Tuesday, February 22, 2011

America as Oligarchy

For this blog, I take my cue from my wife, who keeps talking about America as oligarchy!
by Charlie Leck

Your morning reading assignment is to read Paul Krugman’s column, Wisconsin Power Play. As you read, keep in mind that a lot of money from the Koch Brothers (Kansas billionaires) went into the election campaign of Wisconsin’s new and very conservative governor. Here’s a NY Times story about that, too, if you’re interested.

In his column, Krugman is suggesting a developing oligarchy in America. My wife has been saying that to me for over a year now.

The wealthy are “feeling their oats” and testing their wings in America’s political currents. They and big corporations are finding they can have major influence in American politics. The U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to make enormous contributions to political campaigns is already wreaking havoc on political outcomes in national and state politics.

An oligarchy is not a tool of democracy. It is a replacement, or substitute, for democracy. Under an oligarchy, the pretense of a democracy can be kept alive while the democracy really doesn’t function.

Too wild a concept? Keep your eyes open!

Think about this comment that Krugman makes…

...For what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.

“…In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

“Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.”

Ladies and Gentlemen and Children of All Ages…
the gap between America’s wealthy – its super wealthy – and our middle and poorer economic classes is growing wider and wider; while, at the same time, the very wealthy individuals and corporations are assuming more of a prominent role in politics. That could otherwise be called an oligarchy. Certainly, it is a serious weakening of the democratic institution about which our nation has long boasted.

For this, you can send a thank-you-note to the five conservative members of the United States Supreme Court. In our form of democracy, there is nothing – no single event – that can do more damage to the basic system of fair government than a poor Supreme Court decision.

Of course, the least you can do is read the two pieces I recommend to you above.


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1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting to write a post along similar lines. One of the things I wanted to mention ts that the filthy rich and corporate America have never done anything to benefit workers voluntarily - legislation forced them.