Plutocracy is when the wealthy class controls the government. It is now the overriding system that has insinuated itself into our political process. The question is: do we want it?
Today, President Obama is expected to propose that those making $1,000,000 a year or more be taxed at the same rate as ordinary folk and to also recommend that the alternative minimum tax (AMT) be eliminated. The proposal is not likely to set well with many in the wealthy class. The first part is, after all, a tax increase on the rich, and we’ve become quite familiar with the reaction that this generally elicits among those in Congress who represent their interests.
As for the alternative minimum tax, it was originally intended to insure that the wealthy pay at least some taxes. However, either by mistake or by design, the calculations regarding the tax were never indexed to the cost of living. Thus, with each passing year, the tax moved further and further into the realm of the middle class where it was supposedly never intended to go. And, the impact on those in that class who have been so affected has been much greater than it has been on the wealthy. As a result, the AMT stands arm-in-arm with the recession, the real estate collapse and Congressional legislation as the most significant factors that have given recent impetus to the long-term shift in wealth from the middle class to the upper class.
Our plutocracy was born of the campaign finance system which has unleashed an ever-increasing flood of money and lobbying perks on Washington and on our state capitols. The funds emanating from the wealthy and the industries they own and run, come not only from individuals, corporations, corporate associations, chambers of commerce and PACs but also, thanks to a ruling by the Supreme Court, from relatively new entities that do not even need to disclose the sources of the monies involved. Funds on behalf of the middle class come primarily from labor unions, but Congress has steadily weakened the power of this group over the past decades.
Furthermore, the all-out frontal assault that has been conducted, and continues to be conducted, against the union movement has caused numerous misconceptions to be held by the public today. For example, many in the middle class would object to the notion that union political donations represent their interests. However, anyone who was working during the decade of the 1950’s, when unions were strong, might well know otherwise.
That was quite possibly the greatest decade for the American worker in the history of the nation. Unionized companies took care of their employees and the managements of non-union companies, fearing the threat of unionization, did likewise. It was the era of loyalty that ran both ways. Companies were loyal to their employees and the employees returned the favor. Morale was a high priority. And, those involved were not just laborers and clerks. The benefits flowed upward to all levels. Fear was the catalyst, and it was experienced on the side of management.
Today, by comparison, the situation could hardly be more different. Concern over employee morale has disappeared within most corporations. Management now thinks nothing of announcing major layoffs that will take place over time, thus imposing a constant level of trauma on their employees who don’t know from one month to the next if their jobs will be eliminated. Also, many of the layoffs involve - not companies that are losing money - but companies that are profitable. And the employees who remain are finding that they are not only performing their own jobs but that they are also forced to take over the jobs of those let go. Fear has clearly shifted and is now being experienced on the side of the worker.
The change that has gradually taken place over the intervening years has done so as the plutocratic form of government has solidified its position within our political system. In the process, the quality of life for the majority of citizens has declined. The deteriorating jobs situation, for example, is now projected to be with us for years. Some experts even suggest the possibility that management has become so attracted to the advantages of reduced labor costs and high productivity that elevated levels of unemployment will become a permanent part of the business culture.
Mark well those in Congress who represent the rich at the expense of the middle class. They will be the ones who object to President Obama’s tax proposals. Remember their names and do yourself a favor…
…vote against their reelections.