The lords of a vast oil empire are buying up our entire democracy with a fraction of their fortune.
Photo Credit: YouTube.com screenshot
May 31, 2014 |
In the bad old days, medieval German Lords figured out how to pocket some quick coin by charging a toll on the primitive paths meandering across their lands. The money wasn’t used to improve the roads or better the lives of the peasants or clean the rivers their pigs pooped in but rather heighten the piles in their treasury. Even back then, you just couldn’t have enough pewter candlesticks.
These were the first robber barons. Literally. Rich people whose sole pursuit was to survive to become richer people. A criminal aristocracy. A term history has proved redundant.
During the Gilded Age, the flushest one percent of the country held one-third of the national income. In the 1920s, this figure ramped up to two-fifths. Molehills compared to today’s mountainous wealth, where the richest 400 American families control more money than the poorest 165 million of their fellow citizens put together. And if all 165 million were knelt end to end, those 400 families would have footrests from any compass point.
Six members of the Walton Family have accrued as much money as the bottom 41 percent of all Americans. Now, how hard would it be for them to cover the health care of Walmart employees? They’d still be worth as much as the bottom 34 percent. How many pewter candlesticks does one family need? You’d think they could get them wholesale.
In decision after decision, the Supreme Court has equated money with free speech. Which would be great if it meant the more we spoke, the more we’re worth. But, alas, no. That’s not the deal. Pretty much the opposite, come to think of it.