Fifty Shades of Grey
Aristocracy, plutocracy, elitism, and avarice
March 17, 2015
This conversation isn’t about the “Fifty Shades of Grey” – the book and movie that is the talk of the town now. It isn’t about hedonistic or narcissistic behavior, individual success, arrogance, or sexual fantasies. But there may be some egotistical overlap with the rich and powerful that we know so well.
This conversation is about aristocracy, plutocracy, elitism, and avarice – shades of grey, shades of gloom, shades of economic impoverishment for the proletariat, the hoi polloi – you know, me and you and all the rest of the working class.
Check out these quotes: “…. the caste, an elite who kept most of the gains from the boom years and left ordinary people to shoulder the cost of the crisis …”…. “Corruption is not just the scoundrels who put their hands in the till, it’s also the rich 1 Percent, who own as much as 70 percent of what the population owns, by binding them down with credit card debt, mortgages, and dead-end jobs in giant corporations….”
Does this conversation sound familiar? It seems that we have witnessed this, talked about it, written about it. Does it sound like the condition in the U.S.? It certainly does for many of us.
Well, these quotes, provided in a Bloomberg article by Estaban Duarte and Maria Tadeo – “A Fiery Leftist Galvanizes Spain”, are from Pablo Iglesias, candidate for prime minister in Spain. It seems we are not alone, not the only country in which the rich and powerful and behemoth corporations own the country, control all of the wealth, and garner a huge chunk of the income produced by the efforts of the entire populace.
Iglesias’s proposal to improve the condition of the economy would include a reduction of the value of some Spanish debt, more state control of companies, a guaranteed basic income for all, more controls on corporate lobbying and tax-avoidance, promotion of food production by small local farms, and withdrawal of certain free-trade agreements.
This is the same story of our economy in many ways and it requires some of the same remedies, the same anecdotes, the same changes in the way we are governed, the same prognosis and health regimen to withstand the onset of this disease that we have allowed to fester in our society.
The shades of grey that we are experiencing didn’t just happen in a book or a movie. They have been the way society has been controlled for most of human civilization. Which is the best, which is the worst, form of governmental or autocratic control over a population? Libraries around the world are filled with books on the subject. Every opinion one could hope for can be found there. No general consensus, no ultimate conclusion, just opinions. And the problem is that none of the forms of government work really well and most of them evolve from dictatorship, to monarchy, to oligarchy, to some sort of democratic society and then some revert to dictatorship. The effect that government should provide always seems to be deterred by aristocracy, by the many shades of grey, by the insidious condition that we are experiencing today that, if left untreated, could end up creating yet another failure in governing a civilization in a way that benefits all the people, not just the aristocracy.
If you want to know how some of our original wealth in this country was created, read what Noam Chomsky has to say on the subject. He will tell you that much of the early wealth that was created and still exists today was created on the backs of slaves who were tortured into productive cotton picking machines while producing enormous wealth for the plantation owners.
If you want to get more recent, read Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as they explain to us how the financial gangsters raped and pillaged the hoi polloi while pocketing gazillions of dollars in their private bank accounts. Are we talking about many years ago? No. We are talking about a few years ago. We are talking about today, as these same financial gangsters continue to rape and pillage the proletariat, the hopeless and helpless working class, the portion of our population with little political power and little voice in, or choice of, leadership, or our enactment or enforcement of laws, rules and regulations to level the field of economic opportunities.
Now, as we read what the Republican controlled Congress has in store for us, the picture is becoming clear. No surprise for those of us who knew it was coming, but perhaps an awakening for those who were fooled by the messages we were fed during the election campaigns that were dominated by corporate and special interest funding, sanctioned by the Supreme Court decision to consider corporations people and the congressional decision to drastically increase prior limits on individual campaign contributions. Like Will and Ariel Durant told us many years in “The Lessons of History”, “animals eat one another without qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law.”
So, what does the proposed Republican budget entail?
Repeal the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law which has enabled 16 million people to have healthcare coverage; Reduce spending on food stamps and other welfare programs; Reduce Medicaid spending; Privatize Medicare; Overhaul Social Security – so I guess we get the picture – the budget will be reduced on the backs of the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged – and ………… the defense contractors, corporation tax consultants, and, of course, the rich and powerful, can rest at ease – all will be well on those fronts. We will keep the new taxes created by the Affordable Care Act and not ask the behemoth corporations, who hide their earnings in tax haven countries, to pay their fair share.
Déjà vu all over again!
Cloudy skies are forecast. Fifty shades of grey.