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Have the Oligarchs won?

As each day passes, it occurs to me more and more that, despite some examples of perceived progress here and there, we progressives continue to lose more and more  battles against the oligarchs, slowly, but surely and steadily.

What evidence is there for this statement?

Lots.

Follow me below for the numerous examples of how the oligarchs are winning and the people and the progressives who fight for them are losing a long-term  political game of attrition to the wealthy one percent.

Workers' Rights.
Since Ronald Reagan launched a frontal assault on unions in the 1980's, his cohorts and co-conspirators have not let up...not one bit. And while it appears that workers, on occasion, have made some gains, since the 1980's, when Ronald Reagan willingly did the bidding of his billionaire pals...in exchange for lots of money to finance his political campaigns, the workers of this country have seen their rights eroded more and more and more. The successful efforts in places like Wisconsin are testament to how
time appears to be on the side of oligarchs as they, state by state, slowly and steadily, are successfully eroding the rights and powers of everyday working citizens. The number of states which have a “right to work for poverty wages” has increased. It used to be contained to the South. No more. Now, previously progressive states, like Wisconsin, are seeing worker's rights diminished as anti-union puppets of the oligarchs like Scott Walker attack them in unprecedented ways.

Minimum Wage.
Last night, on a local news program, an advocate for increasing the minimum wage stunned me when she said that, in real dollars, today's minimum wage here in New York State is actually lower than it was in the 1960's. Combine that with the fact that there are a lot more single-worker families out there who work at minimum wage or near-minimum wage, and that means that the actual income of most people in this country has actually declined over the past 50 years.

Campaign Finance Reform
The Citizens United decision/abomination seems to have put a stake through the heart of the minimal efforts of progress made in this country to clean up our pay-to-play campaign finance system in this country. Five of the most corrupt Supreme Court Injustices in American history (Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, William Kennedy and John Roberts) in one fell swoop, killed off every last vestige of progress that had been made on this front, when they decided to allow corporations to use unlimited amounts of secret money for political purposes. It was truly one of the biggest middle fingers ever flipped at the entire American public by any Supreme Court in our history. They, basically told everyone they could go...make love to themselves (to be polite) when it comes to ever having a chance for the People's will to be done in this country. And billionaires like the Koch brothers have been going to town, secretly funding puppets throughout the land, from the highest offices in Washington to the lowest offices in towns and cities throughout the country...to install puppets to do their bidding.

States currently owned by oligarchs.
Texas is one of the most obvious examples (along with Louisiana) of how oligarchs can simply come in and purchase themselves control of an entire state. But these oligarchs are, increasingly, having similar success elsewhere of late (Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan). Plus, there are numerous states where the deep red populace willingly ceded its power to the monied elites a long time ago (Kansas, Utah, Idaho, for instance). The oligarchs seem to be making more and more progress purchasing themselves complete control of entire state governments.

Social Security, Medicare (& Medicaid).
Their ongoing propaganda efforts to convince people that these programs are destroying us economically, even though all evidence proves the exact opposite, is testament to the fact that their long, sustained effort to try to kill off these programs ever since they were first enacted...has not let up one bit. And, even though some of the most egregious and blatant attempts by these oligarchs to kill off these programs outright (such as George Walker Bush's attempts to “privatize” them and Paul Ryan's continuing attempts to do so) have failed thus far, that hasn't stopped them one bit from continuing to try and by continuing to engage in ongoing disinformation campaigns and deliberate attempts to undermine them (through the chained CPI, for instance).

Regulations.
Even on the regulatory front, while there are still a lot of government agencies and a lot of regulations designed to protect citizens from blatant abuses, oligarchs have succeeded tremendously over the past 50 years in watering down and eliminating many of these regulations and even the ability of regulators to do their jobs. The “deregulation” frenzy begun under Ronald Reagan and continued right up through the crash of 2008 resulted in some of the worst examples of negligence and incompetence by the financial industry in American history, in large part due to successful deregulation efforts in the 1990's
(allowing them to buy and sell junk mortgages and other financial junk at will, for instance). And whenever Republicans get in power they do whatever they can to stack the federal regulatory agencies with as many people as they can whose sole purpose is to undermine the very regulatory ability of the agencies they've been hired by. It takes many, many, many years to rid these agencies of people installed to deliberately try to undermine them. George Walker Bush and his gang of thugs had a field day packing our federal bureaucracy with these folks for eight long years.

What are some examples of these concerns?

