The sale of American democratic institutions hasn’t exactly been a market transaction. After all, in order for a market to operate, you need a willing buyer and a willing seller, both of whom are in possession of all relevant information.

Instead, we have the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans who owe their current majority to gerrymandering and voter suppression, preparing to endorse Paul Ryan’s most recent budget. Not only are the American people not willing buyers, those “selling” this travesty are doing their level best to ensure that we have only the haziest notion of what it would really do.

As a fiscally-savvy friend of mine–a REPUBLICAN–posted to Facebook

The Ryan Plan in the House GOP’s own words: “Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax. “

In short, the Kochs and the Waltons, two families each at over $100 billion net worth, each worth more than 40% of Americans combined, would likely receive $2-3 billion a year in passive dividend income tax-free, used to buy back more shares from the public and into their own hands to earn more dividends, all compounding and passed on as ever more massive estates to their heirs, who also would received billions a year on income and never pay taxes. Meanwhile, you and I would be paying taxes on our earned income to provide these families with the secure and educated society on which the preservation and growth of their fortunes depend. The end of American capitalism and civil society as we know it. Outrageous. Abominable. Grotesque. Indefensible.

I stole his description because he said it better than I could.

The only thing standing between the 99% and this abomination is a Democratic-controlled Senate–and Nate Silver tells us the GOP has a 60% chance of retaking the Senate in November.

The fact that Federal lawmakers are falling over each other to do the bidding of the wealthy can be explained by lobbying and campaign contributions. What is inexplicable is why the Supreme Court–whose members are insulated from such pressures (and apparently from reality as well)–would further open the floodgates and invite the plutocrats to buy America.

The decision in McCutcheon was about “speech” only in the sense that money talks. More about that tomorrow.


  1. Sheila, as always, you have stated the facts directly and accurately. I, sadly, am feeling defeated and not very optimistic about America’s future. Have Americans learned nothing from history? I am truly frightened about what the future holds if the Republicans win control of the house.

  2. The Ryan plan is such a disgrace. If I can engage in a little ad hominem attack for a moment, how can Ryan or Boehner, both of whom profess to be devout Catholics, support such a proposal when it flies in the face of Church teachings? If their respective bishops threatened to withhold Holy Communion from them (as bishops have done with pro-choice candidates) would they back down? It would be interesting to see how they balance the serving of those two masters.

  3. The recent Supreme Court decision should be enough to terrify any 20-something planning a life in United Plutocracy of America. The sad thing is, 90% of Americans either don’t have a clue this passed or what the implications will be. Take advantage of the uneducated and uninformed while convincing them to vote for you. Seems like a pretty sweet deal. Looks rotten to me.

  4. Looks like we have a perfect storm in the making. The bottom 99% are, for the most part, politically ignorant, competing for leftovers from the top 1%. The top 1% have the money and power to pay people to thus misinform and bend the will of the other 99% (via the Fox media and Brown and Williamson strategies). This will lead to further the consolidation of the power and resources of the !% while contributing to the desperation of the rest, who will believe that the 1% are heroes and the people who want to change things are criminals. They won’t understand the most important fact: In a democracy, they have the resources to learn the truth along with the power of the vote, and could stop the whole mess, but barring some huge event, are not likely to do that.

    The founding fathers called this the “Grand Experiment”. There was no guarantee that it would succeed. Maybe there will be a stone erected somewhere so that people in the future will learn (assuming that there will be a future): Here lies the United States of America, brought down by greed, and the manipulation of the greedy who were able to further the ignorance of those who could have controlled the destruction.

  5. This idea by the GOP is nothing new. I believe Steve Forbes proposed a Flat Tax years ago. If I recall right Dividends, Interest Income and Capital Gains were excluded from the definition of Income. How convenient for the Extremely Wealthy to have Dividends, Interest Income and Capital Gains Excluded. We have in the mix the Norquist who has as his life’s ambition to starve the Government. “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Adding to the brew is the steady decline in Corporate Income Tax as a % of GDP, since the 1950’s.

    We have the Tax Shelters, and Off Shoring of Profits. The Goal it seems is clear – destroy any Safety Net that exists, through starvation of funds and Privatize Social Security.

    The Class Warfare engaged by the GOP is transparent: the “Takers and the Makers.” I expect the GOP Voters all consider themselves the “Makers.” If they are or their family members are “Takers” Medicaid, Food Stamps, Social Security, Medicare they deserve it. The other ingredient to this toxic brew is the demonizing and destruction of the Unions. Unions were not perfect by no means, but they served as a counter balance to 1%.

