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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/11/17

U.S. Constitution: Help or Hindrance?

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   7 comments, In Series: No Rich and No Poor
Message John Spritzler

Even if the U.S. Constitution were obeyed 100%, it would not prevent some people from becoming enormously rich compared to most others. It would not stop our society from being one in which money is power. It would not prevent a very wealthy upper class from having far more power--over both the private sector and the government--than ordinary people have, despite the fact that ordinary people have "one man one vote" and the rights in the Bill of Rights. It would not, therefore, prevent class inequality. And class inequality is the root of our worst problems.

As is acknowledged by academics who study the question rigorously and even by the business press, the United States presently is an oligarchy (or plutocracy--same idea), not a republic or a democracy. In other words a small number of very rich people make the important government decisions and ordinary people have virtually no say in the matter either directly or even indirectly by means of representatives that truly represent them (as some people say would be the case in a republic).

This is the conclusion of a widely cited academic paper reporting on a study with an enormous data base, online here and also here(Business Insider: "Major Study Finds the US is an Oligarchy") and here (TPM: "Princeton Study: US No Longer an Actual Democracy") and here (BBC: "Study: US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy"). Additional proof is provided here.

Some people say that yes, this is the case today, and it is the source of many of our worst problems, including Orwellian wars of social control based on lies (wars that also enrich the plutocracy) and much suffering by the many for the benefit of the few. In order to make things right, they say, we need to make things be the way the U.S. Constitution, which is unfortunately being ignored, says things should be: a "representative democracy" otherwise known as a republic.

The problem with this "solution" is that it doesn't eliminate the root of the problem, which is class inequality. Class inequality in our present United States takes the form of some people being very rich compared to most people, and our society being one in which money is power. Billionaires thus have the power to shape society by their values (inequality and using divide-and-rule to keep things unequal); regular people do not have the power to shape things by their contrary values. The power of money makes one-man-one-vote a meaningless right. Big Money dominates the decisions the government makes. Elected representatives are influenced by Big Money, not their constituents. This is a fact that is plain to see.

Why is it that the poorest people do the hardest work and enjoy the benefits of socially produced wealth the least, while the richest do the easiest work in great luxury or do no work at all, and enjoy the lion's share of these benefits? It's not because poor people don't have "one man one vote"; it's not because poor people are not "represented" by congressmen and senators the way that the Constitution spells out (for what it's worth, which obviously is not very much!); it's not because poor people lack the rights of free speech and freedom to assemble, etc., in the Bill of Rights. It's because these rights count for diddly-squat in any contest between people with billions of dollars versus people whose net worth (assets minus debts) is close to zero--less than zero for one in five families!

Why is it that when the rich want to wage a war, they do it regardless of the majority of the population opposing it? This was the case with the Vietnam War, which went on until the refusal of GIs to fight it forced Nixon to withdraw in 1975, seven bloody years after a majority of Americans came to oppose that war. The billionaires can do this because when they want to do something, their Big Money gives them the power to do it regardless of the fact that the vast majority who disagree have all of the useless rights in the Constitution.

There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights or the (legally ignorable) Declaration of Independence that prohibits some people from being extremely rich and, thus, having far more actual power (over government decisions as well as private-sector decisions) than other people despite the fact that everybody gets only one vote.

In fact, the Constitution protects the right of the very rich to remain very rich. Here is how it does it, as reported by PBS:

"The Fifth Amendment protects the right to private property in two ways. First, it states that a person may not be deprived of property by the government without 'due process of law,' or fair procedures. In addition, it sets limits on the traditional practice of eminent domain, such as when the government takes private property to build a public road. Under the Fifth Amendment, such takings must be for a 'public use' and require 'just compensation' at market value for the property seized. But in Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the Supreme Court interpreted public use broadly to include a 'public purpose' of economic development that might directly benefit private parties. In response, many state legislatures passed laws limiting the scope of eminent domain for public use."

The reason that the rich can ignore the Constitution when they feel like it is because they are powerful, and nothing in the Constitution prevented them from becoming powerful or prevents them from being MUCH more powerful than regular people. Honoring the Constitution to the letter would be, at most, a nuisance and an inconvenience for the rich. It would not prevent billionaires from running the show; it would simply mean they would have to be more careful and creative about how they used the power of money to get what they wanted. (A wonderfully insightful cartoon shows some corporate managers sitting around a table and one of them says to the other, "These new regulations will fundamentally change the way we get around them.")

The U.S. Constitution HELPS the Rich Dominate the Rest of US

Indeed the U.S. Constitution, far from being an impediment to the power of the rich, makes the U.S. government one that is extremely useful for the rich to dominate the entire American population. How so? It does this by making the government one that is based on the authoritarian principle. The authoritarian principle says that one must obey the highest body of government no matter what. In our republic (which is what the United States Constitution makes the United States) when the members of Congress write a law and the President signs it, everybody in the United States must obey it. Ditto when the members of a state legislature write and the Governor signs a law, everybody in the state must obey it, no matter what.

The authoritarian principle (if the population accepts it as legitimate, which is unfortunately often the case) is a veritable "welcome mat" for rich people to dominate the entire population merely by using the power of their money to control a relatively small number of individuals who constitute the highest body of the government. (The authoritarian principle was also a "welcome mat" for the Bolshevik Party leaders to dominate the entire population of the Soviet Union by controlling--by hook or by crook--the relatively few people at the top of the Soviet government.) Oppressive ruling elites LOVE the authoritarian principle, and the U.S. Constitution is pure authoritarian principle!

Why do people accept the authoritarian principle? (They sometimes don't, as you can read about here.) In the United States a big part of the reason why people accept the authoritarian principle is that people have a misunderstanding about democracy (including representative government, a.k.a. republics). The misunderstanding is the false belief that there can exist today in the United States a democracy (or a republic, if you will, and now I'll just use the word "democracy" if you don't mind, OK?) of ALL the people. By a democracy of all the people I mean a system of government in which all conflicts and disagreements among the entire population of citizens are resolved peaceably by mutual agreements and compromises according to some agreed-upon method of decision-making (such as the principle of a majority vote of elected representatives) without the use of violence or even the credible threat of violence by either side when there is a conflict.

The fact is that there CANNOT exist today in the United States such a democracy of ALL the people, for the reason discussed in the following paragraphs. What purports to be a democracy of ALL the people is in fact a fake democracy that is really an oligarchy. The authoritarian principle derives its legitimacy from the idea that we really have a democracy of ALL the people, in which the laws written by the government reflect peacefully made mutual agreements and compromises among ALL Americans, and should therefore be obeyed.

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John Spritzler Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am the editor of www.PDRBoston.org and www.NewDemocracyWorld.org, the author of No Rich and No Poor: The Populist Goal We CAN and Must Win, Divide and Rule: The "Left vs. Right" Trap, The People as Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in World (more...)

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