Where Trickle Down actually works

Back in the ’80’s, for those of us old enough to remember, Reagan promoted the idea that when corporate entities made money, they would pass on their good fortunes to  employees, their families, the communities in which they found themselves and the nation at large would reap the benefits. If you haven’t been paying any attention, Reagan’s theory didn’t work then and it sure as hell isn’t working now.

The evidence was already mounting as childhood poverty began to rise that deregulation might not be the great idea that “the great orator” sold us on. Despite the signs that suggested this tactic was yielding less than optimal results, the government began turning a blind eye to bank and corporate transgressions while increasing its   regulation and oversight of individuals. Thus began the enslavement of the American people through the devaluing of work, the hording of resources to a smaller and smaller portion of the population, and the selling of this evolution as being in the best interest of the American people.

With the recent United States Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision, we have in evidence the most blatant form of granting corporate supremacy, now sanctioned and upheld by government entities as the law of the land. When “Corporations are people and money is voice”, people will always lose. So while banks get bail-out dollars, individual consumers will be pursued  for infractions in contractual obligations on homes that were sold through deceptive practices. While corporations like BP will have to fork over fines for poisoning the Gulf of Mexico, individuals who have been prescribed medical marijuana for real medical conditions will face imprisonment and/or the loss of their children in state child protective proceedings. While the government will pull more and more oversight away from industrial complexes who are dumping poisons into our air and waterways affecting our health, they will stand by as government agencies launch drones to spy on our activities within our homes and communities. Now government, corporation and agency interests can LEGALLY take precedence over individual civil rights.

We have been seeing the erosion of individual rights since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Whereas factories with line staff have all but disappeared, the need for subservient workers has not. Our social institutions have been established to ensure compliance not ingenuity. Regurgitation of facts is preferred to the intellectual debate that encourages the thinking process. We test by multiple choice and mark down for originality of thought. Our great thinkers, like Albert Einstein, who were dyslexic and slightly hyperactive (from sheer boredom in our classrooms) are now seen as a challenge, medicated and whisked away into Special Education classrooms that dulls their senses and slows their mind.

In order to survive in this society we are expected to parrot the corporate and agency interests in the places in which we find employment. Stanley Milgram was able to demonstrate the power that authority had to influence individual decision making. Through his study he proved that someone perceived to be in a position of authority could ask subjects to inflict pain on other participants without raising questions about the ethics or morality in the request to do so. (http://youtu.be/BcvSNg0HZwk). Within our corporations and agencies employees abdicate their moral and ethical convictions to appease the powers that be thereby maintaining their employment  to the detriment of both colleagues, and clients alike. Within these expectations we find the foundational aspects that have eroded our humanity. While Milgram’s experiment took place  in 1961 long before deregulation of banks and corporations, just one ruling has given those entities a jolt of support equivalent to the effect that doping has on superior athletes. We are witness to not just the erosion of civil rights, we are also witness to the sanction of that erosion by national, state and local government agencies and providers. Within this last election buffered by the Citizen’s United ruling, corporations even felt at liberty to tell their employees how to vote. Politicians, mimicking corporate interests, who received corporate payouts almost succeeded in suppressing voter participation in several key states.

Within our homes we have less and less time for each other. We look for evidence that our children are succeeding without investing in the process to make it so. We want intimacy and loyalty but come off as distant, uninvolved, and uninterested. We fault our children for the very issues that we fail to recognize and deal with ourselves. We are ashamed of ourselves so look for ways to blame, ridicule and ostracize others.  While it seems rights and safeguards flow upward, the bulk of the struggle for existence will continue to TRICKLE DOWN!

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The Lesson that is Lance Armstrong

We vacillated back and forth during the saga that has been Lance Armstrong. The story that has played out like a fairy tale has now revealed the ugly truth that lies at its core. Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs. It must be true, after all, he told Oprah!

What lays at the heart of this saga  is the story of how culture creates the Lance Armstrongs of the world. It is a common tale tucked away in both corporate boardrooms and the government back room obscure dealings of a nation too absorbed in scandalous gossip to deal with the foundational elements that take root in our own countrymen. Lance and others like him are symptomatic of the moral decline of a culture, nothing more.

We educate our children without teaching them to think. We receive financial incentives to produce in our workplaces without experiencing the self gratification of a job well done. We lose our jobs for offering our expertise and are punished for voicing opposition to poor treatment of our peers and clients. We have become line staff in industries that have no connection to the factories of early industrial America. Without the ability to think and problem solve, we are willing puppets of the post industrial complex working for the accumulation of wealth for smaller and smaller number of elites.

The very principles we pride ourselves on as Americans are the very skills many of us will never be paid for. Education, certification and license requirements serves the idealist but has no carryover to the workplace. Ingenuity is perceived as threatening. Problem solving is relegated to carbon copied programmatic policy guidelines. Conflict resolution is settled by who has the most power to bully his point. This takes place as much in corporate America as it does on our own school playgrounds. This is the workplace and social experience no matter where we find ourselves. These are the rules that we are forced to play by.

We live vicariously through Lance. He is our hero. His triumphs fuel our belief that one day we will find success and be better able to face the mounting obstacles and injustices in our own existence. We support his efforts through blind adulation and defend him regardless of allegations hurled at him.

Corporate entities salivate at the Lance Armstrongs of the world. Built within each  is a representative to use to drive up sales. With money as the driving incentive, corporations are able to make willing participants of the most idealistic among us. The unspoken problem with the arrangement is that signing on with BIG business makes each participant beholden to the corporate goals and tactics regardless of its ethical or legal consequences… Where corporate interests collide with individual convictions, corporate entities are sure to win. This statement is further substantiated by the United States Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling asserting the fact that “corporations are people and money is voice”.  It stands to reason that as a representative of a corporate entity, contractual expectations of performance is mandatory.  Within the hierarchical arrangement between corporation and employee there are added unspoken expectations of behavior that hasten the further erosion of the individual self in any interaction where money exchanges hands. Through the long list of public figures that have succumbed under the pressure to perform, it is not outlandish to question the evolving mental health crises for those who enter the realm of celebrity status. Corporate entities are not interested in the personal effect of their expectations or media exposure on people. They are interested in the most important aspect of the transaction, their investment.

So, amid the adulation and hero worship that is bestowed on celebrities like Lance Armstrong, it is easy to understand how they come to rely on questionable activities to feel in control of expectations that come from both their ascension to world status and their corporate affiliation. Many engage in the unethical and illegal behaviors because 1) They are affected personally by the stress of being center stage, and/or, 2) There is an unconscious mistaken assumption that their corporate affiliation buffers them from any investigation into improper behavior.  I want to make it very clear, corporate entities may wine and dine celebrity wanna-bes before the deal and to celebrate gross earnings but they will be the first to pull the plug when questionable behavior arises regardless if it was caused by personal shortcomings or unspoken corporate expectations. Remember, “corporations are people and money is voice”. With that ruling it is clear that even Lance Armstrong gets the short end of the stick no matter what he has personally accomplished.

Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey MS, MAC, LMHC