Monday, September 10, 2012

Nigeria today: Taking corporate power to its logical conclusion

You think that America's corporate-owned government has its drawbacks? Wait until you hear what the corporate-owned government in Nigeria is up to! You think that the results of having corporate Big Money buying off America's politicians has been scary and sad? Then you obviously haven't ever been to Nigeria -- where they have definitely gone way far beyond merely "scary" or "sad".

When it comes to having a corporate-owned government, apparently Nigeria has become the prototype, the ideal, the epitome of what a corporate-owned government can really achieve if it puts its mind to it. Corporations in America like Citibank and Monsanto and Georgia-Pacific and Chevron can only hope to aspire to the high levels of corporatism that have been achieved in Nigeria.

Nigeria today has broken the mold and set the bar really high.

But how do I know all this? From an interview with an expert on Nigeria that took place yesterday in a local park in Berkeley over tuna-fish sandwiches.

"So. What's up in Nigeria?" I asked him, immediately diving right in.

"Don't even ask," he replied. "For one thing, our government is composed of mainly puppet thugs put into office by corporate neo-colonialists -- but these office-holders have no power at all. They are only there as a showcase, an illusion, a shadow puppet show created to make it look like someone with dark skin is in charge over there and to give corporations someone to officially sign the documents that have handed Nigeria over to them."

That's ironic. In America, corporations try to dig up shadow puppets with light skin.

"When we were children in Nigeria," continued the expert, "all of us wanted to go off to college because those in our villages who had gone to college would come home and everyone would honor them. But not any more. Now the children in the villages and towns of Nigeria all want to grow up to be government thugs! To drive big shiny cars and take money from oil companies and beat people up."

"Something like that has happened in America too," I replied. "Little kids used to want to grow up to be doctors or firefighters or scientists. High school kids wanted to go to college and become architects or engineers or Bob the Builder. Now all they want to do is study business so they can rush off to Wall Street and make a killing. Who wants to be a doctor when they can orchestrate pension-plan takeovers and outsource American jobs. Or go into politics." Yeah. And become corporate-owned government thugs like in Nigeria.

"And it used to be that everyone in Nigeria at least had a chance of going to high school," said the expert. "But the levels of available education there are falling fast." Keep them barefoot and dumb? Seems to be the trend here in America too.

"Whenever we thought of America when we were children, we all wanted to be like that -- democracy and all. Owning something that said 'Made in America' on it was a very big deal. And now it's all made in China. But what amazes me most about Americans today is that they all sit back and take this and say nothing. They just listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck and Fox News and accept their fate like lambs to the slaughter."

I know what he means. And in my humble opinion, it all started back in 1963 when no one really questioned who shot JFK -- and who benefited most. Who had the motive, means and opportunity? It surely wasn't Cuba or even the USSR. "Who killed the Kennedys? After all it was you and me," sang the Rolling Stones -- and they nailed it. Then most Americans went on to never question the lack of preparedness before 9-11 or the obvious lies about weapons of mass destruction or the need for bank bailouts or.... Sheep.

"Don't Tread on Me" is now history, sent off to America's outdated memorabilia rubbish heap.

"When the BP oil spill happened over here in the Gulf," my expert continued, "BP spent a lot of money on maintaining their public image in America and making excuses. Well, Nigeria has a big oil spill almost every day. Oil spills like that are common in Nigeria. But the major difference between there and here is that BP doesn't even bother to make excuses in Nigeria. They don't even consider Nigerians important enough to even make excuses. They treat us like some kind of annoying pests that they just have to put up with while extracting our oil. Not really human." Definitely beyond sad.

Imagine all those photos of shorebirds on the Gulf Coast covered with oil -- and then imagine Nigerians covered with oil like that too. The toxic "body burden" that many Nigerian villagers are bearing these days is tragic.

"Have you ever been to Nigeria?" he asked me. "Rich people there live in securely gated communities and behind high walls. There is no walking down the streets in Nigeria for rich people. Why would anyone ever want to live like that? To always be guarded and gated and stuck behind walls? That's no way to live. Having economic equality leads to more freedom -- even for the rich."

But as the rich become more and more separated from the poor here in America too, that's definitely the direction we also are going in. Freedom, like money, does not trickle down.

Next we discussed a whole bunch of other reasons why having a corporate-owned government has led to a failed nation in Nigeria -- and will also lead to a failed nation here. But I forgot to take notes and can't remember the rest of what all we discussed. But you get the gist. Government of the people, by the people and for the people is good. Corporate-owned government is proving to be very very bad.

To paraphrase a recent saying that's now making the rounds on FaceBook, "If Romney's proposed corporatist policies actually work, then George W. Bush would have given the keynote speech at the Republican convention -- and Nigeria would be a proud role model for democracy and freedom, not just another miserable failed state."

PS: Has anyone started to miss Libya's Muammar Gaddafi yet? If he hadn't been brutally murdered and his corpse dragged through the streets of Sirte, Ambassador Stevens would still be alive and well too.

And does anybody but me find it ironic that the rockets used to attack the American consulate in Benghazi probably came from the same stockpile of weapons supplied to NATO's allies, the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and paid for by America's corporate-owned government?

Shades of Ronald Reagan's favorite "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan -- Osama bin Ladin and friends.


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