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Senator Elizabeth Warren had this to say about President Obama's $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee: "I was troubled by that." She added that money is "the snake that slithers through Washington" and that "the influence of dollars on this place is what scares me"I think it ultimately threatens democracy." And she said that progressives need to fight back against the money and power wielded by the rich and powerful with "our voices and our votes."
I suppose that many people will view these remarks of Sen. Warren as perfectly appropriate and satisfactory. I do not. Here's why.
Sen. Warren essentially acknowledges that the people who possess billion dollar fortunes have, by virtue of possessing those fortunes, the real power in our society--"the snake that slithers through Washington." But Warren pretends that this power merely "threatens democracy"; even though she knows full well that we do not have a democracy; we have an oligarchy. Even stodgy academics acknowledge this fact (as this study illustrates.) As a professional politician whose career viability is conditional on not seriously threatening the power of the billionaire class, Sen. Warren must "play the game" and pretend we live in a democracy, threatened perhaps by the "snake that slithers" but nonetheless still a democracy. This is one reason for describing the senator's response to that snake as lame.
But it's lame for another reason too. For some perspective, consider this. When a person is attacking you with a knife, what do you aim to do? Just "fight back," or remove the knife from the attacker? You aim to remove the knife from the attacker, obviously, because until you do that just "fighting back" could result in losing the fight and being killed. You want not just to fight back, but also to WIN the fight, which means, minimally, removing the knife from the attacker's possession. There's not a sane person in the world who doesn't grasp this, and I'm assuming Sen. Warren is sane. So when Warren says progressives need to fight back against the money and power wielded by the rich and powerful with "our voices and our votes" it's just for the purpose of deflecting our attention from the fact that she never even hints that we need to take the knife--the billion dollar fortunes--away from the people who are attacking us. Let the people attacking us keep their knives, let the billionaires keep their billions, is Warren's implicit message. How lame is that?
The obvious thing we need to do to have a genuine democracy (one person one vote, not what we have today, which is one billionaire a billion votes and one ordinary person one vote) is remove the billions of dollars (i.e., the real power in our society) from the billionaires. Failure to state this obvious fact is all the billionaires demand of politicians, because it is all that they need to remain in possession of their power over us. And Sen. Warren is happy to play by these billionaire rules of the game, obviously.
Obama's Wall Street speaking fee of $400,000 is just one of countless examples of how the billionaires rule our nation--how they use their knives. Does anybody seriously believe that this speaking fee came as a complete surprise to Obama? The billionaire class makes all of our top tier politicians know that great wealth awaits them after (if not before) they retire if they make the billionaire class happy when in office. This is one of the ways money exerts power. Why did Obama put Goldman-Sachs people in his cabinet instead of people who wanted, say, single payer health care and an end to U.S. warmongering and drone-killing of innocent Muslims? Well, now we know. Obama didn't want to displease the Goose that gives the Golden Eggs (in the form of $400,000 speaking fees and such.)
Either we submit to living in our current dictatorship of the billionaire class, or we aim explicitly to take their weapon--their billions of dollars--away from them and render them no wealthier than any other ordinary American: in other words have no rich and no poor egalitarianism, as described at https://www.pdrboston.org/egalitarianism . As long as we agree that it's perfectly fine for some people to be richer than others, those richer people will have more power in society than others, and they will use that enhanced power to control people including politicians to get even richer and more powerful in a process that inevitably results in the inequality and death of democracy that exists today.
Senator Warren--held up as one of the best defenders of democracy and most ardent foe of Wall Street--has responded to the most recent and egregious demonstration of Wall Street's anti-democratic power with a response so lame that it should make us angry as hell.