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How the Rich and Powerful Control America

July 26, 2011 | My Ramblings | 3 Comments

I recently watched the documentary “Hot Coffee” on HBO Demand about Tort Reform in the U.S.  One case that was highlighted in the documentary was about Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico who burned herself by spilling hot coffee on her lap purchased from a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant (1992).  As a result, she sued McDonalds and was awarded over $2.86 million (later reduced to $640,000).  The media reported the news as our legal system running amuck.  Many people demanded Tort Reform to get rid off these frivolous lawsuits. I recall hearing about the lawsuit and thought it was crazy that someone would be awarded that kind of money for spilling coffee in their lap.

However, when I learned the details I understand why the jury awarded the money to the plaintiff.  This woman suffered 3rd degree burns on both her inner thighs requiring painful skin graphs.  Initially, she only wanted McDonalds to pay her medical bills and loss of income ($20,000) but McDonalds refused and only offered $800.  Additionally, it was discovered that about 700 McDonald’s customers reported being burned by hot coffee and the company did nothing to resolve the problem.  McDonald restaurants kept the coffee at 180 degree Fahrenheit which caused serious burns.

The documentary is about how Tort Reform was pushed by big business to limit payout in lawsuits and how big business used the media to manipulate society in believing that Tort Reform would benefit everyone.  When it reality it only benefited big businesses.  As an example, Tort Reform was sold in Texas as reducing healthcare cost by reducing awards in malpractice suits.  However, since Tort Reform was enacted in Texas in 2003 healthcare costs has skyrocketed.  

The documentary had me thinking about 2 things; the first is how people are easily misled by the media and the second is how the rich and powerful really run the United States although we are suppose to be a democracy.  

Fact: People are quick to judge which makes it easy for the media to mislead and manipulate them.

The recent not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony case is an example of how people are quick to judge without having all the information.  People blasted the jury for finding Casey Anthony not guilty in the death of her child.  However, many of these people don’t know all the details.  They were not sitting, listening and reviewing all the information the jury was presented with.  They heard snippets of news from the media and jumped to conclusions.  When in reality, if they were on the jury they may have reached the same decision.

Another example was when Shirley Sherrod, a USDA official, was quickly fired for a speech she gave at a NAACP event.  A blogger took her speech, edited it and made Shirley Sherrod sound as if she was a racist.   The media jumped on the story, people were outraged, even the President couldn’t believe it and as a result she was immediately fired.  However, as soon the entire speech was viewed, everyone discover they were duped.  Shirley Sherrod was not a racist and she was immediately offered her job back.

As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve learned to not jump to conclusion without knowing the full story.  Whenever I see political commercials giving snippets of information about a political candidate I’ve learned to not believe any of it.  Most of the information is “half-truths” or downright lies.  However, I’ve often wondered what percentage of the American public realizes that these commercials are not factual.  I’ve often believed that these commercials should be banned from being aired.  Politicians should not get elected by spewing false information about their opponents.  Isn’t that just plain common sense!

Research has proven that these commercials are effective at manipulating elections.  The candidate who can afford to show the most negative ads about this competitor wins 90% of the time.  This is extremely unfortunate.

As a result, the rich and powerful use the media to influence elections.  The biggest threat to the rich and powerful is the fact that the common man has 1 vote just like them.  The common man can band together to elect people to represent them and their interests.  However, the reality is that the rich and powerful use the media to influence the common man to vote for things that only benefits the rich and powerful.  

And it’s Getting Worse

Last year the  Supreme Court decision to roll back campaign contributions by companies is simply wrong.  This just hands control of elections to big business and the rich.  The people who can afford to use the media to manipulate society wins. I’m certain the founding fathers of the United States didn’t intend for only the rich and powerful to control the country.





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3 Comments to “How the Rich and Powerful Control America”

  1. Ben
    8:22 am on July 27th, 2011

    Good post! I agree that its shameful that big businesses back politicians with huge sums of money. The supreme court is clearly wrong! But then again, big business was involved with getting these conservative supreme court judges appointed.

  2. JamaicanGarth
    1:23 pm on July 27th, 2011

    Actually the Founding Fathers did not want the masses to have the final say in determining the government which is why they created the Electoral College.

    However, in recent times, the political system has been hijacked by the rich and powerful due to the influence of television ads and lobbyists influence on politicians. Thanks to the short attention span of too much of the electorate, we are living in an era of soundbite politics. Another factor involved in the dumbing down of the political process are the adage that “If you repeat a lie long enough and loud enough, it will become the truth.”

    Unfortunately, the only ways to change the system are to enact Election Finance Reform legislation or to have the “huddled masses” start a revolution. The first is unlikely to happens since those in power would have to lead this effort. And the second is increasingly unlikely in the short term since the power brokers through the system of nuevo indentured servitude and the the distracting use of the media keep us otherwise occupied or divided to recognize and address the larger problem.

  3. Michelle
    8:05 pm on July 27th, 2011

    Yes, sometimes the media and those political commercials seriously annoy me because I feel like they are insulting my intelligence. Unfortunately, the masses fall for these tactics. Weird though, because it sometimes it seems really obvious!

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