Saturday, December 28, 2019

The superrich aren't like the rest of us, but too many politicians listen to them vs us

I wanted to mention an article from Paul Krugman on how the super-rich aren’t like you and me, and don’t want any possibility of being like everybody else.

The first thing you need to know about the very rich is that they are, politically, different from you and me. Don’t be fooled by the handful of prominent liberal or liberal-ish billionaires; systematic studies of the politics of the ultrawealthy show that they are very conservative, obsessed with tax cuts, opposed to environmental and financial regulation, eager to cut social programs.

The second thing you need to know is that the rich often get what they want, even when most of the public want the opposite. For example, a vast majority of voters — including a majority of self-identified Republicans — believe that corporations pay too little in taxes. Yet the signature domestic policy of the Trump administration was a huge corporate tax cut….

Why do a small number of rich people exert so much influence in what is supposed to be a democracy? Campaign contributions are only part of the story. Equally if not more important is the network of billionaire-financed think tanks, lobbying groups and so on that shapes public discourse. And then there’s the revolving door: It’s depressingly normal for former officials from both parties to take jobs with big banks, corporations and consulting firms, and the prospect of such employment can’t help but influence policy while they’re still in office.
And when you have candidates that are either mega-rich themselves (Hi, Mr. Bloomberg! Hi, Mr. Steyer!), or spend a lot of time and effort chasing after donations from the mega-rich (Hi Pete!), these politicians are not likely to come up solutions that speak to the economic realities and limitations that the overwhelming majority of us have to deal with.

Krugman also points at a corporatist “mainstream” media in DC that often runs in the same circles as these out-of-touch rich folks, and tends to give them a lot more attention and credence than they deserve. Krugman notes how media gave us a ton of opinions from anti-deficit Tea Partiers and other oligarchs in the early 2010s while the rest of the country was dealing with massive unemployment and lower wages.

The result? Cuts in government spending amid a lot of crocodile tears about “responsible budgeting” that happened at both the state and federal levels. Combine that with the Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to a lot more money in politics (to the great benefit of corporate media companies), and Krugman says it has slanted media coverage to a point that progressive candidates are held up to criticism that more corporate-friendly candidates don’t have to deal with.
Which brings me back to the 2020 campaign. You may disagree with progressive ideas coming from Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, which is fine. But the news media owes the public a serious discussion of these ideas, not dismissal shaped by a combination of reflexive “centrist bias” and the conscious or unconscious assumption that any policy rich people dislike must be irresponsible.

And when candidates talk about the excessive influence of the wealthy, that subject also deserves serious discussion, not the cheap shots [about fundraising] we’ve been seeing lately. I know that this kind of discussion makes many journalists uncomfortable. That’s exactly why we need to have it.
And the media’s concerns about the deficit? They have gone out the window as our country now is seeing its deficit rise again because of Trump’s GOP Tax Scam, and Krugman noted earlier this week that there is a now-bipartisan agreement that more government spending is needed to keep the economy growing in Year 11 of the current expansion.

Funny how that works. It’s almost like a lot of corporate media members and (especially) their bosses have a vested interest in continuing these high levels of inequality and Big Money spending large amounts in 2020’s politics instead of asking why this is allowed to happen. Almost…

Which means our media is going to be conveniently slow on calling out the concerns of our currently Bubblicious policies that drive up the stock market and home prices while real-life investment flatlines. Nor will they care too much about the fact that wages are barely keeping up with the rising expenses that take up a lot more of the budget of everyday Americans vs the “needs” (or lack thereof) of the fortunate few.

Well, until the Bubble inevitably bursts, at which point our media will bewilderedly look around and say “WHA HAPPEN?” I can only hope it happens sooner than later, before voters go to the polls in November. Because we need more Americans to face the two-tiered society that we still have in 2020, more than a decade after the Great Recession officially ended, and demand more than a lot of elite-connected politicians want to see done.

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