Ruthless Exploiters, Inc.
"It is like paradise and hell. They throw our petitions in the
dustbin. They have everything. We have nothing… If we protest, they
send soldiers. They sign agreements with us and then ignore us. We have graduates
going hungry, without jobs. And they bring people from Lagos to work here.”
Eghare W.O. Ojhogar, chief of the Ugborodo community in Delta State
In describing the situation in Nigeria, Eghare presents us with a microcosm
of a modern Inferno, Purgatorio, e Paradiso (about which there is little divine
or comic). In the timeless struggle between the “haves and “have
nots”, alarming numbers of “useless eaters” (“have nots”)
are sliding from Purgatorio into the abyss of abject poverty’s Inferno.
And what heinous transgression did they commit that necessitated their banishment
into the Inferno? They were born, of course. Most of those experiencing the
misery of indigence had the misfortune to enter this world bearing a losing
From their birth, the psyches of the poor and homeless in the “developed”
nations and those of the impoverished in the “developing” nations
are battered with the hopelessness and despair of their harsh realities. (Realities
carefully created and perpetuated in a variety of ways by their “betters”).
After spending their formative years pitted against nearly overwhelming economic
and social forces, the message many of them internalize probably reads something
Sorry, washout. You are the wrong color, ethnicity, caste, social class,
or nationality. Surviving to age 40 will be no small task for you. And if
you manage to do so, your chances of significantly bettering your situation
are quite slim. After all, the lottery winners invest a great deal in maintaining
structural barriers to hold you down. But the good news is that you can add
meaning to your miserable existence by working for slave wages( or simply
withering and dying) to ensure that the tiny percentage of humanity enjoying
economic Paradiso continues to do so and that the shrinking number of fortunates
in Purgatorio experience a degree of comfort and security.
To gain some perspective on the extent of human suffering, avarice, and depravity
associated with the gross imbalance in wealth and power, weigh these facts:
1. More than half of the 6.5 billion human souls populating Earth
subsist on less than $2 per day. 790 million of the deeply impoverished suffer
from chronic malnutrition (while 65% of US Americans are overweight).
2. 20% of the human race does not have access to clean water and
31% of the world’s population has no electricity.
3. Combining the gross domestic products of the 48 poorest nations
(representing 25% of global population) yields a figure that is less than
the wealth of the three richest people in the world.
4. “Developed nations” account for 80% of the world’s
consumption and 20% of the world’s population.
5. The wealth gap between the richest and poorest countries went
from 3 to 1 in 1820 to 72 to 1 in 1992.
6. Corporations account for over half of the 100 wealthiest entities
in the world.
7. And most tragically:
“According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty.
And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far
removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and
weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children
under five years of age, each year.”
(Thanks to Global Issues.org for the above information)
Earth’s ruling oligarchs and plutocrats have created and perpetuated
a socioeconomic dynamic in which the destitute have little or no access to education,
basic healthcare, decent employment, or even basic necessities. From the United
States to sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia, those isolated in despairing
communities with crumbling or non-existent infrastructures find themselves mired
in impoverished breeding grounds for crime, high birth rates, substance abuse,
Perhaps an apt message for those impoverished children arriving in this world
with three strikes against them would be:
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate”, which is most
commonly translated as “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
How humane and politically correct those monopolizing Earth’s bounty
have become. Monarchy has essentially been relegated to the dustbin of history.
Empire building through brute force is becoming an increasingly rare event.
Certainly the ruling elite maintain potent militaries to exercise their right
to “defend themselves” (as they are doing in Iraq and Lebanon).
But more often then not, the masters of the human race have learned to wield
their economic power like a heavy cudgel, capable of battering their foes into
submission with a few swift strokes.
New age dawning?
As humanity basks in the nurturing rays of a long-awaited sunrise marking the
dawn of a glorious new paradigm, a determined privileged class is determined
to make utopia a reality for themselves. Ushering in a veritable paradise of
free trade, “robust economies”, “ownership societies”,
“freedom and liberty”, and unprecedented profits generated by massive
companies unfettered by frivolous government regulation, predatory human beings
now issue their edicts from corporate skyscrapers rather than moated castles.
Wage slaves and sweat shop laborers have supplanted serfs and chattel slaves.
