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Woe to the Nation Whose Destiny is Shaped by Those with an Insatiable Lust for Wealth and Power: Part II

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From The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution, page 63:

The powerful get to speak because the unchosen structure of the system determines which messages will be heard....The powerful few appear to choose, but the selective process generated by the ungoverned system confers on them that role."

In America today, the manifestation of the "ungoverned system" is the removal of restraints and obstacles in the way of big money being used to influence elections. Less governed, opening up still more of the shared space to be controlled by the few rather than regulated by the many.

This is the fruit of the have the atrocious Supreme Court decision of Citizens United, opening up the floodgates even more to the purchasing of elections by the most monied few. They are buying up the government at least, more and more of it--and they are doing it with a barrage of political ads to influence the coming elections.

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But even without Citizens United, the American democracy had already traveled very far down the road away from the kind of consent our Founders had in mind--well-informed and solidly formed. A third of the public has confined itself within a Misinformation-and-Manipulation bubble created by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and a relative handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers, whose political manipulations have lately been so well reported by Jane Mayers in The New Yorker.

Thus does the "consent of the governed" cease to be an adequate check on the reign of power.

"One person, one vote" gets degraded into "One dollar, one vote." Equality of power in the democratic system gets overpowered by the systemic effects of the inequalities of power in the competitive system.

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The competitive system of the marketplace determines who gets the say. From The Parable of the Tribes: The problem of Power in Social Evolution:

That which determines the chooser determines the choice.

So what kind of person gets chosen in this "ungoverned system" empowered by Citizens United?

Sometimes power systems choose what is good, but history proves that in deeply important ways, it often does not.

And the Koch brothers help illustrate what it means to allow the selection for power to rule: the grotesque spirit that animates the Koch brothers becomes clear as soon as we take a look at one visible fact. (Visible if one takes in what Jane Mayers has reported to us.)

Imagine being a billionaire. You've got more money, and more of everything material, than you could possibly ever do anything with for yourself. More money will buy you nothing that you could use, let alone that you need or have even thought to want.

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And yet, like the Koch brothers, you choose to utilize this fabulous wealth wealth beyond all relation to the scope of a human life, even a super-affluent one--in order to sway the political process so as to protect and expand your wealth. Like the Koch brothers campaign against the U.S. acting sanely and responsibly about climate change, the Koch brothers being billionaires because they've got this mighty company in the oil business.

Where would you have to be coming from to make that your priority? What kind of spirit would have to be animating you for you to care about nothing more than about getting more wealth when you already have more than any person can use?
Not building libraries all around the country, like Andrew Carnegie a century ago. Not battling world poverty, like Bill Gates and his wife. Not setting up a Foundation to fund worthy expansions of human understanding, like the Ford or Guggenheim foundations.

No, the Koch brothers choose to invest in the most deceptive and destructive propaganda, to keep Americans from acting in a prudent and morally responsible way in the face of the dangers posed to our children and our children's children by the process of climate change.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)

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