Thursday, February 9, 2017

1984 ain’t the book

Hey, I love George Orwell’s 1984. It inspired me to write The Milkman, which is actually the book I wish was surging right now on Amazon. Not because it’s mine – not entirely, anyway – but because I think it gives America a glimpse of what waits down the road. The corporatization of the US, and the rest of the world, has been fomenting for centuries. Now, like a 300-year old toddler, it’s hit a growth spurt and I wish people would use my book as a What to Expect when You’re Expecting a Post-Government Society.

It started with the British East India Company in 1600, one of the first enterprises owned by shareholders and the very first multinational corporation to take over a foreign country and hold it for a quarter of a millennium. Although the company dissolved in 1874 it was more a victim of its success rather than a lack there of. England and India dismantled it before it became “too big to fail.”

Corporations having been following its model ever since. Improving on it. Stretching into multiple countries, so no two can keep up for a take down. Diversifying, so has not to be a hostage to the price of tea. Or oil. Ingratiating themselves into everyday lives – healthcare is about as intimate as it gets. And chipping away, day after day, at their counterweights: press, organized religion, government.

In the US House of Representatives, there are 30 lobbyists per legislator. In the Senate the ratio is 131 to 1. The majority of lobbyists have ties to business interests. Corporations have more representation in Washington than the people. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, corporations have a right to free speech. Money is speech and they can spend as much as they want and, well, they’ve always got more than you do. I don’t care who you are reading this, there’s company with more money than you.

They have used that power of speech to put more corporate-friendly people in public office, eroding the power and purpose of government. You know, an Exxon CEO in the State Department. Five Goldman Sachs alumni in Cabinet or advisory posts. Pro-business Supreme Court Justices and an Attorney General. That kind of thing.

I'm not saying business is bad. My novel-length thought experiment does suggest checks and balances might not be terrible. In The Milkman no one is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” All rights are granted by corporations as conditions of employment. Not exactly freedom as we know it.

That’s it. That’s where we’re headed. I’m thinking by 2084. Perhaps my book will be a best seller by then.

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