Posted by: "Joel Hirschhorn" email@example.com sprawlkills
Wed May 28, 2008 9:42 am (PDT)Poisonous Plutocracy Pushes Economic Inequality
Joel S. Hirschhorn
The biggest political issue receiving no attention by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates is the powerful plutocracy that has captured the government to produce rising economic inequality.
Both major parties have enabled, promoted and supported this Upper Class plutocracy. Myriad federal policies make the rich super-rich and the powerful dominant in both good and bad economic times. Meanwhile, despite elections, the middle class sinks into one big Lower Class as the plutocracy ensures that national prosperity is unshared.
Why no attention? Why no explicit reference to a plutocracy that makes a mockery of American democracy? Simple answer: because both major parties and their candidates are subservient to numerous corporate and other special interests that use their money and influence to ensure that their elitist priorities prevail. Make no mistake. Barack Obama with all his slick rhetoric is just as much a supporter and benefactor of this Upper Class plutocracy as Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
Everyone that is not in the Upper Class who votes for any of these presidential candidates is voting against their own interests. They have been hoodwinked, conned, brainwashed, exploited and manipulated by campaign propaganda. They elect people for the visible government while they remain oblivious to the secret government – the powerful pulling the strings behind the stage. Money makes more money, financing more political influence.
One of the biggest delusions of Americans is that if they retain their constitutional rights that they still live in a country with a working democracy. Wrong. American democracy is delusional because the two-party plutocracy makes citizens economic slaves. This represses political dissent. It is 21st century tyranny. Two-party presidential candidates, unlike our nation’s Founders, lack courage to fight and revolt against domestic tyranny. Placebo voting distracts citizens from the political necessity of fighting the plutocracy.
Economic data show the plutocracy’s assault on American society. Consider these examples.
The top 20 percent of households earned more, after taxes, than the remaining 80 percent in 2005, while the topmost 1 percent took home more than the bottom 40 percent.
No American state has seen the gap between rich and poor widen faster than Connecticut. From 1987 through 2006, the top fifth of the state’s households saw their incomes increase by 44.8 percent, after inflation. Incomes for the bottom fifth fell 17.4 percent. On the other coast, just three of every 1,000 Californians in 2005 reported at least $1 million in income. But they got $213 of every $1,000 Californians earned in 2005 income. The state’s top 1 percent – average income $1.6 million – pay 7.1 percent of their incomes in income, sales, property, and gas taxes. The poorest fifth of California households pay 11.7 percent.
Real hourly wages for most workers have risen only 1 percent since 1979, even as those workers' productivity has increased by 60 percent. Higher efficiency has rewarded business executives, owners and investors, but not workers. What's more, American workers now work more hours per year than their counterparts in virtually every other advanced economy, even Japan, and without universal health care.
A typical hedge fund manager makes 31 times more in one hour than the typical American family makes in a year. In 2007, the top 50 hedge fund income-earners collected $29 billion – an average of $581 million each. John Paulson took home $3.7 billion from his hedge fund labors. These figures do not count profits from selling shares in their companies. Importantly, hedge fund players contributed nine times more to the Senate Democratic fundraising arm than they gave to Senate Republicans in 2007.
In 2009, Americans who make over $1 million a year will save an average $32,000 from the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. The average American household will save $20.
Between 1986 and 2005, the income of America’s top 1 percent of taxpayer jumped from 11.3 to 21.2 percent of the national total. Their federal income taxes dropped from 33.13 percent of total personal income in 1986 to 23.13 percent in 2005. From 2001 to 2008, the net worth of the wealthiest 1 percent grew from $186 billion to $816 billion.
Economic inequality and injustice reflect a political disaster, even with regular elections. It has resulted from government decisions on tax cuts, spending, trade agreements, deregulatory measures, labor unions, corporate handouts, and regulatory enforcement. All crafted to benefit the rich and powerful and leave the rest of us behind. It has happened under Democratic and Republican presidencies and congresses. Bipartisan domestic tyranny propels greed driven plutocracy.
What do we desperately need? A national discussion and referendum on inequality-pumping plutocracy, that none of the major presidential candidates shows any interest in having. Certainly not Barack Obama with his vacuous talk of change (but not about the political system) and John McCain’s incredulous talk of reform.
And it is delusional to think that populist global Internet connectivity producing what is called personal sovereignty threatens plutocracy. Networking among the rich and powerful strengthens the global plutocracy, placing it above national sovereignty. More than produce an army of revolutionaries to overturn the system, the Internet has fragmented every imaginable movement. Individuals indulge themselves with their own or social websites or fall victim to conventional politicians. Technology and media owned and controlled by plutocrats serves them while it shackles and deceives the multitudes.
Only one presidential candidate sees our core national problem and the need for revolutionary thinking and action to correct the system: Ralph Nader who said recently, "We need a Jeffersonian revolution." Plutocrats should heed these wise words of John F. Kennedy: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." With all the guns and pain Americans have, the ruling class should worry and start reforms. To start, let third party and independent candidates into televised presidential debates. If the stage can be filled with a bunch of primary season candidates, why not more than two in the general election?
For electoral dissent, stop being a presidential romantic; use your vote to fight the plutocracy. Reject the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Put an end to serial disappointments. Time is running out. Talk is cheap. Action is crucial. Violent revolution is an option.
[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.]