On The Path To Plutocracy

Everything … literally everything … in the United States is a business.  Healthcare is a business.  Prescription drugs are a business.  Education is a business.  These things are all venues of profit for the already-wealthy, carefully guarded by members of Congress who are beholden to those with the money. This, my friends, is capitalism run amok.  Today’s Congress is afraid to take a single step forward for the people without consulting with the owners of the fossil fuel, pharmaceutical, technology industries and others.  Environmental regulations?  Not if they’re going to cut into the profits of corporate America!  Affordable or universal healthcare?  You’re kidding, right?  Affordable insulin and other life-saving medications?  Not a chance.  Free college?  Who do you think you are?

This is, in part, the result of the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission (FEC) back in 2010 that gave carte blanche to corporations to spend obscene amounts of money to literally buy a politician’s vote on issues important to them. It is also, in part, due to the fact that so many of our legislators are themselves among the millionaires who have various interests that are better served by laws that favour the wealthy.

Plutocracy is a government controlled exclusively by the wealthy, either directly or indirectly. A plutocracy allows, either openly or by circumstance, only the wealthy to rule. This can then result in policies exclusively designed to assist the wealthy, which is reflected in its name—the Greek words “ploutos” and “kratos” translate to wealthy and power or ruling, respectively, in English.

Plutocracy doesn’t have to be a purposeful, overt format for government. Instead, it can be created through the allowance of access to certain programs and educational resources only to the wealthy, thereby making it so that the wealthy hold more sway. The concern of inadvertently creating a plutocracy is that the regulatory focus will be narrow and concentrated on the goals of the wealthy, creating even more income and asset-based inequality.

Plutocracy more often arises informally and is implicitly embodied in constitutional, legal, or regulatory measures that create barriers to participation in politics and political life that can be met only through the possession or expenditure of significant wealth.- https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/plutocracy.asp

Why do you think the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 has not been increased since 2009?  Inflation has increased on average by 2.26% per year since 2009, for a total of 33.74% by 2022.  The purchasing power of that $7.25 today is approximately $5.35, and still Congress refuses to pass legislation to raise it.  Worse yet, the federal minimum wage for restaurant servers and other ‘tipped’ employees is $2.13, the assumption being that they will earn enough in tips to make up the $5.12 difference.  Can you imagine covering your monthly bills on just $7.25 per hour, or less than $1,000 per month after taxes?  Heck, that wouldn’t even pay our rent, let alone utilities, car payment, and food!

Guns … Nobody in their right mind actually thinks it’s a good thing that we have more guns than people in the U.S.  But … the gun manufacturers and their lobby, the NRA, put lots of money into the pockets of our members of Congress to ensure that there will be few, if any, restrictions on gun ownership.

Healthcare … take a look at this map of the countries (in blue) that currently provide universal health care to ALL residents …

Why isn’t the United States one of the ones that cares about the health and well-being of its citizens?  Because of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries who would stand to lose some bit of their profits.  They donate to politicians in exchange for the politicians striking down any ideas of establishing a universal healthcare system.

And yet, while prices rise, people struggle to buy food, pay their rent & utilities, and often go without medical care, corporate profits are zooming!

The wealth disparity today is greater than ever before … I think you can see why. Far too many members of Congress have pledged to their corporate donors that they will protect them against such things as an increase in federal minimum wages, universal healthcare, strict gun regulations, and even environmental regulations.  In 2018, the fossil fuel industry spent $84 million on congressional campaigns to help anti-environmentalists win seats.  Their profits today matter more than the lives of our grandchildren tomorrow.

So, what do We the People do?  Well, first and foremost we VOTE!  Research the candidates, their own wealth and who their donors are, then vote those who are beholden to the fossil fuel, agriculture, insurance, gun manufacturers and other industries OUT of office!  We have literally become a plutocracy, a government largely controlled by the wealthiest 1% of the nation.  But we DO still have the right to vote, even though more and more states are trying their level best to restrict our votes, especially those of the poor and minorities.  You’ve heard the term, “Use it or lose it”?  That applies here … if we shrug our shoulders and say, “Meh, what’s one vote gonna do?”, then we may not get a chance next time around.

