Politics Magazine

Has Our Democracy Already Become A Plutocracy ?

Posted on the 05 January 2015 by Jobsanger
Has Our Democracy Already Become A Plutocracy ?
The figure above is true, and it is very troubling. Actually, the figure for Congress is slightly higher. For the first time in our history, the Congress (the 113th Congress) had a majority of its members (51%) that had at least a million dollars in individual wealth. And every single member makes about four times the median income of American workers in salary. That means even the poorest member of Congress makes four times more money than half of all Americans.
Is it any wonder that they don't understand how hard it is for most Americans in this economy? Is this why they don't understand how hard it is for a person to live on the minimum wage (about $15,080 a year for a full-time worker) -- let alone try to support a family on that tiny income? Could this be why they don't see the damage they are doing by shipping good jobs to low-wage countries and replacing them with low-wage and low-benefit jobs in this country -- thus shrinking the size of the middle class?
The truth is that most in Congress don't really care about poor, working class, or middle class Americans. What they do care about is lowering their own taxes and those of their rich friends. And they are perfectly willing to throw most other Americans under the bus to accomplish that -- especially the Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress.
In a democracy, all of the people have a say. In a plutocracy, everything is decided by the wealthy class. Looking at the image above, it seems that we may already be living in the beginnings of a plutocracy -- or at least well on our way toward that.
We need to change this, but the prospect of that happening is remote -- thanks to a loosening of campaign finance laws by the Supreme Court in several misguided decisions. In the last election, about 4.75 million small donors (donors giving $200 or less) contributed about $356 million to political campaigns. That was almost matched by only 100 rich donors, who gave $323 million.
That would be bad enough, but the rich then gave another $219 million in dark money -- money spent on political campaigns that doesn't have to be reported to the Federal Elections Commission. That means a few rich people (mostly Republicans) gave $186 million more than nearly 5 million small donors (mostly Democrats) -- and the rich are expected to spend even more in the 2016 election.
Welcome to the plutocracy!
Has Our Democracy Already Become A Plutocracy ? (This cartoon image is by Matt Wuerker at politico.com.)

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