Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Are the super-rich sure this is what they want?

If the Bush Administration policy ethic were boiled down to just two essential common denominators, they would have to be the following:

1. The pursuit of unchecked executive power; and

2. An obsessive compulsion to funnel money to the ultra-rich

We've seen the income inequality graphs.  We've seen the outrageous tax giveaways to the ultra-rich.  We've seen Darth Cheney's unprecedented power grabs for the executive branch in everything from Bush's signing statements to his disgusting and probably permanent perversion of the Justice Department.

At first glance, the objective of this dual-pronged attack on decency and moral values may seem self-evident.  After all, in the minds of the neoconservatives and their allies in the top .001% of American income holdiers, the calculus is simple enough:

-- Money = political victory

-- More money for the rich = more political victory for the rich

-- More executive power = more ability to enforce, secretly and openly, policies favoring the rich

-- More executive power = greater ability to exploit the wealth/cheap labor of foreign nations, using the poor as cannon fodder.

And certainly, that formula has worked well for the economic elites at least since Reagan, if not long before that.

But if there is one single identifiable third pillar of the Bush Administration policy ethic, it would have to be shortsightedness.  Neoconservatives and Bushites have a tendency not to recognize the enormity of disasters and blowback situations until it is far too late for them to free themselves from the ensuing debacle.  They're like a sabertooth cat leaping after a rodent in a tar pit: so enthralled with engorging themselves on their latest small-time victim that they fail to realize the mess they're getting themselves into.  We've seen this with Iraq; with Afghanistan; with Katrina; with the DoJ scandal; with Rovian politics of destruction; with global warming; and with the disaffection of the very allies we need to extricate our Middle East position.

They simply don't realize the monsters and nightmares of their own making until it is too late to save their reputations and often their own hides.

And I wonder strongly if they aren't making the same mistake by attempting to gain unbridled executive power in order to further engorge their already fat pockets.  After all, modern dictatorships--especially those in countries with widening income disparities and populist leanings--rarely turn out well for the rich.  This is not only true throughout the world, but also here in America.

America has a strong populist tradition dating from the gilded age of the late 1800's, if not before.  Whenever income disparity has grown to the degrees that it has in 2007, America has responded with aggressive populist presidents who often wield an uncomfortable degree of executive power to reign in the wealthy and redistribute income.

It happened with Bull Moose Teddy Roosevelt in the era of the robber barons.  It happened with his nephew Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who stacked the courts and became essentially President For Life in the wake of Hoover's Great Depression.  There's an argument to be made that it even happened with Abraham Lincoln, who used an uncomfortable degree of executive power to end slavery.  Unchecked executive power, while a hallmark of Nixonite conservative wetdreams, has rarely worked well for the aristocratic elite in America.

Nor has it worked terribly well throughout the world in the latter years.  Populist dictatorships are rarely friendly to maintaining wealth among elites.  One has only to look at Chavez in Venezuela; Kirchner in Argentina; Morales in Bolivia; even back to Vargas in Brazil or the wealth confiscations of wealth in the wake of Islamic Iranian revolution against the shah.

If anything, unchecked executive power in the modern era usually leads to confiscations of the wealth of elites.  It has also done so throughout the bulk of American history.

So, if I were in the upper .001% of income in the United States, I would be deeply concerned about the Bush Administration's policies set up to help my cause so generously.  In fact, if I were a wealthy elite, the very LAST thing I would want is to see institutionally mandated monarchical executive power in tandem with another million or five in my pocket.  Because I would know that severe blowback was not likely to be far behind.

But then again, I never did credit Bush or his allies with a great degree of foresight.

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Blogger uwtb said...

You can take this with a grain of salt, but I was told once, when I was much younger, that republicans (conservatives??)solved problems like a man in a rowboat trying to kill a rat with a shotgun.
Seems the notion dies hard.

6:05 PM  

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