5th February 2021
The transition from Democracy to Oligarchy (A small group of rich people having power over the majority)
It's not the first time the wealthy have consolidated power to dangerous levels and history proves we must restore a balance. Extracted from an article by Paul Constant
If you were to ask the average person what they would do if they suddenly had a million dollars, you'd likely hear a wide variety of answers. Maybe you would finally get a new car, or maybe take a long vacation, or maybe pay for the kids' education, replace the old fridge, buy a new wide screen TV, get your teeth fixed and buy some new clothes. Every one of those answers would have something in common: The person answering would want to buy something with their new found disposable income. It’s called economic stimulation and fuels society.
But, when billionaires push politicians to slash regulations or taxes, or to keep the minimum wage below the poverty line, they have a very different reason for wanting to grow their fortunes. Billionaires don't buy another fancy boat or a new mansion; they can already buy literally anything they want. You don't accrue billions of dollars because you want stuff, you do it because you want power and control to favour yourself.
As an example apparent in all Western Democracies, the UK and Australia included, for the last 40 years in America alone, the income inequality gap has widened as the wealthiest have added $US50 trillion to their fortunes that used to go into the pay checks of working Americans. And as the fortunes of the wealthiest one percent of the wealthiest one percent of the population has grown, so has their power to influence politicians to support their selfish, self-serving, right-wing contrived political ideology.
US Senator Bernie Sanders made the compelling case that a tiny number of wealthy oligarchs have rigged the system in their favour, eroding the rights of the many and fundamentally changing the definition of the American dream to a nation of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy. To be poor in America, or Australia, or the UK, now means you have less freedom, less opportunity, less security and worse health outcomes with 3 million Australian now living below the poverty line, as evidence of government social oppression policy.
While the wealthiest Australians can look forward to having thousands of dollars a year extra in their pockets, thanks to the Treasurer’s plan to bring forward tax cuts, the most vulnerable Australians, which now number in their millions, have just had their income slashed by nearly 30%. Thanks to the LNP Morrison Government.
The people versus the super wealthy
The question becomes: "How did we manage to return democratic power to the people in previous moments of economic and social crisis."
The transition from democracy to oligarchy usually starts with the very wealthy acquiring political power by buying influence with elected officials. In Hartmann's latest book, "The Hidden History of American Oligarchy," he explains that their influence grows until they "completely control the mechanisms of information" and "their personal agenda overwhelms the governing agenda." In other words: they now run right-wing media and the government to favour themselves at the expense of all of society.
Hartmann clearly delineates the battle lines: Either you keep power in the hands of the many, a democracy committed to the founding ideals of life, freedom, and happiness, or the state will become more brutal in order to maintain a rigid social order that benefits a small handful of super-rich oligarchs.
"In the final stages," Hartmann said, the oligarchs "rise up through seemingly democratic processes and take complete or near complete control of government," dismantling and smashing the programs that give economic and democratic power to the people.
As an example in the US, it's not the first time in history that the wealthy have consolidated power to dangerous levels and America has teetered on the edge of a bloody revolution or an oppressive police state. Massive economic inequality presaged the Great Depression, the Civil War, and the American Revolution.
"I feel that we are at that crisis point," Hartmann said. "If we are well-informed about these lessons of history, we can make it through. If we're not well-informed, then we end up like Germany did in 1935." With Trump’s attempted elitist overthrow of the US government as the telling example.
Hartmann has a simple solution for avoiding the bloodshed that either a revolution or a violent police state would cause: "Raise the top tax bracket up to 90%." He says even a 70% tax rate on top earners, which was the rate before right-wing conservative front-man Ronald Reagan came into power, would be meaningful. "Anything over 50% seems to stabilise economies very rapidly and diminish inequality." As an example of the government favouring the super wealthy, both US President Donald Trump and Australian PM Scott Morrison cut taxes for the super wealthy.
By raising the top brackets above 50%, increasing the inheritance tax on large fortunes, and instituting a meaningful wealth tax, Hartmann says income inequality would quickly subside and the balance of power would be restored as proposed by Germany for the EU and possibly one of the key drivers of Brexit so the British elite could avoid tax avoidance prosecution.
And while oligarchs and their defenders loudly claim taxes on the wealthy will kill the economy, the historical record shows these same solutions have repeatedly worked in the past to ease economic inequality, creating a strong economy and redistribution of wealth worked better for everyone. As new Democratic US President Joe Biden sticks by proposed tax hikes on businesses and wealthy Americans in support of the Hartmann solution to avoid social breakdown.
This article is not about raising taxes, it’s an indicator of who runs the country for who, and exposes a right-wing government promoting inequality and setting up a system run by the wealthy for the wealthy to freely feed off society. It’s a right-wing process of lies and deceit to benefit a few and screw the rest of us. To understand this, you need to understand the difference between political right and left.
Right v Left political ideology:
Right v Left in politics is conservative v progressive and in the US is Republican v Democrat, in the UK it's Conservative Party v Labor Party and in Australia it's Liberal National Party v Labour Party. I can see why it can be confusing. Liberal is generally a term applying to the progressive left in politics but, in Australia, the Liberals are right-wing. Perhaps the Liberal Party’s founding fathers were more left leaning and socially conscious than they are today, so let’s have a look at what, and who, the two parties really represent now.
Left wing: The Australian Labour Party and the Greens are progressive and believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual human rights and freedoms. They believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need. Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve social problems. Their support base are people with a social conscience and a view to protecting the future of humanity, the natural world and the planet. As representatives of the people it’s very positive for individuals, society, the future of our children and the planet.
Right wing: The Australian Liberal National Party are conservative and believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, traditional values and a strong national defence and police force. Believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve their own problems and too bad if life and circumstance turns against you. Their support base is in it for themselves and driven by personal gain and greed. Because of the lack of empathy for social problems they need to chase additional votes. They represent the financial elite, they court the church for a vote, answer to huge corporations, promote social division and racism with a divide and conquer mentality, use right wing media as a political megaphone to denigrate any opposition, spin false information and conspiracy-mongering to attract votes from people easily brain-washed and screw the environment if there's a buck to be made. They oppose a federal corruption watchdog, for obvious reasons, and channel the wealth of society upward to the rich and powerful who drive the ideology to feed off society.
It’s very negative, oppressive and authoritarian so don't get sucked in by right-wing LNP politicians like Craig Kelly doing a Donald Trump whose deluded lies divided a country for the single purpose of gaining votes so the wealthy can control the government. Weaponizing fake news is straight out of the conservative politicians playbook with UK right-wing PM Boris Johnson also complicit. To round off this article let’s also have a look at fake news.
Freedom of Speech v Fake News
After all that being said, the fact that we look different is telling us something: we are different. The way we think, the way we process information, the way we communicate and what we believe is all different and, as human beings, we have that right. As such, I am a great believer in the principle of "live and let live" regardless of who we are or what we believe.
In a democracy, we have freedom of speech to say whatever we like but, from where I stand, that brings with it responsibility to check the facts and support what you are saying with verifiable evidence. It's called having some integrity and being socially responsible.
What I don't like is corruption, lies, deceit, misinformation, false narrative, conspiracy-mongering, racism, bigotry and weaponizing fake news to divide society into "them and us". With "The Big Lie" used to build a support base and garner votes as Donald Trump and the Republican Party have done in the US as a frightening example.
To protect our own democracy we need to learn the "Fake News" lesson slapping us in the face. All it does is give power to those intent on treating us with contempt and using us and, that may explain Scott Morrison's smug look.
For more insight go to the next article: Enemy of the People