The Bloodletters

Bloodletting as a medical practice flourished for thousands of years before finally yielding to more “enlightened” medicine except in special circumstances. One of history’s ironies is that America’s first president, George Washington, a bloodthirsty warrior before and during his presidency, died arguably from bloodletters called in to his bedside to let out one-fourth of his blood.

This essay highlights two unparalleled groups of bloodletters in America’s 240 years of history — U.S. presidents and the captains of America’s industries. These two groups are part of the power elite of America’s corpocracy, the incestuous marriage between Government America and Corporate America, with the latter in charge. The power elite also include the chairs of relevant Congressional committees; key people in the shadow government (e.g. the CIA); the US Supreme Court (never ruling a war unconstitutional); and influential advisors and ideologues.

Besides being the vital fluid that courses through our bodies, “blood” serves as useful metaphors (as the one in the first paragraph about George Washington) that connote the diminishment or loss of what is valued by the victims and their loved ones.

The first purpose of this essay is to highlight the ways in which America’s power elite “let blood” literally and figuratively, with the metaphorical instances causing all sorts of human misery up to and including death. The second purpose is to underscore just who the real enemy of the American people is, America’s corpocracy and its power elite. The only reason the U.S. has foreign enemies is that the corpocracy creates them to sustain and grow its profits and power.

The essay begins with an overview of the greatest bloodletters, literally, of all time throughout the history of America, her presidents, and then overviews the bloodletting, figuratively and literally, by the captains of industry. The reason for picking the two at the top of their pecking orders is that any form of wrongdoing, bloody or not, is done under their leadership. They either authorize it explicitly, implicitly as in setting “wink and nod” expectations, or indirectly in creating and/or condoning an organizational culture of “anything goes.” The essay closes with a short explanation and prediction.

America’s Greatest Bloodletters: Her 42 Presidents

Three presidents don’t count. Two were in office too few months to send combatants and civilians in foreign lands to their graves. As for the new third it is too early to tell. All told, the 42 bloodletters have sent countless millions to their graves, maimed millions, devastated cities, villages, and historic sites, and done everything else imaginably and unimaginably atrocious. A conniving dishonest president sent 750,000 or so of his own countrymen to their graves. One president, who disingenuously and belatedly complained about the “military/industrial complex,” indirectly sent thousands to their graves to protect dictators and the likes of the United Fruit Company. One president is the only human being so far to ever have dropped nuclear bombs on two populous cities, not to win the war but to start a profitable Cold War with Russia. Two presidents committed treason in order to get elected and proceeded to send more than their share of people to their graves. The death toll in just one country from one president’s decisions was over one million. The most recent past president is the first so far to sit in the White House, pour over a hit list like a Mafia don, and decide who gets killed next by drone strikes, never mind that most of them are civilians, including children.

In Second Place: America’s Industries and their Captains

The industrial revolution swept away the cottage industry and ushered in corporations, an intrinsically dysfunctional, corrupting innovation and with them their captains, or CEOs, often bearing MBA credentials that alone predispose them to mismanagement and malfeasance of one form or another. It is pointless to name the captains. They come and go. The industries where they practice mostly stay unchangeable.

There are dozens of industries in America. The exact number is elusive because the counters disagree on what an industry means. That being said, industries vary in the scope and kind of their bloodletting, so it is possible to pick out the worst ones. But before doing that, let’s briefly consider the following victims of industry-wide bloodletting: the U.S. government; the environment; employees; and customers.

Victims of Industry-Wide Bloodletting

  1. The U.S. Government. It is Corporate America’s flunky, a revenue drain of misspending (the war budget) on behalf of the corpocracy, and a safety valve for mismanaged and errant corporations that would flounder and fail were it not for the U.S. government giving them myriad subsidies and overlooking and tolerating constant corporate wrongdoing of the illegal kind.
  1. The Environment. All human beings depend on the environment. Industries do too, on a wide scale, and they abuse the environment on a wide scale, polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink.
  1. Employees. Corporations have Human Resource Departments, but corporate employees are treated generally as disposable, not human, resources. Just ask Alice who wails in Dilbert, “I am not a resource!” Oh, but, yes, you are Alice, and so too are all real corporate employees except those in and close to the corner office, and, of course, they are not called “employees.” Unsafe and unhealthy working conditions topped by sweat shops; pittance compensation; reneged health benefit plans; emasculation of organized labor; and automation and outsourcing of jobs are the typical experiences of disposable employees.
  1. Customers. In fancy academic circles customers are theorized to be among corporations’ important stakeholders. If that is so, customers are barely holding on with excessive insurance and credit fees; and shoddy, unreliable, unsafe, and unhealthy products and services.

The Bloodiest Industries

They stand out like a bloody thumb. Rank them as you will. Here’s my ranking: hands down for first is the war and gun industry; second, the pharmaceutical industry; the food and agricultural industry; the health care industry; the banking industry; and lastly, the auto industry.

In Closing: An Explanation and a Prediction

U.S. presidents get away with bloody murder and more because the rest of the corpocracy wants regime changes in resource rich foreign lands, and the corpocracy gets away with bloody murder and more because it is the corpocracy.

Trained as a behavioral scientist (with apologies to the real physical sciences) to predict future human behavior I am going out on a limb to predict the future of Homo sapiens. It will probably not exist later this century. Our species has been a deplorably irresponsible ancestor of its descendants. And in modern times the blame rests mainly on America’s corpocracy and its power elite.

Gary Brumback, PhD, is a retired psychologist and Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Read other articles by Gary.