In case anyone out there thinks these are just made up concerns, concocted from the crevasses of my imagination only, following are specific examples of the success of these oligarchs over the years:

. Persistent unemployment and underemployment. And even worse: those who no longer count as either because they've simply given up looking. Ever since the Reagan administration decided that it would be in their best political interests (to get re-elected, that is) to “adjust” the way that the unemployment rate is figured, the official (wink-wink) unemployment rate of this country has been nothing but a joke. In one fell swoop, Reagan and his co-conspirators knocked several points off of the official unemployment rate, without doing anything but manipulating numbers. And those figures continue to deceive, even more so since even the official unemployment rate soared after the 2008 meltdown.
. The disparity between the rich and poor has gotten worse. Even before the great recession of 2008 the disparity was increasing and that disparity has become even more dramatic as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and more and more people are falling into poverty.
. The perception by large numbers of Americans that Social Security is on the path to bankruptcy, when nothing could be further from the truth. This blatant lie has been perpetuated for many decades to the point where a lot of people simply accept it as fact. And it's been used as a political bludgeon by the puppets of the oligarchs to continue to try to do the bidding of billionaires and millionaires who give them lots of campaign money.

Now, there are a few examples where oligarchs have been set back. The Affordable Care Act is the most obvious example, whereby these oligarchs were simply incapable of stopping its enactment as they were able to do to the Clinton healthcare reforms of the 1990's by simply spending hundreds of billions of dollars in anti-healthcare reform propaganda. However, these oligarchs haven't stopped fighting all of their past setbacks, including Obamacare. They currently are attempting to work with as many of their puppets in state governments as possible to do whatever they can to undermine it.

There are probably more examples of where oligarchs have been on the losing side of some battles over the past few decades, but they are few and far between. For the most part, they seem to me to be winning battle after battle after battle. The only remaining question is whether the war itself is over or if we can still stop them from obtaining complete control.

In fact, it feels, increasingly, to me that this country is becoming what they used to call a “third world,” country, one with an overwhelming number of poor folks, a shrinking middle class and with the top echelon reaping all of the benefits to the disadvantage of 99 percent of the rest of the population.

Is this just cynicism? Pessimism? A temporary feeling of hopelessness that will soon pass? Can someone please, as Rachel Maddow might say, “talk me down?”

Originally posted to wdrath on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 04:53 PM PDT.

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Have the Oligarchs already won?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Has it ever been a contest? (10+ / 0-)

    Sure, there's been times when they have lost some ground,  sometimes even more than they were willing to cede, but it sure seems like they've always been in control, even after significant paradigm shifts.

    "labor is superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration,"... Theodore Roosevelt

    by HugoDog on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 10:42:22 AM PDT

  •  I Label Our System a Democratic Oligarchy (9+ / 0-)

    Most of the people we have to choose from for national office are from the upper class, and the system cannot serve the people where the oligarchs object.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 10:53:34 AM PDT

  •  Why does the American eagle fly in circles? (17+ / 0-)

    Because it has no left wing.  

    Nice summary.  Here's something else the oligarchs have bought control of: the Democratic Party establishment.  

    "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

    by Oliver St John Gogarty on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 10:55:41 AM PDT

  •  They havent won yet. But its getting closer. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, Gooserock, Stude Dude, George3

    They had a major victory in the 70's when they convinced the left that they should reject Democrat achievements (and the politicans responsible for them) in their entirety if they felt those achievements were "insufficently left" or didn't happen quickly enough to suit them- instead of treating them as important achievements and vital building blocks for the future.

    The right wing knew full well that if the left adopted that atttitude, it would lead to massive electoral losses, which in turn would convince politicans that right wing policies are what the country wants; thus the left would end up enabling the policies they railed against - and the party they belong to would face a massive rightward pressure that they themselves would create(complaining about the party going right all the while).

    Sadly, there are many on the left who still don't get how they got played all those years ago, and are calling for harsher and quicker abandonment of the Democrats, thus guaranteeing that their efforts to strengthen social security will ultimately ensure its destruction - just for an example.

    The oligarchy can be beaten.  But it will require an acknowledgment by the left of how badly theyve been played for the past 40 years and a complete rethink/restructure of their electoral strategy, and sadly, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

    "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

    by Whimsical on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 11:03:44 AM PDT

    •  yes...my way of putting it would be as follows... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, George3

      ...too many Democrats, for too many years, simply gave up on trying "frame" political issues (am not sure why, but my guess is that it seemed "too hard" to them (that's not an apology for them, it's just a guess, based on human nature...which too often...tends to make people too easily go the path of least resistance rather than the most desirable path).

      As a result, not only do Democrats usually find themselves behind the eight-ball, but they find themselves in a position to, first, have to try to change the framing itself...just to be able to get to the point of being able to persuade people to their thinking.

