Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Plutocrats are Coming!

Plutocrats have played a prominent role in the 2012 American elections. Plutocracy is basically the notion of rule by the wealthy - it has been used pretty negatively throughout history, but also has been a propaganda tool by some of the worst facist states of our time. There is little debate that we have some sort of plutocracy in America today - especially post-Citizens United, the rich have an inordinate amount of influence in our political system. In the 2010 races, outside money played a huge role in the GOP winning back the House of Representatives, and in this year's campaign cycle, the ultra wealthy are putting in even more dollars, mostly to support Mitt Romney and the Republicans. But...plutocracy isn't necessarily about political ideology - Democrats get plenty of money from the wealthy, too. In recent years, plutocrats have felt more under assault in America than ever before - this may be technically true, because they've been paying historically low taxes, so any interest in raising these rates will threaten them, whether fair or not. With the financial meltdown, there is a greater interest in the wealth gap, which has widened substantially. In the 1960s, workers made a few times less than CEOs, but now, they make hundreds of times less than CEOs. Additionally, plutocrats basically failed...their insistence on deregulation and their risky financial behavior played a major role in the economic meltdown. Of course, the backlash only seemed to solidify in their minds that they know what's right for the country, and seemed to create greater paranoia that everyone is out to get them. The right-wing hasn't helped matters much, though they might be getting their cues from the people who are financially backing them...wait for it...the plutocrats! Just look at who bankrolls the Tea Party, for example - Jane Mayer's famous expose on the Koch brothers is here). The 2012 race seems to bring the issue of plutocracy to the forefront...though, again, both Democrats and Republicans are relying on the wealthy to finance them. For a great discussion of this issue, check out this fantastic discussion on Bill Moyers' show, with guests Matt Taibbi (of Rolling Stone) and Chrystia Freeland (of Reuters).

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