Announcement

Collapse

Civics 101 Guidelines

Want to argue about politics? Healthcare reform? Taxes? Governments? You've come to the right place!

Try to keep it civil though. The rules still apply here.
See more
See less

Elites and the Masses

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Elites and the Masses

    In the Amy Coney Barrett thread, FirstFloor said and I think the topic merits it's own thread

    Originally posted by firstfloor View Post

    Americans are learning that their beloved country has been stolen from them by the rich and powerful, and their pet judges. They have the numbers to fight back, and simply need to organize the resistance.
    I think Americans have never owned their beloved country. We've always been run by elites for their gain and the masses hope for scrapes from the elite's table.

    The American Revolution could be viewed as the American elites (Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, etc.) throwing off the British elites (King George III, Parliament, etc.) for their own gain. Ever since, the various political parties have vied to have the power in the country. The occasional serious attempts to change the elite status quo (Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Williams Jennings Bryant, Donald Trump) were/will be eventually beaten back into submission.

    So when you talk about the country being stolen by the rich and powerful, what is really happening is you're believing the argument of the out-of-power elites who are trying to use you to get back into power. Voting has simply become elites trying to bribe you so they get into power and then until the next election, you don't matter.

    I think when historians look back at the 2000-2020 period, they'll describe it as a period when the elites lost the trust of the masses and new elites came into power.
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

  • #2
    Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
    I think Americans have never owned their beloved country. We've always been run by elites for their gain and the masses hope for scrapes from the elite's table.
    This is a cop out, designed to absolve the average citizen of his/her responsibility to vote in leaders who are competent, law-abiding and honest.

    To be clear, I'm not quite accusing you of the cop-out. Your claim was/is very common, and you're hardly to be blamed for reiterating a popular idea.

    And yet it's still a cop-out; a myth which allows the voter to believe that he/she has no power to shape how this country is governed, because he/she had no choice but to elect people who (in this case) are the elite that he she now bemoans the leadership of.

    Here's a fact: voters of all political persuasion elect people who are most effective at telling them what the voter wants to hear. We elect people who say the right things, and look the right way; we don't elect people who have demonstrated integrity or governmental competence. If we voters changed the criteria by which we elect politicians, our government would be in better shape, and there wouldn't be such a disparity between the Haves and the Have Nots. For example, how a politician talks about taxes can make/break his/her chances of getting (re)elected.

    To be fair to you, we have an election process which gives an advantage to prospective politicians with the most money. This bears some responsibility for the problem as well - but it does not absolve the voters of their own.
    I can solve the problem of evil without interfering with anyone's free will. So can your God, but he refuses. This is why I'm His moral superior.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Whateverman View Post
      This is a cop out, designed to absolve the average citizen of his/her responsibility to vote in leaders who are competent, law-abiding and honest.

      To be clear, I'm not quite accusing you of the cop-out. Your claim was/is very common, and you're hardly to be blamed for reiterating a popular idea.

      And yet it's still a cop-out; a myth which allows the voter to believe that he/she has no power to shape how this country is governed, because he/she had no choice but to elect people who (in this case) are the elite that he she now bemoans the leadership of.

      Here's a fact: voters of all political persuasion elect people who are most effective at telling them what the voter wants to hear. We elect people who say the right things, and look the right way; we don't elect people who have demonstrated integrity or governmental competence. If we voters changed the criteria by which we elect politicians, our government would be in better shape, and there wouldn't be such a disparity between the Haves and the Have Nots. For example, how a politician talks about taxes can make/break his/her chances of getting (re)elected.

      To be fair to you, we have an election process which gives an advantage to prospective politicians with the most money. This bears some responsibility for the problem as well - but it does not absolve the voters of their own.
      Possibly.

      I live in a one party county. The city school district is a disaster zone but the same school board keeps getting reelected. Our mayor is under indictment for campaign finance violations. The former head of the local housing administration has plead guilty to corruption charges. And yet, I hear nothing, read of nothing from the other party.

      Maybe I'm complaining against a political system that allows one party to abandon a region to the other. If you want to convince me that my vote here matters, give me meaningful elections to vote in; not ones where the results are pretty much known before the voting even starts.

      "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

      "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

        Possibly.

        I live in a one party county. The city school district is a disaster zone but the same school board keeps getting reelected. Our mayor is under indictment for campaign finance violations. The former head of the local housing administration has plead guilty to corruption charges. And yet, I hear nothing, read of nothing from the other party.