    •  Didn't Carter campaign as a conservative Dem? (9+ / 0-)

      That's how I remember it, but I was young. Anyway, he wasn't like Johnson. And Clinton was conservative- NAFTA, bank deregulation, media consolidation, 'welfare reform'.

      I think Dems could make a better case against the GOP if they were were more different from the GOP.

      •  Carter definitely positioned himself as a (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins, Stude Dude, kurt, George3, blueoasis

        "moderate" (i.e. conservative) Democrat...but one who staked out a more progressive position on race relations (and who acted on that in his own state as governor). In fact, the only 1976 Democratic candidate for president any more conservative would have been Henry (Scoop) Jackson, a military hawk (who happened to be an owned-bought-and-paid-for subisidiary of defense contractors).

        My candidate that year was...Sen. Fred Harris, a populist from Oklahoma (of all places), who proposed nationalizing the oil companies.

      •  Carter and Clinton were conservative (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, wdrath, DBunn, BrianParker14, George3

        because they saw the writing on the wall- the rightward push that the left's policy of abandonment was generating- and they wanted to get/keep their jobs.

        Clinton especially saw what happened to Carter when he (Carter) had a crisis of conscience and tried to govern liberally- how he was caught in the wave of rightward pressure.

        As for this:

        I think Dems could make a better case against the GOP if they were were more different from the GOP.
        I think the Dems would be more different than the GOP if they were rewarded for any difference (no matter how small) rather than being abandoned and villified that "the differences aren't big enough".

        "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

        by Whimsical on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 01:52:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except That Only an Idiot Would Regard Carter as (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wdrath, corvo, mickT, George3, mookins

          a gifted politician or message crafter. The fact that Carter had trouble didn't need to mean squat for Clinton and his superior political talents.

          BTW if the left is powerful enough to force the party to the right by abandoning it, wouldn't that suggest that there's an opportunity to win by the party choosing to move to the left and pick up all that strength?

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 05:05:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is very much an opportunity (0+ / 0-)

            to move the party back to the left.  It will, however, require the left to completely rethink their attitude and electoral strategy, which they seem unwilling to do.

            "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

            by Whimsical on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 04:04:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The party has 40+ years (0+ / 0-)

            of history of the left being unreasonable and abandoning it for not moving left enough, fast enough (no matter how unrealistic it would be to move far enough left enough fast enough to suit the left) -They aren't going to move left on their own in the face of that history.

            The left is going to have to do some heaving lifting to convince the party that they will be rewarded for moving left,no matter how small the movement instead of abandoned for not moving far enough left, fast enough.

            Once the left does that; however, (and I'm not gonna lie, given the history, and especially after the crap the left pulled in 2010, it's gonna take more than a single election), the party will rush back left.

            Sadly, the left today seem to think they're "above" trying to be a constituency that rewards politicians for good behavior; they have an entitlement attitude and don't want to work the system.

            Which is sad, because unless and until the left changes their attitude and electoral strategy, the party (and by extension the country) will continue to drift further and further right.

            "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

            by Whimsical on Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 04:14:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed. Carter was a horrible president (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wdrath, George3

        who largely redeemed himself in retirement.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 06:52:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You forgot the theme music (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, tardis10, Stude Dude, corvo, George3

  •  It's not over til it's over. (11+ / 0-)

    But the serfs are way behind and catching up does seem impossible.

    "I'm an antiwar propagandist as accused by democrats. Not even republicans have called me that."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 11:23:59 AM PDT

  •  Yup. But that does not mean that ... (8+ / 0-)

    ... we should stop fighting them - or supporting the Democratic Party.  The last time I checked the Dems were the only political party with a sizable Progressive Caucus in the Legislature.

    Please do not be alarmed. We are about to engage... the nozzle.

    by Terrapin on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 12:11:05 PM PDT

    •  you're right... (8+ / 0-)

      ...no matter how hopeless it may seem, we have an obligation to continue to fight...no matter what.

      It helps me a little to know that we progressives have ALWAYS been the underdogs in this country...and yet we have made some significant progress in the past despite that.

      •  Progressives as underdogs (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wdrath, George3, Terrapin

        When you think about it, progressives will always be underdogs; no other condition is possible.

        To be considered progressive, we must be the leading edge. Which means we are in the minority. If we ever become the majority, then we are no longer the leading edge, we are the fat middle.

        If we are not underdogs, we are not progressives.

        And yes, even as underdogs, we have made significant progress.

