Sadly, today a great majority of Americans are more satisfied with the appearance of freedom—as though it was a reality—and are more often influenced by those things that seem, rather than by those things that really are.
In today’s society the word freedom is thrown around like its something guaranteed, an afterthought, not up for debate, something we settled a long time ago…next subject. “We are Americans, we are free, free to say and do whatever we want.” We feel sorry for other countries who don’t have those “luxuries,” so much so, that we continue to use our power to influence them to adopt our way of doing things. Yet, who says our culture and policies are the way it should be? Lets take a look at where these policies and culture have led us. We lead the world in incarcerated people per capita, heroin overdoes per capita, gun deaths per capita, mass shootings per capita, cost of medicine, cost of education, wealth inequality, personal and nation debt, all the while ranking 25th in infrastructure behind undeveloped nations such as Oman and Barbados. Are we really the ones that should be teaching others “how things should be?” Are we has a society really that free? If we have no voice, no money and most importantly no power to change these things and our so called leaders are puppets to big business, big banks, big oil, big anything, how free are we really? The people that run these industries and profit from them, disguised in high end suits and hidden away in gated communities have become today’s equivalent to the new slave owner.
How did we get here?
Well let’s take a look at the difference between wealth and power? To avoid confusion, let’s be sure we understand they are two different issues. Wealth, refers to the value of everything people own, power, has to do with the ability to realize wishes, or reach goals, which amounts to the same thing, even in the face of opposition.
First, wealth can be seen as a “resource” that is very useful in exercising power. That’s obvious when we think of donations to political parties, payments to lobbyists, and grants to experts who are employed to think up new policies beneficial to the wealthy. Wealth also can be useful in shaping the general social environment to the benefit of the wealthy, whether through hiring public relations firms, owning ALL of the media companies, marketing firms or having large stake ownership in certain businesses or industries.
Second, certain kinds of wealth, such as stock ownership, can be used to control corporations, which of course have a major impact on how the society functions. The top 20% make up 91% of stock ownership in the United States, no further explanation needed there.
Third, just as wealth can lead to power, so too can power lead to wealth. Those who control a government can use their position to further their own interests, whether that means a favorable land deal for relatives at the local level or a huge federal government contract for a new corporation run by friends who will hire you when you leave government.
This brings me to the the point I want to make. If the top 20% have 84% of the wealth, (which we concluded encompasses tremendous amount of power and influence) it becomes very tough for the bottom 80% — maybe even the bottom 90% — to get organized and exercise much power to make the changes necessary that actually benefit the masses. When 90% of society’s interests aren’t being addressed and even worse being purposely ignored to benefit a very little, we have to make the assumption that we are not truly free, nor are we in a true democracy, but a Plutocracy.
Plutocracy – From Greek ploutos, meaning “wealth”, and kratos, meaning “power, dominion, rule”) is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.
Do you still think we live in a democracy and more importantly do you still think you are as free as you are led to believe?