By Will Hart
"In 2011, the top 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than half \of all Americans combined..." (PolitiFact)
The dream is over.
America has taken on the character of a Roman Farce, full of irony, black humor and pathos, but there is nothing funny about it.
"The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen... When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose."
No, those are not the rants of a disheveled malcontent on the street wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt and waving an anti-Wall Street placard; that quote is taken from a study, published last year, conducted by two prestigious American Universities, Princeton and Northwestern.
Are American's so brainwashed and/or stupid that they fail to realize this? No, many are painfully aware of it. But think of the Soviet Union in its fading days some years before it collapsed.
Would you want to be Alexander Solzhenitsyn then, or on the other hand, Edwin Snowden now?
To get a clearer more detailed picture of exactly how concentrated the wealth of the nation is we turn to some revealing statistics: As of 2010, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 53.5%,. That means that just 20% of the people owned an astonishing 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% of the population.
The next fact will probably make many Americans twinge and even some of their Euro counterparts as well, but according to a recent report, released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the US ranks 4th in the world in terms of the nations with the worst income inequality.
Well, we can take some comfort from the fact that at least it was two spots below its neighbor to the south, Mexico, which came in second.
This reveals the enormous gap between socioeconomic myth and reality that exists in most of the so-called advanced world especially America. The myths of democratic rule and nearly classless equality are continually promoted by the elite-controlled, mass media, which only creates psychological dissonance among the masses.
In fact, the rest of the world seems as much like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, dazed and confused, as many Americans are. What happened to the Promised Land, the Shining City on the Golden Hill the Hope of the world?
Some very strange things took place on the way to the egalitarian New Society; a sharp turn to the right put the country on that old road that leads back to Rome.
Returning to the key point of the study referred to above. The researchers analyzed 1,800 different U.S. policies that were put in place by politicians between 1981 and 2002 to the type of policies preferred by the average and wealthy American, or special interest groups. They found that ordinary U.S. citizens have ZERO influence in Washington DC.
Some recent examples, the people did not support the bank or automaker bailouts, they did not want continuous wars. Obama -- an oligarchy puppet and pseudo- people's president -- has signed on to it all with a big grin.
He did so and then ramped up military operations while keeping Bush's man at the head of the Department of Defense to continue NEOCON policies, ironically enough. The study clearly shows that the two party- system is a farce, the US is ruled by ONE PARTY and its symbol is $.
The world seems to believe that most Americans go along with all that has been happening for decades by choice. That the voters want the constant wars; that they took the economic meltdowns and financial rape by the New York elites in stride; and also embraced the tax cuts for the rich, etc, etc.
Yes, they appear to be going along, in the way any pacified, disenfranchised population goes along with their domestic rulers, because they have no choice.
There is that nasty little piece of anti-civil rights legislation, The Patriot Act, authored by the rulers and rammed through Congress when the country was in 911-shock. Then too there is the fact that the police have been militarized, over the past two decades, and taught to treat citizens as the enemy.
Yes, and we must also include the Homeland Security Administration, given absolute police powers and the NSA, FBI, CIA, and so on as well. What would you do if you were a US citizen under this kind of regime?
There is no viable, organized political opposition that can stand up to this new Oligarchic ruling class. This is not the 1960's or 1970's any such attempt would be immediately dismantled by the domestic, national intelligence network and local police.
But rather than deal with the well-articulated, yet abstract generalizations offered by academia above, we are going to ask: who are America's ruling oligarchs?
If the billionaire Koch Brothers, ex-NY mayor Michael Bloomberg and George Soros happened to be Russians, the US media would never fail to call them the oligarchs that they are. But they are never referred to that way, only as 'billionaires'. However, we should expect this because America's mainstream media is owned and controlled by the oligarchy after all.
Nonetheless, before delving into the individuals we need to understand that there are two, interlocking oligarchies 1) the corporate oligopoly and 2) the super wealthy oligarchs. We shall start with the media as an example of how US oligopolies have risen to power in recent decades.
In 1993, 90% of the mass media was owned by 50 companies. That number had dwindled to 6 as of 2014: General Electric, News Corp, Disney, Viacom, CBS and Time-Warner. The Big Six own dozens of key subsidiary media outlets including everything from NBC and Universal Pictures to ABC, CBS, the Wall Street Journal, Miramax, Time, CNN, FOX, the list goes on...
In 2011 the Big Six had combined revenues of $276 billion, about equal to the GDP of Egypt. Moreover they control 90% of what Americans read, watch or listen to.
How did this extreme concentration of diverse media outlets occur? Mainly through deregulation and buy outs.
Once legislators were persuaded to deregulate the industry (by the oligarchy) the bigger fish simply ate the smaller ones. Now, at this point there is nothing stopping the process from continuing, so that we may find just three companies completely dominating America's mass media in the future.
As Yahoo gobbled up Warner a few years ago, we may see Google acquire Disney for instance. Whoever controls the media shapes and controls public opinion, defines the national discourse and manipulates public awareness.