Yes, our government is now, by definition, a plutocracy, but we can turn that around … maybe.  If we vote wisely in 2024, if we let our elected officials know loud and clear that we are sick of being trampled by the causes of the wealthy, then maybe we can make a difference.  If we don’t try, we’ll never know if we could have changed the course of the future.

James Ferguson Web

50 thoughts on “On The Path To Plutocracy

  1. This is one of your best! All excellent points and the greed and selfishness of ,not only big business, means it will not change for a long long time, I’m afraid. People here have been brainwashed for several centuries now that money, power and individualism gets you happiness, but in reality they do not. Community and a sense of we are all one working together for a better world is the only thing that that can give true contentment and happiness and a sense of a life well lived.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow … thank you, Mary!!! I fear you are right, that it won’t change for a long, long time, and when it does, I think it will be chaotic, if not dangerous, for a time. Too many people are tuning out what is happening in our Congress, opting instead to live in their cocoon with their rosy-coloured glasses on. Thanks again, my friend, for your encouraging words!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You can see more evidence that the US is, if not a plutocracy, at least an oligarchy in this BBC story about a Princeton study.

    Key takeaway:
    Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

    In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.


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  4. I think we became a plutocracy long ago, but I see our path there as a result of a system that involves the Electoral College, the filibuster, gerrymandering, and the fact that each state, regardless of size, has two Senators. Those structural advantages to the Republican Party have given minority views an advantage over the majority.

    All the above is why I believe the progress that Joe Biden and the Democrats have made in the last two years is so significant, even remarkable–and why I value his vision as an economy that’s built, from the “middle out,” instead of from the “top down.”. And had we achieved a Democratic House and a stronger Democratic Senate majority, we could have seen the passage of stronger gun safety legislation, a minimum wage law, paid family leave, and all the family-friendly aspects of the Build Back Better legislation that were struck down by Manchin, Sinema, and the Republicans: child tax credit, childcare assistance, universal pre-K, free community colleges, and the like.

    Example: Biden has had to ask Congress to override a railroad worker strike because it would be a huge blow to our economy. The sticking point is the railroad magnates refusal to give these hardworking people any paid sick leave–any at all. The Democratic majority in the House voted separately for legislation to ensure the workers seven paid sick days. Not much, but something. But it won’t pass the Senate, where the Republicans will strike it down.

    So I agree with you: Our votes in 2024 are crucial–for our democracy, our voting rights and individual rights–and the redressing of the shameful economic disparities that dark money and systemic Republican control have foisted upon us for 40 years. “With Democrats Things Get Better” is documented.


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      • Throughout your post, you made references to the financial “payoff” that tends to be the prime directive in most every area of government, be it (as you pointed out) fossil fuel, pharmaceutical, technology industries, etc. The song by Pink Floyd just emphasized that (although some of the lyrics went a bit off towards the end, I thought the images and the repetition of the word “money” were spot-on). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve two songs:
        Looking down the wrong path:
        A freaky one from Jefferson Airplane, back in 1969, when some of the ‘Flower Generation’ were getting pessimistic. It is one of the darkest songs I know….You’ll find quite a few hits of Google about the meaning(s):


        You and me we keep walkin’ around and we see
        All the bullshit around us
        You try and keep your mind on what’s going down
        Can’t help but see the rhinoceros around us
        And you wonder what you can be
        And you do what you can
        To get bald (actually ‘balled’ as if…well y’know) and high
        And you know I’m still goin’ need you around
        You say it’s healing but nobody’s feeling it
        Somebody’s dealing, somebody’s stealing it
        You say you don’t see and you don’t
        You say you won’t know and you won’t let it come
        Everything someday will be gone except silence
        Earth will be quiet again
        Seas from clouds will wash off the ashes of violence
        Left as the memory of men
        There will be no survivor my friend
        Suddenly everyone will look surprised
        Stars spinning wheels in the skies
        Sun is scrambled in their eyes
        While the moon circles like a vulture
        Some stood at a window and cried
        ‘One tear I thought that should stop a war
        But someone is killing me’
        That’s the last hour to think anymore
        Jelly and juice and bubbles, bubbles on the floor
        Castles on the cliffs vanish
        Cliffs like heaps of rubbish
        Seen from the stars hour by hour
        As splintered scraps and black powder
        From here to heaven is a scar
        Dead center, deep as death
        All the idiots have left
        The cows are almost cooing
        Turtle doves are mooing
        Which is why a poo is pooing
        In the sun

