Is it a democracy? Or a plutocracy?

Truthout has a helpful chart to help us decide (and thanks, DickG.):

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23 responses to “Is it a democracy? Or a plutocracy?

  1. This story has nothing to do with our style of government, but it goes to show that, more often than not, the dreaded “one-percenters” simply worked harder than everyone else to develop their talents and deserve their take:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntamny/2011/11/27/what-you-dont-always-hear-about-those-greedy-one-percenters/

    I don’t think anyone can argue that Aaron Rodgers or the Rolling Stones aren’t supremely talented and worthy of their accomplishments with respect to their peers.

    • Nor would I want to take anything from them, but I think what this piece doesn’t explore is the legacies among the 1 percenters, who did nothing to earn their keep other than land in a rich family.

    • Forbes, how does it show that the one percenters worked harder? I’d disagree that hard work leads to wealth. It just doesn’t work that way. And, is the CEO of a company really “more talented” than the scientists and engineers who invent and design the products that the company sells? I’d dispute that, too. There is a big problem with income disparity. The gap in earnings keep widening. As wealth is accumulated, money is made on money and the gap between the wealthy and middle class widens further.
      Who is Aaron Rodgers and why is he more (?) deserving of wealth than say a minister or a teacher or a person who answers the calls on a suicide-prevention hotline? The people who have the most say on who makes a lot of money are the people who already have a lot of money.

  2. You’re not the first to have that thought, but I think there are three major problems with it. The first is that I don’t look at this as, “what did a baby do to deserve that money?” Rather, I look at it as if to say, “the Mom (or Dad) earned that money and should be able to do with it as they please,” including to hand it down to whomever they choose. So what if they hand it down to their children?

    Second, even if you took every dime earned by a legacy of the 1 percenters, that still wouldn’t come close to bridging our huge budget deficit. After all, President Obama proposed a $3.7 trillion budget, and we have NEVER taken in more than $1.1 trillion in income tax revenue. That’s bad math. You’re talking about putting a fingernail not in a dyke, but in the Connecticut River.

    Third, what right does the government have in that money? None. It was already taxed on the way in.

    • It’s taxed, but not to the point I’d like to see it taxed. And I am not the first to have that thought, either. And I will echo what Sherry (and Elizabeth Warren) said: Those people with money didn’t get there on their own steam. They had help. It would be nice to acknowledge and reward the help. And, as for the government having a share of that money, how many of those in the 1 percent benefited from a tax code written in their favor? And is your real name Forbes? Because mine really is DatingJesus.

  3. Elizabeth Warren said it best, ” Nobody got rich by themselves” Good for you if you are a gazillionaire, now pay your share and be a mensch!

  4. Of course it’s not Forbes. If it were, I might have an inheritance coming my way, but alas, I don’t… at least you can brag you’re hooking up with the Almighty.

    Here’s another question: how many of us are benefiting from the tax code as it is written? Currently, 1% of the country pays 40% of the income tax. This ratio has been driven progressively higher since the days of Reagan (when the top 1% paid just 26% of the income tax). From 1986 to 2008, inflation was 93% — yet income tax revenue soared by 282% (from $367 billion to $1.032 trilion). Who thinks that returning to old tax rates is a good idea?!

    Can anyone justifiably say that the rich are getting a break from the tax code? Shouldn’t your question be, how many in the 100% have benefited from the tax code written in our favor? I mean, my goodness, if we were to reinstitute the tax levels of Carter (or even Clinton), we’d have an even greater deficit.

  5. Mike the Heathen

    Sorry, but democracy is also limited government, or a least that’s how it was clearly viewed at our nation’s start.

    “What is needed for the survival of limited government is a renewal of
    both of the forces described by Madison as controls on government:
    dependence on the people, in the form of an informed citizenry jealous
    of its rights and ever vigilant against unconstitutional or otherwise unwarranted exercises of power, and officeholders who take seriously their oaths of office and accept the responsibilities they entail.”
    – CATO Handbook for Congress, (Chapter 2: Limited Government and the Rule of Law)

  6. Susan Forbes Hansen

    “Of course it’s not Forbes. If it were, I might have an inheritance coming my way, ….”

    Not necessarily. It sure hasn’t gained me any extra cash.

  7. Not bad for a cartoon.
    The terms “democracy” and “plutocracy” are simplistic caricatures Americans like to identify with because it relieves them of any real responsibility for any actual knowledge of their system of government, (constitutional republic), how it works, (liberal representative democracy), and how it enables plutocracy, (through libertarian free-market capitalism), among other things. If Americans are truly opposed to plutocracy, they will need to fashion a system of government very different from what they have now.

    • OK. Now you’re showing off. Actually, I’d argue that we’re more of an oligarchy. But I wouldn’t argue a lot.

      • Plutocracy…power enabled by wealth….oligarchy…power enabled by traditional class…not really so different. The combination of the two…plutarchy…not really a word yet but easier to pronounce than corporatocracy …not really a word yet either….might be an acceptable compromise. Both would fit into my definition of “among other things.”

    • Oh YES he’s back!

  8. Sorry, Forbes, but I seriously do not believe that you really know or have worked with many of the “one-percenters” you talk about.

    You said that “the dreaded “one-percenters” simply worked harder than everyone else to develop their talents and deserve their take.”

    Some do, yes. But not many. Jonas Salk (polio vaccine)n did have, but he was concerned about health. Tim Berners-Lee (you know, the guy who invented the world wide web protocols and the like) could have taken a huge cut, but didn’t. Some performers, sports players do, too. As go some people who actually create things, like Picasso, like Bill Gates, like many music and sports performers.

    But is somebody going to tell us with a straight face that those in charge of Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Countrywide Mortgage, JP Morgan Chase, AIG, Enron, (etc., etc.) were really interested in the welfare of children?

    Nope, sorry. They are intent on having their PR firms and lobbyists working to maximize their personal wealth.

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