What Are We Voting For?

“Power buys wealth infinitely faster than wealth buys power.”


Zero Hedge cross-posted a thought-provoking piece today by Raúl Ilargi Meijer at The Automatic Earth: “Wealth Inequality Is Not A Problem, It’s A Symptom.” I guess to that I might add that it is not just a symptom, but a feature. A feature of what? Well, read Meijer.

One of subtler themes weaving its way through the backdrop of this year’s election is wealth inequality. Unfortunately, it seems that this is one of those “third rail” taboo topics in politics these days, “Job Creators” and all, you know.

One line particularly struck me as worthy of discussion:

Voting in elections has the same function today as singing around a Christmas tree: everyone feels a strong emotional connection, but it’s all just become one giant TV commercial.

When was the last time a national election really affected the power structure running this country? And how does the current media mega-buys of candidates address any of the issues related to the concentration of power in this country? Of course, Meijer makes the astute observation that oligarchy knows no boundaries, but unfortunately, none of us get to vote in any meaningful way that addresses the inequity in power structures.

The days of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are over (warning, it’s a trailer trying to sell you a viewing of a 75 year old movie for $2.99). Meijer gets to the heart of the issue of how the 20th century institutions like NATO, the Fed, the UN & EU, IMF, World Bank, yada yada have moved beyond the control of any electoral processes of any country’s voters, and have served to concentrate power in the hands of oligarchs. And when you concentrate power, safe from any electoral processes, that power serves to enrich itself and exacerbate wealth inequality.

When Meijer says that wealth inequality is a symptom, he is referring to it being a symptom of the concentration of power. And in order to do anything meaningful about wealth inequality, we need to break apart the power structures that maintain and solidify oligarchy. No small task.

So with that simple notion in mind, again I ask: “What are we voting for?” And if candidates aren’t willing to address the simple notion of breaking apart power structures, then what does it accomplish to elect them?

One last quote from Meijer:

…what we see now is that any effort, any at all, to break up the IMF, World Bank, UN, NATO and EU would be met with the same derision that an effort to break up the USA would be met with. We have built, in true sorcerer’s apprentice or Frankenstein fashion, entities that we cannot control. And they have taken over our lives. They serve the interests of elites, not of the people. So why do we let them continue to exist?

What powers do we have left when it comes to bailing out banks, invading countries, making sure our young people have jobs when they leave school? We have none. We lost the decision making power along the way, and we’re not getting it back unless we quit watching the tube (or the plasma) and fight for it. Until we do, power will keep floating to the top like so much excrement; it’s a law of – human – nature.

That the people we voluntarily endow with such control over our lives would also use that control to enrich themselves, is so obvious it barely requires mentioning. But that doesn’t mean this is about wealth inequality, that’s not the main issue, in fact it’s not much more than an afterthought. It’s about the power we have over our lives. Or rather, the power we don’t have.

  1. steve kelly

    The way out for “we” begins with I/me. Like too many raindrops, we gather. A great flood is rare, but always possible.

    ©2014 by Alice Walker
    for Carl Dix and Cornel West

    It is still hard to believe
    that millions of us saw Eric Garner die.
    He died with what looked like a half dozen
    heavily clad
    standing on his body, twisting and crushing
    especially his head
    and neck.
    He was a big man, too. They must have felt
    like clumsy midgets
    as they dragged him down.

    Watching the video,
    I was reminded of the first lynching
    I, quite unintentionally, learned about:
    it happened in my tiny lumber mill
    town before the cows were brought in
    and young white girls
    on ornate floats
    became dairy queens.
    A big man too,
    whom my parents knew,
    he was attacked also by a mob
    of white men (in white robes and hoods)
    and battered to death
    by their two by fours.

    I must have been a toddler
    overhearing my parents talk
    and mystified by pieces of something
    called “two by fours.”

    Later, building a house,
    i would encounter the weight,
    the heaviness, of this varying length
    of wood, and begin to understand.

    What is the hatred
    of the big black man
    or the small black man
    or the medium sized
    black man
    the brown man
    or the red man
    in all his sizes
    that drives the white lynch mob

    I always thought it was envy:
    of the sheer courage to survive
    and ceaselessly resist conformity
    enough to sing and dance
    or orate, or say in so many outlandish
    You’re not the boss
    of me!
    Think how many black men
    said that: “Cracker,* you’re not the boss
    of me;”
    even enslaved. Think of how
    the legal lynch mob
    so long ago
    tore Nat Turner’s body
    in quarters
    skinned him

    and made “money purses”
    from his “hide.”

    Who are these beings?

    Now we are beginning to ask
    the crucial question.

    If it is natural to be black
    and red or brown
    and if it is beautiful to resist
    and if it is gorgeous to be of color
    and walking around free,
    then where does the problem

    Who are these people
    that kill our children in the night?
    Murder our brothers in broad daylight?
    Refuse to see themselves in us
    as we have strained, over centuries,
    to see ourselves in them?
    Perhaps we are more different
    than we thought.
    And does this scare us?
    And what of, for instance,
    those among us
    who collude?

    Come see what stillness
    lies now
    in the people’s broken

    It is the quiet force of comprehension,
    of realization
    of the meaning
    of our ancient

    and perfect
    of what must now be understood
    and done to honor
    and cherish
    no matter who
    today’s “bosses”
    may be.

    Our passion
    and love for ourselves
    that must at last
    and free us. As we lay our sacrificed
    beloveds to rest
    in our profound
    and ample caring:
    broad, ever moving,
    and holy,
    as the sea.

    *Cracker: from the crack of the whip wielded by slave drivers.

  2. Thomas Jefferson’s view on centralized banking.

    “The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution. I am an Enemy to all banks discounting bills or notes for anything but Coin. If the American People allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their Property until their Children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered. ”

  3. What are we voting for?

    Some are voting for violence and they don’t even realize it.

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