by Salih Hall
For the average citizen in our country, fear of what tomorrow will bring is creating an atmosphere where thinking is clouded and emotions are ramped. The blame game creates a climate of unthinking hostility. Should Muslims be allowed to build a house of worship, on a lawfully-acquired site in New York? Should Hispanic Americans be presumed to be criminals because of their appearance? Every quarter of the community seems polarized, and scared of the “other.” Meanwhile, “inside the Beltway” our political leaders argue the same old tired points down the same old party lines. Are our leaders as arrogant as they appear, or are they this obviously out of touch with the needs and aspirations of the people they were elected to represent? Or could it be that something is happening right before our eyes that is so blatant that we just refuse to believe that it could be?
America’s democratic representative form of government and quasi- capitalistic economic system made it the most powerful nation on earth. The American economy cannot qualify as true free enterprise because of its policies regarding land and taxation. However, the economy has been free enough for America to become the place where dreams come true for people from all over the world. Because of its legal and economic system, America became the corporate house for much of the global economy, and its stock market became the center of international trade. A nation famous for opportunity, America attracted immigrants from all over the world.However, as America grew in power and hope, it also became a land of unbelievable fortunes and grinding poverty. It was during this period — the “gilded age” — that the great crusade of Henry George gained momentum. Henry George struggled to bring a system of fairness to a nation marked for prosperity and a strong future. Its Founders had the wisdom to secure against dominance by any particular branch of its leadership, or any particular religious institution or group. The nation grappled with slavery; socialism, communism, fundamentalism and fascism — but, grounded in its solid Constitutional basis, it adapted and progressed. The voice of Henry George can be heard crying out in this great mix, attempting to bring a balance based on interdependence and mutual sharing of natural resources.
With vast wealth came strong political influence. Political action committees and lobbyists have descended on Washington, DC, and every state government, to tilt the playing field toward real estate, banking and corporations. This process is not new, and doesn’t surprise us; many Americans see our government as the best one that money can buy.
The recent US Supreme Court ruling concerning campaign spending in the case of Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission, where the court found that the corporation has the same rights as the individual citizen, has opened the door for the mega-rich to openly buy political power and influence. No need to hide anymore! But no more than a low rumbling is heard among the general public. In this new political landscape created by the Citizen’s United case, the concept of representative democracy has given way to the reality that America’s future is in the hands of the very rich. Coupled with trends in popular culture (such as “reality television”), the media seems to be dedicating itself to keeping the common citizen riled up about insubstantial nonsense. Meanwhile the agenda of the wealthy is advanced against our interests, in one law after another that the legislators don’t even read. We can only choose the brand of rhetoric we prefer while the actual policies of the nation are decided in the corporate boardroom.
Aristocracy is defined as a government by a superior group or class. When a representative government no longer reflects the will of the masses, explicitly becoming the instrument of corporate interests, then those interests have become that superior group or class.
We know that all wealth comes from the land. Chemicals, Energy; products, everything comes from land. The solution to our dilemma is the same as it was in the late 1800’s. The only way to dismantle the power of the special interests is by making land common property. Henry George’s proposal to eliminate all other forms of tax, and levy a single tax on the rental value of land is the only real solution to the inequities of our society, and the only effective means to break the power of the new aristocracy – and spare America the fall that is coming.
(Salih Hall is an inmate at the James T Vaughn Correctional Center, 1181 Paddock Road, Smyrna. DE 19977)