Donald Trump is going on his merry way, working hard to entrench a kleptocracy. Chris Hedges writes:
He will attempt to unleash a kleptocracy—the word comes from the Greek klépto, meaning thieves, and kratos, meaning rule, so it is literally “rule by thieves”—one that will rival the kleptocracies carried out by Suharto in Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. It is not that Trump and his family will use the influence of government to increase their wealth, although this will certainly take place on a massive scale; it is that hundreds of billions of federal dollars will be diverted into the hands of cronies, sleazy bankers, unethical financial firms and scabrous hedge fund managers. The pillars of the liberal state will be obliterated.
Need proof? Take a close look at Trump's cabinet:
The appointment of Betsy DeVos (from a family with a net worth in excess of $5 billion) to become secretary of education means she will oversee the more than $70 billion spent annually on the Department of Education. DeVos—the sister of Eric Prince, who founded the notorious private security firm Blackwater Worldwide—has no direct experience as an educator. She promoted a series of for-profit charter schools in Michigan that make money but have had dismal academic results. She sees vouchers as an effective tool to funnel government money into schools run by the Christian right. Her goal is to indoctrinate, not educate. She calls education reform a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” Trump has already proposed using $20 billion of the department’s budget for vouchers. The American system of public education, already crippled by funding cuts, will be destroyed if Trump and DeVos succeed.
Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican (net worth $13 million), has been selected by Trump to be secretary of health and human services. He plans to abolish Obamacare. He said he expects the House to push for Medicare privatization “within the first six to eight months” of the Trump administration.
Steve Mnuchin (net worth $40 million), a former partner at Goldman Sachs and the president-elect’s choice to lead the Department of the Treasury, told Fox Business that “getting Fannie and Freddie out of government ownership” is one of the Trump administration’s top 10 priorities. This is also the stated goal of Trump’s choice for budget director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (net worth $3 million), a Republican from South Carolina.
The privatization of the government-backed mortgages would see financial institutions authorized to issue mortgage-backed securities that carry a government guarantee. If the mortgages failed under the privatization scheme, the taxpayer would foot the bill. If the mortgages succeeded, the banks would get the profit. The privatization plan amounts to the institutionalization of the 2008 government bailout for big banks. It could cost the taxpayer billions.
The biggest pot of gold is the $2.79 trillion contained in or owed to the Social Security fund. The kleptocrats will work hard under Trump to divert this money into the hands of hucksters and crooks on Wall Street. Tom Leppert (net worth $12 million), the former mayor of Dallas, whom Trump is expected to name to head the Social Security Administration, not surprisingly advocates the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. The infusion of this kind of liquidity into an overheated stock market would probably bring on a crash that would evaporate perhaps as much as 40 percent of the Social Security fund, rendering it insolvent.
And on the Democratic side of the Senate, there is Charles Schumer:
We will not have a champion in the Democratic Party’s Senate minority leadership, headed by the party’s slicked-up version of Trump, Sen. Chuck Schumer (net worth $700,000). Schumer sits on the Senate Finance Committee, whose members are loyal and well-compensated allies of the 1 percent, and he is a member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. His chief role in the party has been to raise millions of dollars from Wall Street for the party, himself and party candidates including his friend and protégé, the now disgraced Anthony Weiner, a former member of the House.
Schumer’s donors and allies include hedge fund moguls Steven Cohen (net worth $13 billion), John Paulson (net worth $8.6 billion), Stanley Druckenmiller (net worth $4.4 billion), Paul Tudor Jones (net worth $4.3 billion), Paul Singer (net worth $2.2 billion) and James Chanos (net worth $1.5 billion) and Donald Trump (net worth $3.7 billion).
Big money rules the roost. And it 's comfortably positioned to make more big money. The Neoliberal rout is almost complete.