What are you willing to do to stop Congress permitting the largest energy companies, such as Exxon and BP, from purchasing excessive numbers of oil-drilling leases from the federal Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management in areas designated for oil extraction? The oil giants then allow the leases to remain dormant for the entire length of the contracts. Why? Because these drilling leases are bought specifically to prevent medium-to-small drillers from competitively extracting the oil, thereby shrinking the oil supply, especially domestically.

Controlling the leases but letting them sit idle gives the oil giants even greater monopolistic control of the supply of oil, guaranteeing maximum profits while eliminating thousands of American jobs. Congress and the Bureau of Land Management are perpetuating America dependence on, and further enriching, foreign countries, as well as protecting big oil's own considerable investments in drilling sites abroad.

To top off this perfectly loathsome economic policy, these same big-oil giants receive huge annual taxpayer subsidies in the billions of dollars, even though they enjoy obscene profits but pay less than 5 percent in taxes - and, more often than not, no taxes at all!

General Electric is another flagrant example of the gross corruption of capitalism that ensues when an industry leader aligns with the political force of government to curry special privileges that result in an insurmountable competitive edge. Prior to Barack Obama's election, GE was on the brink of financial disaster. After Obama's election, GE received a huge bailout, and was awarded game-changing government contracts - including a medical-records system that would centralize all medical records under Obamacare - as well as a lucrative stake in trading the newly established carbon-credit commodity.

This is nothing less then the next greatest financial scam since derivatives that will financially provide for GE and other "green" partners at taxpayers' expense well into the future. Put another way: American taxpayers are GE's unlimited revolving line of credit. To add insult to injury, Obama recently named GE's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, the head of his Council on Jobs & Competitiveness.

The above are classic examples of corrupting capitalism via special privileges granted by government to one or two companies at the expense of all others. And yes, we have laws against such anti-trust and price-fixing behavior, but the authorities, whether elected or appointed, refuse to enforce them.

It is so important to understand that none of these corporations could implement a scintilla of these self-enriching tactics without the full knowledge and cooperation of the United States government, whether through legislation or regulation (or the lack thereof). The government is an active party to the bad practices that prevail in nearly every industry. It takes two to tango, so to speak. This same modus operandi is occurring in all the major industries, including food, finance, energy, and communications. Union leadership is up to its neck in it, as well.

I cannot understand the rank-and-file public-sector-union members' loyalty to union leadership that also has a legacy of corruption, including the gross mismanagement of pensions across the board. This same leadership separated their pensions from those of their members, and are fully funded, while the rank-and-file pensions are dangerously underfunded, landing them on the Department of Labor's critical list.

The union leadership has quietly asked Congress for a bailout in the amount of $165 billion! It is unconscionable. How can the union membership tolerate such conduct, and how does continuing to pour millions of hard-earned dues into such a flawed system benefit it? I am completely befuddled by this blind loyalty after such horrendous stewardship.

It is time for all Americans, union and non-union alike, to shed the myths we rely on to keep our heads in the sand. Our best interests are not being served by our government, or by the monopolies that control it. There is no more room for making excuses. We all know it in our hearts.

We keep telling ourselves that someone will fix it, make it right. Who do you think is going to step up? The answer is you. One by one, we need to educate and take action on a local level to bring accountability. In some cases, it is as simple as showing up at city and county meetings. In other cases, it means using the court system, through grand juries and class-action suits. In still other cases, it means recalls and replacing politicians with honorable stewards who will uphold their state and federal constitutions' mandate to protect individual liberties via a republic, under the rule of law.

Iowans for Accountability is a great place to get involved in Scott County. Rock Island County deserves and needs such a watchdog group, as well. Positive change can happen, but it requires the determined resolve of the people, regardless of party affiliation, regardless of union status, regardless of private- or public-sector employment.

The ultimate common denominator is whether you favor governance that protects the rights of individuals, or governance that abdicates natural rights to impose privileges for groups, whether they're special interests in the form of committees, communities, monopolies, unions, agencies, foundations, non-governmental organizations, financiers, or even foreign groups and interests - including the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

It all boils down to one clear difference: individual rights versus group privileges. Groups don't have rights. Only individuals within groups have natural rights, those endowed by the Creator - the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Groups are granted privileges by those empowered to grant them.

A good way to look at it is that God-given rights exist with or without a government. Privileges only exist where there is a government to grant them - or take them away. Natural rights are immutable, while privileges exist at the whim of the grantor. We have centuries of civilization providing irrefutable evidence that no system of governance that places privileges of groups over rights of individuals can succeed. Such governance is inequitable by necessity, requiring force to prevail. And we are headed straight down that path.

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