You may be inclined to say, “Duh! Where have you been?” to this but I have only recently begun to realize that the current state of things is being distorted by individuals, not institutions such as corporations or government or parties. We tend to attribute to institutions obscuring the point that individuals with names and intentions are behind the institutional actions. We need to personalize institutional actions so that we can know who is waging political and economic war on us. I am not skilled at digging out such information but will, henceforth, work to improve my attention to it.
PERMANENT CLASS WARFARE:
Our democracy is under attack as never before.There has always been a struggle to keep the wealthy from tipping this democracy beyond recovery. The tendency of rich men (and few women) to control and manipulate this our government to their own ends at the expense of the majority of citizens is always a part of balancing freedom, commerce and democracy. The wealthy, as a whole, usually want to bend government to their own selfish ends and to hell with the people. There are now people so rich that they are virtually extra-national. Their agenda is to shape the world governments and societies in such a way that they are never regulated, never taxed or in any way constrained by any obligations of citizenship. In the past 20 years they have manipulated corporations to their individual benefits; they have generated institutions of think tanks, lobbyists, and “grass roots rabble rousers” to immobilize our democratic institutions and re-shape them into their minions. Further, they have done this stealthily.
In the past we have counted upon countervailing forces in the society to keep such runaway greed and billionaire totalitarianism in check. However, never before has so much power become concentrated, even ceded, piece by piece but in ever larger chunks as in the past 20 years or so. A class war has been waged against the people, successfully by subtle stages until most of the counter forces have been co-opted, bought and subverted in a continuous purposeful takeover of any institutions that might limit their extraordinary grasp.
There are the obvious elements: the purchase and near control of government at almost every level, the ownership and manipulation of the press and media and the attacks on every front of any capacity for individual citizens to organize themselves into any opposition by numbers (the only real power to save us from a total takeover).
A THOUGHT EXERCISE ON WEALTH
Let us consider a thought problem which should illustrate the vast differences among the power of the rich: between a billionaire and a mere millionaire and between them and us. This exercise is intended to lend a sense of proportion to the vast amounts of power involved.
There are approximately 1, 011 billionaires in the word now (up from 793 in 2009) their total wealth is about 3.6 Trillion dollars. There are about 403 Billionaires in the USA worth about 1.3 Trillion dollars (greater than the GDP of Canada). Several are extra-national, ultra-billionaires who regard themselves above nationality (consciously and subconsciously). These ultra-rich men are interested in the United States as a convenience and the best chance to buffer their own interests and comfort (Rupert Murdoch is a good example).
There are about 10.3 million millionaires in the World who are worth about a total of 39 trillion dollars. There are about 7.8 million millionaires. In the USA (and about 980,000 million ultra-millionaires, people with >$5 million).
For this purposes of this exercise, let us count seconds as if they were dollars. In a way using time is a good comparison as it is finite for individuals. Each person has a limited amount of time to live, provide, take care of our families, recreate a little and then, perhaps, have a little, but not much, left over for concerns and actions to take care of our interests in this democracy.
Starting at the bottom with a comfortable, middle class salary of $80,000, the available time resources to you, converting dollars to seconds in time, would give you about 22.2 hours worth of seconds (less than a day). One could assume that any person, billionaire or not, could get by pretty comfortably on 22 hours with little left over to influence your world. I’m going to consider this a measure of basic subsistence (I realize it’s generous).
We imagine (at least I do) if we had the resources of a millionaire we could do a lot for our community or country. Actually a million seconds is that much. If a millionaire’s dollars were converted to seconds it would give him the equivalent of 11.5 days of power. Take away 22 hours of basic subsistence, this guy has 10.5 more days free than we have.
Prepare to be stunned (as I was) by the proportional power of the super rich. If you think you have a chance to counterbalance the influence of Koch brothers or of Rupert Murdoch, or of numerous other ultra-billionaires whose names we should but don’t know well enough, consider the following:
A billionaire with only one billion seconds ($), one billion seconds of time value equal to 35.7 years of resources to mold our world to his favor It’s small wonder that we have any semblance of a free press , or a court that acts for the people, or a legislators at any level that pursues your interests. Each institution is being co-opted from many directions for the ultra-rich.
