Salt of the Earth and Foot Soldiers

Context of this Article

This article didn’t just arise from nowhere. It is preceded by decades of my researching and writing about America’s “corpocracy,” or what I call the “Devil’s Marriage” between the superior power elite of corporate America, particularly throughout eleven sectors of organized endeavor, and the subordinate power elite of government America in firstly its shadow government and secondarily in the Oval Office and in the other branches of the government. The corporate elite tell the government elite what to spend from the taxpayers’ pockets, what do with the money, and what to say.

About the Title

Yes, it’s an odd title. Let’s turn to Merriam-Webster for definitions. “Salt of the Earth:” — “a very good and honest person or group of people,” and “foot soldiers:” — “a person likened to an infantryman especially in doing active and usually unglamorous work in support of an organization or movement.” I have several synonyms for foot soldiers: functionaries, lackeys, toadies, water carriers, and courtiers. Whatever we name them, they have in common doing the biding of people in power, or the power elite.

Where the Salt of the Earth Work

They are most likely to work in benign jobs that do not require any wrongdoing or evildoing. Typical jobs include trades’ people such as carpentry, plumbing, electricians, retail clerks, and sanitation workers. Sanitation workers are by far the most indispensable but typically are the most unappreciated and taken for granted. Without sanitation workers, however, we would all sink in our own detritus.

Profile of Foot Soldiers’ Work

Foot soldiers work primarily in 11 sectors of organized endeavors to be identified shortly. Over time I have compiled hundreds of examples of foot soldiers in action in those 11 sectors. The actions described range from “ordinary” wrongdoing such as incompetent and slothful behavior, to heinous evil doing, such as deliberately killing millions of people. Bear in mind that it was the power elite in each sector that ordered directly or obliquely the actions carried out by the foot soldiers usually far removed from the power elite’s locations.

For this article I have picked some examples from each sector. The harm done ought to be implicitly recognized. It is beyond the scope of this article to include descriptions of the consequences such as up and close personal depictions like the narrative of a real foot soldier suffering the post-traumatic syndrome just before he committed suicide.

I want to emphasize that there are exceptions to my listings. Not every CEO, for instance, fits the typical profile of the power elite who authorize wrongdoing and evildoing. Some earn their wealth honestly and live honestly. For instance, I knew personally very well one member of the power elite who was a very good and honest person, Robert Allen (1935-2016), the late CEO of AT&T. Bob was a high school classmate of mine.

  1. Agriculture, Chemical and Food Sector

Conducts false tests of products.

Uses unsafe antibiotics and growth hormones on animals.

Manufactures unhealthy pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers for feed production.

To get their genetically modified products approved, coerces, infiltrates and bribes government officials around the globe.

  1. Ammunition, Gun and War Sector

Promotes gun sales by stoking fear and racism.

Makes and sells products deliberately intended to kill.

Contractors’ personnel torture captives at secret overseas bases.

Abandons contractor waste at military bases dotting the globe

Leaves land mines and cluster bombs behind.

Contaminates air, soil and drinking water supplies with toxics.

Drone operators guide armed, pilotless planes to bomb targeted sites

  1. Communication and Entertainment Sector

Hollywood produces movies glorifying war.

Publishes ads designed to look like news.

Shows commercials disguised as talk shows, panel discussions, self-improvement seminars, etc.

Plays to the lowest common denominator of audience/readership with sensationalism, sex, and violence.

Dupes and distracts the American people.

  1. Education Sector

Dumbs down the teaching of children, such as, for example, teaching the what of history but avoiding the why.

After the draft was abolished by Congress to avoid the recurrence of massive protests against the Vietnam War, recruiters swarm high school hallways recruiting poorly educated students from impoverished homes who would otherwise be jobless eventually.

  1. Energy Sector

Operating carelessly built and maintained nuclear power plants that leak radioactive waste.

Digging and operating offshore oil rigs that leak huge amounts of pollutants into the water and adjacent land.

