Thursday, September 23, 2010

Insufferable Arrogance And The "Plutonomy"

From Without Shoes
“This is an impressive crowd: the Have's and Have-more's. Some people call you the elites.
I call you my base.” --George W. Bush to his supporters at a campaign rally.

The leaked 2005 internal Citigroup “Plutonomy” memo describes how the richest 1% of the population has replaced the democracies of the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia; with a form of government they have coined “Plutonomy.” This relatively newly coined term combines plutocracy and economy, where only the wealthiest few rule and everyone else are essentially irrelevant slaves.

Citigroup was likely not alone in having this malevolent attitude towards the people and democracy. In fact in a sense, though I am very angry about this phenomenon, Citibank itself was merely observing what is so, and attempting to profit from it. Of course whether through irony or strategy, Citibank was one of the recipients of the great "bailout" in which John Q. Publics assets were simply seized by the AIG, Goldman Sachs, and the wealthiest firms on Wall Street.

If your not familiar with the memo, here is a link to it. Citibank has been actively removing this document from websites claiming it is a copyright infringement. (The truth is it is very unwelcome bad publicity). Again, this is not to single out one corporate entity. By observation it is glaringly apparent that we have allowed democracy, as minimally as it was practiced to be completely subverted. The one thing the plutocrats fear is democracy, the idea that their vote is no more important than another voter horrifies them. Of course they get around this two ways.
By turning all political debate into a meaningless clown show, and by using the vast wealth at their disposal to simply buy off the political process. The fact is even if a candidate starts off wishing to work for the will of the people, they will corrupt or extort them. They will smother them with disinformation, and threats of fearsome consequences if anything is done to make their game less prone to cheating.

In this game in which 99% of us are unwilling pawns, Bankrobber #1 has $500 billion in assets, Bankrobber#2 has $250 billion, and John-Q-Public (owner of the gameboard) has $500 billion. The banksters agree to pay $100 billion to the winner, (but good old John-Q-Public is not even informed of the game). The Banksters also agree that for each piece captured, $25 billion will be stolen from the owner’s assets and given to the player who lost the piece. The game is played and Bankster-1 wins. He receives $100 billion from Bankster-2, and $150 billion for the six pieces he lost, increasing his assets to $750 billion. Banker-2 pays $100 billion to Banker-1, but receives $250 billion for the ten pieces he lost, increasing his assets to $400 billion. John-Q-Public’s assets are reduced to $100 billion, and he has no idea what the hell happened.

There IS a class war, but it is the wealthiest 1% who are attacking everyone else and frankly winning every single battle handily. Other than obscene greed what is the motivation? The fact is, the gap between the rich and the poor is a better measure of the health of our economy than the S&P 500 or the Dow. Today, the concentration of privately held wealth at the top is at its highest peak since 1929, the year the financial markets crashed and gave rise to the Great Depression of the 1930s. At that time, 25% of the population was out of work. Despite our economy being mired in the deepest recession since the 1930s, people in the top 1% continue to prosper and own as much wealth as those in the bottom 90%. This is all well and good for the extremely wealthy, but a disaster for the vast majority. Of course there is a plan, and it was set in motion in 1980 and continues to drain the wealth of the middle class today - Trickle Down Economics, the idea that letting the greediest and most morally bankrupt among us do whatever the hell they please will somehow benefit all eventually. History demonstrates this scheme cooked up by Donald Regan (Goldman-Sachs), who hired Ronald Reagan as their spokesperson simply concentrates wealth at the very top while removing it from the vast majority of people. The economy is great for a handful of billionaires who know the best way to rob banks is to own them. After the great depression, the economy grew and prosperity was shared, the middle class grew and so did the fortunes of the wealthy.
But a different course was set in the 1980s and has been adhered to ever hell with the peasants in the middle class, make the aristocracy richer. And they certainly did just that. The disparity between the haves and have nots grew algorithmically. The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the all economic growth over the period 1993-2007 while household incomes for non billionaires shrunk dramatically due to outsourcing, layoffs, and closings. The "globalization" plan is simply a scheme to turn the American workforce into a cheap workforce able to compete with a Vietnamese sweatshop.

Government is FOR-SALE, 99.7% of all 200 million eligible voters are vastly out-spent by a tiny 0.3% of all 200 million voters who make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more). How can the remaining 99.7% of all 200 Million eligible voters hope to out-spend the vastly wealthy who abuse their wealth to control and influence government? The bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians are merely carrying the water for their wealthy donors. As a result, corruption, gross hypocrisy, corporate welfare, graft, pork-barrel spending, subsidies for activities contrary to the public interest, waste, and other manifestations of unchecked greed are rampant. We now have a government of, by, and for those that abuse vast wealth to control and influence government.

And while many voters know this, the voters do a very strange thing. They complain about corruption, give the President and Congress dismally low approval ratings, but then still reward incumbent politicians within Congress with a 85% to 90% re-election rates which empowers and rewards corrupt incumbent politicians to grow more corrupt and irresponsible. It also saddles the President with a dysfunctional Congress. It is no mystery that things continue to deteriorate, and the nation's problems continue to grow in number and severity.

What can we do to stop this downward spiral? Demand democracy. Democracy is the greatest fear of the plutocrats. They are after all small in number, there are 99 of us for every one of them. We must demand politicians act on our behalf. We must NOT reward them with votes when they don't. We MUST change the SCOTUS decisions that have declared money is free speech, and the recent decision that as free speech the amount of influence that can be bought has no bounds. Frankly, before the rise of the robber barons, corporations were not permitted to influence elections under threat of having their charters revoked. K street and lobbyist peddling must be shut down entirely. The vulture capitalists need to be brought to justice, and their ventures once more regulated. The middle class needs to stand up for itself.
No we will not be serfs, we will not be indentured slaves, our work is valuable and we should be paid fairly in exchange for it. The alternative is too bleak to consider.

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