Gallery C

Power To The Rich
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Our Fate: Living In A Plutocracy

By James Donahue

A Plutocracy means a government or state in which the wealthy class rules. Thanks to the five right wing members of the U.S. Supreme Court, who have opened the floodgates for corporations and wealthy individuals to pour billions into campaign financing, this may be how we will soon be describing our form of government.

We have been in transition from the republic we thought we once had, through the democracy we told ourselves we enjoyed, to plutocracy now for several years. The shift was slow and deliberate. It was performed right before our eyes because most Americans were too absorbed in their electronic toys, drugs, football, sex and their quest to earn a living to be paying attention.

A key element in the takeover of our government was the breakdown of our education system. The Bush “No Child Left Behind” program that forced teachers to devote nearly all of their time preparing students to pass federal tests left generations of young Americans unable to understand the workings of government, unable to read maps and barely able to read and solve basic mathematical problems.

The second assault was made against the media. The old professionals in the great days of newspaper journalism went out into the field, became observers of news events, interviewed everyone involved, and when there was conflict, always dug for both sides of the story. The stories were designed like a pyramid, with the meat of the information told in the first paragraphs and details added below this. This gave editors the freedom to cut stories to fit each other on a news page without losing the heart of the report. Also, reporters perceived the media as a watchdog of government. Residents of a city could not all fit in council rooms, nor did the people have the time to try. But if they read the stories, and if reporters did their job, everybody had a clear understanding of every decision the council made that might affect their lives.

So it has been for government reporters in state and federal levels. Their work kept elected officials in the public eye. Attempts at corruption were usually exposed. 
Long before I retired from my newspaper job there was concern about a new generation of reporters and editors graduating from college. They were learning a new kind of journalism that moved away from watching government and devoting more time to writing cute feature-type stories. Readers were turning away even then from wading through the long and detailed stories in newspapers and choosing, instead, to get crisp, colorful news from their television screens. And television news, even the concept of full-time news on CNN, never dug into the story like old-school newspaper reporters. Consequently, people began losing interest, and losing track of what their elected representatives on councils, school boards, and state and federal governments were up to.

In the meantime, organized crime was turning away from drugs, booze, prostitution and gambling, and getting into banking and corporate positions. In 1913, while many members of Congress were home for the Christmas holidays, key members gathered in Washington for a special session to pass the Federal Reserve Act.
This unconstitutional act put the U. S. monetary system into the hands of a few international bankers. The act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, who saw this as a way of stabilizing the monetary system.

Wilson and perhaps the Congressmen who created the Federal Reserve that fateful year had forgotten the reason the Constitution put control of the money into the hands of the Congress in the first place. Thomas Jefferson, one of the framers of the Constitution, warned that "if we turn our monetary system over to the bankers our children will wake up as slaves to the country we fought to free."

With the banks under the control of the Federal Reserve, the rules for printing money changed. Our dollar bills were once considered a representation of their value in gold stored in places like Fort Knox, Kentucky. Instead of "legal tender" our bills were identified as Federal Reserve notes. That meant that they were loans, or I.O.U.s and no longer backed up in value by gold reserves.

With this began the problem of inflation. Every time the nation needed more money to fight a war or deal with a national problem, the reserve just printed more money. The dollar has been losing its value ever since. And the wealthy people in the world have been acquiring more and more control of the money.
Workers in the US fought hard against the industrial giants. Organized labor grew in power and created the Middle Class for a while, especially during the war years. But corporate leaders created "right-to-work" laws that stripped unions of their power, and international trade agreements that allowed them to move manufacturing plants overseas in search of non-union inexpensive labor.
Now with the Supreme Court's right-wing support, the Republican Party, which is financed by the rich and powerful, is quickly taking control of our government. If the people are cleverly lured by another pre-election advertising bombardment to give total control of Congress and the Senate to the G.O.P this fall, we can expect Paul Ryan's budget plan, now considered a joke by most Americans, to get serious consideration. It may even be passed.

If it happens, expect government assistance to the poor and elderly to be eliminated. Even this small portion of the federal budget will fall into the pockets of the powerful rich.
America is on the verge of slipping back into the dark ages.