views.
Rand Paul, running for Senator from Kentucky is the new breed of second generation politician, matching up with the second generation of billionaire sponsors of Right Wing causes. Paul feels that we should have smaller government…presumably he will pay out of his own pocket for Senior eye care for those in his neighborhood…and government that does what he wants it to do about religious matters.
Of course he is against taxes, especially taxes on those who have inherited huge wealth though they did nothing to create it. After all, who will make Dr. Rand Paul even richer after he has left medicine for politics?
You see, politics could be and end in itself. But it has become now merely a way for many people to get rich. Ask the sons and daughters of prominent politicians. They are all raking it in.