[IRPCoalition] FW: [Dewayne-Net] Plutocrats Against Democracy

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Fri Oct 24 12:49:02 EEST 2014

Perhaps some insights here that have relevance to our current discussion on
democracy vs. multistakeholderism (decision making by self-selected elites)
as models for Internet Governance.


-----Original Message-----
From: dewayne-net at warpspeed.com [mailto:dewayne-net at warpspeed.com] On Behalf
Of Dewayne Hendricks
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 1:56 AM
To: Multiple recipients of Dewayne-Net
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Plutocrats Against Democracy

Plutocrats Against Democracy
By Paul Krugman
Oct 23 2014

It's always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn't
their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the
Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason
pro-democracy demonstrators can't get what they want: With open voting, "You
would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than
$1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and
policies" - policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and
provide more aid to those with lower incomes.

So Mr. Leung is worried about the 50 percent of Hong Kong's population that,
he believes, would vote for bad policies because they don't make enough
money. This may sound like the 47 percent of Americans who Mitt Romney said
would vote against him because they don't pay income taxes and, therefore,
don't take responsibility for themselves, or the 60 percent that
Representative Paul Ryan argued pose a danger because they are "takers,"
getting more from the government than they pay in. Indeed, these are all
basically the same thing.

For the political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No
matter how well conservatives do in elections, no matter how thoroughly
free-market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of
fear that the great unwashed will vote in left-wingers who will tax the
rich, hand out largess to the poor, and destroy the economy.

In fact, the very success of the conservative agenda only intensifies this
fear. Many on the right - and I'm not just talking about people listening to
Rush Limbaugh; I'm talking about members of the political elite - live, at
least part of the time, in an alternative universe in which America has
spent the past few decades marching rapidly down the road to serfdom. Never
mind the new Gilded Age that tax cuts and financial deregulation have
created; they're reading books with titles like "A Nation of Takers:
America's Entitlement Epidemic," asserting that the big problem we have is
runaway redistribution.

This is a fantasy. Still, is there anything to fears that economic populism
will lead to economic disaster? Not really. Lower-income voters are much
more supportive than the wealthy toward policies that benefit people like
them, and they generally support higher taxes at the top. But if you worry
that low-income voters will run wild, that they'll greedily grab everything
and tax job creators into oblivion, history says that you're wrong. All
advanced nations have had substantial welfare states since the 1940s -
welfare states that, inevitably, have stronger support among their poorer
citizens. But you don't, in fact, see countries descending into
tax-and-spend death spirals - and no, that's not what ails Europe.

Still, while the "kind of politics and policies" that responds to the bottom
half of the income distribution won't destroy the economy, it does tend to
crimp the incomes and wealth of the 1 percent, at least a bit; the top 0.1
percent is paying quite a lot more in taxes right now than it would have if
Mr. Romney had won. So what's a plutocrat to do?

One answer is propaganda: tell voters, often and loudly, that taxing the
rich and helping the poor will cause economic disaster, while cutting taxes
on "job creators" will create prosperity for all. There's a reason
conservative faith in the magic of tax cuts persists no matter how many
times such prophecies fail (as is happening right now in Kansas): There's a
lavishly funded industry of think tanks and media organizations dedicated to
promoting and preserving that faith.


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