The reference to the Roman Empire is more than just metaphor. The facts are disturbing. The data on stratification reveals that America is actually worse than ancient Rome. The 500 wealthiest Roman senators were roughly 10,000 times as rich as the average 'plebe' in the empire, generally a landless farmer or a slave.
Big deal, each of the 500 wealthiest Americans is about 20,000 times as rich as the average person in the bottom 90 percent. If we focus only on financial resources, the average American in the top 500 has 40,000 times the wealth- power of the median citizen.
In Rome wealth and political power went together overtly. Today, in America money buys political offices and therefore the votes of the politicians, but usually quietly through the back door. At least the Romans admitted they were oligarchs, their American descendants try to hide the reality by spinning a tangled web of lies and half-truths.
In addition through PACs and Super-PACS global corporations also spend massive amounts each year influencing the political system through direct Congressional lobbying.
In this kind of distorted socioeconomic looking-glass world, the ruling class uses the Constitution and Bill of Rights as toilet paper. But they and their minions are careful to pay lip service to the founding documents when in front of TV cameras. Privately they sneer up their sleeves as they hand Jobn Q. Public the new Social Contract in a sealed envelope.
When he opens it, he reads, The Patriot Act...Tax Cuts for the Rich...Debt...Austerity ...Wars, Wars and more Wars.
But apologists claim, the US is a democracy and every citizen has a voice when they cast their ballots in elections. Like all the other noble ideals, in the realm, it sounds good in theory but does not work in the real world.
Truth be known, the word democracy never appears in the Constitution or Bill Of Rights, the founding documents that the country's political system is based upon. Like Rome it was designed to be a Republic ruled by the law-making body, the senate, all of whom were among the wealthiest of citizens.
Moreover, the allegedly enlightened founding fathers of America authorized the ownership of slaves; did not allow women the right to vote; and only granted that right to the landed gentry. Those were all key features of the ancient Roman Empire as well.
America has largely had a sham, representative democracy based on a byzantine electoral system that nobody understands. It has just enough democratic window dressing to fool the public. However, in a true democracy every individual would have one vote; and the people would make the laws, not an elite-controlled Congress.
Be that as it may, money has corrupted the entire process from start to finish. The US Congress serves up the best "democracy" that piles of cash can buy.
Yes, citizens get to cast their vote. But the choices of candidates are determined by $50K a- plate-fundraising dinners, which start long before ordinary people even hear about the candidates or issues that the oligarchs have selected. So what do national elections matter?
The billionaire Koch Brothers ($21.5 billion) and financier George Soros ($11 billion) provide examples of the most overtly, politically active.
David H. Koch was a Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate in 1980. He ran on a platform that advocated the abolition of Social Security and public schools. The brothers have formed and/or heavily contributed to numerous conservative think tanks and campaigns.
At a really in 2009, David Koch said "Five years ago, my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start the Americans for Prosperity, and it's beyond my wildest dreams how AFP has grown into this enormous organization."
AFP spent untold millions in 2014 on TV commercials attacking the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as a government boondoggle that "just doesn't work" the campaign slogan told viewers. The group also helped Republicans get elected and take control of congress.
Another organization with ties to the Koch Brothers, Freedom Partners, gave grants worth a total of $236 million to conservative organizations, including Tea Party groups like the Tea Party Patriots.
In July 2012, Koch hosted a $50,000-a-person ($75,000 a couple) fundraising dinner for 2012 Republican Party Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, which was the subject of liberal and progressive protests.
In addition to fundraising, creating and funding conservative think-tanks, Koch Industries and its subsidiaries spent more than $20 million on congressional lobbying in 2008 and $12.3 million in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.
Though they claim to be liberterians the Koch brothers answer only to themselves. They act according to self-interest and the interests of their tax bracket, which of course all of the oligarchs share.
Not surprisingly, the Koch's push for tax cuts for rich and for corporations relentlessly and shamelessly, which coincidentally dovetails with the current Republican agenda.
Ex-New York mayor billionaire Michael Bloomberg displayed the ultimate act of oligarchy by simply buying the office. The NY Times reported, "He has now spent more of his own money than any other individual in United States history in the pursuit of public office."
At least he was open and honest about his quest for political power and what he was willing to do to get it.
Oligarch George Soros, a notorious anti-Russian financial derivatives parasite, is more well-known to the Russian leadership and people than to his fellow Americans. But as journalist Selwyn Duke noted in his article,
"Soros is the invisible hand behind much of the manipulation of our culture. He reminds me of the evil emperor in Star Wars; his minions are all about bedeviling us, but you don't see him much..." ('George Soros the most evil man in America')
As does its aggressive, foreign-military policy the United States today is the embodiment of the Roman Empire. In this case history has much to say as it did with the British, French and former Soviet Empires, people do much like oligarchies or empires.
But the American leadership is currently deaf, dumb and blind to the mistakes and lessons of history.
Also read: No American democracy for Americans