a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

The superrich and robbery in plain sight (“Winner-Take-All Politics”)

Posted on the May 25th, 2011

A Book Review


That the superrich across the globe are in the process of stealing most of the world’s wealth and resources from the rest of us is by now common knowledge among those who aren’t persisting in turning a blind eye. That superrich defined is the top 1 percent approximately (or 0.01 percent more accurately).

But for those who still don’t know about this mindboggling raid on the human planet and its population, I hope you will take a look at two recent sources of information that describe the process chapter and verse.

The first, thoroughly documented and alarming, is the book “Winner-Take-All Politics” – the authors are two political science professors in American universities (Yale and UC Berkeley), Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson.

As an example of what they are writing about, here’s a 1954 quote they cite from President Dwight Eisenhower (Republican):

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt…, a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

Unfortunately, as Hacker and Pierson demonstrate over and over in their book, Eisenhower was wrong about his central point. One of the two US major political parties (and the other one also to a huge extent) is persisting in doing just what he described as impossible, and that party is very much still part of political history in the making.

A second source of information about the superrich and their grand theft of all there is to have is a recent article in the UK’s Guardian“Anxiety keeps the super-rich safe from middle-class rage” by Peter Wilby (May 18, 2011).

Excerpt:

That is the most important point about what has happened to incomes in Britain and America during the neoliberal era: the very rich are soaring ahead, leaving behind not only manual workers – now a diminishing minority – but also the middle-class masses, including doctors, teachers, academics, solicitors, architects, Whitehall civil servants and, indeed, many CEOs who don’t run FTSE 100 companies, to say nothing of the marketing, purchasing, personnel, sales and production executives below them.

Neither Hacker and Pierson in their book nor Wilby in his Guardian article play favorites with political labels. The superrich driving this ruthless and barbaric raid on the planet and their fellow human beings evidently don’t care whether you call yourself a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Communist, Anarchist or general apolitical layabout. To paraphrase the pop song, they just want your money, honey, they don’t need your love.

Again, I highly recommend reading these two exposès. What you choose to do once you are aware of the real state of affairs is, of course, your choice. But this is not the time to stand silently by on the sidelines.

 

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Democratic presidential primary: follow today’s action

Posted on the March 4th, 2008

In the U.S. Democratic Party’s presidential primary race, today could be decisive or… maybe not.

Voters from four states are going to the polls — Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont — in the tug-of-war between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to become the nominee. For a report of the number of pledged delegates at stake, see this article in the Washington Post (“Obama, Clinton In Key Face-Off Texas, Ohio Results May Determine Campaign’s Future”by Anne E. Kornblut and Perry Bacon Jr.,Washington Post Staff Writers, March 4, 2008).

For the WaPo‘s breakdown, by state, of delegate numbers, and the current tally for the candidates, you can go here (Primaries and Caucuses/Democratic Party Delegate Tally).

And for any other political junkies out there, who may need some sustenance while waiting (impatiently) for contests results to come in tonight, here are a couple of places to go online for aid and comfort:

The Huffington Post has a good summing-it-all-up article of each candidate’s situation in the respective states as this day of voting opens (“Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island Primaries: Hillary Clinton And Barack Obama’s Day Of Reckoning” by Tom Raum, March 4, 2008, courtesy of Associated Press).

And one of the best online blogs to click on to follow the action as it’s updated throughout the day — opinion, analysis of incoming results and predictions — is DailyKos.com. You’ll find vigorously expressed commentary and uncensored comments by supporters of both Obama and Hillary here.

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Will Democratic Party Super Delegates spoil the broth for voters?

Posted on the February 7th, 2008

As it appears that the Democratic Party could be headed for its first brokered convention since 1952 (see here), news headlines about the key role of the party’s Super Delegates are mushrooming. Why? It could be they, rather than primary voters, who decide whether Obama or Hillary becomes the party’s nominee.

One of the best articles I spotted this morning about this is Primary Colors Revealed: Delegate Soup and American Politics by Rob Creekmore (Feb 4, 2008) on themsj.com. It’s a concise description of what Super Delegates are, how they came to be, and how they can disenfranchise voters.

The article begins with a punch to the solar plexus:

“Barack Obama. Winner of 34 primary delegates to Hillary’s 21. Champion of 63 caucus delegates over Hillary’s 47. Still losing to Hillary. So what’s behind the fuzzy math that the Associated Press is using to claim that Hillary is in the lead? They’re called Super Delegates, they’re not bound by primary or caucus elections, and they will account for a full 20% of the vote at the upcoming DNC convention.”

For a statement today by Barack Obama himself on the Super Delegate issue, go to The Huffington Post here.

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