A Plutocracy is a regime underwritten by a select society of individuals whose influence is manifold through direct control over holdings worth the equivalent of trillions of USA dollars. The process whereby certain selected individuals are allowed to consolidate control over resources happens in a "Free Market", and the ultimate end of a "Free Market" is the acquisition of holdings, leading to the ultimate regime of the Plutocracy.
The history of the 20th century shows how the regime of Plutocracy treats our fellow humans. Many times, throughout Latin America (& Africa; Philippines), dictators treated non-Hispanic nations and the people who live in poverty worse [literally] than Hitler's treatment of minorities in "the New Europe" of 1941.Without any oversight, either by government or by law, the "Free Market" will allow for the consolidation of control in the hands of a selfish few over entire communities, states and nations...
"The Free Market System Distributes the Fruits of Economic Progress Among All People"
Milton Friedman said that in 1990. More recently John Boehner remarked, "President Kennedy in 1960 said, 'a rising tide lifts all boats,' and I think that is in fact correct."
The business-aligned media seems to agree that we're all together in a yacht. "The industry is back," an analyst told the Wall Street Journal [http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304419104579327043941676608]. Banks "should break all records" for earnings in 2014. A financial economist gushed, "The economy was firing on almost all cylinders as 2013 came to a close. For today, the sun is out and shining."
It's shining on the 10 percent who own almost 90% of the stocks beyond rapidly-disappearing pension holdings [http://epi.3cdn.net/2a7ccb3e9e618f0bbc_3nm6idnax.pdf]. In the 24 years since Milton Friedman's outrageous statement, U.S. wealth inequality has become worse than that of the entire developing world [http://usagainstgreed.org/GlobalWealthDatabook2013.pdf].
2012-07-21 letter by J.T. Miller of Vallejo to the editor of "Vallejo Times Herald" [timesheraldonline.com/letters/ci_21127663/typical-business-tactic]:
He's back. This time my brother JD Miller, CPA ("How should Vallejo spend?" July 12) is advocating the City of Vallejo do away with prevailing wages for public works projects. It's a typical business tactic to put out erroneous and misleading information in their effort to sell the public on the fact that business knows what's best for them -- as if we've forgotten the devastation these captains of capitalism have wrought on us the past few years.
JD writes that getting rid of the "prevailing wage" requirement would increase the number of qualified bidders for every project, and in turn put more people to work that aren't city employees that would spend their money creating the need for more workers in other businesses. On the surface this sounds great -- creating jobs and doing more for less. In reality it would create more bidders but not qualified ones and it would create more jobs but low-paying jobs and any money these workers would spend wouldn't be much and definitely not on big-ticket items.
Writing such clap-trap is being highly deceitful to the reader. I say this because somewhere in the business schools in our universities they must have touched on "prevailing wage law" -- such as the federal Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 and the "prevailing wage laws" in California, sometimes referred to as "Little Davis-Bacon."
California and federal prevailing wage laws are depression-era statutes that were designed to eliminate below-market wage rates on public works projects. In addition, they were designed to ensure that local area contractors had a level playing field when competing with out-of-area (low-wage) contractors for federal and state-funded public works projects. At that time there was high unemployment and depressed wages (sound familiar?) and the states and federal governments were pumping money into these depressed areas to keep a skilled workforce and alleviate local unemployment while increasing the purchasing power and economic conditions of the local workers.
Low wages and an unskilled workforce aren't the answer to economic stability as much as the business community likes to preach, a highly skilled, educated and well paid workforce keeping the middle class strong is the only way out of our current depression. This concept worked in the 1930s and it will work today.
As for my brother's example that Apple products are made by companies that don't pay "prevailing wages," he's right. They are manufactured in China by companies paying slave wages. Chinese factories -- including Apple's -- are self-contained cities where workers are required to live side by side in dorms and forced to work 10- and 12-hour days, six days a week. As a matter of fact Catholic Online reported that working conditions in Apple's factory are so horrific they installed nets around their buildings to keep the workers from jumping to their deaths.
Is that the business plan for American workers?
The following letter to the editor of Napa newspaper shows how ignorant free-market advocates tend to be. The letter show ignorance of history (USSR had to suffer drought and famine, war and pestilence, which is why they couldn't produce wheat like the USA, which suffered no war on it's homeland... as any student of history knows), ignorance of economics (people who make a wage clothe and feed themselves based on their own labor, and do not rely on rich people to provide hand-outs), and a religious worship of the "rich" which ignores the reality that many of the so-called rich become that way through investment capitalism, which requires no labor beyond correctly choosing which stocks to purchase...