We have compared a 1 billionaire (35.7 years) with a 1 millionaire (11.7 days or a week and a half) and with us, poor schmucks, with less than a day to our name. This is a simple comparison but let’s look at some actualities.
Rupert Murdoch-controls greater than $6 billion (6 X 35 years or 210 years of resources available) mainly invested in an international network of propaganda outlets that overtly and subtly press a pro billionaire agenda (making his “journalists” into mere millionaires in the process).
The Koch brothers right wing manipulators and industrialists whose industries bring in an estimated $100 billion (350 years of power). They fund think tanks, elections, so called “grass roots” groups like the Tea Baggers, not to mention lobbyists. Add any number of other, less well known ultra-billionaires who are equally active and it is a powerful cabal, indeed.
I hasten to add that there are the many rich people who do try to contribute to society and behave as citizens of this country. Their values go beyond mere moneyed interests: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and George Soros to name a few.
People who have any significant amount of money will necessarily see their political interests in line with other super rich. Even if two billionaires were in competition with each other in business their interests coalesce when it comes to the overall agenda of no constraints and no democratic opposition. Anyone approximating wealth will tend to support their agenda except perhaps Hollywood. Rich people are not in competition with each other when subverting democracy. There they see their interest as joined.
Anti-democracy is not too strong a term to describe their agenda. Individual rights, the ability to organize, voter registration rights, unions, registration organizers (Acorn, e.g.) have all been successfully attacked. Currently they see any grass roots people’s institution (unions) as bastions of resistance to them. They view the people much as the Masters in the South viewed any aspect of slave community as threatening their hegemony. Southerners were terrified of the idea of slave rebellion. It made their hot southern blood run cold (actually many still fear this today).
The ultra-rich simply do not want you to have ability to oppose them. The only power left to us is our vote and our ability to organize. Numbers of voters is what they fear and despise the most. However, encroachments by the Billionaire agenda into our institutions (the courts, blocking legislation, mobilizing the Tea Baggers to neutralize the political process, to name a few) make it harder and harder and harder to mobilize public resistance. Liberals grasp at straws hoping the crowds that came out when their unions were attacked will sustain. But inertia resides like “The Undertoad” (thank you John Irving) ready to arise as soon as things seem better. Keep in mind that if Wisconsin’s and Ohio’s public employees and liberals had gotten their asses out to vote in the first place they would not have had to fight these issues. The Ultra-billionaire agenda is always ready to exploit these lapses.
The billionaire war is so successful that Democratic politicians have been co-opted by it, as well. They try to walk the tight wire of accommodation while offering a little, puny resistance but capitulating to the Billionaire Agenda more often than not. But they need the donations to get elected.
The Agenda continuously influences culture as well. One can relatively rich by pandering to the Billionaire agenda. Michelle Bachman, Glen Beck, John Stossel, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingram, Michelle Malkin, the repulsive, Andrew Breitbart and Ann Coulter actually are ‘media sluts” for the rich and should be viewed only as that by rational person. They are interchangeable ciphers nobodies who are getting rich and famous as shills for the Billionaire Agenda. Sometimes I think about getting rich that way but am overcome by nausea pretty quickly. These people have no real points of view they just speak to the Agenda and collect their orts (crosswords anyone) from under the tables of the ultra-rich. Their ideas shift with the gaseous winds of the ultra-rich. Oddly, Michelle Bachman, Glen and the Tea Baggers are right about democracy under threat. Our system is indeed under siege, the siege, however, is from their quarter; not from so-called ‘rabid socialists.” Indeed we are likely becoming a totalitarian state but not totalitarian government. It will be a new totalitarianism of the rich (think that was called fascism, but we need less colloquial terms for these things). They will be individuals hiding behind corporations, constantly attacking our institutions and the means for people to organize a society. In the future they will enforce their oligarchy with either a co-opted military or with out-sourced mercenaries like of Xe (Blackwater now) to keep us in check. They will maintain a superficial appearance of the democracy we expect but it will simple be a greater sham than it is becoming now.
Soon when our Ultra-rich Masters are fully in charge, our grand American experiment will be gone. When it is done, nothing like it may ever exist again.