Running pipelines through sacred Native American land.

Operating tar sands fracking.

  1. Financial Sector

Peddles falsified debt documents to collection firms.

Gets default payments by filing thousands of collection lawsuits against consumers expecting them not to contest the claims.

Preys on customers, hiding costs and penalties, downplays the effects of variable rates, and issues unaffordable loans for the purchase of fraudulently overvalued homes.

Constantly raises deductibles while shrinking coverage.

Auto insurers coerce car repair shops to use cheap and sometimes dangerous parts.

Asks claims adjusters to lie to customers and to overestimate their losses and vastly overprice premiums.

Soaks credit card holders with excessive rates.

Finances wars, even on both sides.

Launders drug money.

  1. Government Sector

Breaks its own laws (e.g., Articles 1 and 3 of the Constitution; 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments; all laws protecting human nature such as homicidal laws against murder; and international laws such as the 1928 Kellogg–Briand Peace Pact.

Refuses to join the International Criminal Court.

Lies to the American people.

Forcefully enters homes with falsified warrants.

Detains citizens without trial.

Established an extra judicial court to rubber stamp illegal activities.

Maintains data on over one million Americans.

  1. Health Care Sector

Blood testing labs pay doctors a percentage on the business they refer.

Health insurance companies try to avoid insuring people needing care or deny as many insurance claims as possible.

HMOs covertly screen out any Medicare applicant viewed as a high risk.

Prior to accreditation inspections, hospital alters in-house records of problems.

  1. Pharmaceutical Sector

Uses improper techniques to test drugs.

Intimidates and threatens their in-house scientists.

Fabricates drug safety data and lies to the FDA.

Routinely bribes doctors with luxury vacations and paid speaking gigs.

Provides drugs to doctors at a discount so they can be sold to patients at a big profit.

Markets a drug that is more expensive than alternative drugs and deadly among adults and children.

Compounds drugs that are often too weak or too strong.

Dilutes cancer drugs to boost profits.

Mislabels and adulterates several of its drugs used by millions of consumers and then masterminds a massive cover up of its wrongdoing.

  1. Spiritual Sector

There has never been a war that organized religion did not start, promote, or tolerate.

Children are taught to see what they believe.

  1. Transportation Sector

A financially ailing airline routinely ignored vital repairs and maintenance to minimize downtime of planes and then falsified records to make it appear as if the work had been done.

Airline, knowing a flight departure will be delayed, boards passengers anyway to prevent them from seeking alternative flights.

Car maker stages a large truck being dropped from a crane onto a new model without telling viewers the car had been reinforced to withstand the impact.

Automaker sets back the odometer settings and sells the cars as new to dealers.

Automakers sometimes instruct their dealers to fix certain common defects free of charge or at reduced cost but only if auto owners demand that the repair be made under warranty.

Imposes demanding and unrealistic schedules on truck drivers.

Skimps on truck fleet maintenance overhauls.

Two Foot Soldiers Up Close and Personal

My graduate school advisor, Dr. Carroll Shartle (1903-1993) personified the foot soldier — and so did I without realizing it. He had a research grant from the U.S. Airforce, the source of my stipends as one of Dr. Shartle’s research assistants. Both my master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation were underwritten by this grant. Dr. Shartle then became chief behavioral scientist for the U.S. Department of Defense War. To my credit, I entered graduate school to maintain my student deferment from being drafted into the Vietnam War, which I loathed. To my discredit, near the end of my graduate school tenure I worked for an aircraft plant making low altitude flying jets for bombing Vietnam and at the same time taught a course for airmen at a nearby air force base. I then took a job with the U.S. government and muted my criticism of the war. It was only after I retired that I became an “armchair” activist for peace and social economic justice.

In Closing

My hunch is that by not having sold their soul to any company store the salt of the earth do not experience my kind of guilt feelings over having sold my soul more than once.

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.