Thursday, April 29, 2021

America Is Exceptionally...Kleptocratic: Wealth/Power Inequality and the Slide Into Disorder

The sheer weight of this outlandish asymmetry of wealth and power is pulling the nation into disorder.

The U.S. Constitution doesn't address a small elite owning most of the nation's private wealth and using a sliver of that wealth to influence the federal government so their wealth and political power increase in a self-reinforcing feedback: as a result of their campaign contributions and lobbying, the elites' wealth continues expanding, enhancing their political power to further expand their wealth, and so on.

This financial and political dominance is thus perfectly legal. As Bastiat's famous quote puts it: :When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."

This legalized looting has now reached such absurd extremes that kleptocracy no longer does justice as a descriptor of the U.S. Consider this excerpt from Monopoly Versus Democracy (Foreign Affairs):

Like their forebears in the early twentieth century, today's Americans have experienced decades of growing inequality and increasing concentrations of wealth and power. The last decade alone witnessed nearly 500,000 corporate mergers worldwide. Ten percent of Americans now control 97 percent of all capital income in the country. Nearly half of the new income generated since the global financial crisis of 2008 has gone to the wealthiest one percent of U.S. citizens. The richest three Americans collectively have more wealth than the poorest 160 million Americans. (emphasis added.)

If you read that three kleptocrats held more wealth than half the residents of Lower Slobovia, that the top 0.1% own more wealth than the bottom 80% and that a near-zero 3% of all income flowing from capital trickled down to the bottom 90%, what would you think about wealth/power asymmetry in Lower Slobovia?

We now know what American Exceptionalism really means: exceptionally kleptocratic. Even as private wealth soared to unprecedented heights in the past decade of Federal Reserve largesse (endless trillions for financiers and too-big-to-jail speculators), the percentage of stocks owned by the fortunate class of the 90% to 99% fell from 39% to 35% and the percentage owned by the bottom 50% slipped to 0.6%. (Data from the Federal Reserve's FRED database)

Now there are rumblings in Washington D.C. about closing tax loopholes for corporations, which scoop 15% of the nation's GDP as profits. This is certainly very pretty political theater, but please let me know when you and I can rent a post office box in Ireland and pay no federal income taxes, while corporations are paying the total federal tax rates we pay (40+%) with 15.3% self-employment tax, 3.9% supplemental Medicare tax, etc.

The sheer weight of this outlandish asymmetry of wealth and power is pulling the nation into disorder. There are no legal or political limits on private wealth and political power, and the politicians that depend on the wealthy to fund their re-election campaigns have demonstrably little interest in harming the geese that lay their golden eggs.

The super-wealthy and Corporate America reckon that they can suppress any resistance to their dominance with virtue-signaling and political suppression, but they must have flunked history: when the bottom 90% own effectively zero income-producing capital and no political voice, and even the top 9.9% don't really have any real political power, then disorder of the uncontrollable variety arises to rebalance the extreme asymmetry.












If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17, audiobook now available $17.46)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisOfEasy Salon 42: Is System Change Likely, Possible or Inevitable? (58 min)

Charles Hugh Smith on the Terminally Ill Economy (49 min)

Keiser Report | Bilking Grandma is the Business Model
In the second half, Max interviews Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the 'fatal synergies' and the 'sealed pressure cooker' resulting when the system refuses to offer a solution to those denied a voice or access to resources. They also discuss the oversupply of elites and the chaos this ultimately brings to society.

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Victoria S. ($50), for your splendidly generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

Thank you, Thien E. ($5/month), for your superbly generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Terms of Service

All content on this blog is provided by Trewe LLC for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.


Our Privacy Policy:


Correspondents' email is strictly confidential. This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by a third-party advertising network (Investing Channel) may use cookies or collect information from visitors for the purpose of Interest-Based Advertising; if you wish to opt out of Interest-Based Advertising, please go to Opt out of interest-based advertising (The Network Advertising Initiative). If you have other privacy concerns relating to advertisements, please contact advertisers directly. Websites and blog links on the site's blog roll are posted at my discretion.


PRIVACY NOTICE FOR EEA INDIVIDUALS


This section covers disclosures on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for users residing within EEA only. GDPR replaces the existing Directive 95/46/ec, and aims at harmonizing data protection laws in the EU that are fit for purpose in the digital age. The primary objective of the GDPR is to give citizens back control of their personal data. Please follow the link below to access InvestingChannel’s General Data Protection Notice. https://stg.media.investingchannel.com/gdpr-notice/


Notice of Compliance with The California Consumer Protection Act


This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by a third-party advertising network (Investing Channel) may use cookies or collect information from visitors for the purpose of Interest-Based Advertising. If you do not want any personal information that may be collected by third-party advertising to be sold, please follow the instructions on this page: Do Not Sell My Personal Information


Regarding Cookies:


This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by third-party advertising networks such as Investing Channel may use cookies or collect information from visitors for the purpose of Interest-Based Advertising; if you wish to opt out of Interest-Based Advertising, please go to Opt out of interest-based advertising (The Network Advertising Initiative) If you have other privacy concerns relating to advertisements, please contact advertisers directly.


Our Commission Policy:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I also earn a commission on purchases of precious metals via BullionVault. I receive no fees or compensation for any other non-advertising links or content posted on my site.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP