Corporations Are Anti-Democratic

Or at the very least, profits come above democracy and its values for almost half of the Fortune 500 companies, who contributed more than $14 million to the 147 congressional Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election results. The five largest defense companies — Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics — contributed a total of nearly $2 million to Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results, and that doesn’t include contributions to so-called Super PACs that can fund independent campaigns for or against issues or individual candidates.

After brief “pauses” in contributions, by early 2022, the political arms of these corporations were back in business supporting those Republicans, because they need those government contracts, which is something I don’t quite understand, given that, in many cases, there’s almost no one else who could develop and build those expensive defense procurements.

Corporate donors and billionaires have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Political Action Committees theoretically not affiliated with any political party or candidate, but that’s a legal fiction. The PACs spending millions of dollars and running night-and-day attack ads here in Utah against the independent candidate for Senate [Evan McMullin] while endorsing the far-right incumbent [Mike Lee] might as well be called GOP auxiliaries.

Add to that the fact that such PACs can spend millions on advertising pushing blatant misstatements and outright lies. In McMullin’s case, he’s actually a moderate Republican and member of the LDS faith who’s anti-abortion – but the PACs portray him as ultra-liberal and pro-abortion because he said he voted for Biden over Trump.

In just the mid-term elections, oil and gas industry Super PACs have poured over $300 million into ads supporting Republican candidates to the House and Senate. Eight Republican billionaires, all with ties to corporate, finance, or tech industries, have poured nearly $400 million into supporting Republican candidates.

At the current pace of spending, campaign spending for the mid-term elections will exceed $9 billion, the vast majority of that money coming from Super PACs.

Why all that spending? Because profits come before people or the national interests…and they’ll continue to do so as long as corporations and billionaires can spend unlimited amounts on their so-called unaffiliated campaigns.

Republicans Remain the Party of No

Less than a week before the mid-term election, the Republicans have yet to come up with a single concrete principle or legislative agenda for how they’ll solve anything. Their only message is, effectively: The Democrats caused everything that bothers you, and we’ll do better, because, after all, the last election was stolen, but we don’t have the faintest idea how we’ll do anything, except be against everything the other guys support.

The message isn’t surprising. It’s the same message that the GOP has had for years. The only real achievement the party has made in the past decade was to enact a massive tax cut that primarily benefitted the wealthy.

Yet it appears likely that the Republicans will take over the House, possibly the Senate, and will accomplish almost nothing on the federal level, while Republicans on the state level will do their best to undermine government credibility at all levels.

Why will the Republicans likely win? Because too many Americans are angry, and they need someone to blame, despite the fact that conditions here in the U.S. are far from as bad as they believe, and most of what’s going wrong isn’t because of what the federal government is or isn’t doing now, or for that matter what it’s done for the last two years, as I’ve pointed out earlier.

But today, facts don’t matter, only feelings, and those feelings, especially anger, Trump [negative pun intended] facts, common sense, and even enlightened self-interest.

And screaming “no” and echoing lies isn’t going to make anything better, not that the screamers will listen to anything, because then they’d have to take some responsibility, and far too many Americans don’t have the faintest idea what electoral or even personal responsibility entails. Besides, following simplistic lies and screaming “No!” is so much easier.

The [Electoral] Stupidity of Youth

While polls are not very accurate at predicting how young people will vote, early voting statistics suggest that, once again, the turn-out for younger voters will be low, despite the number of issues being championed by Republicans that will penalize younger Americans.

According to various surveys, too many young people aren’t voting because “the politicians are too old and don’t speak to us.” Or because the young don’t see anything or anyone that appeals to them. Or because they think politics isn’t that important.

This is stupidity based on the internet ala carte menu mindset of a generation that has been able, at least in terms of products and entertainment, to get almost anything they want. And if they can’t get what they want, they won’t buy a product, or visit that site or venue.

What they seem incapable of grasping is that in politics your choices are limited in reality to two choices. All too often in American politics, the choice isn’t between which candidate is better, but which one is least bad.

If you’re young and don’t like either, and don’t vote, the choice is made by those who care enough to vote, and in most cases, those voters are “old people” many of whom who don’t have the interests of the young at heart.

