Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Is someone paying to establish an oligarchy in America?

Asked by ETpro (34217 points ) November 19th, 2011

56 years ago, right-wing Senator Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination for the presidency then went on to get soundly trounced in the general election of 1964, winning in only 6 states. His loss energized the conservative movement within the Republican party, though. The money men who had pushed for his candidacy—seeing that his policies would vastly benefit those who were already wealthy—decided they would use some of their money to reprogram the American meme.

They set up a network of right-wing think tanks that now covers all 50 states. They set up PR firms. The think tanks were staffed with right-wing PhDs whose job was to invent policy initiatives that would favor the rich over the poor and middle class, then figure out how to sell such policies by duping enough Americans into believing that such action was good for the entire populace, or was the only “fair” thing to do. The PR firms were tasked with coining the bumper-sticker slogans and ad campaigns that would sell these policy ideas.

To help, they set out to divide Americans against one another using religion, guns, gays, abortion and any divisive issue they could find to do so. They built a right-wing media network in print, AM radio and finally News Corp. and its Tax News outlet.

The effort has met with great success. America moved from a center left society in the late 60s to a center right one by the 1980s. Right-wing sentiment swept Ronald Reagan into office in the 1980 election, and he set about instituting “trickle down” economics; promising Americans that a rising tide would lift all boats. He cut the top tax rate for the 1% from 70% to 28%.

The rising tide didn’t lift all boats, Yachts did very well. The smaller rowboats got swamped.. Real, inflation-adjusted income for the 99% stayed nearly flat for the last 3 decades. Income for the bottom 80% has actually declined over the past 10 years. But the income of the top 1% shot up over 350% in the same 3-decade period. In 1980, the top 1% held 33% of the nation’s financial wealth. Today, the top 1% hold 42% and are gaining. The bottom 99% lost 9% in their share of the wealth.

So, who funded all this? Who stood to gain by these changes, and is still pushing for more of the nation’s wealth to flow to the top since there is still 58% of the nation’s financial wealth in the hands of just 99% of our people? Who could be so greedy as to play man behind the political/lobbying curtain? Isn’t it time we start naming names?

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7 Answers

King_Pariah's avatar

Personally I feel that pretty all governments will at some point become oligarchies. It was just a matter of time before something like this happened, though I feel that we had already reached a state of oligarchy quite a while back, well before the 60’s.

wundayatta's avatar

Until the consciousness of the Occupy movement extends way beyond those in the movement and those who currently support it; and until the larger movement is ready to march and sit-in and organize employers; you could name all the names you want and they will just sit there laughing at the rest of us and throwing ten dollar bills. The people will scrabble to gather up the bills and go home feeling like they won something and the oligarchs will around, smugly smiling to each other, and trying to figure out how to take it with them.

See, there’s the irony. They already have so much money, there is no way they can spend it. They give some of it away. The hire people and expand their businesses with some of it. But some of it they can’t find anything to do with. Maybe they will invest it in growing economies. After all, the poor people of the world are a much better investment than Americans, right?

The problem with power is that it needs to be used wisely. The wealthy have a lot of power (that’s what money translates into). But they don’t know what to do and when they do take action, it is not the action that the 99% thinks is wise. But the 1% has the money and gets to do what it wants with it, names or no names.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Revealing names is a good place to start. Even better would be revealing the genuine actions of the ‘Think Tanks’, so people could (possibly) get an idea of how we have been manipulated. I do not think these is any cure for greed. Greedy people can be stopped, but it would take a personal epiphany for them to change themselves (& this rarely happens). I am not sure just how we can take back our election processes. When the Supreme Court declared ‘Personhood’ for corporations, it freed these huge businesses to be able to buy our elections. As long as our election processes are subject to being purchased, we will have no control over who is elected & if only wealthy individuals are elected – there will be very little hope of returning some measure of hope to the average American. Right now we are stuck in the well known location of “between a rock & a hard place”. All of us who are not wealthy are paying the price & the wealthy are paying nothing.

Paradox25's avatar

Corporations create jobs which puts money into people’s pockets to not only survive but put that money back into the market again by purchasing products that of course employ other people. Even unions are nothing without corporations. Personally I think we can have a social market economy co-exist with a free market. Some Republicans take it too far with their cuts I’ll admit. As far as the God, country and guns card goes it is an easy sell to many conformists unfortunately because of the authoritarian follower mindset.

ETpro's avatar

@King_Pariah There have been some examples of relatively egalitarian and stable governments in history. But you are certainly right, we were close to oligarchy back in the Gilded Age. The top 1% held 40% of the nation’s wealth. The year was 1928. That brought us to the Great Depression.

The top 1% got to 42% this time. The year was 2009. FIrst time we had the Great Depression. This time, the Great Recession. The recession may technically have ended, but the economy isn’t right yet. More pain may yet come.

@wundayatta I don’t disagree with your analysis of how greed distorts the mind. Jesus said that “The lust for mammon (money, power and worldly things) is the root of all evil” I don’t doubt that. However, after hiring strikebreakers, billionaire railroad tycoon Jay Gould said, ”‘I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.”. Look around. Labor unions, though beseiged by the right, are still here. Gould and his money are not.

I feel much more sanguine about the current state of affairs than you. If money decides every fight, then somehow those pictures we saw of Colonel Qaddafi’s bloody corpse were fakes, and he is still in power in Libya. Saif al-Islam did not get causght today and won’t go on trial, he’ll inherit the dictatorship of that country. And the revolutions in Eqypt and Tunisia were illusions. Mobarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali still rule their respective countries.

Remember, when the people stop working, the plumbing stops working. Shit flows up out of even the richest man’s toilets. And his shit stinks just like all the rest of humanity’s. Maybe even worse, thanks to the richness of his diet.

@Linda_Owl Great Answer. It shouldn’t be beyond the capacity of the OWS and Anonymous.

@Paradox25 Republicans have taken it WAY too far over the last 30 years. The statistics I posted with the OP prove it. And based on the policies they are advancing in the primaries, and in Congress with the Paul Ryan budget, they seem determined to stomp on the accelerator, and convert America to a banana republic with their masters the overlords as quickly as possible.

I do not think the majority of the people in the OWS crowds are anti capitalism. That’s a Big Lie being floated by the likes of the Murdoch International Crime Syndicate to serve their master’s desire to squash the middle class and grab all their remaining wealth. Corporations and workers coexisted perfectly well from 1930 to 1980. The 99% and the 1% both grew richer at the same pace. We created the world’s first and biggest thriving middle class in those years. Restoring a balance to income equality is not anti corporation or anti rich. Corporations can’t thrive without consumers to buy their goods.

A few billionaires may have missed the meaning of the children’s tale, The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs but the truth of the allegory remains. If they destroy the middle class and there is nobody to build and repair their yachts, or catch their caviar, they will stall and starve right along with the rest of us. We are actually all in this together.

ETpro's avatar

@zigmund Now THAT’s a Great Answer. Thanks so much for the link. I joined and bookmarked the site.

It’s important to note that there are plenty among the 1% who are not greedy. Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, for instance, have pledged most of the billions to help the less fortunate here and around the world.

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