2012-10-23 "Taxing the rich hurts the poor" letter by Arlene Phelan of Napa to the editor of the "Napa Valley Register" [napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/taxing-the-rich-hurts-the-poor/article_7326f0a0-1cf7-11e2-952e-001a4bcf887a.html]:
I have a difficult time understanding the popular idea “tax the rich.” It sounds good to anyone who feels poor, yet it is a defeatist policy.
The rich are taxed. Demanding more and more from them as a way to find money to pay for the president’s wild plans is not the answer.
What many fail to understand is that it’s the very rich who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs — the farmers who grow our food, the ranchers who raise the cattle and the builders of our homes. They become rich, while providing us with a good life.
The Soviet Union, at the end of its time, could not force laborers to grow food for the good of everyone. When given the choice, the farmer produced far superior food for himself and his family, rather than grow food for everyone. This is just human nature.
The rich are wealthy because they know how to work. If pushed on taxes, they will eliminate the people they employ, such as the cleaning person and the gardener.
If President Obama has his way, we will all be in lines trying to buy an orange — just like what happened in communist Russia before it collapsed. Why go back to a system proven to fail?
Cuba is trying to undo some of its communist policies, the Soviet Union also changed, and China has lightened up a bit (though it has a long way to go). It seems our president is unaware of history.
The comments section for the following article is remarkable for containing the discussion between a couple of respected Napa communitarians and a free-market advocate in Napa named Gordon H., who is a millionaire & "liberal" (he owns an Apple computer) whose ideology is openly corporatist. They are debating the merits of protecting and sustaining a localized economy:
2012-05-30 "City staff set to approve downtown Starbucks" article comments [napavalleyregister.com/news/local/city-staff-set-to-approve-downtown-starbucks/article_ce8f009c-aac7-11e1-8633-001a4bcf887a.html]:
2012-06-03 Gordon H. said: "Debating the merits of locally owned business is not the debate you've stirred up, it's the darth vader of coffee, Starbucks. I'm also curious to know if it would be alright with you if Apple opened a store in downtown Napa? And by the way I am a small business in downtown Napa. I put my money where mouth is, how about you?'"
2012-06-03 "Bystander" said: "Gordon- I have great respect for the fact you come here in open debate. However i have significant problems in regard to your statements that characterize Napa local as ridiculous. Increasingly the power of corporations and international financial interests are becoming a focal point of political resistance. What can be done at the local level is a major part of this new activism. So,in my opinion, your characterization of Napa local as ridiculous is equivalent to characterizing this entire aspect of emerging American political culture as ridiculous. I am not sure if you feel this is somehow only about Starbucks and are not able to see this issue in the large light that the rest of us are suggesting, or you are simply a friend to corporate power in all instances. But it would be nice if you could elaborate beyond the point of simple name calling."
2012-06-03 Gordon H. said: "I never said your organization is ridiculous I said the debate of whether Starbucks should be downtown is.And I do not follow your new found political activism which I guess is related to the whole "99%" crowd/movement?. Personally I'm too busy working and making a living. I don't have time to wreck havoc on our downtown by trying to tinker with what businesses should be allowed, which should be excluded and how much the rents should be. I do have the time however and step up whenever someone is trying to drag us down. Napa has waited more than 40 years for it's economic and cultural awakening, it's starting to happen and it would be great if your Napa Local" would stepp up and help instead of hinder our communities progress."
2012-06-03 "Bystander" said: "Gordon - You really did not answer the question as to whether you consider corporate power to be a problem and whether the issues raised by Napa local are related to those problems As to your claims that you are helping and we are hindering or wreaking havoc. Again I would suggest you are characterizing such behavior without a discussion of the issues. It is our position that locally owned business is general preferable to absentee ownership and that we have arguments in place in favor of that position. I have not seen you comment or refute our claims, but rather to simply paint us with a broad brush of negativity(no pun intended). I also find the comment that you are 'too busy working and making a living' to seemingly be a disturbing innuendo that those on the left do not work. I assure that I work more than 40 hours a week as do an increasing amount of working folks who are simply trying to get by. Personally I even support the tea party to at least be involved in the process. A couple of final points. You do in fact "say" what businesses should be allowed and how much rents should be. Supporting the status quo is not a neutral position. Supporting high rents that are almost assuredly a sign of econimic subterfuge by the owner and keeps out local business is not a neutral position. I also have to say that communities who need to bring in more outside money to support their local economies, are, in my opinion, falling victim to aform of corporate nannyism that is doomed to fail. Corporate entities willing to 'invest in Napa are not doing so in an effort to help. They do so in order to 'own' a piece a of the pie and to in a sense to 'own' where the Napa consuming public's dollars are going."
