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Posted by on Nov 1, 2010 in Economy, Politics, Society | 0 comments

Democracy’s Death Spiral – Enjoy The Circus

So please enjoy the bread and circuses of the election which the Central State is holding for your entertainment in the Coliseum. No expense has been spared.

The quote above is the last paragraph in Charles Hugh Smith’s post at Zero Hedge, Concentrated Wealth and the Purchase of Political Power: Democracy’s Death Spiral.

In the U.S., the ever-greater concentrations of wealth gathered by an ascendant Financial Power Elite has entered a positive feedback loop with the costs of gaining or retaining political power. The costs of winning an election have skyrocketed to the point that fundraising is the key function of any politico who is not independently extremely wealthy.

This quantum leap up in the costs of gaining or retaining power has forced politicos to curry the favors of those few Elite groups which can give them millions of dollars.

Just as in an arms race, the amounts of money which can be spent on campaigns is essentially unlimited. The explosion of media now requires multi-million dollar campaigns on multiple fronts: broadcast TV, cable TV, mailed flyers, radio spots, promotion campaigns to influence the mainstream media coverage, adverts on the Web and social media campaigns–the list grows longer every year.

Here is the positive feedback loop. Candidate A gains the backing of a Power Elite group (a political action committee or other front) and collects $5 million. As a result of a media blitz, he/she wins.

Between elections, he/she amasses a “war chest” of $5 million from the same donors, guaranteeing that the final cost of the next election will be $10 million.

Potential rivals understand that victory against this well-funded incumbent, no matter how incompetent, will require $15 million. The only sources of that amount of cash are other Financial Power Elites and State-funded fiefdoms like teachers unions, and so each candidate sells their soul to the few “special interests” with deep enough pockets to harvest and contribute millions of dollars.

As you can see it’s no coincidence that as more and more of the wealth has become concentrated at the top the cost of running for political office has increased.  This in turn creates more and more power for the wealthy few – good bye Democracy.  In retrospect I think that Clinton and the corporatist DLC saw this coming and recognized that the labor movement in the US had all but been destroyed by Ronald Reagan.  The democrats too were going to need the oligarchs money.

A commenter to this post by my Newshoggers partner Steve points out that her ballot has two choices.  That’s correct but I would point out about the only thing we are choosing is what color shirt our corporatist law maker will wear.  As I have said before politics in the US is simply a tribal war and has little to do with actual ideology.  The wealthy oligarchs are the ones in charge.  The billionaire oligarchs created the tea party but they are now trying to diffuse it.

The good news is that oligarchies are not sustainable and eventually collapse.  Batista’s Cuba was an oligarchy and it fell victim to Castro’s revolution.  When it fell the old Soviet Union was less a Marxist state than an oligarchy which collapsed because of it’s own dead weight.

The oligarchs have destroyed the US economy.  A real economy needs:

  1. To make things – rubbing money together to make more money does not an economy make.
  2. Customers – as jobs have been sent offshore so have the customers.

Ron can also be found at Newshoggers