Saturday, March 25, 2017

America: the Oligarchy

What if I were to tell you America is an Oligarchy. Would your first question be "what is an oligarchy", or "why do you say that"? Well, to answer the first, according to and oligarchy is:

noun, plural oligarchies.
1. a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
2. a state or organization so ruled.
3. the persons or class so ruling.

To answer the second question, well that takes a bit more time and words. 

I'll begin with the media. The media has received a lot of bad press lately, especially with the accusations of "fake news" we so often hear about. The media is a double-edged sword. We rely heavily on the media to keep us (as citizens) abreast of the on-goings in America. But the media also influences public opinion. The Journal of Social and Political Psychology published a paper on The Role of the Media in the Construction of Public Belief and Social Change which states:
"The media are in essence a contested space in which the most powerful groups can establish the dominance of specific messages. But [...] the complexity of the reception process then creates the possibility of variations in attitudinal and behavioral response." Basically this means the media can shape public opinion.

We see "media" being used to shape public opinion in wars as well. Wikipedia actually puts it well when discussing Psychological Operations: "Psychological operations (PSYOP) are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.". The Washington Post has a good article on the roll of PSYOP in our current conflicts in the Middle East. So we can see evidence of media outlets being used to influence public opinion in wartime and in conflict. Are we to assume our own media outlets are less able to influence people than we are able overseas? 

The reason I led with the media is because I think it is important to point out that a majority of our media outlets are owned by a mere 15 billionaires. Knowing how influential the media can be to shape public perception, I would bet anything that Politicians use our media to shape public opinion of themselves and their policies. Politicians can essentially shape public opinion however they want via the media. 

Now on to Corporations... Specifically the lobbying actions of corporations. Most people are aware of the lobbying done by corporations but I would wager not many people know the full extent of the lobbying. In 2011 Forbes had an article about 29 companies that paid millions towards lobbying but did not pay taxes. I have touched on the whole taxes issue in a previous post here. More recently The Atlantic published an article titled "How Corporate Lobbyists Conquered American Democracy". The article outlines how lobbying has changed over the years and touches on how lobbying effects American politics. I'm not going to go into detail about lobbying and how it hurts the American people. But I will say that as long as Politicians are being paid by corporations they will always favor corporate interest over the interest of the people.

Final note on Corporations Political influence is a post from Mother Jones titled: Who Owns Congress? A Campaign Cash Seating Chart. Basically the information is insight into the money given to politicians by lobbyists.

Then is the issue of "affluenza". Many people have heard about the teen Ethan Couch killing four people and didn't go to jail. Ethan Couch, wall street and various corporations being bailed out to prevent economic disaster, lobbyists, etc. are all examples of American politics not serving the average American and instead favoring those who are able to buy influence. 

If you are an average American think of how you are able to influence Politicians. Any Politician really. The most we are able to do as an average American is write a letter to our representative, take part in a town hall meeting, or join in a protest. We are not able to influence Politicians like a CEO of some corporation is able. The deck is stacked against us as a population. The rich and powerful are able to do nearly whatever they want to do. If you doubt the rich and powerful are able to get away with murder (quite literally at times) just scroll through this page from titled:
The 18 Most Horrifying Things Rich People Got Away With. Feel free to Google the incidents like I did. 

Justice in America is not equal, unbiased, or blind. Lady Justice's scales are tipped every day by money and power. Until justice is once again fair and impartial, America will continue to be an Oligarchy. I do not know how we can get back on track. Personally I think the whole system needs an overhaul. I hope Trump being in office wakes enough people up for change to take place. We need change from top to bottom. But change is something the rich and powerful will fight every step of the way. The rich and powerful want to stay rich and in power. At least we have numbers on our side. If only we can be united to push for the change. 

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