Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1% - Twilight of the Elites - a book report

America after Meritocracy By Christopher Hayes I have a good friend who currently is of the opposite political persuasion. We banter back and forth. I share books and articles with him. He lent me his copy of this book. I have just finished reading. He will no doubt be astonished that I agree almost totally with this author. It has been my contention right along that those on the right and on the left are all dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. Where we should be collaborating, the powers that be are content with us battling back and forth while the Elite among us continue to enjoy outstanding wealth and privilege. To start with a definition of meritocracy is required. I was going to quote my Webster Dictionary but it isn’t even mentioned. Perhaps my copy is too old. The author’s general definition is that those in the meritocracy are the cream of the crop, natural born leaders, and highly intelligent, hard charging persons regardless of sex or race. Some came to power from wealth or privilege. These are the people who generally make the decisions that affect all others in the world. This is not a bad thing as we want the best and brightest to make those critical decisions necessary to keep moving forward. The problem as he and I see it is that in recent decades starting in the 1980’s in America there has been a disconnect between these leaders and the rest of us. Without regard to the general prosperity of the average citizen, these Elite have made decisions that have had the direct effect of lowering our standard of living while increasing their wealth astronomically to where it is incomprehensible to even imagine. He spells this out in great detail. He covers many different areas such as Wall Street, Congress, the Catholic Church, Corporate America and even Major League Baseball. All of these institutions have failed in their responsibility to citizens by ignoring our needs while protecting and enhancing their grip on power. He points out the disastrous effect of the Supreme Court decision to allow Corporations to spend unlimited funds on political elections thereby assuring their continuing dominance regardless of which party is in the majority. All politicians are deeply indebted to those Elite who shower funds on their behalf. On page 181 he quotes Thomas Paine on the importance of the proximity of politicians and those who elect them, “That the ELECTED might never form to themselves an interest separate from the ELECTORS, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often, because as the ELECTED might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the ELECTORS in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured…. On this….depends the STRENGHT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE HAPPINESS OF THE GOVERNED.” The author doesn’t mention the following but I wish too. The above has become meaningless as Congress has become a career instead of service. Something over 90% of Senators and Representatives are re-elected time after time. This in my opinion creates the distance between them and not being able to understand the lot of our citizens. He is convinced as I am, that the ELITE are so far separated from the populous that they just don’t care. As this separation intensifies sooner or later a backlash will occur as it does today in countries like Spain and Greece. To say it can’t happen here is denying the reality. He points out how countries like Brazil have quietly and successfully closed the gap with the rich still getting richer but the rest catching up. It is possible to accomplish but we need the will to get it done. Let us hope it does happen. This is a worthwhile book to read. Jack B. Walters October 17 , 2012

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