Monday, September 23, 2013

How the Rich De-Tax Themselves

Isaac William Martin (a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego) has a new book: "Rich People’s Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent"

Excerpt from a book review:

With meticulous research, Martin shows how the modern Tea Party grew from decades of efforts by American oligarchs to de-tax themselves. They relied on cranks, rogues, and a few scholars to polish the most effective ideological marketing pitches. Their goal was selling the notion that if the rich bear less of the burden of government, all of us will somehow end up better off.

These pitches have worked best when some newly proposed government initiative—like President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act—arrives to pose the threat of major policy change. They have depended on diverting attention from obvious questions, such as just how does a smaller tax bill for the Koch brothers benefit us?

Rich people’s movements waxed and waned over much of the last century, going dormant only to reappear when roused by a new policy threat. Thanks to decades of well-funded organizing, favorable laws in Washington and state capitals have passed (while few noticed) and now we have the dark-money opportunities of Citizens United that are here to stay.

Martin’s book is useful in understanding a forgotten history that preceded the seemingly sudden assaults on consumers, unions, and workers. While the actions are indeed abrupt, contemptuous and cruel, they grow from a lengthy tradition of lessons that the rich and their advisers learned from past failures. (Read the entire post)

Excerpted from The Nation:

After the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling...The United States has experienced fundamental changes that are dramatically detrimental to democracy. Voters’ ability to define political discourse has been so diminished that even decisive election results like Barack Obama’s in 2012 have little impact. That’s because powerful interests—freed to, in effect, buy elections, unhindered by downsized and diffused media that must rely on revenue from campaign ads—now set the rules of engagement. Those interests so dominate politics that the squabbling of Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, is a sideshow to the great theater of plutocracy and plunder. This is not democracy. This is dollarocracy.

Tens of millions of Americans recognize the crisis. Congress is held in ridiculously low esteem. Almost two-thirds of the public say their government is controlled by a handful of powerful interests. At the same time, confidence in the media as a check on abuses of power is collapsing almost as quickly as the circulation figures of daily newspapers.

Big money—especially big corporate money—gets what it pays for. The interests that pushed campaign spending to record levels in 2010 and 2012 are only getting started. It will no doubt double again far more rapidly—and keeping track of it will become far more difficult, as wealthy donors and corporate interests increasingly rely on the subterfuges of “dark money.”

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