The New American Plutocracy

by Paul Kurtz
The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 20, Number 4.

Plutocracy: (1) government by the wealthy, (2) a controlling class of the wealthy. From the Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos, wealth, and kratia, advocate of a form of government.

I am deeply troubled by the fact that in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections there is little or no debate on what I consider to be a central issue for the American future: the emergence of a new and powerful plutocracy wedded to corporate power. Regrettably, none of the major candidates will deign to even discuss this vital question. Only Ralph Nader has identified it. But he has largely been ignored or parodied by the mass media. Typically, Paul Krugman, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, has ridiculed Nader precisely for his attacks on “corporate power.” Senator John McCain did raise the issue of the special interests and soft money corrupting the political process. But he has been rebuffed and has climbed into the same bed with Bush. Many do not consider Nader to be a viable candidate, for the Green Party does not represent an effective political coalition. Neither Free Inquiry nor the Council for Secular Humanism can endorse political candidates, but this should not preclude me from presenting my own personal views about the deeper humanist issues at stake.

A plutocracy is defined as “government by the wealthy.” The critical question that should concern us is whether the United States is already a plutocracy, and what can be done to limit its power. This question, unfortunately, will not be taken seriously by most voters-but it damned well ought to be.

Ancient Greek democracy lasted only a century; the Roman republic survived for four, though it was increasingly weakened as time went on. As America enters its third century we may well ask whether our democratic institutions will survive and if so in what form.

As readers of these pages know, I have been concerned by the virtually unchallenged growth of corporate power. Mergers and acquisitions continue at a dizzying pace, as small and mid-sized businesses and farms disappear; independent doctors, lawyers, and accountants are gobbled up by larger firms; and working men and women are at the mercy of huge global conglomerates, which downsize as they export jobs overseas.

I have also deplored the emergence of the global media-ocracy, whereby a handful of powerful media conglomerates virtually dominate the means of communication. A functioning democratic society depends upon a free exchange of ideas; today fewer dissenting views are heard in the public square, as diversity is narrowed or muffled.

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THE STAR: Flu scare a boon to body-bag sales

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Pandemic fears creating customers far and wide for Toronto company’s sombre product line

Aug 01, 2009 04:30 AM

As concerns grow of a possible flu pandemic onslaught this autumn, alert authorities worldwide have been stockpiling emergency supplies. Masks, gloves and anti-viral medications are on the list. And body bags.

Demand for the latter is prompting a surge of interest in the wares of a small Toronto custom bag manufacturer named Trevor Owen Ltd. Inquiries about its pandemic body bags are pouring in from as far away as the Sultanate of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. 

TREVOR OWEN recently shipped several thousand of the thick plastic bags – sewn in its Scarborough factory and touted for their ability to “prevent leakage and seepage of bodily fluids” – to Alberta. It is bidding on a contract to supply Ohio with 12,500 of the white woven polyethylene pandemic bags.

“Some seniors’ residences are starting to buy five, 10 or 15 at a time,” said Trevor Owen president Pierre Barcik.

“There are state and provincial governments that are starting to stockpile pandemic body bags … It’s a bad pun, but (the business) is growing.”

The general fear is that the traditional fall flu season will this time bring a surge in H1N1 swine flu cases – and deaths.

Microbiologist Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control for Mount Sinai Hospital, recently warned there would be more deaths and infections in the city as a result of the labour disruption at Toronto Public Health.

Trevor Owen is not the only supplier thriving because of the fears. Richard Miller, owner of the U.S.-based web portal ToDieFor.Biz that sells a line of body bags, said demand has doubled this year.

Although the competition is considerable, Barcik’s company appears to have found a niche with its pandemic body bag, which differs from the bag typically used to transport and temporarily store the dead.

WHILE MORGUES and hospitals mostly use bags made of light-duty plastic – glorified garbage bags with a zipper down the middle – the pandemic body bag’s material is thicker and stronger, comparable to a light tarp.

It is coated on both sides with polyurethane for imperviousness and can be outfitted with six carry handles, an option that allows for the possibility of inexperienced personnel hastily hauling bodies at a time of crisis.

“It basically lets you handle bigger bodies with less care,” said Barcik.

“I don’t suggest we should handle the dead with anything but the utmost care, but if you’ve got a couple of volunteers moving people around in a pandemic centre, it’s a lot different than a morgue situation.”

HAULING DEATH ISN’T Trevor Owen’s stock and trade. Barcik’s company makes a variety of bags for everyday functions, from the giant padded envelopes that keep your pizza warm on its delivery route to the heavy-duty duffles in which hockey players like the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds tote their gear.

Still, Trevor Owen carries a substantial array of body bags; it’s a sector that appears to require a diversified product line.

Cindy Maguire, the controller of Centennial Products, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based distributor of body bags whose customers include public health centres in Nova Scotia, said that among coroners and other tenders to the departed, body bags “are like a fashion statement, almost.

“People are very particular about colour, style, the seal of the bag, the zipper.”