        We have this upbeat one by Florence and the Machine:

        Not sentimental, but determined. Just like it should be: A song for Humanity-

        These are our choices.
        Evolution warns us.


  6. An excellent essay, Jill. But you are still playing to the Plutocrats by continuing to talk about using the Vote to defeat them. You said yourself, “It is also, in part, due to the fact that so many of our legislators are themselves among the millionaires who have various interests that are better served by laws that favour the wealthy.” That very statement takes away the power of the Vote. You need to be able to vote for Everypersons, normal people who have no interest in serving the wealthy. But that cannot happen, because the plutocrats have made candidacy dependent of spending money to earn a vote, and Everypersons cannot afford to run.
    I agree you have to break down the Citizens United ruling, but who is going to do this for you? Certainly not the people in Congress today, including most Democrats! If you want to change the way things work, you need to come up with ideas so revolutionary that wealth cannot overcome them. Since I know you want to do this without bloodshed, which I agree with, the only way possible right now is to form a grass-roots political party of Everypersons/normal people that refuses to take funding from anyone but other Everypersons, and run a full slate of candidates that voters can actually vote for. This party will have to run on a shoestring budget, because it must be visibly seen to be taking no corporate or plutocrat money. Give the American people “real people” to vote for, and maybe enough people will vote for them to get them elected. It won’t be easy, and it may take time, but this is your only hope to take control away from the plutocrats without bloodshed. In a plutocracy, nothing else will work.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jill, thanks for the gun death chart. It further illuminates the foolish posture in America on gun governance. As for the plutocracy, let me put the Trickle-Down economics theory in its basest terms to illustrate how gullible people are. Here is the response to a cocktail party push for Trickle-down economics. “Let me get this straight. You advocate giving rich people more money under the guise it will trickle down to the middle class and poor, so that they can benefit. You expect me to support that horses**t?” I use a horse’s excrement, as back in the late 1890s, Trickle Down economics was called the “Horse and Sparrow Theory.” The idea is feed the horse and what he excretes will feed the sparrows.

    Back then, they called the plutocracy “Robber Barons.” Maybe we should use that term again. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him? Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re most welcome, Keith! Sometimes a visual like a picture or chart says it more clearly than a thousand words.

      You’re right … far too many people are still hoodwinked into believing in the ‘trickle-down’ theory, even though it has been disproven multiple times. Take those big profits some corporations made in 2020 from the pandemic … what did they do with them? Mostly buybacks of their own companies stock, to increase their wealth even further. Wealth seems to create an almost insatiable craving for more wealth. This is an element of the human psyche and is unlikely to change, thus there will be no ‘trickle-down’ effect on any massive scale now or ever. Believe it or not, I had heard of the “Horse and Sparrow Theory” and may have even written about it way back when!

      Indeed, I think “Robber Barons” is an apt term to apply to some in certain industries today … the fossil fuel and gun industries being the first two that come to mind! I have something I want to get your opinion on, but not here, so I will email you a link shortly. If you have time, I’d appreciate you giving it a quick look.


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  11. This is truly, awful, how the countries are now run, like businesses, and, because ALL businesses cared about is making the money for their own benefits, we can all expect, that the social services (i.e. social security, social welfare programs, and even public school systems) are going to get slashed of fundings, because these areas aren’t making enough money, which means, the quality of the citizens in a country overall is, going down!

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    • You’re right in all you say! In fact, some Republicans have called for getting rid of public schools altogether! Something must change, but I must admit that I have no idea how change will come about. Perhaps painstakingly slow.


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