Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Are we ruled by the rich?

In Around the web on December 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

From FRANCIS FUKUYAMA
The American Interest
Thanks to Ron Epstein

The answer to the question “Is America a plutocracy?” might seem either trivial or obvious depending on how one defines the term. Plutocracy, says the dictionary, simply means “rule by the rich.” If the query is taken literally to mean that the non-rich—the vast majority of American citizens—have no influence in American democracy, or that the country is self-consciously ruled by some hidden collusive elite, the answer is obviously “no.” On the other hand, if the question is taken to mean, “Do the wealthy have disproportionate political influence in the United States?” then the answer is obviously “yes”, and that answer would qualify as one of the most unsurprising imaginable. Wealthy people have had disproportionate influence in most polities at most times in history.

Of course, one can argue endlessly over who qualifies as being rich, whether the rich constitute a social class capable of collective action, how open or closed that class is, what constitutes real political power in today’s America, and so on. But if the question remains as simple as those articulated above, the basic answer will not change or be of much interest.

This is not, however, what this issue of The American Interest means by plutocracy. We mean not just rule by the rich, but rule by and for the rich. We mean, in other words, a state of affairs in which the rich influence government in such a way as to protect and expand their own wealth and influence, often at the expense of others. As the introductory essay to this issue shows, this influence may be exercised in four basic ways: lobbying to shift regulatory costs and other burdens away from corporations and onto the public at large; lobbying to affect the tax code so that the wealthy pay less;…

Full article here
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  1. It never ceases to amaze me that anyone disputes this. I am puzzled also by the incredibly poor reporting of this state of affairs. Rule by the very, very rich in the US seems to be some sort of open secret. Folks who feel like they would like to know more about inequality in the US and its consequences should consider reading The Spirit Level.

    herb

  2. Also, this is the worst, so far, article to be posted here.

    Francis Fukuyama is an apologist for neoconservatism and , for my money, the worst, most destructive academic writing today. He is an embarrassment to educated folks everwhere. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Fukuyama)

    If I continue seeing stuff like this I will stop participating on Ukiah Blog. The very, very rich own everything, including what passes for civil discourse. All ignorance, all the time, all the better to further crime on the part of rich patrons.

    History is full of this ass wiping by ambitious academics. This is ACTUAL pornography in service of the rape of the country.

    herb

  3. Thank you Dave for your avuncular advice. Frankly, I already know enough about what “the other side is saying” since every mass media outlet in the country tells us nauseatingly about it and suppresses other views. I have no problem finding access to the thoughts of neoconservatives since they are the only thoughts that are legal now. The anti-war activist who are being persecuted, raided by the FBI, harassed and intimidated across the country, as I write, can tell you all you need to know about these people. Ask them. Or ask the survivors of the ACORM destruction. Or you could go to any food bank and ask those people. They are real experts on what neoconservatism (our fancy euphemism for good old fashioned piracy) is about. So, no, I don’t want to see feces smeared on places like Ukiah Blog because someone thinks I need to hear the other side.

    Have as happy a holiday as possible considering that the neocons have looted the country and mired future generations in onerous, crushing debt to pursue their wars of conquest with genocidal fury against the weak, the young, the infirm, women, gays, free thinkers, and the rest of the usual suspects attacked by fascist and oppressive regimes throughout history.

    herb

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