Aristocracy

Adam Smith: The Vile Maxim

...changes in government policy, Hacker and Pierson argue, account for the radical change in the distribution of American wealth. This isn't the rich getting richer because they're smarter or working harder. It is the connected getting richer because their lobbyists are working harder. No Political philosophy - liberal, libertarian, or conservative --should be ok with that." Lawrence Lessig: Republic, Lost (p157)

"It should be no surprise that when rich men take control of the government, they pass laws that are favorable to themselves. The surprise is that those who are not rich vote for such people, even though they should know from bitter experience that the rich will continue to rip off the rest of us." Andrew Greeley (Chicago Sun-Times, February 18, 2001)

...when Americans with different income levels differ in their policy preferences, actual policy outcomes strongly reflect the preferences of the most affluent but bear virtually no relationship to the preferences of poor or middle-income Americans. The vast discrepancy I find in government responsiveness to citizens with different incomes stands in stark contrast to the ideal of political equality that Americans hold dear. Although perfect political equality is an unrealistic goal, representational biases of this magnitude call into question the very democratic character of our society. Martin Gilens

The priorities of the wealthy and powerful show up not only in the premature focus on deficit reduction, but in the way austerity seems likely to be targeted. A genuine effort to combat long-term deficits would address the myriad ways, documented by Stiglitz and many others, in which the federal government subsidizes economic behavior that has real costs for our society—whether by failing to require companies to pay a tax on their carbon emissions or allowing billionaire hedge fund managers to pay taxes at rates far lower than those affecting middle-class families. Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much while so many have so little. the top 1 percent owns 38 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while the bottom 60 percent owns all of 2.3 percent. A progressive tax system which asks the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes, and which ends the outrageous loopholes that enable one out of four corporations to pay nothing in federal income taxes. Senator Bernie Sanders

...The Feedback loop between money, politics, and ideas is both cause and consequence of the of the rise of the super-elite. But economic forces matter, too. Globalization and the technology revolution - and the worldwide economic growth they are creating - are fundamental drivers of the rise of the plutocrats. Even rent-seeking plutocrats - those who owe their fortunes chiefly to favorable government decisions - have also been enriched partly by this growing global economic pie. Christia Freeland: Plutocrats.

"The ruling elites, the members of the corporatocracy, bear a disturbing resemblance to the shah of Iran and those other dictators we empowered. Unlike the elected presidents, premiers, or prime ministers, they are not chosen by the people, do not serve limited terms, and answer to no one (they profess to report to boards of directors, but they all serve on each other's boards and are mutually supportive). They wield tremendous influence in the halls of both local and national governments. Almost no politician gets elected without money that flows through them and their stockholders. They control the mainstream media, either through direct ownership or advertising budgets." John Perkins book Hoodwinked pg 49

"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both." Louis Brandeis

"Don't trust someone who wants to take something that we all share and profit from equally and give it to someone else to profit from exclusively." Mike Bergan (quoted in Jeremy Rifkin's 'Zero Marginal Cost Society' pg 190.


"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."  Einstein on Politics, Rowe and Schulmann. Monthly Review, May 1949.

The most obvious criticism of the New Overclass is that their political machine is undemocratic. Using subversive techniques once aimed at communists, and with all the money they ever need to succeed, the Overclass undemocratically controls our government, our media, and even a growing part of academia. These institutions in turn allow the Overclass to control the supposedly "free" market. It doesn't win all the time, of course — witness Bill Clinton's impeachment trial — but it does score an endless string of other victories elsewhere, all to the detriment of workers, consumers, women, minorities and the poor. We need to fight it with everything we've got. Steve Kangas

...modern elites tend to "exercise power irresponsibly, precisely because they recognize so few obligations to their predecessors or to the communities they profess to lead. Their lack of gratitude disqualifies meritocratic elites from the burden of leadership, and in any case, they are less interested in leadership than escaping from the common lot--- the very definition of meritocratic success" Christopher Lasch: The Revolt of the Elites and Betrayal of Democracy 1995

"'The ruling classes have in their hands the army, money, the schools, the churches and the press. In the schools they kindle patriotism in the children by means of histories describing their own people as the best of all peoples and always in the right. Among adults they kindle it by spectacles, jubilees, monuments, and by a lying patriotic press.'" (Tolstoy, Government is Violence - Essays on Anarchism and Pacifism, Phoenix Press, 1990, p.82)  

