Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture
On December 14th, two excellent news-reports were belatedly published about some of the massive corruption that was behind the initial U.S. federal coronavirus-relief law, the CARES Act, and about U.S. Senators of both Parties now intending to include such corruption in the next one. (NOTE: This present news-report may be viewed as a confirmation, and a further explanation, of what I was predicting in my article on April 22nd, “Why Post-Coronavirus America Will Have Massive Poverty”. What that was predicting is being confirmed in the two recent news-reports that are cited here.)
Regarding the CARES Act, J. Robert Downen headlined in the Houston Chronicle on December 14th, “Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church got $4.4 million in federal PPP loans”, and he reported that “Lakewood received a $4.4 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, a part of the federal CARES Act that provided loans to pay employee wages or for other basic operational costs such as utilities. The program marked the first time federal lawmakers allowed for direct financial assistance to houses of worship. … More than 1,000 religious groups in Texas received hundreds of millions of dollars to retain a combined 59,000 jobs, the Chronicle reported in July.”
At around the start of the coronavirus-epidemic, the Texas state government had announced, on 24 January 2020, that “Our workforce continues to grow and is now 14,188,100 Texans strong”, and this means that the CARES Act’s breaking-of-precedent (“the first time federal lawmakers allowed for direct financial assistance to houses of worship”) was helping to retain employment for one two-hundred-and-fortieth of employed Texans, and therefore it couldn’t even possibly have produced any significant impact upon the rate of unemployment in Texas, but only improved the re-election chances of public officials in Texas, by its purchasing from Texas’s preachers (who have lots of political clout in that state) a more favorable attitude toward those incumbent governmental office-holders, who had provided this largesse, upon their special interest.
Downen’s article also listed 16 Texas corporations (such as “Percheron Holdings LLC”) which had been given federal loans of at least $10,000,000 each; and, so, the federal Government’s largesse wasn’t only to ‘non-profits’, nor to religious organizations.
However, if the actual intention of the CARES Act had been to help workers instead of to help their bosses, then nothing would have been funneled through the corporation down to its workers, but everything would instead have been paid directly to each individual worker, and any corporation that was suffering losses during the epidemic could separately have applied to the U.S. Small Business Administration after-the-fact, for loan-assistance, in order for that corporation (or church, or etc.) to be able to stay in business, if they otherwise would have gone bust.
In other words: all CARES-Act monies that went to corporations were funneling their benefits to workers by way of and through their employers, and thus were really political pay-offs to the richest, in order for political incumbents to be able to retain their seats as governmental officials. A ‘democracy’ like this is actually a kleptocracy. And that news-report in the Houston Chronicle appeared only after the 2020 ‘election’, not before it. So: it was no help to voters in preparation for the November ‘elections’.
Also on December 14th, the great investigative journalist David Sirota’s blog headlined “SCOOP: Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Direct Payments to Families” and reported that, “Buried in the new 525-page stimulus bill is a provision granting military contractors benefits that are being denied to workers and small businesses across the country.” He and his reporter Julia Rock opened by noting that, “Earlier this year, Republican senators slammed the idea of spending money to pay Americans not to work during the pandemic. Only a few months later, a group of GOP senators has signed onto stimulus legislation that would authorize the government to pay idle defense contractors to not work, even as those contractors rack up big profits during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the same bill excludes bipartisan provisions authorizing direct payments to millions of Americans struggling to survive.” They reported that Democratic Party leaders in Congress (especially West Virginia’s U.S. Senator Joe Manchin) were quietly working in the background in order to be able to pass this new corruption into law, and were no less corrupt than their bolder Republican colleagues were in in whoring themselves to ‘defense’ contractors — the “Military-Industrial Complex” or “MIC,” which basically writes America’s international sanctions, and other U.S. foreign policies, so as to maximize the global sales of U.S.-made military weaponry.
All of this news is “belated,” however, unless the major American ‘news’-media, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times and CNN and Fox and ABC and CBS and NBC and The Atlantic — all of which are owned and controlled by America’s fewer than 1,000 billionaires — will decide (which they never yet have done) to make a public issue out of the real issue here, which is the question of whether or not funneling public benefits through employers constitutes anything else than the corruption of any democracy and the installation of an aristocracy of the super-rich replacing that democracy of the people by a dictatorship of the aristocrats. This is a fundamental issue, and it is always being simply avoided, banned to publish. (In fact, a recent law-review article, which was titled “The ‘Small Business’ Myth of the Paycheck Protection Program”, actually defended what had happened by saying that that program, which is commonly acronymed “PPP,” had been sold to the public as being intended to protect workers in small businesses, but never was intended to do that. This article claimed that “The misinformed condemnation of large companies obscured the fact that Congress had designed a flawed program with limited ability to help small businesses.” But it wasn’t ‘misinformed’, and these weren’t merely ‘flaws’. In fact, lobbyists for huge corporations had heavily lobbied and paid Representatives and Senators to lard the entire CARES Act with huge give-aways to large corporations and to the investors in those corporations; and, as a result, Wall Street boomed even while unemployment soared. “Congress had designed a flawed program” because they were being paid to produce those “flaws” in it. Academia is, itself, often either grossly incompetent, or else part of the corruption, and therefore it should be viewed as being part of the ‘news’-media, itself — in other words: propaganda.)
Perhaps all of America’s ‘news’-media ought to be nationalized and donated to a public trust which is headed by a board of directors which consists of 100 certifiably low-income Americans who are otherwise (than their being in the lowest-wealth category) selected randomly from the general population, and who will, then, in turn, select and fire the top officials of all of the nation’s largest twenty media corporations, so as to make the news-media accurately inform the general public, instead of to continue deceiving the public in the ways that the super-rich — both liberal and conservative — collectively want the public to be deceived. Maybe that would do it. Maybe that would restore democracy, to the United States of America. Democracy is impossible without there being an accurately informed public. And, in the U.S., the public is instead systematically deceived, so as to hide from them what the billionaires of both of the nation’s political Parties want the public not to know, or not to understand. That can’t be a democracy.
In an aristocracy, everything is just a racket. Even a covid-19 relief bill is.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.