        Maybe I'm complaining against a political system that allows one party to abandon a region to the other. If you want to convince me that my vote here matters, give me meaningful elections to vote in; not ones where the results are pretty much known before the voting even starts.
        You need to remember the wise words of Lord Acton, "All power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely". Cupidity, venality, nepotism, these are features found throughout human hierarchies.
        "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful" Attrib. Seneca 4 BCE - 65 CE

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Whateverman View Post
          This is a cop out, designed to absolve the average citizen of his/her responsibility to vote in leaders who are competent, law-abiding and honest.
          And this is delusion, at least on a federal level.
          "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

            Possibly.

            I live in a one party county. The city school district is a disaster zone but the same school board keeps getting reelected. Our mayor is under indictment for campaign finance violations. The former head of the local housing administration has plead guilty to corruption charges. And yet, I hear nothing, read of nothing from the other party.

            Maybe I'm complaining against a political system that allows one party to abandon a region to the other. If you want to convince me that my vote here matters, give me meaningful elections to vote in; not ones where the results are pretty much known before the voting even starts.
            Does your vote "matter"? Does a molecule of water in a glass-full matter?

            In a practical sense, the answer to both is no. However, en masse, they matters quite a bit; a vote is the thing which elects politicians and thus forms governments, and a molecule is the thing which allows glasses to be filled at the sink, etc. You know this, so I apologize for being pedantic - but the reality is that without people like you, elitists wouldn't obtain (as much) societal power.

            So what do you do? You get involved in politics. You find the right candidate, and you start pushing him/her to your friends and co-workers; you organize or get involved in the campaign. You use your energy to energize other disillusioned voters. By yourself, you can't change a thing, but if you cause a large number of people to recognize a candidate they might have otherwise overlooked - you can change your government.

            THIS is the kind of responsibility I'm talking about. Not a silly ideal about you being able to change the world - but instead taking responsibility for not contributing to the problem you've pointed out.
            I can solve the problem of evil without interfering with anyone's free will. So can your God, but he refuses. This is why I'm His moral superior.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
              In the Amy Coney Barrett thread, FirstFloor said and I think the topic merits it's own thread



              I think Americans have never owned their beloved country. We've always been run by elites for their gain and the masses hope for scrapes from the elite's table.

              The American Revolution could be viewed as the American elites (Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, etc.) throwing off the British elites (King George III, Parliament, etc.) for their own gain. Ever since, the various political parties have vied to have the power in the country. The occasional serious attempts to change the elite status quo (Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Williams Jennings Bryant, Donald Trump) were/will be eventually beaten back into submission.

              So when you talk about the country being stolen by the rich and powerful, what is really happening is you're believing the argument of the out-of-power elites who are trying to use you to get back into power. Voting has simply become elites trying to bribe you so they get into power and then until the next election, you don't matter.

              I think when historians look back at the 2000-2020 period, they'll describe it as a period when the elites lost the trust of the masses and new elites came into power.
              I mostly agree with you, except I wouldn't place Trump in that list with Jackson and Teddy. Trump's main attribute is his resistance to globalism. That can help or hinder the little guy depending on the details. But the main objection I have (and most opponents have) to globalism is surrendering American sovereignty to foreign bureaucrats. If Trump does something terrible American voters can throw him out. The same with Biden. But some bureaucrat(s) writing legislation in Brussels or the UN about how collected money is spent, on what and where, removes accountability to the American voter and taxpayer. Some faceless dolt named Erich von Bureaucrat in Europe isn't going to spend my tax dollars on something I condemn, without any recourse from me whatsoever.

              Trump is also staunchly against the "regime change" policy of the military industrial complex (as is Tulsi Gabbard). The generals and aerospace CEOs and their lobbyists that keep us in perpetual wars. I see this as an anti-globalist stance as well.

              But Trump fighting for the little guy? Eh... maybe as a byproduct of his larger objectives.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Whateverman View Post

                Does your vote "matter"? Does a molecule of water in a glass-full matter?

                In a practical sense, the answer to both is no. However, en masse, they matters quite a bit; a vote is the thing which elects politicians and thus forms governments, and a molecule is the thing which allows glasses to be filled at the sink, etc. You know this, so I apologize for being pedantic - but the reality is that without people like you, elitists wouldn't obtain (as much) societal power.

                So what do you do? You get involved in politics. You find the right candidate, and you start pushing him/her to your friends and co-workers; you organize or get involved in the campaign. You use your energy to energize other disillusioned voters. By yourself, you can't change a thing, but if you cause a large number of people to recognize a candidate they might have otherwise overlooked - you can change your government.

