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Letters to the Editor: A Public Forum
It's Official!
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 • Posted April 30, 2014

Dear Gery,

The United States no longer qualifies as a democracy. That’s the conclusion reached by a study sponsored by Princeton University and published this month. Instead, the United States political system now conforms to the standards of an oligarchy, rule by a few wealthy, powerful people or corporations.

Actually, the Princeton study merely confirms what surely everyone has been experiencing for decades. Most recently, the majority of Americans want major gun sales’ restrictions; Americans are generally peaceful people and we’ve had our fill of mass murders. But, oh no, the NRA keeps politicians in line for its advantage, rather than politicians reflecting the will of the people. To judge by the lack of meaningful environmental laws to protect “America the beautiful,” not to mention the whole world, you’d never guess that the majority of Americans desire strict anti-pollution and anti-greenhouse gases laws. Instead, we’re still dickering over the pipeline that the Koch brothers need to deliver an extremely filthy form of oil to their refineries in Texas...a crude oil that has recently caused several horrific fires when train transports have had accidents, killing many people. People don’t want that junk going through their land and potentially ruining it; only the Koch brothers benefit. But that’s okay. The Koch brothers are getting Congr. Tom Griffin to sponsor a bill allowing the pipeline to circumvent the environmental quality standards now in place. So what if our largest water sources would be endangered? Right?

Speaking of the Koch brothers, one of my favorite stories about them goes back to when the adorable Charles made a practice of skimming a bit of profit from oil wells on an Oklahoma Indian reservation, stating that he just “wanted his fair share...which is everything.” Later on, Charles and his equally lovely brother, Thomas, had acquired 350 criminal charges for their business practices, many involving environmental damage, but nothing ever came of those charges. Why did they go scot-free when you or I would still be pacing our cells? Well, by giving the Republican party campaign fund a $25 million donation back when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House, you know what fortunately happened for the boys? The laws were mysteriously changed and it turned out they’d actually committed not a single crime! I tell you, miracles do happen!

Obviously, in an oligarchy money is rather important for its political influence. The slide from a democracy to an oligarchy was going on well before the recent Supreme Court decisions to permit even more money from individuals and corporations into the political process. The Supreme Court justices are smart people, but it looks like even smart people can be tunnel-visioned. Their recent decisions may have been legally and constitutionally based, depending upon one’s view, but surely such smart people could not fail to notice that the thrust of the Constitution was to establish a democracy...and such smart people have glaringly and disastrously failed to see the democracy forest for the legalistic trees. That’s a real shame for us all.

I hope the Mason teachers read the Princeton study on-line and broach this important subject with the students. I also hope that people in general care as much about this development in our country’s situation to perhaps donate some of their Facebook time to exploring how this country got taken over by the privileged few. It’s all over the internet and too much to go into here.

Hopefully yours,

H. Liston

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