04-28-2012, 09:47 PM
The inequality that ate American democracy
| The inequality that ate American democracy |
We can all expect to lose because economics (and inequality) guides and trumps politics, says author.
Although activists have spoken out, the inequality gap in the USA is becoming deeply institutionalised at a time when America has its most nominally progressive president in decades [AFP]
New York, NY - In July of 1936, Langston Hughes, the great black American poet first published in Esquire some lines that have never been forgotten.
Among them was this: "Let America Be America Again", a salute to the American dream that had, until then, left poorer Americans and minorities behind.
So memorable was his phrasing that, in 2004, John Kerry adopted it as a campaign slogan in his failed bid for the presidency, Not to be outdone, none other than Rick Santorum used a variant on his website - "Fighting to make America America again".
Marketers used to talk about a category called "mass affluents". Now they talk about "class affluents", urging companies to upscale products and advertising.
A recent report in Ad Age, "The New Wave of Affluence", reveals that the wealthiest Americans now drive nearly 50 per cent of all spending. No wonder they are catered to, while the majority gets poorer and marginalised.
Karl Marx and his followers would be shocked to learn how class analysis has caught on more among the rich than workers
Report editor David Hirschman sums up, "Simply put as the discrepancy between rich and poor becomes more stark, a small plutocracy of wealthy elites derives a larger and larger share of total consumer spending."
The marketers see this as calling for a "massive reset" in thinking, recommending a disproportionate focus on luxury brands. A study by Digitas concludes that the threshold for being considered affluent is now $200,000 a year.
So, even as many rail at the way big money is taking over politics, it seems to be a logical outgrowth of structural shifts that have been years in the making and reflect a "new America" where the rich rule.
In that sense, Mitt Romney is a perfect representative of a rising oligarchy that puts Russia to shame.
The haves want to keep their economic and political power, whatever rhetoric they may use to disguise their interests; the have-nots are ignored.
Moreover, in age of globalisation, as Chrystia Freeland explains in the Atlantic, a new super elite of "hard working, highly educated, jet setting, meritocrats have more in common with one another than their countryman back home".
So say goodbye to democracy, as an ideal, political process and culture. This avaricious and self-absorbed elite has little use for it.
In this world, acquisitions matter more than issues. It sad to think that whoever "wins" our next elections, we can all expect to lose because economics (and inequality) guides and trumps politics.
If you can afford it, keep those acquisitions high. If you can't, keep your expectations low. While you shop, they will drop.
News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at NewsDissector.net. His new book is Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street (Cosimo Books) and his latest film is Plunder, about financial crime. He hosts a radio show on Progressive Radio Network. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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