Most Effective Agents of Oligarchs

Given how a new breed of corporate elites are dictating our lives, I think it is appropriate to gauge which forces act as the most effective agents of these overlords, and what relief we might find, and when.

Since agents at the state levels hold sway only over chunks of territory – though banded together they dictate terms in almost half the states, we’ll confine our attention to actions or inaction that affect the whole country. Tossing aside media sources which attack whole segments of our population, albeit indirectly through our President and Democrats, like Fox News, hate radio, and pseudo-neutral mainstream media, we’ll concentrate on Congress and the Supreme Court.

Even ignoring the latest atrocity of the Supreme Court, the Hobby Lobby decision, I think the unbridled power of five opinionated, arrogant, men in black robes demonstrate a sweeping and long-lasting impact on every decision we make, every service we enjoy, every consumer good we purchase, every drop of water we use, and every patch of air we breathe.

The obstruction of Republicans in Congress can certainly halt progress in repairing crumbling infrastructure, put a quietus on job growth, stop pay increases, dampen EPA efforts, and waste time repealing the ACA (“Obamacare”); but there is some hope that Republicans can be replaced with more reasonable Democrats. More reasonable Republicans do not exist as long as the Tea Party and rich supporters has a stranglehold on progress.

Progress in erasing the Supreme Court’s assault on democracy can only be reduced to a morbid “death watch” over, at the very least, one of the right-wing judges: Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life and none is so advanced in age that death can bring any relief from their role as corporate cudgels. And we must also worry about the demise of the four reasonable justices.

Then too, fickle voters could return, in 2014, a Republican majority in the Senate, which would block any appointment of impartial justices, or even worse, return a Republican president in 2016. It sounds intolerant, if not paranoid, to reject the Republican brand, but reasonable, forward-thinking Republicans are extinct, since billionaires took over Tea Party platforms, something many populist members fail to realize.

With a right-wing Supreme Court, big-money sources can be assured that filing suits regarding issues that favor corporation profit margins – for example, reducing union rights, lowering taxes, weakening human rights suits – will be successful. In a court that, in effect, favors the rich over the poor and helps to promote widening income gaps, there is more money to reinforce the corporatocracy we already have.

Just take an accounting of just some of the Supreme Court decisions that have restricted your power and control over your fate, and consider their potential to affect every single action and issue that you face in your daily life (access to water), from women’s rights, to voter’s rights (Citizen’s United and voter disenfranchisement), to consumer rights, to your use of contraception, something which over 90% of women favor.

Decisions When Important Issues Actions Overall Effects
Roe v. Wade 1973 State laws limiting women’s access to abortions during first trimester invalidated. For right to abortion Pitched battle: GOP against abortion, Dems for.
Circuit City v. Adams 2004 Right to sue employer for unfair treatment taken away if agreement signed. Judges said employment agreement that forces employees to arbitrate grievances is OK. Employer can force you to sign an agreement as term of employment.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 2010 Conservative lobby, Citizens United wanted to air film critical of Hillary in violation of Campaign Reform act. Independent expenditures legal, saying money is free speech by corporations. Billionaires spending hundreds of millions to affect elections.
Affordable Care Act 2012 Congress could mandate enrollment in health care Yes, but states could opt out of Medicaid 25 states excluded 5 million poor from coverage
Shelby County v. Holder 2013 Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 enabled Dept of Justice to preclear discriminatory voting laws affecting voting rights. Section of VRA struck down. 25 states have more restrictive voting laws, mostly affecting minorities that vote Democrat.
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission Apr-14 Unlimited direct spending for a candidate Struck down 2-year spending cap The rich can spend huge amounts to get favored candidate elected.
Hobby Lobby Jun-14 ACA required contraception coverage Private companies do not have to cover contraception if owner’s religion is against. Could enable private companies to claim anything is against religion & have right not to cover
Harris v. Quinn Jun-14 Illinois statute requires home-care aids to join union Struck Down Kill viability of public unions

The right-wing five make no judgment whether beliefs are reasonable or scientifically accurate (Hobby Lobby owner believes that the pills terminate the pregnancy or cause abortion), but whether they are sincerely held beliefs. As such, the religious beliefs of one man, though inaccurate and unreasonable, trump the beliefs of millions who want to use contraception. Yes, the employee audience could be many millions because the “narrow” decision covers closed corporations, but it’s a classification the Wall Street Journal says could be defined as 90% of corporations. This is the illogical ruling of a Supreme Court whose majority favors one rich man’s beliefs over those of millions.

Individual Republican-controlled states are daring pro-choice groups to challenge the many state laws that are restricting abortion, as well as contraception, in red states like Texas, Alabama and Virginia. Emboldened Republican lawmakers feel sure that the conservative-controlled Supreme Court will overrule Roe v. Wade passed in 1973. The Hobby Lobby decision and the ruling opposing buffer zones at abortion clinics to protect workers and customers against unruly crowds give them even more confidence that the court is completely on their side.

The totally anti-people, pro-corporation, pro-GOP, and pro-rich character of most Supreme Court decisions begs questions about the impartiality of the five justices.

With an until-death grip on the court, the five conservative justices can be expected to rule against the interests of the people when they are challenged by the rich and powerful. The pro-corporate rulings, the pro-right verbal rants, and the libertarian (Koch brother groups) collaborations of justices like Thomas and Scalia help us to draw these conclusions.

From the impoverished Detroit citizen’s right to water to a woman’s right to choose regarding her own body, what future is there for justice for individual citizens if they buck conservative interests, interests the five justices have time and again favored.

By comparison, two-year term Republican legislator obstruction is not as far-reaching and not as permanent as justices appointed for life.

Remember these five judges, in effect, reduced the power and the impact of Democratic voters, helping to put Republicans in control. Court decisions don’t need to accomplish all plutocratic goals. After all, a boost to electing Republicans (gutting voter’s rights and authorizing unlimited spending by billionaires) will install the party that wants to sustain corporate power and corporate needs.

In this way, the Supreme Court conservative justices are a gift that keeps giving without interference from anyone and a very low risk of removal (witness Thomas lies about wife’s income) for cause. In contrast, too many Republicans in Congress are self-serving peacocks with constant re-election needs, narrow views, and narrower minds.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.