Cheaters, greed, and stacking the deck

Bill Belichick is coach of the New England Patriots. He is considered one of the best coaches in the HISTORY of the league and his teams over the years have won 3 Superbowls, and they’re on the verge of earning another. Belichick is also known for bending the rules in his team’s favor, and has been caught cheating on one occasion. He’s currently under investigation for deflating balls in the AFC Championship game this past Sunday, although it’s a moot point. The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7.

If you go beyond surface reports, and look a little deeper, it becomes easy to speculate that others may be involved in more subtle ways, including Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft and NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. During Spygate, Goodell reviewed and notoriously destroyed the tapes Belichick illegally made of other teams prior to games, prompting criticism from Senator Arlen Specter. Why would you do that, Commish?

In the end, who knows who’s involved. Whether cheating is only happening on the coaching level or in NFL front offices, visiting teams that enter the Patriots’ home stadium will be using extra precautions. Is that red light a camera? Are there microphones in this room? It’s enough to drive a coach crazy, but many coaches are paranoid anyway.

Ok, enough about the Patriots, what’s the point??

The point is, why cheat when you have more than one Lombardi trophy in the trophy case? Why cheat when you’re three championships ahead of most teams? Why cheat when you’re wildly successful, year in and year out?

The answer is simple. Greed, a lust for more and more power. And power has a funny way of going to somebody’s head. Take a look…

Where’s the empathy?

Unfortunately, greed plays out with much greater consequences in everyday life. In politics, government bureaucrats have the opportunity to make policy decisions that impact millions of people’s lives. Do you really think that the senator of Kansas can have empathy for somebody he’s never even met? How about somebody whom he can’t even culturally relate to?

It’s hard for anybody to relate to strangers and unknown cultures, but what about people who have been misunderstood and misrepresented? Not exactly a recipe for empathy, either.

Is it any wonder that politics and policy is driven by the wealthy among us? How can the poor have a voice if they cannot be heard? If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?

Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow unlimited amounts of corporate spending in political campaigns, we have witnessed the wealthiest among us, the teams with the most trophies in their closet, cheat their way out of costly company decisions. With government and big corporations feeding into each other, it’s no wonder that the wealth inequality gap increases day by day.

Here’s an excerpt from an article from the New York Review of Books, titled:

The Supreme Court’s Billion-Dollar Mistake

According to the Brennan Center report super PACs have spent more than one billion dollars on federal election campaigns. And because these organizations are free of any limits, they have proved to be magnets for those who have the resources to spend lavishly to further their interests. About 60 percent of that billion dollars has come from just 195 people. Those 195 individuals have only one vote each, but does anyone believe that their combined expenditure of over $600 million does not give them disproportionate influence on the politicians they have supported? The average contributions of those who give more than $200 to such super PACs are in the five- and six-figure range. The average donation over $200 to the ironically named Ending Spending, a conservative PAC, was $502,188. This is a game played by, and for, the wealthy.

How can you come to any other conclusion other than, elections are bought? And if you think politicians decisions only affect the rich and the poor, don’t forget that skin color plays a major factor, too. How many wealthy Native American billionaires do you know of? Conversely, how is the average Native family living, day to day?

Politics infiltrates prisons and jails taking campaign dollars from privatized prison companies. A 2012 Associated Press review found that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), The GEO Group, and a third privately-held company Management and Training Corp. spent at least $45 million in combined lobbying and campaign contributions at the federal and state levels in the previous decade.

People of color have been disproportionately imprisoned for much longer terms than their white counterparts for similar crimes. Policies here in California have led to an over-crowding in prisons, which leads to more privatized companies negotiating contracts with the state. How out-of-control is our prison system? According to a case study (found here) titled:

PRIVATE PRISONS AND INCARCERATION

The Problem and Its Impact on People of Color

The United States puts more people in prisons and jails than any other country in the world. The number of people incarcerated here has increased by 500 percent over the past three decades to 2.2 million.157 This striking change has not been a reaction to increasing crime. In fact, the current rate of serious crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault is at its lowest level since 1963.158 Instead, the rise in incarceration is due to policy changes in the criminal justice system, including dramatic increases in the length of sentences for similar crimes caused by mandatory sentencing and three-strikes policies as well as the “war on drugs.”159 The incarceration rate of people sentenced to more than a year of prison has more than tripled over the past 30 years—from 139 to 502 people per 100,000 in the general population.160

Private prisons are HUGE business, and as long as policy drives “human resources” through the door, a corporation can pay labor .10 cents an hour and get away with it. Why outsource to China when you can get cheaper labor right in your hometown?

So what, Paul??

Not enough people know the game is rigged, but thanks to the internet, some researchers who give a f***, and a few courageous souls, we can watch the tyrants a little more closely. But it’s about more than watching and understanding HOW they cheat, it’s about what YOU and I are ultimately going to do about it.

Washington is a lost cause as long as local politics is a lost cause. We can only change Washington D.C. on a local level. The Washington machine is made to serve the wealthy elite, break families apart, miseducate children, and build more wealth for the obscenely wealthy. Most politicians are bought, the question is, by whom? This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. Corruption is corruption.

The key is awareness. The key is understanding how a decision or policy is affecting your bank account, your family’s health, your economic mobility, and your happiness.

Happiness. How about that?

Listen. I’m not saying that the “powers that be” are controlling your life, how you see the world, or whether you believe in yourself enough or not. But to deny their everyday influence through schooling, media, and other “cultural” managers is utter ignorance.

We have to regain control over the one thing that gives us a fighting chance. An opportunity to really change things, and hopefully, one day, experience true transformation.

Our body. Our mind. Our spirit. The power lies within us all. Don’t let that go. Ever.

True power is WITH, not OVER people.

Paul

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