A Feudal System Resurrection

Ed Raymond

As 2,000 private jets carrying  the world’s oligarchs, plutocrats, CEOS, millionaires and billionaires to Davos, Switzerland  where they would decide in January how they were going to screw the bottom 99 Percent out of their last dollar, two caravans were slowly moving to the United States-Mexico border. One was from the south from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and other Latin American countries; the other from the United States and Canada. The caravan from the south was made up of refugees escaping poverty and crime in dysfunctional governments while seeking asylum and work in a democracy. The caravan from the north was made up of millions of “refugees” escaping obscene health care and dental costs in the United States and Canada. While the rulers of the world were flying in their helicopters from many airports to their $10,000-a-night hotel suites for the week’s conference, millions of Americans were crossing the border from the north seeking cheap medical operations, drugs, and dental care in Mexico.We hardly hear anything about the millions from the north going to Mexico to seek relief from the most expensive health care in the world, but I have known about it for years because a brother and a sister married Californians and lived-and died-in California (Los Angeles, Northridge, Desert Springs, Pasadena, Arroyo Grande, Los Palos Verdes, Burbank) for over 55 years. They were both middle-class. My brother was an ex-FBI agent who then sold airplanes for Lockheed all over the world. My sister was a nurse who married a newspaper publisher and lived near the Rose Bowl. When they had real medical and dental problems they drove south to Mexican border cities. Health care was much cheaper-and often better-in Mexico. 

Millions Seeking Cheap and Good Health Cross the Border Anually 

This is the story of just one border checkpoint—and it is certainly not the busiest. Los Algodones, Mexico is across the border from Yuma, Arizona, well-known as one of the hottest places next to Death Valley in the U.S. Over 6,000 Americans and Canadians cross the border dailyat Yuma seeking every kind of health care. A Truthout article describes the scene: “Los Algodones (known as the “Molar City!”) has to be seen to be believed. There are more dentists per capita than anywhere else in the world. It seems like every square foot of public space wall is covered with advertisements promising quality and affordable dental care, vision care, and prescription drugs. (There was a story last week of four American families with diabetes victims buying insulin for about $1,800 in Mexico that would cost over $18,000 in the U.S. (Yes, the commas are in the right place.) The community’s economy is built to serve the flood of ‘dental refugees’—mostly senior  citizens from the U.S. (the richest country in the world) and Canada seeking major medical care they cannot afford in their own countries, even with insurance.”According to the National Association of Dental Plans about 74 million Americans do not have dental insurance and about 35 million do not have health insurance. Most dental plans cover about $1,500 annually, a number that has not changed in 50 years. It is not uncommon for people over 65 to need four implants and several crowns. Single crowns run about $2,000 and single implants about $5,000. That’s why millions of Americans run to the Mexican border cities and towns for dental care. They can save about 80%!  This is why we have the bizarre fact that more people are fleeing the expensive U.S. health care system  than there are refugees seeking asylum from violence , state terror, and poverty in Central America. Incidentally, the Mexican government provides free education for dentists, but then they have to provide one year of free service. It would be absolutely fascinating to get the total number of dental refugees from all border cities and compare them with refugees seeking asylum. In Yuma, U.S. citizens can park their car for $5, walk across the border for health care - and be back for dinner. 

Kings, Castles, Moats, Knights, Peasants, and Serfs Are Returning 

The World Economic Forum has been around for over 40 years and is heralding the return of the feudal system of government developed in France in the 9thCentury and brought to England in the 11thCentury. It was a simple system beloved by our present billionaires.  All the land in a country was owned by a king who was appointed by God or someone who carved his way to the top with sword, shield, and helmet. The king normally kept one quarter of the land for himself, presented the national church with some crumbs of land (depending upon how powerful it was) and used the rest to strengthen himself, friends, supporters, and greedy enemies by “leasing” land to them on a temporary basis as long as they behaved themselves and didn’t cross the moat and burn down his castle. They were often called barons or knights. Both had to swear allegiance to the king.Some of the developed countries in the world, most notably Russia, France, Britain, the United States, Hungary, Brazil, and China, are turning feudal because oligarchs, plutocrats, and billionaires act like barons and knights who have sworn allegiance to presidents and totalitarian leaders to protect their wealth. They control the elected politicians who do their dirty work for them for campaign funds to stay in the elected ranks. . Many are appointed to administrative posts in the countries listed above. King Donald, as an example, has appointed a whole flock of billionaires to his cabinet (witness Ross, Devos, Mnuchin). The workers who provide labor are much like the serfs and peasants in the old feudal system . They raised the food and served in the King’s army by order of the barons and the knights. Almost all of our military personnel today comes from the poorest counties in the United States. How many Ivy League graduates have served in the military? How many senator’s sons? Wealthy men in the United States now live 15 years longer than poor men. Poor American men live the same years as all men in Pakistan and Sudan now. 

