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The Nation's Rush to Oligarchy

 
 
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2014 05:16 pm
Here is a great discussion of the nation's mad rush to oligarchy. If you are happy being a serf, don't bother to read this.

You will see that the super-rich, who own most of the income and wealth of the country, are increasingly controlling our government. This is dangerous to the nation, and bound to have adverse consequences. Are you aware what happened in, and after, the French Revolution. Do you know what happened in Russia in 1917, in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, et al.?


America’s Mad Dash to Oligarchy
April 21, 2014

Since Ronald Reagan’s “supply-side” tax cuts for the rich – followed by other giveaways like eliminating the “death tax” so billionaires can pass on their fortunes to lucky heirs – the United States has been on a mad dash to oligarchy, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship note.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

The evidence of income inequality just keeps mounting. According to “Working for the Few,” a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, “In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.”

Our now infamous one percent own more than 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent of the country is in debt. Just this past Tuesday, the 15th of April — Tax Day — the AFL-CIO reported that last year the chief executive officers of 350 top American corporations were paid 331 times more money than the average U.S. worker. Those executives made an average of $11.7 million dollars compared to the average worker who earned $35,239 dollars.


Mr. Moneybags from the “Monopoly” game
As that analysis circulated on Tax Day, the economic analyst Robert Reich reminded us that in addition to getting the largest percent of total national income in nearly a century, many in the one percent are paying a lower federal tax rate than a lot of people in the middle class. You may remember that an obliging Congress, of both parties, allows high rollers of finance the privilege of “carried interest,” a tax rate below that of their secretaries and clerks.

And at state and local levels, while the poorest fifth of Americans pay an average tax rate of over 11 percent, the richest one percent of the country pay — are you ready for this? — half that rate. Now, neither Nature nor Nature’s God drew up our tax codes; that’s the work of legislators — politicians — and it’s one way they have, as Chief Justice John Roberts might put it, of expressing gratitude to their donors: “Oh, Mr. Adelson, we so appreciate your generosity that we cut your estate taxes so you can give $8 billion as a tax-free payment to your heirs, even though down the road the public will have to put up $2.8 billion to compensate for the loss in tax revenue.”

All of which makes truly repugnant the argument, heard so often from courtiers of the rich, that inequality doesn’t matter. Of course it matters. Inequality is what has turned Washington into a protection racket for the one percent. It buys all those goodies from government: Tax breaks. Tax havens (which allow corporations and the rich to park their money in a no-tax zone). Loopholes. Favors like carried interest. And so on. As Paul Krugman writes in his New York Review of Books essay on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, “We now know both that the United States has a much more unequal distribution of income than other advanced countries and that much of this difference in outcomes can be attributed directly to government action.”

Recently, researchers at Connecticut’s Trinity College ploughed through the data and concluded that the U.S. Senate is responsive to the policy preferences of the rich, ignoring the poor. And now there’s that big study coming out in the fall from scholars at Princeton and Northwestern universities, based on data collected between 1981 and 2002. Their conclusion:

“America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened. … The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Instead, policy tends “to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations.”

Last month, Matea Gold of The Washington Post reported on a pair of political science graduate students who released a study confirming that money does equal access in Washington. Joshua Kalla and David Broockman drafted two form letters asking 191 members of Congress for a meeting to discuss a certain piece of legislation. One email said “active political donors” would be present; the second email said only that a group of “local constituents” would be at the meeting.

One guess as to which emails got the most response. Yes, more than five times as many legislators or their chiefs of staff offered to set up meetings with active donors than with local constituents. Why is it not corruption when the selling of access to our public officials upends the very core of representative government? When money talks and you have none, how can you believe in democracy?

Sad, that it’s come to this. The drift toward oligarchy that Thomas Piketty describes in his formidable new book on capital has become a mad dash. It will overrun us, unless we stop it.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship, senior writer at the policy and advocacy group Demos, is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program, Moyers & Company, airing on public television. Check local airtimes or comment at www.BillMoyers.com. Follow Winship on Twitter @MichaelWinship.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 1,000 • Replies: 10
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2014 06:13 pm
The rush to oligarchy is a GOOD thing.

It gets us closer to the revolution...which is the only way that unbridled capitalism will ever be brought under control.

Things like the Occupy movements were jokes...set up to fail...aiming at failure.

When the course correction comes...it will come like it did in France during the 18th century or Russia during the 20th.

Nothing less will do...and only a breaking of the bough will make it happen.

I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but my advice is:

Do not lament that it is happening...rejoice in it.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2014 06:21 pm
Only when the highly motivated to vote segment of the population feels squeezed will the revolution (peaceful, I am sure) begin to happen, because no one listens to anybody else.
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2014 06:41 pm
At the very least go back to Bill Clinton's economy. A lot of Teapublicans made their first money then.
0 Replies
 
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Apr, 2014 01:28 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:

The rush to oligarchy is a GOOD thing.

It gets us closer to the revolution...which is the only way that unbridled capitalism will ever be brought under control.

Things like the Occupy movements were jokes...set up to fail...aiming at failure.

When the course correction comes...it will come like it did in France during the 18th century or Russia during the 20th.

Nothing less will do...and only a breaking of the bough will make it happen.

I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but my advice is:

Do not lament that it is happening...rejoice in it.



I say: Off with their heads!
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Apr, 2014 02:22 pm
@Advocate,
Advocate wrote:

Frank Apisa wrote:

The rush to oligarchy is a GOOD thing.

It gets us closer to the revolution...which is the only way that unbridled capitalism will ever be brought under control.

Things like the Occupy movements were jokes...set up to fail...aiming at failure.

When the course correction comes...it will come like it did in France during the 18th century or Russia during the 20th.

Nothing less will do...and only a breaking of the bough will make it happen.

I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but my advice is:

Do not lament that it is happening...rejoice in it.



I say: Off with their heads!


Be careful with that.

Marie Antoinette may have expressed that same sentiment. Wink
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Apr, 2014 05:02 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Damn!!! I guess I better buy me a gun. I sure as hell dont want too because it puts me in the same class as the gun nuts.
0 Replies
 
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Apr, 2014 08:12 pm
@Frank Apisa,
It was Madame Defarge who, when not knitting, demanded that the aristocrates be carted to Madame Guillotine.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Apr, 2014 08:32 pm
It could be probable that if an Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders stood to get elected, they would get assassinated, before securing the nomination.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Apr, 2014 08:11 am
@edgarblythe,
Sadly, you might be right.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 25 Apr, 2014 08:20 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

It could be probable that if an Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders stood to get elected, they would get assassinated, before securing the nomination.


This mess we are in will not be cleaned up without a lot of damage. I'm leaning toward a break-up on a par with the Soviet Union happening. I hope there are no assassinations, but the mood is grim.

As an aside, if the kind of accommodations and reactions on A2K are any indication of how things are going to work out...perhaps "grim" was much too measured a word to use.
0 Replies
 
 

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