BY VERN TURNER
It seems that everything we talk about in our human discourse centers around money, or, more accurately, the shortage of it. Since humans invented the concept even before written language was widespread among us, how could we have shortfalls if we committed money as our medium of exchange for goods, services and commodities for the betterment and comfort of the community?
Yeah. You guessed it. Some humans wanted more money than other humans had so they could exert power of those other people. But as a community organism, how can we justify the intentional impoverishment of other humans, when all our “moral” and “religious” guidelines say just the opposite?
In Chris Harman’s very excellent book, A People’s History of the World, he points out that the history of agriculture, economics and finances evolved in concert with the concept of social stratification. Briefly, with the discovery of agriculture, humans were able to produce a surplus of everything that kept the village/town alive and prosperous.
This ability to overproduce allowed two things to occur: The village population was allowed to grow, and the surplus could be used as barter with other villages for their products and produce. This situation necessitated a controlling authority to be sure the surplus necessary for surviving winter, drought, storms or pestilence, was not sold off to somebody else.
The community leaders became those controllers and doled out the food as they saw fit. Ideally, this would have meant a fair and equal share for all, but knowing that the size of the surplus also created the concept of wealth for the leaders, they started calling themselves priests and operated control over the food stocks with their newly invented “police” and “military.”
Clearly, the ideal of equity was at risk here, and this “arrangement” led to not only bigger villages that produced more surplus commodities, but also city-statehood that had to protect its interests from marauding bands who wanted to steal the goods for themselves. So, with the invention of wealth came the invention of a protecting force.
It should come as no surprise that class stratification evolved right along with this “new” idea about wealth and commodities. The priests, who wanted to expand their own power and wealth, put more demands on the farmers who produced the commodities. Before long, the greed thing pushed the working classes even further down the societal ladder as they were removed from the oversight of their labor and its products. Add to all this the concept of hoarding. It wasn’t until people could use their produce as barter [and eventually the abstraction, money] that hoarding and holding onto the surplus became exclusive to the priests and whoever THEY deemed worthy of their largesse. This is where the money as evil comes into the story.
Fast-forward to the late 19th Century in the United States, the bastion of the industrial revolution. There were no regulations on how much money the corporate moguls could amass, nor how much they were required to pay in wages to those who made them stinking rich. There were no laws outlawing monopolies. It was the Gilded Age where class distinction was paramount and the lower classes were absolutely left to their own devices to shift as best the could. The Robber Barons of the era scoffed at equitable distribution of wealth and money. They, after all, made the rules that continued to enrich them at the expense of everyone else. So, in the span of 8,000 years, not much changed in the concept of class stratification vis-a-vis money and wealth and who controls it.
In the early 20th Century, one Fred Chase Koch was born. About that same time, the Mellon and Scaife family patriarchs were producing their offspring to carry on the family wealth machinery after they died. In the recent book, Dark Money, Jane Mayer gives us detailed insight into how these, and other stinking rich families, operated to not only grow their inherited wealth, but to facilitate the takeover of the U.S. Government by any means necessary.
Fred Koch became a founding member of the infamous John Birch Society that spawned the Libertarian and Tea Party movements almost a century later. It should be noted that Fred Koch made his fortune by inventing, then selling the technology for refining crude oil into high-octane gasoline.
He wasn’t able to sell it to the United States government, but Joseph Stalin’s and Adolf Hitler’s governments were eager to acquire that technology and built several refineries all supervised by Fred Koch. The high-octane gasoline allowed Hitler’s Luftwaffe to grow and outperform the other air forces of the day. After Fred saw that Stalin’s communism prevented the ruling classes from getting rich and that Hitler was truly evil, he backed away from them and helped form our own right-wing extremist ideologies here.
Fred Koch inculcated his sons to the letter of his Libertarian philosophy such that when they inherited the family business, they were all about un-doing all of the progressive and labor-friendly policies put in place from the days of Teddy Roosevelt to now.
In short, they were/are totally against ANY kind of regulation or taxation on businesses. They want to abolish all the safety net agencies and policies including OSHA, FCC, SEC, EPA, FDA, IRS and FEC agencies. The cabinet positions of Education, Commerce and Interior, they deemed unnecessary. Labor unions would be illegal. No government-sponsored health care, unemployment or welfare benefits would exist. The people would be on their own. School segregation would be allowed. All public schools would become private. The Voting Rights Act and all Civil Rights legislation would be eliminated.
Theirs is a 1984-type world where only they and their peers rule. In case anybody missed it, 1984 was written as a warning, not a field guide. The Libertarian/Tea Party philosophy calls for no regulations on businesses and banks; they think that pure, free-market enterprise is the only philosophy that should be in place, because it benefits private business and industry. The workers? Well, they’re on their own.
I point all this stuff out to show that the lust for power and wealth is a continuum that has evolved only in its intensity as the human population has grown and become more financially “sophisticated.” I use that word advisedly in that power and wealth are still the singular driving forces of the neo-conservative movement. It should be no surprise that the Kochs, et al, have created the archipelago of “foundations” to  have tax loopholes,  advocate for politicians who think their way and  purchase any politicians who are teetering between working for the people they actually represent and the ideology of the radical, right-wing extremists.
The elites in this country, including the Bush dynasty, continue to voice their support for failed economic systems like trickle-down or Supply-Side economics. The “failure,” of course, is that the working classes get screwed while the elites get richer still. The most recent attempts to de-regulate banks and Wall Street showed us how silly it is for people to believe that the rich will take care of them somehow, with jobs, schools and health care. The facts bear out that they will NOT do these things. It’s all about the money, the root of all evil, so sayeth the Good Book, or at least good books.
We have one last chance in the United States to overcome this evil trend of wealth trickling [even cascading] upward with decreasing hope for success among the working classes. Fair wages and safety nets are NOT entitlements, they are necessities for the survival of the community of man in this country, and, ironically, for the perpetuation of wealth for the elites.
If you’re worth $100 billion, how much more do you need? The rich patriarchs say, “Just a little more.” If you had more, what would you do with it? I think the Koch brothers have shown us what they want to do with their obscene wealth. They want to place themselves or their surrogates into seats of power where they control everything and the people control nothing. That, ladies and gentlemen, is fascism. Fascism lends itself to dictators.
Dictators destroy civilizations, economies and the very people they presume to govern. These are not opinions – as some of my readers say to denigrate real information – these are facts from history. You can all look them up.
Remember this essay when you vote in November. Listen carefully to those who say the things that hurt the people. They will speak of endless war, reduced benefits for labor, reduced attention to poverty, reduced regulations on the greedy and fewer rights for the people who don’t look like them. You know who they are. They’re on television and in the papers every day telling you how President Obama screwed everything up.
In a way, he did. He exposed the roaches on the wall that are trying to destroy the American dream of fairness and opportunity.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.