Democracy is on its deathbed
“Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.”
Now admittedly the founding fathers had perhaps always stacked the deck in favor of landholders, the slide into Oligarchy had been stymied in the 19th century with various barriers being erected to break up the “Robber Barrons” and a generally progressive trend in civil rights, equality, the needy etc. after that– but it is now unraveling on the economic, independent media, religious, puritanical and parochial fronts. (The US has been progressing rapidly on certain social issues)
Back to that Princeton study:
“A landmark work in this tradition is G. William Domhoff’s detailed account of how elites (working through foundations, think-tanks, and an “opinion-shaping apparatus,” as well as through the lobbyists and politicians they finance) may dominate key issues in U.S. policy making despite the existence of democratic elections. Philip A. Burch has exhaustively chronicled the economic backgrounds of federal government officials through American history. Thomas Ferguson’s analysis of the political importance of “major investors” might be seen as a theory of economic elites. Most recently, Jeffrey Winters has posited a comparative theory of “Oligarchy,” in which the wealthiest citizens – even in a “civil oligarchy” like the United States – dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection.11 Gilens and Page Testing Theories of American Politics”
“But in using their vast wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy. That’s a betrayal of the most precious thing Americans share.”
Its democracy is also corrupted by gerrymandering, the practice of drawing constituency boundaries to entrench the power of incumbents. This encourages extremism, because politicians have to appeal only to the party faithful, and in effect disenfranchises large numbers of voters. And money talks louder than ever in American politics. Thousands of lobbyists (more than 20 for every member of Congress) add to the length and complexity of legislation, the better to smuggle in special privileges. All this creates the impression that American democracy is for sale and that the rich have more power than the poor, even as lobbyists and donors insist that political expenditure is an exercise in free speech. The result is that America’s image—and by extension that of democracy itself—has taken a terrible battering.
Well it is more than just an “impression” as the book will clearly demonstrate.
Now SP types, getting the wrong end of the stick (go figure), will claim that The Affordable Health Care act is a sign of the Oligarch. But only a rather infantile mind could dream up such claptrap. Progressives wanted the public option or single payer – but such hopes were obstructed by some form of mass cultural delusion that paying 50% too much for healthcare is a great idea. The Affordable Health Care is built upon a GOP solution. It is certainly better than doing nothing -which for a supposedly wealthy nation is just repulsive. The point is that the Asset Strippers (the Oligarchs in waiting) have no interest in providing affordable health care – so to suggest that an effort to help the humongous number of uninsured is an indication of an Oligarchy… well it is a rather Stupidparty notion.
The book never argues that there should not be billionaires. It never argues that all billionaires are bad. People earning over $10m represent about 0.01% of Tax payers. Maybe 50% of the 1% actually give a damn about others, about humanity. It really is relatively easy to figure out the two camps. Like every thing else – follow the money. Are these individuals, when spending for a cause, motivated by what is in it for themselves, or for others. The latter grouping does not really represent a threat to democracy – and in many cases their efforts can be more effective than the efforts of government.
Many wealthy individuals are happy to remain oblivious. They tentatively think that they are “in like Flynn.” But in the majority of cases that is not really correct.. to be running with the big big boys, you need to able to live off the interest of your interest. If you are not doing that your offspring may not be able to run with the pack – and they will be picked off one by one. Many are just coming to grips with these trend lines – having paid somewhere between $250,000 – $1,000,000 for each child’s education – they can see that this investment will in many cases not yield a financially sustainable return. Many people over 45 years of age, live very comfortably, often benefiting from their parents luck in presiding over property values sky rocketing after the second World War, they themselves got great jobs and now live with more than enough assets to to see them through retirement. But yet they still the feel “times winged chariot hurrying near” – threatening their financial legacy.
These concerned people might now blame the very system that got them to this most advantageous place. They fail to recognize that they were never really in the club. As they feel more threatened they feel more fearful and fall into the SP trap. Myth dominates. The Asset Strippers are getting to the point where they can strip the struggling class no more. Their fertile land, their access to water, their skills, their willing hard labor driven by the promise of the American dream, have all been stripped – to carry on stripping would bring on social instability – and that is not what the Asset Strippers want. No, they must now go after the assets of the wealthier people, their property, their investment accounts, their money making skills. Healthcare, Education, Social Security, monopolized Services – the “profitasization” of such will only increase. The next financial crash, these wealthy “near one percenters” will have to accept a haircut to bail out the Asset Strippers or risk losing everything. These very successful people, initially assuming that they would only be abused during their first few years as a junior, now find that to keep pace, they must keep up that torrid pace though out their careers. Not many people on their deathbed, as their final thought – think to themselves – if only I had spent more time with my boss.
So on present trend lines the 1% will become the 0.1%, will become the 0.01%- and for those few – America will be the greatest nation on earth.
America will be at one (or .01) with Russia or possibly China.