SOME CORONERS are partial to blue bags, which are known to provide a photo-friendly background for making a visual record of autopsies. Fluorescent orange bags are often the choice of urban police personnel who frequently work in darkness.

And manufacturers say there is growing demand for extra-large bags, such as the widely used Chinese-made bag known as the “Big Girtha” in the Trevor Owen catalogue.

Where a standard body bag runs about three feet wide and seven feet long, the Big Girtha is close to five feet by nine feet.

Said Miller at ToDieFor.Biz: “It’s for the 600-pounders. Our population is getting bigger. It’s made of very, very heavy-duty material.”

If death, by fat or by flu, is a heavy subject, some in the body-bag trade – the death-care industry, in its gentile parlance – see its lighter side. Maguire’s company designs and sells novelty T-shirts that have become popular among customers. One is emblazoned with the company’s slogan, “You tag it, we bag it.”

Another cribs a coroner’s theoretical lament during an obesity epidemic: “I think I need a bigger bag.”

Said Maguire: “The coroners do have a little bit of a morbid sense of humour. But I guess they use that to get through what they do.”

Barcik, whose company employs about 25 workers in an industrial mall near Eglinton and McCowan, said he expects body bags to remain a small part of his operation – currently about 10 per cent.

Media Censoring Lethal Side Effects Of Flu Remedies

By Ralph Forbes

Donald Rumsfeld’s Tamiflu pushers (just as they were in 2006) are set to be the big winners in the GSFS (great swine flu scare of 2009) lottery. Shares of Swiss drug-maker Roche Holding had fallen sharply after their latest cancer drug failure—but the GSFS came just in time to give their falling stocks a boost—just as the great bird flu scare of 2006 did.

In November 2005, George W. Bush goaded Congress to pass $7.1 billion in “emergency funding” to prepare for the possible bird flu pandemic, of which $1 billion was solely dedicated to the purchase and distribution of Tamiflu.

Bush said a minimum of 200,000 Americans were going to die from the avian flu pandemic. Hyping up  the hysteria, he claimed if Congress didn’t finance his convoluted pandemic influenza plan, stockpiling 80 million doses of Tamiflu at $100 per dose ($8 billion)— two million Americans would die from the bird flu. American Free Press warned readers that this was another scam, just like the swine flu scare of 1976.
Tamiflu was a lackluster bust until Bush’s bird flu scare.

Now the World Health Organization (WHO)—courtesy of ever-suffering U.S. taxpayers—wants to “save” billions of people by spending billions of dollars for: 1.) Roche’s flu drug Tamiflu; and 2.) a rush to concoct a vaccine for a virus they claim is a mystery to science. The leading contender to get that juicy vaccine contract is Baxter—the same company that almost unleashed a deadly pandemic on the world less than six months
before the GSFS.
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Flu Pandemic Propaganda and Profit

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars
May 6, 2009

Residents of the United Kingdom have received a  propaganda leaflet on the so-called swine flu pandemic. In addition to instructing the commoners on how to sneeze, the leaflet explains government plans for pandemics.

“While the current situation is serious, there’s good reason for us to be confident that we can deal with it.” How will the government deal with the next pandemic and the one after that? By stockpiling expensive drugs — Tamiflu and Relenza — that do nothing to prevent the flu.

“There is no evidence that Tamiflu, the drug being stockpiled by Britain, the United States and Europe, will work if a flu pandemic takes off in humans, according to a review published today by the Lancet medical journal,” the Guardian reported in January. “While the drugs might reduce patients’ symptoms, the authors say the use of Tamiflu could actually increase the spread of the flu virus. If people take the drug and have fewer symptoms they may end up going to work and spreading the potentially lethal virus.”

“Not long ago, President Bush sought to instill panic in this country by telling us a minimum of 200,000 people will die from the avian flu pandemic, but it could be as bad as 2 million deaths in this country alone,” writes Joseph Mercola. “This hoax is then used to justify the immediate purchase of 80 million doses of Tamiflu, a worthless drug that in no way shape or form treats the avian flu, but only decreases the amount of days one is sick and can actually contribute to the virus having more lethal mutations.”

In response to this hype — or rather, the reason for the hype — the United States placed an order for 20 million doses of this worthless drug at a price of $100 per dose. It cost the taxpayers around $2 billion.

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SWINE FLU HOGWASH

By Ralph Forbes

Americanfreepress.net

An international businessman who performs major work for the Department of Health and Human Services told AFP that fear mongering by Washington and the World Health Organization about swine flu is an attempt to scare people into allowing global control of the healthcare system.
From 300,000 to 500,000 cases of flu are reported in the United States each year and 30,000 to 40,000 die, he pointed out. At the moment of this interview, 100 cases of the flu variant called “swine” had been reported. Yet, all of the major newspapers and news broadcasts breathlessly report on the “swine flu pandemic” to the virtual exclusion of other developments throughout the world. 

Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security flack, take the absurd position that the United States is under a dire threat of a swine flu epidemic but Mexicans, legal and illegal, should continue to be welcomed as they cross the border into this country. The swine flu outbreak originated in Mexico City, with 2,000 cases so far.

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