However we look at it, the wealthy few use the relentless mechanism of commercialism to trample demoracy, the natural environmtne, and the common good. Our grievances are many, and the power opf citizenship, community, and national pride should be enough to mobilize the population to organize resistance and change." Breaking through power : it's easier than we think: Ralph Nader.
"The Triumph of the Corporate Rich," reflects the success of the wealthy few in defeating all of their rivals (e.g., organized labor, liberals, environmentalists) over the course of the past 35 years. G. William Domhoff: Who Rules America ?

there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents. Formerly bodily powers gave place among the aristoi. But since the invention of gunpowder has armed the weak as well as the strong with missile death, bodily strength, like beauty, good humor, politeness and other accomplishments, has become but an auxiliary ground of distinction. There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class. The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government? The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent it's ascendancy. Thomas Jefferson

This is what oligarchy looks like

The Billionaire Class won the 2016 Election.

How to cover the one percent (1/2016)

How the Super-Rich Threaten US Democracy (9/10/2015)

Colleges, Churches and Non-Profits Doing the Wealthy's Dirty Work (4/7/2015)

As inequality soars, the nervous super rich are already planning their escapes (1/23/2015)

Who Rules the WorlD ? (11/20/2014)

Our Invisible Rich (9/28/2014)

The Rise of the Non-Working Rich (7/15/2014)

This Just In: US Ruled By The Rich (5/16/2014)

Bernie Sanders Asks the Fed Chair Whether the US is an Oligarchy ? (5/9/2014)

Government: Protection Racket For the 1% (4/23/2014)

What Do The Koch Brothers Really Want: Senator Bernie Sanders (4/11/2014)

The 20 Richest Americans Are Greedy Takers—Not Inspirational 'Makers' (1/26/2014)

Business Elites Are Waging Brutal Class War in America (11/24/2013)

5 Ways Super-Rich Are Betraying America (11/3/2013)

Revolt of the Rich (10/18/2013) Mike Lofgren

Top U.S. political donors in 2012 among country's richest men (10/1/2013)

Plutocrats Have Become Sociopaths with Their Persecution Complexes (9/27/2013)

Underwriting Executive Excess (9/24/2013)

Makers, Takers, Fakers (1/28/2013)

How The Rich Are Destroying The US Economy (1/29/2013)

How the Billionaire Class is Destroying Democracy (1/19/2013)

The Rule Of Money (9/20/2012)

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a brutal strain of Aristocrats have come to rule America (6/28/2012)

Why Elites Fail (6/2012)Romney as Marie Antoinette

How Shameless Oligarchs Plunder our world: From 1990's Russia to Present-day Oklahoma (5/28/2012)

Who Are the 1% ?

Have The Super-Rich Seceded From The United States ? (1/5/2012)

Cool Dudes (8/2/2011)

GOP Sides With Millionaires (Again) 12/2/2011

How The GOP Became The Party of the Rich (11/9/2011)

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior (11/8/2011)

Corporate Media ignores Herman Cain's Koch Connections (10/14/2011)



AMY GOODMAN: David, Mitt Romney continually talks about "redistribution" as a bad word—

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —a code kind of word in talking about President Obama.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: And, in fact, we have redistribution in this country, but it is very much upward. You know, the phrase "trickle-down" was invented to mock Ronald Reagan’s tax policies. But the reality is, it’s not trickle-down, it’s Amazon-up, Niagara-up. And all you have to do is look at the data. From 1961 through 2007, the bottom 90 percent of Americans saw their income rise little tiny amount. But if you’re in the top top group of America, the plutocrat class, for every dollar that each person in the bottom 90 percent got after taxes, you got $35.50—$36.50. Your taxes, if you’re in the plutocrat class, fell from a mid-40 percent range down to where Romney is, 15 percent or so. In 2009, we had six people, according to IRS data, who made over $200 million, who paid no income taxes. And we have people who make billion-dollar incomes and can pay no income taxes because of the rules we have that allow people who are hedge fund managers and private equity managers, like Bain & Company, which was the sole property of Mitt Romney, to defer all of their income. Now, how do they live? Just the same way that the guys who create the internet companies, who take a small salary, and the company pays no dividend, are able to afford their private jets and their mansions: they borrow against their untaxed assets. And they get to live a great life, and . . . —you and I pick up the bill. (From Democracy Now! )

Media does not discuss economic fairness even though the US is experiencing pathological, extreme income inequality.

