Cracks in the Oligarchy by John M Repp
Jimmy Carter said in 2015 that the United States of America is “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”. In response to a question on the Thom Hartmann talk radio show about the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, Carter added: “we have just seen complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” So, even though we still have elections at local, state, and federal levels, we are not a democracy. Of course, we hear the contrary all the time, especially when our system is compared to our geopolitical rivals, Russia, and China.
Oligarchy means rule by the few. In the United States today, the few who rule are the very, very rich. Bernie Sanders just published a book written with John Nichols entitled It’s OK to be Angry about Capitalism (Crown Publishers, 2023) from which the following quotes are taken which are shocking, but prove the point about oligarchy.
“Three billionaires own more wealth than 160 million Americans who make up the bottom half of our society” (p. 237).
“…three Wall Street firms – Black Rock, Vanguard, and State Street – manage over $20 trillion in assets and are major stockholders in more than 96 percent of S&P 500 companies.” (p. 238).
“Under 2017 Republican tax bill, signed by Trump, 90 Fortune 500 companies received massive tax rebate checks in 2018: Amazon got $129 million, Delta got $187 million, and Chevron got $181 million. (p.118)
When Bernie Sanders ran for President in 2020, he showed us a crack in the oligarchy. He was able to raise enough money to run a national campaign without big donors. He received more than ten million individual donations from more than two million donors, averaging $18.50 each. Using social media, he was able to revolutionize campaign financing. Of course, he had the name recognition from his 2016 campaign, and he had a message that America wanted to hear.
Jeff Cohen founded FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) in 1986. He was concerned that the news media in the United States, whether The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, or PBS, were not giving the American people a balanced spectrum of views. Pro-corporate and pro-war views dominated. On February 15, 2023, Cohen gave a talk, presented by Alternative Radio entitled “Break Up the Media Monopolies” which was carried on KODX, a low-power Seattle radio station with a website that can reach the world. Tune in here.
Before Cohen finished his essay about the monopolization of media, he decided to end with some good news. The last two decades have seen the rise of independent, non-corporate news outlets as well. They can investigate the rich, the powerful, and the huge corporations that dominate our country. Democracy Now is available on the Internet during the weekdays. Others named by Cohen include: theintercept.com, thenation.com, salon.com, truthout.com, and commondreams.com. There are dozens of others; but for the first time in our nation’s history, with the Internet, we have access to news outlets that are not heavily influenced by corporate advertising money. Just last week, (4/ 9 through 15, 2023), Propublica.org, another outlet, revealed the corruption of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
We have heard lately about how social media has become an outlet for disinformation, but Cohen tells us how some non-corporate channels can deliver more balanced and more truthful stories. This is another crack in the oligarchy.
EXAMPLE of a news not reported on corporate news:
The shooter in Uvalde, Texas had the nickname “school shooter” before the actual shooting. Nevertheless, he was able to buy guns. The police did not rush in to stop the shooting because they saw the AR-15 and the bullets he was using would penetrate the armor they were wearing. DemocracyNow May 23, 2023