Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Distribution of Wealth & the Imperial Society in the United States

Though we consider ourselves a democracy our country has fallen into a pattern of wealth distribution that more aptly resembles a monarchy.  The whole 1% vs. 99% protest which has it's most visible element as the Occupy Wall Street movement is nothing new.  This has been the critical mass that has tipped societies into major change for many centuries.  The most obvious example dates to Biblical stories.

Consider the whole Israel captive in Egypt story of Exodus.  The power structure in Egypt at the time was marked with three distinct characteristics.

1. Economic Exploitation - 66% of the wealth of the kingdom which was produced mainly from agriculture by peasants ended up in the hands of the ruling class.  Their wealth was acquired primarily through taxation and direct ownership of the land.

2. Political Oppression - The majority of the populate had no voice in the structuring of society.  They were servants of the elite.

3. Religious Legitimization - The religion of the time affirmed that the ruling elite were ordained by God.

Consider the structure of our society today.

1. Economic Exploitation - Here are the figures from the Federal Reserve report, "Changes in the Distribution of Wealth, 1989–2004" published in  2006. In the United States 20% of the population owns 84% of the wealth. The next 20 % holds 11%, the third 20 % 4 %.     When you get down to the 4th 20% (0.2%) and the bottom 20% (0.1%) the amounts are in the decimal points.

2. Political Oppression - As of the Supreme Court ruling "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission", corporations and big business have unlimited spending power to sway elections.  This means the folks with the most money can effectively install whoever they want in power. It was a landmark ruling and it fundamentally changed the way our government functions.    Add to this the continuous campaign to limit voter participation by the GOP and the problem becomes crystal clear.

3. Religious Legitimization - The growing "Prosperity Gospel" movement points to the idea that those who have wealth somehow deserve it, either through their own hard work or through God's reward.  The idea that our country is a meritocracy is a myth being continuously reenforced by politicians and more recently, fundamentalist church leadersThis is not to say the ruling elite believes this, but the doctrine does constantly remind it's followers that God blesses those who deserve it, and that works almost exactly like that infamous "opiate for the masses" noted by Karl Marx. 

Now before you go calling me a Marxist and dismissing my argument out of hand, consider this.  I will be the first to tell you that Marxism was a utopian ideal that does not work.  Communism is it's failed child and the evidence of it's failure is the whole Soviet Union collapse.  The vestigaes of communism that remaiin in China, are nothing more than the same thing we have in this country with the exception that the vast number of Chinese know that have no vote or political power.  We on the other hand still labor under that illusion that we are a democracy.

So how do we change this disturbing situation?  Good question.  Don't look to the Occupy Wall Street movement for answers, all they have done is raise the question.  They have brought to prominence the issue and now they are squandering their moment in the sun by failing to deliver a concise solution, or even a suggestion of a solution.  Because of this, I fear they will become footnotes to the 21st century.

The only way to stop the runaway greed that is gutting our economy is through re-establishing regulations that prevented it from happening before.  That will take political power and lots of detailed work to un-weave the tangle of laws and regulations that are rigged to benefit those who already have power and money.

That will take the 99% to band together and change the system politically at the polls and through the courts. For that to happen, we need to start spreading a clear simple message that everyone can understand.

The System Has Been Rigged!

It's time to un-rig it.  Fox News, the Right-Wing the Tea Party, Conservative Democrats are all tools of the Corporate owners of or country.  We the people have to demand that our elected officials actually do something to restore the real promise of democracy.  We cannot wait on another Moses to lead us to the promise land.

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