Court Rules that Plutocracy is OK

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC, tossed in the political trash can  a 2002 law placed a limit of $123,000 limit on federal campaign contributions within a two-year congressional cycle. Chief Justice John Roberts ignored plain logic when he wrote that “Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner “influence over or access to” elected officials or political parties.”

In other words, if I give a candidate $100,000 or so then I should not expect anything in return.  Roberts and the other majority justices live in a fantasy world.

This only confirms what most people with any kind of reasoning ability have known for a long time. The words of both James Madison and John Jay seem appropriate.  As Chomsky once summarized: Madison “believed that the primary goal of government is ‘to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.’ As his colleague John Jay was fond of putting it, ‘The people who own the country ought to govern it’.”

Madison and Jay (who was one of the “founding fathers” and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) were both well aware of the threat of true democracy, namely that the majority of the people – those without wealth and power – might get the dangerous idea that they ought to have some say in how the country was run.  Worse yet, they may get the bold idea that what they produce should be shared by them, instead of turning it over to those already wealthy beyond their means.

John Jay must be smiling down on his modern-day counterpart John Roberts, for Roberts merely rephrased what Jay had said.

So now it is official: the 1% run the country and the rest can just stay back.

This is how the 1% designed it in a very calculated way, beginning in the late 1970s when they – along with the politicians they had purchased – began to dismantle the bargain made between corporate America and the workers, starting after World War II.  As the Berkeley economist, Emmanuel Saez and his colleague pointed out, the richest 1% currently have about the same proportion of the income that they did in the 1920s, just before the crash of 1929 – that is, around half.  They did this deliberately.  In the words of one writer, this can:

be found in the policy initiatives of corporate America since the late 1970s, and the willingness of the politicians Corporate America elects in Congress, Presidents, and at State levels—Democrat and Republican alike—to implement those policy initiatives. There’s the tax restructuring in favor of the rich and their businesses, the free trade and offshoring, the atrophying of the real minimum wage, the dismantling of real pensions and employer contributions to healthcare, the shift from full time permanent jobs to part time and temp work, the destruction of unions and higher paying union jobs, the displacing of higher paid jobs with technology, substitution of credit for lack of wage growth, failure to invest in the US by corporate America, so on and so on.. That’s why jobs, real wages, and incomes for the vast majority of American households has stagnated at best, and declined in real terms for most. That’s why wage earners’ income of the bottom 80% households have contributed to income inequality.

 

The top 1% have made out like bandits during the recent “recovery” – which has been mostly a recovery for this group. As Saez points out, between 2009 and 2012 this group saw its income increase by 31.4% compared to a measly 0.4% growth for the 99%.  More tellingly, the top 1% garnered 95% of the total growth of income in the country.

Returning to the recent Supreme Court decision, the only way this ruling can be overturned and some form of democracy restored is through Congressional action.  Don’t hold your breath, since most members of Congress are either part of the 1% or dam close.  Besides, with the limits of political donations removed, imagine how much more they can prostitute themselves and vote in the interests of the 1%.

And to think that the 1% and their allies in Congress and within the media have the gall to accuse those who question such arrangements as engaging in “class warfare”!