|Date: 2024-03-03 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00000019
Country ... USA
It's a plutocracy, stupid
AIPAC is only part of a widely corrupt US political system
which is based on wealth-driven interests, analyst argues.
According to Bill Moyers over the last three decades, plutocrats have used their vastly increased wealth to assure that government does their bidding [GALLO/GETTY]
Original article: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/04/20114391843209245.html
Peter Burgess COMMENTARY
I am a big fan of Bill Moyers. The big idea from this piece is that the USA now has 'a thoroughly corrupted political system' and this makes me 'mad as hell'.
This should not be the outcome of 'American Exceptionalism' but there is little question today that the US political system is a disaster. It is easy to blame the politicians, but I am of the view that the problem is broader than that.
I had some fairly intense conversations with Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty back in the 1960s because I was of the opinion that they were teaching financial mathematics without putting this work in the critical context of business and economic ethics. Clearly I had no impact on HBS, but HBS has had a devastating impact on the economy and society.
It is going to be difficult to dislodge the plutocrats ... but I am confident it can be done. When the going gets tough, a union worker is going to have more value than a white collar bank trader no matter how financially successful they have been.
AlJazeera English ... Opinion
Written by MJ Rosenberg
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2011 13:03
AIPAC is only part of a widely corrupt US political system which is based on wealth-driven interests, analyst argues.
I received an email from a Capitol Hill aide who thinks my criticism of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, is overly simplistic.
He doesn't dispute the fact that AIPAC has a disproportionate influence on our Middle East foreign policy.
He argues, however, that AIPAC is no different than other powerful special interest lobbies.
I think his whole email is worth a read:
I work on Capitol Hill and I disagree with you about AIPAC. You make it seem as if AIPAC is the only lobby that gets what it wants through threats of cutting off campaign contributions, as if only AIPAC dictates legislation through intimidation.I agree with everything my correspondent writes. The American democracy we learned about in school no longer exists. It has been sold to the highest bidders.
And the highest bidder is not, as the Tea Partiers like to say, 'we the people'.
Bill Moyers, the highly respected longtime PBS commentator and President Lyndon Johnson's lieutenant in creating Great Society legislation like Medicare and the Voting Rights Act, calls the American political system of today a 'plutocracy' - that is, one that is governed by the few and for the few.
Last November, Moyers delivered a speech at Boston University (the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture) explaining how this plutocracy was created.
Suffice it to say that it was no accident. (You should read the Moyers speech here or watch it here. It is simply the best explication by anyone of how we got to this miserable moment in our history).
Moyers explains the loss of American democracy like this:
The Gilded Age returned with a vengeance in our time. It slipped in quietly at first, back in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan began a 'massive decades-long transfer of national wealth to the rich'.Moyers concluded:
Everyone knows millions of Americans are in trouble. As Robert Reich recently summed it the state of working people: they have lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings.Moyers, not surprisingly, is spot-on. And so is my correspondent who complains about my emphasis on AIPAC. My only defence is that my job is limited to foreign policy issues.
If my job description were different, I be happy to write about the undue influence that the Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers have within the halls of Congress.
It is just that on the Middle East issue, the big foot money lobby is AIPAC, and it has no competition.
But I am not going to argue that AIPAC, or any foreign policy lobby, does anything like the damage done to this country by corporate interests.
The 'greed lobby' at the national and state levels has successfully implemented policies that take money from the poor and middle class and put it in the pockets of their friends (the rich and super-rich).
AIPAC, for all its faults, does not lobby for legislation to make its members rich. (They don't get a kickback from the Israel aid package).
None of this, however, makes me feel any friendlier to AIPAC and its satellite organisations. The policies they inflict on America are deeply damaging to our national interests. It is just that, right now, AIPAC is part of an infinitely larger problem: a thoroughly corrupted political system.
But it is far from alone. There are hundreds of AIPACs, many infinitely more powerful than AIPAC itself, and they are turning the American dream into an American nightmare. From now on, I will be more careful about putting AIPAC's sins in their unholy context.
MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.
You can follow MJ on twitter @MJayRosenberg.
This article was first published by Foreign Policy Matters.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
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