When confronted with accusations regarding his history as a corporate raider with Bain Capital, Mitt Romney has famously responded that his accusers are “jealous” of his wealth and accomplishments. If jealousy is the key motivation of those advocating for change of the distribution of power in the US, then all that is needed is for advocates to change their own efforts from working for equity, to becoming part of the 1 percent themselves – problem solved. The reality is that “jealousy,” while no doubt present (who would turn down $200 million if offered?) has little to do with the motivations of advocates who seek to end abuses of the uber-wealthy in the US.
Examples of problems created through the misuse of wealth in our democracy abound and can easily fill a multi-volume tome dedicated to the subject. For brevity’s sake, I have decided to limit this quick glance at legitimate grievances that the average American has towards the 1% who control more than 48% of our nations wealth, based on stories linked to, or discussed among my acquaintances on facebook. Some would surely argue “your friends are a bunch of liberals,” which is true enough, but hey, they are my friends, and I never said this was a scientific sampling, just a list of legitimate grievances!
The largest and most serious complaint is that the wealthy use the power money buys to “game the system.” An acquaintance posted a link that documents how every $1 spent lobbying by big oil results in $58 of profit. The super rich spend vast sums to influence the politicians who pass laws that allow the wealthy to continue growing their fortunes. There has actually been a drop in lobbying money this year – my personal thought is that the wealthy are throwing their funds into Super PACs, since the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision made it legal to spend unlimited amounts on elections. Which leads to…
The 1% are now buying America’s elections thanks to the Citizens United decision. As if direct contributions to candidate’s campaigns were not enough, Super PAC spending is the story of the current election cycle. When a single wealthy person can spend millions on TV ads attacking candidates with accusations that may have little connection to the truth, the votes of ordinary Americans matters much less.
The 1% and their corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes. Another friend linked to a story stating that top CEOs and corporations are legally avoiding paying their fair share of the cost of running this nation. What is worse, these are overwhelmingly the same people who attempt to demonize the social safety net as “bankrupting” America. So they skip out on the dinner check, while accusing everyone else at the party of eating too much and driving up the bill. Talk about rubbing salt in a wound.
The 1% use their wealth in a shady manner to undercut legitimate opposition to their actions. A fellow writer for Occasional Planet linked to this story about Monsanto hiring Xe (the artist formerly known as Blackwater) agents to infiltrate groups they see as a potential threat to their profits. This goes to a problem that threatens even the 1 percent, though they seem not to see it that way.
The uber-rich have placed profits not just above the well-being of individuals, but are pursuing policies that threaten America’s stability and possibly the long-term health of everyone on the planet. Global warming threatens everyone, and major causes include cars, factories and electricity production. These three causes are making the one-percenters fabulously wealthier every day. These same fabulously wealthy people have been funding climate warming deniers in order to prevent changes to Federal policy that might affect their bottom line negatively – such as ending subsidies for the oil industry which is making record profits already.
The super wealthy are actually benefitting from the suffering of others. Mitt Romney does not deny that foreclosures in Florida made money for him. No wonder Mitt believes that the best way to handle the foreclosure crisis is to allow the market to “hit bottom!”
Five seems a good number to stop at – sadly I have enough material just from links on facebook from the last 24 hours, to continue further. The wealthy seem oblivious to the needs of others (with noticeable exceptions) and begin to remind us of 17th century aristocrats who believe that they are so far above the peons that they need not give them a second thought except to lie to them about who to vote for. Perhaps they should be reminded of what happened as a direct result of these policies. At the very least, we see that jealousy is not a top motivator for the grievances of the 99%.