                THIS is the kind of responsibility I'm talking about. Not a silly ideal about you being able to change the world - but instead taking responsibility for not contributing to the problem you've pointed out.
                I do vote. I've already mailed in my absentee ballot for the Presidential election plus Rep to Congress and a bunch of judges up for election. I don't expect my vote to change any of the races.

                I still think you are letting our political parties off too easily. They are the ones who select the candidates for office usually in the proverbial smoke filled room. Occasionally, you do get a primary challenge. You don't get a choice on who the candidates are. In the 2016 election, it's pretty well established that the Democrats rigged the process so Hillary Clinton was the nominee. I've begun to think the Democrats are more in love with getting the first: first black president, and having the first women president, first LGBTQ+ president, first Hispanic president, etc. rather than someone who can unite the nation. Admittedly, the Republican nominees weren't much better in 2016. Too often, they seem to go with the guy who's had years of being a faithful Republican (McCain comes to mind) as the primary qualification for president. None of them were unifiers. Frankly, I'm not expecting better in 2024.

                As for getting involved, I've spent the past few hours pondering that. With what's going on in my life besides Covid-19 and what I want to do in my life with my limited free time and energy I have, getting deeper into politics doesn't fit into my agenda. I will stay pay attention to what is going on politically and continue to look at third parties (In case you haven't figured it out, I've given up on both Republicans and Democrats) but that's going to be it.
                "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                Comment


                • #9
                  Which works, and which one do they tell you works? Trickledown or Trickleup?
                  “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
                  “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
                  “not all there” - you know who you are

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                    I think Americans have never owned their beloved country. We've always been run by elites for their gain and the masses hope for scrapes from the elite's table.
                    I think that assessment is largely true, with the exception of the period 1945-1985. Something really profound took place in that period that shows up in all sorts of graphs and seems pretty unique in history: The middle class thrived, and the elites didn't.

                    You can see this really profound economic difference on all sorts of graphs, but here's one that shows it nicely:



                    That graph looks at how much the elites (in this instance the top 10%) are earning compared to the rest of the country (the middle and working classes). During the period 1945-1985 something was really different in the US economically that meant the middle class was doing much better than it usually did in US history, and the elites were doing much worse.

                    That trend shows up in the data in all sorts of different metrics. But, in general, if you think on the question of "when was the golden age of America for the average middle class person?" the answer that I think comes to mind for most people is the 1950s and 1960s when average middle class families with their 2.5 children, a dog, and a white picket fence had a nice house in the suburbs.

                    It wasn't that there were no elites during that era, but the data pretty clearly shows that the elites weren't creaming it during that era the way they have been at all other times in US history, and inequality was way down compared to normal. Something was fundamentally different about the nation over that time that meant the average American and elite Americans weren't as different to each other as they have been for most of US history.

                    If you asked me what the causes of that difference were, I would point to 5 things I notice that are interesting about that era:

                    1. It was started by 5 progressive presidents in a row (FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ) and the Democratic party controlled all of the federal government for much of this era. The twilight of this era seems to begin around Nixon and has its nail in the coffin with Reagan. Republican government seems to have destroyed it and Democratic government created it.

                    2. It is an era marked by very very high taxes on the wealthy compared to now. e.g. FDR raised the highest income tax bracket to 94% on all money earned over ~$3 million per year (in today's dollars), and he wanted to raise it to 100%. The highest tax bracket remained in the 70s-90s% over this era. So the elites were being absolutely hammered on their incomes. Reagan cut this top tax rate in half and then some, hugely helping the elites.

                    3. It is an era marked by very high trade union membership. The level of trade union membership is almost an exact inverse of the graph above. Unionized workers were able to successfully push for higher wages throughout most of this period. That meant the wages for the middle class went up, while the share of the company profits going to the elite owners went down. At the end of this era, the Republicans were putting a lot of effort into breaking the power of unions and making union membership optional. The outcome of this reduced union power was more money going to the elite owners of the companies in profits and less pressure on them to raise wages.

                    4. It is an era marked by an economic philosophy called Keynesian economics, that had been created after the market-failure of the Great Depression, with the idea that governments ought to regulate and manage the free market so that it didn't explode and cost everyone their jobs again. This was very successful for many decades, and there were almost no recessions at all over this era. Keynesian economics also focused on keeping unemployment low, and this was also very successful, with levels of unemployment so low they would be viewed as miraculous today. Once Keynesian economics was abandoned, recessions started hitting every few years or so, and a reasonably high level of unemployment became considered acceptable. This drive to abandon government control of the market and let the market reign supreme was very consciously pushed for by Reagan and Republicans under him. A less controlled market gave the elites free reign to make huge gains for themselves in the marketplace at the expense of average people.

