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Is America Still a Democracy?
Are we still a democracy or are we headed towards an oligarchy or plutocracy form of government? As you can see from the timeline below, we have made many amazing accomplishments, over many decades functioning as a democratic form of government.
Oligarchy or Plutocracy?
- An oligarchy is form of government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.
- A plutocracy is a form of government in which a small group of wealthy people exercise control over the masses for their own gain.
As this pie chart shows, there are 400 of the wealthiest people in the United States that own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the nation. That is an average of 3.4 billion for each person. The source for this is Forbes 400.
This chart shows that six members of the Walton family, the owners of WalMart, owns the same amount of wealth as the bottom 40 percent of America, which is 89 billion dollars.
This chart shows from 1980 to 2005, 80 percent of all new income created went to the top one percent. In 2010, that number jumped to 93 percent.
This chart shows the top 1 percent in the country own 40 percent of all the wealth. The middle 59 percent own less than 29 percent of the wealth. While the bottom 40 percent own three tenths of 1 percent of the wealth.
This chart shows the six largest financial institutions have combined assets greater than nine trillion dollars which is more than 2/3 of the Gross Domestic Product. These institutions produced half of the mortgages in this country and two thirds of the credit cards. Three of the top four are larger today than they were when they were bailed out four years ago, because they were too big to fail.
Citizens United and the Super-Rich
Citizens United was the icing on the cake when it comes to the Supreme Court rullings. It gves enormous new political power to the wealthiest people in the country. It allows corporations and the super-rich, without disclosure, to spend as much money as they want on candidates and elections. See my hub on Citizens United for more information.
In a sense, the Supreme Court said to billionaires, "You own and control the economy, you own Wall Street, you own the coal companies, you own the oil companies. Now for a very small percentage of your wealth, we're going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government."
There are at least 23 billionaire families who have contributed $250, 000 or more into the political process up until now.
PACs, Super PACs and the Super-Rich
A PAC is a Political Action Committee. A Super PAC is a PAC on steroids. It is used to advocate for a candidate. if a non-profit, tax exempt organization is formed and they engage in political activities, but it is not their primary function, they can give unlimited amounts of money to create ads as long as the ad does not say to vote for or against a specific candidate. Further,they are not required by law to disclose the source of the funds. See my hub on PACs and Super PACs for more information.
Helping to fund super PACs were the 112 mega-donors, or related groups of donors, giving more than $500,000. Of those 112, twenty-six include members of the elite Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.
I have given you the information to show how the distribution of wealth is being transferred to the top one percent. I know this is the capitalist way and I don't have a problem with people being successful. But it is what they have done with those earnings to buy control of this country to further their own gains that bothers me. We no longer have an America as Lincoln said "of the people, by the people, for the people." So are we headed towards an Oligarchy or a Plutocracy? I'll let you be the judge.
Below is a link to a video that gives a dynamic representation of the inequality that exists in America. It shows what the perceived ideal is and what the real inequality is.
What do you believe?
Do you believe the U.S. is headed towards an Oligarchy or Plutocracy or both?
Sources of Information