Unfurling the Flag of the United States of Greed

We pledge allegiance to the logo of Exxon Mobil Corp. And to the shareholders for whom it stands, one corporation, unregulated, with exploitation and disregard for all.

We might as well begin reciting this pledge from now on: It's preposterous to insist that our nation is about anything but unrestrained profiteering anymore.

Liberty and justice, what humbug!

Horrified by my irreverent rewrite of the Pledge of Allegiance? That's OK. Everyone is horrified when someone tells an ugly truth. But after Exxon Mobil's recent quarterly profit announcement, you must know that it's not our government any more.

We live in a country with skyrocketing unemployment figures, skyrocketing foreclosure rates, skyrocketing debt to foreign governments, and skyrocketing numbers of people who are homeless, hungry and sick.

We've been so afraid that a government doing the work of the people might do it wrong that we ended up giving the government to corporate bosses who aren't afraid of anything.

We were so afraid of paying taxes and giving ourselves the power to administer the nation's necessities -- what some call "inalienable rights" -- that we placed the government in the hands of the pitilessly greedy.

Wegave it to them, because while Congress and the president made deals in our White House and on the floor of our Capitol, we didn't stop them. The United States has become one big pawn shop, and our leaders have -- for decades -- put our natural resources, stewardship responsibilities and now our civil liberties up for sale.

Once the multinational corporate propaganda machine made us afraid of a compassionate, involved government, it was pretty easy to do the rest.

First they called social services socialism and now they call respect for personal privacy terrorism. TV commentators and their talk radio accomplices are paid multimillions of dollars to spew the hokum that if we allowed government to tax us and invest our money in education, research and development, health care and infrastructure we'd be abandoning capitalism and our American way of life.

For the past 28 years our leadership has privatized our self-governing mainframe.

We effectively eliminated corporate regulation. Consequently, our commerce, our small businesses and our workers' wages suffer while multinational corporations assume control of our wealth.

Once the Federal Communications Commission lost effective jurisdiction over our airwaves, mergers and acquisitions by faceless, bottom line-driven multinational companies created a system of subjective media ownership that now controls the information we receive. And the little guy, the local broadcast owner and the hometown newspaper, gets crushed under the weight of these huge conglomerates.

Private companies are fighting our wars. And though mercenary contractors make up half our occupying force, they don't suffer the same casualties. In July 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that about 1,000 private contractors had died while serving in Iraq. Our enlisted men and women -- working for a fraction of what the mercenaries get paid -- do the lion's share of the dying.

And because our media are biased, we see no images of their sacrifice.

A state funeral and public viewing of the casket were deemed necessary and respectful when Ronald Reagan died, and yet the media won't show us the coffins of our dead soldiers or debate openly the reality of all these dead mercenaries.

If elected officials were held accountable by the people and did not instead answer to their corporate contributors, some courageous newspaper or TV crew would fight to get these pictures and this story to the American people.

Pledging allegiance to our flag has become so 1776, so 1865, so 1941.

Men invented flags to ascertain the direction the wind was blowing so that the archers could adjust their aim in battle and still hit their targets. Placing the clan or ruling colors on them came later. Now, with modern weaponry, the flag is passAf(c) and only the logo matters.

Exxon Mobil's greed goes completely unchecked by our government even though we have the power to control it. Instead people go hungry, will be unable to heat their homes, and continue to die in the war that makes this company abhorrently rich.

Why even have a flag? We already know which way the wind is blowing.

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