                    5. There was a Republican push in the courts toward overturning laws preventing bribery and corruption. The elites wanted to bribe politicians to do their bidding, but laws had been passed to prevent this. So the elites got their people to think of ways of working toward circumventing this. In the late 70s they got the outcomes they wanted with Buckley v. Valeo (1976) which equated campaign spending with free speech and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) which let corporations spend money to influence elections. These opened the floodgates of money into politics and allowed the elites to start buying politicians to do their will. More recent decisions have gone further, e.g. Citizens United (2010) and McCutcheon (2014) which struck down laws limiting who could spend money in elections and how much they could spend. These various cases were mostly party-line decisions with the Republican appointees in favor of allowing money to influence politics and the Democratic appointees against. Obviously the rich elites have the most money, so letting them spend it to affect politics has the outcome of causing policies they support.

                    Overall, it seems to me to be reasonably clear about what the causes were of that golden age of American history, when the middle class ruled, rather than the elites, and the sorts of things that would need to be done to return to it.

                    Another thing that I, as a political observer, would say would help de-corrupt US politics, is an increase in the number of political parties. In order to do this you need to change the voting system from plurality voting to instant run-off voting. This can be done by individual states, as they have control over how federal congressional elections happen in their state. Maine has already changed to instant run-off, but other bigger states need to do so also. In my lifetime in my own country we've used both those systems, and the second one has far, far better outcomes and leads to more parties and better people being elected. You'll be shocked at how much it improves your political system.


                    P.S. I will add that when I look through world history at all the various political systems of governance that have been used, I observe they share one thing in common: Rule by elites. The one exception to this that I see in history, where the average person has been able to wield some influence and have some say, is democracy. Through exerting control over their democratic government, the masses have, at times, been able to use that government to police the elites and to limit and restrain and abolish the power the elites were wielding in society. So I view democratic government as the one great tool that the People have that can rein-in the elites and stop the elites ruling over and trampling the masses. This is why the elites fight so hard to destroy the mechanisms of government, just as the average criminal would love there to be no police force. A non-functional government would be a paradise for the elites who could then set themselves up as lords over the peasants. This is why many billionaires like the Koch brothers etc, worked to push libertarian anti-government philosophies and spend so much money funding Republicans to sabotage the government, as a functional and effective democratic government is the one tool the People have that can stop the elites doing as they please. It is possible to have a non-corrupt and highly functional government that is responsive to the democratic will of the people - I live in a country that has one. But the elites would like it if you thought the fight against them was hopeless and unwinnable and that you just gave up and let them rule you.
                    Last edited by Starlight; 10-18-2020, 05:41 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                      I've begun to think the Democrats are more in love with getting the first: first black president, and having the first women president, first LGBTQ+ president, first Hispanic president, etc.
                      This sort of concern is actually a form of anti-elitism. There's a recognition that the elites for centuries have been wealthy landowning old white straight males, and a desire to see more of society than just the elites represented and having a roll in government. Thus the desire from Democrats to make sure that non-white, non-males, non-straights etc also have representation in congress and the presidency.

                      rather than someone who can unite the nation.
                      There's been differences at times between presidents in their rhetoric in terms of how much they said they viewed themselves as president of everyone versus merely the president of those who elected them. One of the things Gerald Ford got right I think when he came to power was that he was emphatic in his speeches that he intended to try to be president for everyone, and not be a partisan hack like Nixon had been.

                      Compare that to a Trump rally today and his words make it very clear who he considers to be his people and who he considers the enemy to be. His rhetoric makes clear he considers half the country to be his enemy and that he takes a very transaction view where people who haven't done anything for him (by not voting for him) don't deserve to get anything from him as president.

                      Looking at the sorts of speeches that Trump and Ford give/gave on these sorts of topics and using those as extremes, when I look back at Obama's speeches, he sits very close to Ford's end of the spectrum. Obama, for all his faults, did try to be inclusive in his rhetoric and tried to unite the nation behind him.

