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Guest Commentary: What’s a plutocrat?

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March 5, 2011 by wcobserver

By George Dean Patterson

What’s a plutocrat? Surely, not a cross between a Democrat and Mickey
Mouse’s best friend, Pluto the dog. A yellow dog democrat?  No, plutocrats
are more nefarious and much richer.

Ancient Greek mythology has Pluto as the powerful lord of the underworld,
a realm of spirits, but the meaning has changed; now the underworld is
synonymous with organized crime. So, a plutocrat is associated with
organized crime? In a manner of speaking, yes.

By definition a plutocrat is one who exercises political power by virtue
of wealth, and a plutocracy is a form of government controlled by the
wealthy. Sound familiar? We working people still get to vote, but the
candidates are pre-selected for their pledge to return a certain fealty
before the plutocrats agree to bankroll their enormous campaign expenses.

The plutocracy has always been with us, but since the conservative
plutocrats have retaken the Supreme Court, working people have been placed
at an even greater disadvantage. The Citizens United decision advanced the
radical idea that human rights be extended to corporate entities,
specifically the first amendment right of free speech. This ruling has
pulled out all the stops on the power of corporations to influence
elections though unrestricted anonymous campaign contributions. Now it’s a
legal business expense to air unlimited political advertising to ensure
the election of officeholders beholden to corporate power. It’s a wide
open door for plutocratic investment; the best government money can buy.
Don’t expect these tycoons to have a change of “heart” and recognize the
interests of working people in their business plans.

Corporations have found easy profit in exporting jobs that used to be done
in America. Impoverishing American workers has become a simple business
decision that finds no legal barriers. Is this not a tragedy for which all
American working people can find common cause? Corporations find easy
profit wherever they turn because plutocrats are greasing the wheels.

Take a look at the subprime mortgage crisis and the great recession which
began at the end of the Bush administration. This was associated with an
unprosecuted institutional robbery, a huge transfer of money from the
ordinary citizen taxpayer to some of America’s richest “people” or rather
to the business entities that have now been legally granted human rights.
If you’ve noticed these things, you probably already have an understanding
of how the plutocracy operates.

Corporations begin their “lives” as legal documents which require approval
by a state government, so in theory, a flesh and blood person,
specifically, a State Attorney General, could bring a legal challenge to
the right of a corporation to exist. However, given that corporations have
now achieved the Constitutional rights of actual people, that they are
more wealthy than actual people, that they never die, do not possess a
conscience and exist only for profit, it appears nearly impossible that
there will ever be a challenge to their eternal supremacy over us mere
mortals, especially here in America where the conservative canon reveres
“capitalism”, generally interpreted as the unfettered, unregulated freedom
for corporations to do whatever they find necessary to achieve their
sacred profits, human life and global disaster be damned.

One might hear the argument that the Citizens United ruling granted labor
unions the same unrestricted right to influence elections, but that’s a
distorted assessment, because labor unions are comparatively and
effectively small potatoes with very limited financial resources.
Additionally, unions are under attack from the plutocrats who are
attempting to use public policy and budget shortfalls to achieve their
holy grail, the final elimination of the American worker’s legal right to
fight for our own employment security.

Please, remember that the ideals that motivate unionized workers (fair
treatment and a fair wage) are the same for ALL American workers, not just
union members. Unions have been successful in fighting for the conditions
that ALL workers want, so non-union workers should be fighting for their
OWN union representation, not huddling with management and anti-labor
plutocrats to wipe out the last hope for their own employment security! If
tax revenues are too low, RAISE TAXES ON THE RICH, and especially on the
super-rich and make that double for the filthy-rich!

One of the most effective political tools wealthy plutocrats use to their
advantage is their influence in establishing regressive tax policy. The
plutocrats have somehow convinced the economically less fortunate majority
(that’s us) that protecting tax breaks and loopholes for gazillionaires is
essential to a healthy economy. Look around. Would you say it’s working?

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2 comments »

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  2. thomas mark says:

    Great insights. Succinct and informative.

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