Inequality is the result of policy choice, not accident. Credit goes to Republican policies including the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, downsizing of the social safety net, deregulation unleashing 'free-market' forces, privatization, busting labor unions, restraint of government, Congress' dependence on funders, and corporate welfare.

It is just as important to have checks and balances on concentration in private hands as it is in public, but Republicans don't enforce anti-trust law.

Any time an oligarch arises in an industry, that is the sign of market failure. Even market fundamentalists should agree that a market is only free when there are many competitors. Corporate concentration is relentless, it stamps out competition, produces oligarchs, and exacerbates income inequality.

For anyone paying attention, it is obvious that our Congress is no longer responsive to the people. It mostly serves monied interests. Lawrence Lessig shows how this happened in his book Republic Lost.

We have lost our republic thanks to Republicans. (See Supreme Court)

Loosely defined, Feudalism is rule by the very wealthy.

The wealthy do not have the same concerns as the great majority: they are not inclined to want healthcare for everyone, good education for all qualified, or strong social programs. They regard extreme income inequality as only natural and will do nothing to remedy it. Instead, they want taxes and social supports reduced. They are the motivators of the Republican agenda which has no interest in serving the majority of the people.

Our dysfunctional government is a symptom of failure of leadership.  Long-term problems are not addressed including the threat of climate change, the deteriorating infrastructure, the nuclear danger, market volatility, income inequality, election flaws, sinking middle class, military-industrial complex, endless war,

Oligarchy, American Style (11/3/2011)

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman has a somewhat different take on taxes. Pundits have anointed Huntsman the most “reasonable” candidate in the 2012 GOP Presidential field, and the one-time ambassador to China, a near billionaire himself, is certainly doing his best to give his fellow wealthy plenty of reasons to rally his way. Huntsman last week announced his campaign tax plan. He wants to drop the top federal income tax rate from 35 to 23 percent and erase taxes on dividends and capital gains from wheeling and dealing stocks and other assets. This dividend and capital gains tax break alone, the Tax Policy Center calculates, would save America’s richest 0.1 percent an average $486,000 a year in taxes. From Too Much.

Six Banks Control 60% of GNP

Wealthiest 1% Rule Our Politics, But There's Hope In the Fight Against Global Capital. 

(Note the next two paragraphs shamelessly taken from notes to 100 Ways America is Screwing Up the World: John Tirman.

list of the wealthy from Forbes.  On executive pay, see the remarkable PBS show, “Now,” which did this segment on the issue.

On charitable giving worldwide, check out this eye-opening article from Inter-Press Service, noting that the heathens are more generous than the faithful. Here is an interesting web site from Boston College on wealth and philanthropy. “The people that give the most actually make the least. Households earning under $10,000 a year -- far below the poverty line -- gave 5.2% of their income to charity. That's a larger percentage of their money than any other income group,” says JustGive.org.

Links

Who Rules America ?

Who Rules ?

Ponerology

The One Party Planet: who rules ?

Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States:  Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley: September 3, 2013 (pdf)

Stop the Greed Agenda

Oligarchy USA

Too Much

100 Largest Company CEOs

Citizens United

Aristocracy

Welfare State for the Rich

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Video/Film

Noam Chomsky: Who Owns the World? Resistance and Ways Forward (11/2/2012) video about an hour.

The American Ruling Class (Watch it free on-line).

Bibliography

Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer: Dean Baker (download the free pdf)

Nation on the Take, How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy: Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman

They Rule: The 1% v Democracy: Paul Street

With Liberty and Justice for Some, how the law is used to destroy equality and protect the powerful: Glenn Greenwald

The Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class: Jeff Faux

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, Chrystia Freeland

Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making: David Rothkopf

Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class: Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson.

Capital as Power. A Study of Order and Creorder: Nitzan, Jonathan and Bichler, Shimshon. (2009) pdf

Twilight of the Elites, America After Meritocracy: Christopher Hayes

Billionaires: Darrell West

The Fine Print: David Cay Johnston

Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super-Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else: David Cay Johnston

The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer Dean Baker (download it for free.)

Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: Greg Palast

Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America: Martin Gilens

Pity The Billionaire: Thomas Frank

Greedy Bastards: Dylan Ratigan

13 Bankers: Simon Johnson and James Kwak

American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush: Kevin Phillips

The Coors Connection: Russ Bellant

What Every American Should Know About Who's Really Running the World: Melisa Rossi

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills (Oxford University Press, 2000 edition)

Who Rules America? Power and Politics by G. William Domhoff

The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith (Mariner, 1998 edition);

The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen

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