YARMOUTH — According to Newton’s third law of physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. While this also applies to society, there can be disproportionate reactions, particularly when cruel and extreme policies have punished the working and middle classes.

Make no mistake, we are all the victims of ongoing deception, fraud and corruption. I am not referring to phone scams or cyber thieves breaking into our bank accounts. I am describing an entire class of invisible thieves who have a stranglehold on us. Every day, large financial entities are extracting money from the working- and middle-class people because they have the power to.

Much has been made about a vial of insulin costing $30 in Canada, but costing $300 at your local pharmacy. It comes down to this: Your purchases are ensuring that health care CEOs get their $25 million bonuses. They like having a second yacht in the Mediterranean. They’re not alone. There are innumerable executives enjoying financial incentives to make the investors rich. The problem is you are paying for it, if you can.

Right here in Maine you are seeing that corporate mentality at work as Central Maine Power feints and dodges with the Public Utilities Commission. You may recall that CMP rolled out new billing software that malfunctioned on a grand scale, serving up excessive bills to thousands of customers. At first, CMP denied it until a mountain of internal emails chronicling the debacle emerged. Then they misled customers with bogus explanations – it was a cold winter, you were using inefficient appliances, etc. Imagine the woman who had shut down her camp in China and turned off the electricity, yet still got a bill for hundreds of dollars. Just as with Watergate, it is hard to say whether the crime was worse than the coverup. But, even today CMP is attempting to outpoint the PUC by offering $6 million to compensate their customers. Sounds good, but the PUC hasn’t even finished its investigation. The real number could be much higher, and CMP knows it.

All these corporations are not your friends. They exist to funnel the greatest amounts of money they can back to their investors. In this case, CMP is owned by Iberdrola, a Spanish company, with European and Middle East investors. Remember: In 2016, according to economist Edward N. Wulff, 84 percent of U.S. stocks were owned by the top 10 percent of American households. They seldom care about you unless it costs them money, and then they will care just enough to keep you from leaving so they can continue extracting as much money as they can.

In 1909, Maine’s own Scott Nearing, then a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told his students that America’s form of capitalism was extreme, unjust and inevitably preyed upon the working class while concentrating enormous wealth among a small group at the top of society. Since Wharton’s trustees were bankers and industrialists, they fired him. But he got the last laugh. He went on to write more than 40 books and 114 articles, and give as many as 200 speeches a year. In 1973, much like the Catholic Church with Galileo, Wharton reinstated Nearing as an honorary professor emeritus.

Scott Nearing is probably spinning in his grave at the Good Life Center in Harborside. Not only do our corporations engage in deception and fraud, but their practices are sanctioned by corrupt politicians. A steady flow of campaign money keeps politicians voting “no” for you and “yes” for these companies. It permeates every aspect of life – your education, your health care, your finances, whether you receive justice in our courts and, finally, whether you can even afford care in old age.

Fear not, Newtonian physics to the rescue. A tsunami reaction is rising that promises to wash corruption from our beaches. People are waking up to the fact that the American dream has become a nightmare. American democracy has warped into American hypocrisy. But a new generation can see capitalist Europe, and particularly Scandinavia, where sharing is valued, producing greater upward mobility, higher standards of living, longer life spans and, above all, happier lives.


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