    You have give the GOP Credit, they have managed to convince their base the Koch Brothers, and the Walton’s are the workingman or woman’s friend. The puppet masters know the hot buttons for the GOP base – Bible Thumping, NRA, Birthers, Pro-Life, etc. The hot buttons serve puppet masters agenda well, which is to preserve the wealth of the 1%.

  6. The marketplace as well as the ballot box offers a way to strike back. I avoid Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart and now will watch for Koch Brother products to avoid as well. I’ve e-mailed this list of Koch products and brands to many acquaintances:

    -American Greetings (took heavy Koch investment, upwards of $200 million)
    -Angel Soft
    -Angel Soft Ultra
    -Brawny paper towels
    -Dixie products
    -Insulair cups
    -Mardis Gras napkins
    -Perfect Touch cups, paper products
    -Quilted Northern
    -Sparkle paper towels
    -Vanity Fair napkins & paper towels
    -Zee Napkins
    -Georgia Pacific Office products
    -Spectrum paper
    -Georgia-Pacific’s enMotion paper towel dispenser
    -Georgia-Pacific’s engineered lumber
    INVISTA Brands
    -INVISTA’s PET polymer is used in oxygen-sensitive packaging for food and beverages.
    -ADI-PURE® Adipic Acid
    -ANTRON® Carpet Fiber
    -C12™ Intermediates
    -COMFOREL® Fiber
    -COOLMAX® Fabric
    -CORDURA® Fabric
    -DACRON® Fiberfill
    -DYTEK® Idea Intermediates
    -FLEXISOLV® Solvent Solutions
    -LYCRA® Fiber
    -LYCRA HyFit® Fiber
    -OXYCLEAR® Barrier Resin
    -POLYSHIELD® Resin
    -SENZAA™ Additive
    -STAINMASTER® Carpet
    -SUPPLEX® Fabric
    -SUPRIVA™ Fiber
    -TACTEL® Fiber
    -TECGEN® Garments
    -TERATE® Polyols
    -TERATHANE® Polyether Glycol
    -TERRIN™ Polyols
    -THERMOLITE® Fabric
    -TORZEN® PA66 Resin

    Koch Fertilizer Company’s AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabilizer fertilizer products are used around the world to improve nitrogen efficiency and enhance crop productions.
    If you use building materials, be sure to check out the extensive list of Georgia-Pacific building products––including their product app.

  7. Let me get this straight. To completely avoid any products made/sponsored by the Koch brothers, I have to be an obsessive compulsive with a great memory, living in a shack located in a swamp? I’ll get right on that.

  8. Stuart; just remember not to buy the most expensive items in any store and you will be safe.

  9. Check out the bottom dozen items, and they aren’t exactly the sort of things people sell on the shelf. They’re additives, fabrics, solvents and resins. And what if a farmer fertilizes a field? That’s part of the cost of the crop. Do you know if Agrotain was used? Which acreage of the billions of acres of corn are you going to boycott? Corn is used in just about everything you touch or eat ( Boycotting Koch products is almost as possible as boycotting Google. The Kochs may not be interested in the common good, but they are smart.

  10. Stuart; Nancy’s list points to the fact that the Koch brothers touch every aspect of our lives. We cannot find their names listed on any of these items but along with brand name articles in stores we can avoid, they are also connected to manufactured goods, clothing, growing, processing and packaging of food and beverages, products used in electronics, etc. – I’m sure the list of what they are not connected to financially would be much shorter. We already know they have bought and paid for the GOP in the House, SCOTUS, have made down-payments on the Senate and are striving to own America and Americans outright. Our only chance to win is at the polls and that is slim. We are slaves to their greed and avarice and their ability to purchase anyone they see fit to use to their benefit; the uninformed and misinformed die-hard Republican leaders are the judas goats and the staunch Republicans are the sheep following them, leaving us behind as victims. Jaundiced, Sheila? I am far beyond that; at this point I have a profound fear that America as we knew it is being destroyed with us a spectators to its demise.

  11. Joseph Stiglitz, writing in the May 2011 Vanity Fair said the following: “The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.” Like the guy said, “It ain’t over until it’s over”.

  12. Stuart, the Stiglitz quote brings to mind a line from an old Bob Dylan song to the effect that having nothing means having nothing to lose. Prudent privileged people have always recognized that pushing too hard invites retribution, even revolution.

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