2012-06-03 "alixzander" said: [Gordan H. said:] "I'd like to know how you would even know whether the rents are too high, and how do you know it's the cost of rent is preventing small businesses from opening in Napa?"
This is based on conversations with local business owners. Some of these business owners shared these same ideas during public comment at several city council meetings. Also, Roeger Bubel, owner of Ben and Jerry's, said he might not be able to afford high rents once corporate chains start filling the city center he said “The rent may be prohibitive for a shop like mine". Read more: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/town-center-merchants-optimistic-about-new-ownership/article_7bd1a1e6-97f5-11e1-96e3-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1wlUOEce3
It is worth pointing out that Ben and Jerry's is a franchise meaning owner operated. So, high rights is NOT a ridiculous claim Gordon."
[Gordan H. said:] "Debating the merits of locally owned business is not the debate you've stirred up it's the darth vader of coffee,Starbucks."
If this is what you think, then you haven't been taking the time to read Napa Local's mission statement, positions, or proposals. Napa Local has always been guided by the desire to keep Downtown Napa unique while strengthening the local economy. Starbucks would undermine both. This is the reason for opposing Starbucks and supporting democratic processes that allow the community to weigh in on which corporate chains can and cannot enter our town. That is why Napa Local supports an ordinance to regulate corporate chains, as many cities across this nation have done.
[Gordan H. said:] "I'm also curious to know if it would be alright with you if Apple opened a store in downtown Napa?"
Apple exploits Chinese workers to produce their products. As a person with concern for the ethical treatment of everyone, especially the disadvantaged, why would I support a company with such unethical business practices?
[Gordan H. said:] "And by the way I am a small business in downtown Napa.I put my money where mouth is, how about you?"
I am someone interested in community power. I do not beleive our community should be sold to the highest bidder. And, I support the enactment of democratic processes that allow the community to have a say. I research working models, I talk to stake holders, and I empower people to use the democratic processes that do exist to exert the power they do have. I put my money where my mouth is as well, Mr. Huether. Like you, I don't tip toe around issues. I take bold stands based on what I beleive. That is something I learned from you, in fact."
2012-06-03 Gordon H. said: "alix and bystander - as much as I appreciate your passions and beliefs (some of which I share with you) I believe what you are trying to do is detrimental to downtown Napa's growth, progress and development. This is probably not the best place for debating so I invite you to come visit me, I'm easy to find. In regards to low rents, those are to be found in Vallejo, there's a reason for that which I guess could be another pandora's box of discussion. Alix, I'm writing this from an Apple, where is your computer manufactured?" [ ... ] "I'm not a self appointed "activist" Alix, I work, pay taxes of all kinds, have two local businesses,employ people ( with full benefits including health benefits), volunteer to many local charities, raise funds for local charities,serve on local boards and commissions...All this and more with NO public money hand outs. that work for you? Sorry , running out of space but coffee any time."
2012-06-04 "Alixzander" said: "Come on Gordon! Your deflecting the question. I am talking specifically about corporations that use exploitative and unethical business practices to produce products. I gave examples of what I try to for that specific issue not all things under the sun. So you use an Apple. I assume you don't approve of Apple's exploitative treatment of workers. So, what can be done about it? What type of personal responsibility do you feel about that?"
2012-06-04 Gordon H. said: "none"
2012-06-04 "Bystander" said: "I struggle to follow the logic here. I thought the logic of the market types was that we can manifest our values by making choices in the market which reflect those values. But here Gordon seems to have implied one of two things. He has no concern about sweatshop conditions, or that he has no choice to reflect his values? Which is it?"
2012-06-04 "Alixzander" said: "I honestly find that answer extremely chilling. Nothing can be done to address these problems? As consumers we have no personal responsibility to even try to shop ethically?"
This is the essence of the Free Market ideology. There is never intended to be any responsibility for the nation, no regard for justice or even "morality". there is to be only the satisfaction of a stunted and selfish ego, driven by a psychotic lust for control over economic life:
Here, Gordon Huether shows his sense of humor, knowing that he and his group of associates actually set the prices of downtown real-estate to prevent conscious and artistic people from establishing any kind of business which does not conform to Gordon H.'s version of "culture":