If you’re young and have student loans, and don’t vote, you’re likely to lose the chance for some loan forgiveness, because Republicans in six states have filed a lawsuit to stop loan forgiveness, and the majority of Republicans, who are either old or against higher education, especially for minorities, oppose loan forgiveness.

One of the greatest risks to life for young women are complications involving reproduction, yet states controlled by Republicans have already increased those health risks by the way they’ve crafted anti-abortion laws so that women, especially young women, who aren’t well off, even working women, face greater risks of dying.

Far too many young people don’t seem to understand that politics isn’t like the internet, where you can come back later for a better product, or not buy at all, and not suffer. In politics, not choosing to vote is, in effect, a form of electoral Russian roulette. It might not affect you, but then again, the effects could be severe.

But the Democrats aren’t addressing this problem; the Republicans don’t see youth issues as a problem for them; and far too many young people don’t understand or think it doesn’t apply to them; and I’m pointing this out on a platform that very few young people seem to frequent, because, after all, the young think everything should be available where they are.

The Improbable Sycamore

When we bought our house twenty-nine years ago, it came with an assortment of pinyon pines and junipers, some pfitzers, and a well-established sycamore that partly shaded the master bedroom, even though it’s not that close to the house. It looked to be a sturdy stately tree, and the only one of any height, since even mature pinyon pines seldom exceed fifteen feet and junipers aren’t much taller.

My first mistake was to confuse the solid trunk with sturdiness. My wife the professor was more skeptical, asking, “Why did anyone ever plant a southern tree here?”

I didn’t understand at first. Then came the first windstorm. Now, for readers not familiar with the climate where I live, there are reasons why the only indigenous trees in the area, besides sagebrush, are pinyons and junipers. One of those reasons is that we live in high desert. The second is that we have high winds – on and off all the time. Fifty mile an hour gusts are always a possibility. Thirty- thirty-five mph winds are common. Higher wind speeds are not uncommon, and without storms. One clear-air storm ripped most of the shingles off a house just up the street. Another ripped the vinyl siding off a house a block away. Every year or so we get seventy mph wind gusts. They blow semi-trucks off the interstate.

Then, even though we live in a desert, every second or third year we get heavy snows in either early fall or late spring. One Mother’s Day we got fifteen inches of heavy wet snow, just after we’d started a major remodeling/addition project, but that’s another story. Earlier this week we got a mere eight to ten inches of heavy snow – far too much for the wide leaves and the soft wood of our southern sycamore tree – which is why I woke up to several hundred pounds of broken limbs surrounding the “stately” sycamore, which, as a southern tree, doesn’t deign to shed its leaves until at least mid-December, despite the fact that the nights have been freezing for at least a month and a half by then.

It’s also why, when the sycamore finally relinquishes its leaves, it looks gap-branched and most irregular despite the efforts of local tree-trimmers, who aren’t ever available until I’ve cleaned up the immediate carnage and sawed and added limbs to the firewood pile. The sycamore, crippled as it is, remains the tallest tree by far around our part of the hill, and I don’t know whether to bless or curse the idiots who planted it.

The Large Family Factor

Two recent and separate studies reported in 2020 that large families tend to be far more conservative and far more religious than smaller families, as well as less highly educated, and that such conservatism is definitely reflected in their voting behavior.

While these studies don’t surprise me in the slightest, they certainly tie into the current U.S. political scene. They also explain, at least in part, why the United States is likely to remain politically polarized for some time to come, since, by definition, large, conservative, religious, and less highly educated families are having more children, and liberal, more highly educated, and smaller families are having not just fewer children, but considerably fewer children, roughly two or less, and some younger couples in this group are choosing to have no children at all.

Part of the reason why these trends may well continue is the skyrocketing cost of higher education. Parents who think about educating their children may well decide to have fewer children, and children from larger families may find less support for higher education as well as finding it increasingly difficult to afford higher education. Then there’s the fact that rural areas tend to be more conservative, more religious, and also usually have lower costs of living.

At the same time, these statistics reflect groups as a whole, not individual families, since there are certainly highly educated, large, religious and liberally inclined families as well as small highly educated families that are quite conservative.