                      However, in the modern era, Fox News exists. So whatever a democratic president does, Fox News is going to claim he's a satan-worshipper who eats babies, or a foreign-born muslim who hates America, or whatever. They'll come up with something divisive. So I don't think you can fault Obama for his failure to unite the nation - he tried. And that contrasts sharply with Trump who's rhetoric is deliberately divisive.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                        In the Amy Coney Barrett thread, FirstFloor said and I think the topic merits it's own thread



                        I think Americans have never owned their beloved country. We've always been run by elites for their gain and the masses hope for scrapes from the elite's table.

                        The American Revolution could be viewed as the American elites (Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, etc.) throwing off the British elites (King George III, Parliament, etc.) for their own gain. Ever since, the various political parties have vied to have the power in the country. The occasional serious attempts to change the elite status quo (Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Williams Jennings Bryant, Donald Trump) were/will be eventually beaten back into submission.

                        So when you talk about the country being stolen by the rich and powerful, what is really happening is you're believing the argument of the out-of-power elites who are trying to use you to get back into power. Voting has simply become elites trying to bribe you so they get into power and then until the next election, you don't matter.

                        I think when historians look back at the 2000-2020 period, they'll describe it as a period when the elites lost the trust of the masses and new elites came into power.
                        It is here you see the power of what Trump is doing.

                        He mocks your leadership, those who have controlled the game for decades like Biden and the Clinton's. He mocks the sexual harassment slush fund your leaders use to hide their deeds, he even does the unforgivable, telling Americans what these people do.

                        If you want to say the elites control things, that's fine. Look no further than those in power before Trump. Pelosi comes to mind.

                        With the advent of Trump they tried to destroy him from before he even started. That is your elites in action.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ronson View Post
                          Trump is also staunchly against the "regime change" policy of the military industrial complex (as is Tulsi Gabbard). The generals and aerospace CEOs and their lobbyists that keep us in perpetual wars. I see this as an anti-globalist stance as well.
                          Trump's greatest achievements is the thing he didn't do. Not going to war is quite a good achievement for a president.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Leonhard View Post

                            Trump's greatest achievements is the thing he didn't do.
                            Agreed. Presidents do too much.

                            Not going to war is quite a good achievement for a president.
                            Agreed again. He's flirted with war when he bombed Assad's airports (which I would have advised against) and took out Soleimani, but he never took the next step.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                              I think that assessment is largely true, with the exception of the period 1945-1985.

                              Let's take a look at your graph a little more closely.

                              FDR was president from 1933 to 1944. From '33 to '40, income inequality bounces around 45% and then starts dropping off. From this chart, appears the New Deal did little to change that.

                              Why the drop starting in '40? Obviously WWII begins and the US ramps up manufacturing to support the allied war effort. Since we needed many, many people working it's no wonder that more income went to them and inequality drops.

                              Why does the line stay low starting in '45? Simple: the US was the only functioning economy in the world. Europe and Japan are smoking ruins. China and India are not yet developed. I think it's fair to say, the US economy pretty much carried the world forward at this time. We again had to work to support the world. Frankly I think this easily explains the line into through the 50's and into the 60's and 70's.

                              So why did the line start going up? The US stopped being a manufacturing powerhouse. Manufacturing was an industry someone with a high school education could do well at. When we started entering into free trade deals and our manufacturing jobs went to China, India, Mexico, etc., that's when inequality starts coming in. The service industry doesn't pay as well and the knowledge industry requires a higher degree of education which not all people can benefit from. I do well in the knowledge industry where as my wife won't even with training.

                              So this graph is not a reflection of progressive US policy. It's a reflection of US economic dominance of the world economy and when that went away, income inequality went up. So I find myself agreeing with you on trade unions being positive factor but not much on the rest. I don't agree with you that the Democrats created it. If any one person is responsible (and world and US economies are too complex to be single causality), it appears it's actually Adolph Hitler. If any one thing destroyed it, it was probably the 80's mantra "Greed is Good."


                              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                              Comment

                              Related Threads

                              Collapse

                              Topics Statistics Last Post
                              Started by Whateverman, Yesterday, 07:17 PM
                              2 responses
                              19 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post Starlight  
                              Started by Whateverman, Yesterday, 04:39 PM
                              1 response
                              17 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post Maranatha  
                              Started by Hypatia_Alexandria, Yesterday, 03:30 PM
                              11 responses
                              88 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post Starlight  
                              Started by Whateverman, 10-20-2020, 08:11 PM
                              4 responses
                              43 views
                              1 like
                              Last Post Bill the Cat  
                              Started by shunyadragon, 10-20-2020, 07:16 PM
                              28 responses
                              124 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post Sparko
                              by Sparko
                               
                              Working...
                              X