We hear a great deal these days about the political "establishment". Some opine that the "establishment" will try to prevent Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders from becoming Presidential candidates for their respective parties. Others claim that the popularity of those individuals is precisely the result of a rebellion against the "establishment" . . . but what, precisely, is the "establishment"?
It's not career politicians, that's for sure. They're nothing more than servants of and flunkeys for the real establishment - which is wealth and those who hold it.
I'm no socialist; I absolutely believe that your money is yours, and you should be free to use it as you see fit, without a government trying to redistribute it or make better use of it than you would. (For a start, what, precisely, qualifies 'government' to be a better steward of your resources than you are?) Nevertheless, I think there is a real problem with the concentration of wealth in the USA at the moment.
That problem has been largely created by the wealthy themselves, and if they don't solve it, the people of this country will act to solve it for them - one way or another. That may be by forcing redistribution in socialist style, which is what Bernie Sanders represents. It may be by depriving the wealthy and their corporate interests of cheap (illegal) labor, and adjusting taxes to a realistic level in relation to their income and assets (something they've been working against for decades, as I'll show). It may be by simple confiscation, which would be the progressive/Communist approach. However, one way or another, it will happen. That's inevitable, as any student of history will acknowledge. When economic inequality becomes too great, something will happen to restore balance. It always does. The pendulum swings one way, then it swings back. The cycle is never-ending.
Let's take a look at a few indicators. I suggest you read the linked articles for yourself, then make up your own mind about their present and future implications, both political and social as well as economic.
Robert Reich is a left-wing commentator who sees the present political conflict in economic terms. His article is, I believe, a realistic assessment of what's going on.
Something very big has happened, and it’s not due to Bernie Sanders’ magnetism or Donald Trump’s likeability.
It’s a rebellion against the establishment.
The question is why the establishment has been so slow to see this.
. . .
Economic indicators may be up but they don’t reflect the economic insecurity most Americans still feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience.
Nor do the major indicators show the linkages Americans see between wealth and power, crony capitalism, declining real wages, soaring CEO pay, and a billionaire class that’s turning our democracy into an oligarchy.
Median family income lower now than it was sixteen years ago, adjusted for inflation.
Most economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to top.
These gains have translated into political power to rig the system with bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, trade deals, and increasing market power – all of which have further pushed down wages [and] pulled up profits.
Those at the very top of the top have rigged the system even more thoroughly. Since 1995, the average income tax rate for the 400 top-earning Americans has plummeted from 30 percent to 17 percent.
Wealth, power, and crony capitalism fit together. So far in the 2016 election, the richest 400 Americans have accounted for over a third of all campaign contributions.
Americans know a takeover has occurred and they blame the establishment for it.
There’s no official definition of the “establishment” but it presumably includes all of the people and institutions that have wielded significant power over the American political economy, and are therefore deemed complicit.
At its core are the major corporations, their top executives, and Washington lobbyists and trade associations; the biggest Wall Street banks, their top officers, traders, hedge-fund and private-equity managers, and their lackeys in Washington; the billionaires who invest directly in politics; and the political leaders of both parties, their political operatives, and fundraisers.
. . .
The establishment doesn’t get that most Americans couldn’t care less about economic growth because for years they’ve got few of its benefits, while suffering most of its burdens in the forms of lost jobs and lower wages.
Most people are more concerned about economic security and a fair chance to make it.
. . .
Eventually, those with significant economic and political power in America will have to either commit to fundamental reform, or relinquish their power.
There's more at the link. I urge you to read the whole thing, and follow the links he provides.
I'd also strongly suggest that you read as many as possible of the following articles, particularly the last one. You'll note that they come from all sides of the political spectrum. Most tend to support Mr. Reich's thesis, directly or indirectly. They provide much food for thought.
- The Forbes 400
- The Sunday Times Rich List (for a European equivalent to the Forbes 400)
- What the Forbes 400 List Says about American Wealth
- Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us
- The Gains From the Economic Recovery Are Still Limited to the Top One Percent
- The Biggest, Most Influential Political Donors On The 2015 Forbes 400
- Forbes 400 Contribute Record Amount To Presidential Campaigns, Super PACs
- Nearly 60 donors give one-third of all 2016 campaign cash
- Wealth Inequality
- Weimar America (Victor Davis Hanson at his best)
Those articles effectively outline and illustrate who is the "establishment" in the USA today. They are the people who have controlled, and now control, and intend to continue to control, our economic and political and social destiny. They aren't interested in what the 'little people' (i.e. we) want; they're interested in perpetuating their privilege and power in society . . . and they're not about to give that up without a fight. Want more evidence of that?
- Bombshell: Insider Leaks Koch Bros, Rubio Plan to Stop Trump
- Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump
- Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton: The Democratic Party’s existential choice
- 'Establishment' pick Clinton draws in early endorsements
The "establishment" on both sides of the political aisle is basically the property of the wealthy who bankroll them. Both establishments have made their choices (or had their choices dictated to them) over who will best represent their (and their backers') interests. They're doing their best to shut out the others. Trump gives the Republican establishment nightmares, because he's not beholden to them for political or financial support. He's rich enough to run on his own if necessary. Sanders is fiercely socialist and populist - the opposite of the Democratic establishment, which in its own way is just as oligarchical and elitist as the Republican.
Furthermore, no matter who wins the election, the "establishment" will ensure that Republicans and Democrats work together to further its interest, despite any differences in party political platforms. Just look at how Republicans have spinelessly caved in to Democratic pressure on taxation and expenditure since they regained the majority in Congress. Their "conservative" credentials have largely been demonstrated to be meaningless. Money talks . . . and they listen. It's precisely the same on the other side of the aisle, of course.
Another example is how the "establishment" influences the organs of government to make rulings, produce statistics, and enact policies and regulations that favor their interests over those of "the people". We discussed GDP earlier this morning. Why do you think politicians have interfered so blatantly in the calculation of inflation, GDP and other economic statistics? It's because doing so allows the wealthy to become wealthier, by manipulating economic policy in accordance with the flawed statistics. Want more? Just look at the Federal Reserve, and the 'revolving door' between the Fed and the commercial banking sector. Many commentators have opined that the latter effectively runs the Fed in its own interest, and it's hard to gainsay them. It's logical that such interest is dictated, not by domestic political considerations, but by those of the banks' owners and investors - i.e. the wealthy.
I think the evidence is clear. Above any and all other qualifications or distinctions, the "establishment" is wealth. That buys, influences and controls all the other "establishments", political, social and economic, that support the interests of the wealthy.
Food for thought indeed . . .