Was Panic On The Agenda At Davos? 

Some of the rich at Davos, who each paid a fee of $62,000 to participate in the forum, seem to be thinking about using their private jets to fly to their estate hideaways in New Zealand and other strange lands to protect themselves from the serfs and peasants. Those who had purchased old missile silos and converted them into survival bunkers in our Midwest might have had the same thought. Some of the “barons” are beginning to panic. The teacher strikes in the United States and the “yellow vest” riots in France sent defiant messages to the 2,500 participants from 115 countries at Davos. Many of them think like Arnold Scharzeneggergropper who once memorialized: “Having more money doesn’t make you happier. I have $50 million yet I’m just as happy as when I had $48 million.” Security at Davos was very concentrated this year with sharpshooters on most roofs and 5,000 Swiss soldiers guarding the premises—costing about $40 million all told. We now have 2,208 billionaires in the world and are adding two more every day. The 26 top billionaires now have as much wealth as the bottom 3.8 billion people in the world. Some Davosites are seeing signs that the economic dams around the world might be breaking. After all, the billionaires are hiding an estimated $7.6 trillion in tax havens!Three Yale psychology professors have pointed out that world economics is going all wrong. They have concluded that most  Davosites actually believe a value system that states more money equals greater happiness.  Laurie Santos of the Yale trio says: “The things that actually make us happy: being with friends, doing things for others, enjoying our time off from work, have little to do with money. Money only seems to make billionaires happy when they are giving it away!” By the way, only 21% of the Davosites are women.

Protester: “Let’s Go Up The River And Beat The Hell Out Of The People Causing This”

 I often listen to BBC radio world news at night to catch up on what is happening. The other night I caught a conversation between two reporters discussing  the panic among the rich at the Davos World Economic Forum. One said he had noticed a change in attitudes among protesters. They said they were tired of trying to save victims of poverty floating down the river of poverty caused by billionaire plutocrats. They wanted to go up the river against the current and “beat the hell out of the people sending the poor down the river.” The serfs and pissants in the world are getting really angry. Witness the riots in France.The Waltons of Walmart, the richest family in the world  at well over $160 billion,  do not pay a living wage to a million of their employees they call “associates.” Taxpayers with food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, and welfare programs supplement their low salaries. The Waltons spend billions trying to destroy public education by funding private and charter schools across the country. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the richest man in the world, while constructing a home in D.C. complete with 25 bathrooms, is not paying a living wage to hundreds of thousands of his harried workers in his cruel “fulfillment” centers around the country. We taxpayers supplement his workers with food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, and welfare programs. Billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle, while buying a complete Hawaiian island for his personal use--while playing basketball on his 400 ft. super-yacht--has been charged with cheating and underpaying 4,200 of his female employees. Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world, at one time tried to call all of his data programmers independent contractors so he wouldn’t have to pay them benefits. He lost the case, failed in reforming high schools, and is now busy making toilets. 

In The End, Unions Will Have To Protect Us From The Plutocrats  

After spending over 60 years listening to teachers, being a teacher, supervising teachers, negotiating salaries fringe benefits, working conditions and many other items on both sides of the negotiations table, hiring and firing teachers, and counseling teachers, I believe teachers represent the best there is about any country: personal values, family values, and the philosophy of what is the common good for a society. Teachers are striking across the country in Republican right-to-work-for-less states and in Democratic states allowing strikes because they feel the country is going down the sewer. They realize we must teach the history, the government, the art, the music, the economics, and what represents the common good in our society. And they have the public on their side.    We have to have the middle class take the country back from the One Percent who have made many cities in this country uninhabitable for the poor and the middle class because of unconscionable greed. The 99 Percent can begin to take the country back for all people by telling King Donald and Congress that, if another  government shutdown occurs or if an executive “emergency wall order” is written, no planes will leave the runways, no ships will leave or enter ports, no trains or busses will leave the depots, and no hotels or restaurants will serve the public. It can be done. King Donald cannot yell “You’re fired!”  at a 100 million workers.