Five major corporations comprise 90% of the mass media in the United States.
What are their specialties? Shaping public opinion to maintain the illusion
that one of the world’s most rapacious and bellicose nations is a “benevolent
superpower” and enticing those who fall prey to their
charms to experience a virtually insatiable desire to acquire more material
possessions. A brain-washed complacent citizenry perpetually ready to go on
a buying binge is a wet dream for the ruling elite.
For many, the survival of their families depends upon the meager pay they receive
from corporate behemoths like Wal-Mart. More fortunate wage slaves earn enough
to cover the cost of necessities and to attain the goods the corporate media
push like Ecstasy. Shopping….what a rush!
Between the US Americans who have high discretionary income and the easy credit
issued to those who don’t, demand for consumer goods is nearly infinite.
With grossly unfair laws (protecting consumers, the environment, and workers)
squeezing their profits, those ingenious devils amongst the ruling elite concluded
they would locate in "developing" countries where they could truly
rape, pillage and plunder. Hence the worsening plight of those beholden to their
corporate masters both in the United States and abroad.
Where is the wealth?
And just how heavily are the world’s assets concentrated into the hands
of the elite? While the United States is by no means home to the entire world’s
de facto aristocracy, it is the “leader of the obscenely rich world”
and by default is the “leader of the (ostensibly) free world”.
For example, Professor G. William Domhoff of the University of California at
Santa Cruz wrote in 2001:
“In terms of types of financial wealth, the top 1 percent of
households have 44.1% of all privately held stock, 58.0% of financial securities,
and 57.3% of business equity. The top 10% have 85% to 90% of stock, bonds,
trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. Since
financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing
can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.”
And thanks to the Bush administration, that 10% is maintaining a firm grasp
on what they own.
Pernicious and Enduring Lies
The predator class pacifies its subservient underclass with the myth that in
the United States and the satellite “free market economies” it has
established (at gun-point or through the subversive activities of the CIA),
everyone can become a successful entrepreneur by starting their own business.
Yet like the lie that all impoverished individuals except widows, orphans, and
the infirm are responsible for their own circumstances, this malicious fairy
tale ignores several realities. Like the fiction about the impoverished, it
assumes that all people are on a level playing field. However, that notion is
far removed from reality. Some people have a higher quality education than others.
Individuals receiving a high degree of support from friends and family are much
more likely to succeed than those who have little or no support. While some
starting a business have financial resources behind them, others have virtually
nothing but their drive and ideas. Market forces, weather patterns, competition,
health, and many other variables can serve to make or break a “budding
capitalist”. And no two people are alike or face the same conditions.
Approximately 150 million of those young and healthy enough to work in the
United States earn a wage or salary. (Versus a relatively paltry figure of 20
million who are self-employed). 85% of small businesses fail within 5 years.
Corporate leviathans like Wal-Mart and Microsoft have defied anti-trust laws
to crush myriad competitors, including many small entrepreneurs. Horatio Alger
success stories are none too plentiful in the “land of opportunity”.
And the grim reality is that the Goliath corporate giants usually prevail against
the David small businesses.
In 2003, the average worker in the United States was netting $517.00 per week.
How much were CEO’s taking home at that time? A mere $155,000. 52
times per year. That is a staggering 301 to 1 differential. In 1982
the ratio of CEO to average worker pay was “a mere” 42 to 1. From
1990 to 2003 US corporate profits rose 128%.
To further appreciate the obscene avarice of the world’s plutocracy,
consider that the average garment worker in Bangladesh earned 13 cents per hour
in 2004. The “10% of the people who own the United States” and their
counter-parts in nations around the globe are doing very well thanks to the
blood, sweat, and tears of the remaining 6 billion or so human beings on the
Incorporating their Avarice
Corporations are the Holy Grail for the rich and powerful. They provide moneyed
individuals investment vehicles which afford them extremely limited personal
liability, financially and criminally. By the late 19th Century in the United
States, corporations had acquired many of the legal rights of a human being.
Despite their roots in British colonialism and the deep apprehensions of founders
like Thomas Jefferson, corporations have come to dominate the United States
and much of the world culturally, politically, and economically.
