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Do the Rich Need America? November 15, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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Bill Moyers (former press secretary for Lyndon Johnson and long-time journalist) has always been an acute of observer of American politics. Moyers recent speech at Boston University neatly lays out the consequences of increasing inequality that threatens our nation’s future.

Here is a short excerpt:

So the answer to the question: “Do the Rich Need the Rest of America?” is as stark as it is ominous: Many don’t. As they form their own financial culture increasingly separated from the fate of everyone else, it is “hardly surprising,” Frank and Lind concluded, “ that so many of them should be so hostile to paying taxes to support the infrastructure and the social programs that help the majority of the American people.”

You would think the rich might care, if not from empathy, then from reading history. Ultimately gross inequality can be fatal to civilization. In his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, the Pulitzer Prize-winning anthropologist Jared Diamond writes about how governing elites throughout history isolate and delude themselves until it is too late. He reminds us that the change people inflict on their environment is one of the main factors in the decline of earlier societies. For example: the Mayan natives on the Yucatan peninsula who suffered as their forest disappeared, their soil eroded, and their water supply deteriorated. Chronic warfare further exhausted dwindling resources. Although Mayan kings could see their forests vanishing and their hills eroding, they were able to insulate themselves from the rest of society. By extracting wealth from commoners, they could remain well-fed while everyone else was slowly starving. Realizing too late that they could not reverse their deteriorating environment, they became casualties of their own privilege. Any society contains a built-in blueprint for failure, Diamond warns, if elites insulate themselves from the consequences of their decisions, separated from the common life of the country.

Yet the isolation continues – and is celebrated.

[…] Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. The name for what’s happening to our political system is corruption – a deep, systemic corruption. I urge you to seek out the recent edition of Harper’s Magazine. The former editor Roger D. Hodge brilliantly dissects how democracy has gone on sale in America. Ideally, he writes, our ballots purport to be expressions of political will, which we hope and pray will be translated into legislative and executive action by our pretended representatives. But voting is the beginning of civil virtue, not its end, and the focus of real power is elsewhere. Voters still “matter” of course, but only as raw material to be shaped by the actual form of political influence – money.

The whole speech is worth reading as he dissects the inner workings of American plutocracy.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Paul J. Moloney - November 18, 2010

The rich don’t need America; they need slaves. If they can’t get American slaves then they don’t need America.

2. Asur - November 21, 2010

Ah yes, the celebration of individuality, the dissolution of community.

Even our businesses are individuals, now…I wonder if that’s where we started to go wrong.

3. Donald Johnson - December 8, 2010

I’ve always found it interesting that so many people in working class focused on increasing taxes for the wealthy yet it is the majority of the wealths tax that we receive anyway. Businesses like limited liability companies (LLC), corporations and sole proprietorships were constructed to protect the elite from certain taxation and other fees. The working and middle class can be seen as a sort of slave force for the upper class elites.

I can’t describe the number of times politics came up while working in a minimum wage kitchen. There was always a fight to get that dollar an hour raise or get promoted that higher position where everything would somehow be better. It never got better even if those things were achieved by the way.

It was even more interesting that these same people that would actively complain about never being paid enough or that the CEO’s of our company were really the one’s profiting from our efforts always seemed to wish for more. Much of the lower classes get stuck in the 9-5 grind and some are forever lost within its bind. We all wish to be the head of a top name business where we had slaves…I mean employees doing the physical work as we make the true profit. Sadly this fantasy stays a fantasy for much of the lower classes.

4. Jin N - December 8, 2010

Donald, Karl Marx has some very interesting things to say about that.

I believe a large number of issues in corporate America stem from a lack of proper indoctrination in what should be demanded of heads of businesses and state.

The United States is exceptional in that there is no significant worker participation in management, let alone real workers’ control. These issues are not alive in the United States as they are throughout Western Europe.

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