    •  Society..not the Democratic party (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, wdrath

      is taking care of the Progressive issues. Obama had to change positions on marriage because society forced him to...he didn't lead the fight.

      So as far as non-fiscal progressive values, I'm not very concerned. Society is moving the nation 'mostly' in the right direction. (Well I am concerned in a few states where abortion rights are being constrained, but since our supposed progressive leaders haven't done a damn thing on the national 'legal' level to stop it, I don't put much faith in them. This is one issue where the localized assholes may make progress, and it is bad, but I don't see Obama stepping into to North Dakota to change things. Sooner or later, society will force these states to catch up.)

      As for fiscally Progressive issues? Not in Washington. Hasn't been that way for decades as any graph showing income growth between us peons and rich has shown. It matters not if Dem pres/Dem congress, Rep pres/Rep congress.

      The only difference is the Dems in the past could at least come close to balancing the budget.

      But Dems like Moynihan have been lusting at the billions in SS for decades. They have rich bastards telling them they can do better with that money than the government. Greedy Bastard Inc. spend lots of money hoping for the billions in SS motherload.

  •  Persistent Unemployment since Reagan? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, DBunn

    What were you doing in the 90's?

    Maybe I'm in a bubble because I live in DC and work in Technology but "persistent unemployment" didnt seem to be a pressing issue in say 1996-1999 when the Dow Jones DOUBLED and everyone I knew was switching jobs and I had to raise salary offerings every month in order to fill spots on my staff.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 05:02:28 PM PDT

    •  what that's alluding to is... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, BrianParker14, blueoasis

      ...the fact that the official unemployment rate has been articificially lower due to the change in the way the numbers are calculated ever since the Reagan administration. The numbers would have been higher ever since following the formula before that.

      Most importantly, these numbers do not count people who are unemployed by are no longer receiving unemployment benefits or have given up looking.

      When the official unemployment numbers showed this country to be at what was called "full employment," there were still many people then who knew that was a joke...because we were not really at full employment.

      And then there are segments of the population where unemployment is always higher than the national average.

      You're correct, there were periods when unemployment did not seem as severe at other times. However, there were a lot more unemployed folks even at those times than was reflected in the official numbers.

  •  Not All They Intend to Win. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, 3goldens, corvo, BrianParker14

    They're just getting started.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 05:06:25 PM PDT

  •  North Carolina is another state where an (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, 3goldens, corvo, Calfacon, George3

    oligarch is dictating public policy.

    www.buonoforgovernor.com

    by Paleo on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 05:09:42 PM PDT

  •  The status quo is now extreme left (8+ / 0-)

    Yes, that's right.  If you are merely asking for the current Social Security and Medicare programs to remain the same, you are EXTREME, FAR, LEFT, totally UNREASONABLE.   I heard it on MSNBC.  Must be true.  

    I mean Chris Matthews told me.  How can any REASONABLE person oppose cutting $650 a year from Social Security benefits?  I mean GIVE UP CHRISTMAS will you old lady.  STOP buying underwear.  Why do you need clothing you old fool.  You fill up the gas tank once a month.  STOP DRIVING.  You have a cell phone? You are too old to text cut it out!  Take your cat to the shelter.  Turn of the air conditioning and turn down the heat.

    When the status quo is extreme far left one can only imagine how moderate or conservative might be defined.  

    Oh, yea, the oligarchs have won.

  •  The super rich took all the money. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, wdrath, Calfacon, kurt, George3, blueoasis

    Check my math.

    The average working class household is down at least $5000 per year.
    100 million * (US$ 5000) = 500 billion U.S. dollars

    The average super rich household is up over $2 million per year.
    1 million * (US$ 2 million) = 2 trillion U.S. dollars

    Of course this is just an approximation, but only 25% of the super rich's new money could restore all the working stiff's old money.

    What would the economy look like then? Probably pretty good.

    Too many people either don't believe this or are waiting for the trickle down.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 05:49:56 PM PDT

    •  And Bernanke announced he's going to give (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mickT, jbsoul, kurt, George3, blueoasis, wdrath

      the super wealthy another $85 Billion dollars EVERY month for at least the next year.  He's creating and giving $1 Trillion dollars to buy their scam corrupt derivatives so they don't lose any money.  None of that Trillion dollars will ever enter the economy or be taxed. Why isn't this the story following every mention of cutting SS.

      One Trillion Tax Free Dollars to the super wealthy and no one is talking about it.

      Yes, it's over.  They blatantly steal everything and don't even hide it anymore. And, Charles Koch has said "I want it all".

      "I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves" Harriet Tubman

      by BrianParker14 on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 08:26:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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