Jefferson’s expression of concern to George Logan in 1816 was well-founded:
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed
corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of
strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Not only was the aristocracy of moneyed corporations born. Its power has grown
to such monstrous proportions that it has virtually crushed the life from a
still relatively nascent social experiment based on democratic ideals and Constitutional
According to the Center for Public Integrity, the pharmaceutical industry alone
has spent $675 million lobbying the government to shape public policy over the
last seven years. The insurance industry spent even more if one includes campaign
donations. Through their corporate proxies, the moneyed elite invest a great
deal in the United States’ political system. They expect and receive a
great deal in return.
"Defending" the predator class is an expensive proposition
Spending at a clip of $600 billion per year (including Iraqi Occupation costs),
the United States accounts for 50% of the world’s military spending. As
George Bush (the current public face of the world’s plutocracy) so sagely
reminded us, “Free nations are peaceful nations.” To manufacture
the many instruments of peace which prove how free we are, the United States
relies on 737 defense contractors, sometimes known as the military-industrial
complex. Of those 737 contractors, a mere five have received government contracts
totaling $284 billion over the last six years. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon,
Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics do quite well at the public trough. Halliburton
has also fared nicely since former CEO Dick Cheney took office and helped lie
the United States into the Iraqi Occupation. Facilitating killing is their business,
and business is good.
Sedating the masses with consumerism, spin, fear-mongering and historical revisions;
lobbying heavily; donating huge sums to political campaigns; and maintaining
the military industrial complex are powerful means of securing the seats of
power in DC and Tel Aviv. However, the predator class has yet another weapon
at its disposal: the revolving door between government and major corporations.
Men like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are but two stalwarts of the privileged
class who have traversed back and forth from roles of great influence in major
corporations to positions of power within the government. But they are not pioneers.
Theirs is a path blazed by many before them and almost certain to be followed
by many after them.
A glimpse of the ugly reality of pathological avarice in action...
To move beyond an abstract analysis of the machinations of the oppression and
exploitation of most of the human race by a select and privileged few, consider
one of many specific examples. For years, British and US oil interests have
enjoyed the complicity of the criminal ruling elite in Nigeria in plundering
an incredibly valuable natural resource. In return a majority of the indigenous
people have received land too polluted to farm, brutal attacks by government
forces, and extreme poverty.
to an article written for Amnesty International:
“It's 10 years since the Nigerian Government executed the well-known
Ogoni writer and human rights campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa. But little has changed
for the people of the Niger Delta, reports Seth Jordan….
…Oil was discovered in the Ogoni region in the late 1950s by
the Royal Dutch/Shell Group….by the 1990s an estimated US $30 billion
worth of oil had already been extracted, and oil revenues accounted for over
98 per cent of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings; the 550,000 local farmers
and fishermen who inhabited the coastal land had received little except a
ravaged environment. Once fertile farmland had been destroyed by uncontrolled
pollution, and virtually all fish and wildlife had vanished. Only a handful
of local people were employed by the oil companies or benefited economically
in any way….
“On 4 February 2005, soldiers from Nigeria's Joint Task Force
fired on protesters from the Ugborodo community at the Escravos oil terminal
run by Chevron Nigeria. One man was shot and later died from his injuries.
Thirty other demonstrators were injured by blows from rifle butts and other
weapons. Neither the government nor the oil company provided adequate medical
care or helped to transport the injured.”
Nigeria provides a potent example of the blatant abuses of the impoverished
masses by the privileged few. But sadly, it is but one of many such cases.
While the rapacious individuals who wield the power in this world have stacked
the deck heavily in their favor, there are glimmers of hope. The United States
and Israel are both failing in their wars of aggression in the Middle East.
A wave of democratic socialism is beginning to sweep South America. A populist
leader may still win the presidency in Mexico. Joe Lieberman was ejected. And
checks and balances were at least temporarily restored in the United States
when a federal judge ordered George Bush to obey the Constitution.
A collective populist movement is slowly evolving. It is only a matter of time
before humanity’s oppressed put aside their religious, racial, and nationalist
differences to unite against their common enemy. When six billion people act
in unison against a few million, there will indeed be a new world order.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who
has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically and
his essays have appeared widely on the Internet. He welcomes constructive correspondence
or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.