25 October 2012

How Democracies Die



Attached is a truly outstanding op-ed by my close friend and colleague Mike Lofgren.  Mike's recent book, "The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted." is must reading for anyone interested in the future welfare of the United States.  

Chuck Spinney

How Democracies Die

By Mike LofgrenTruthout | Op-Ed
Thursday, 25 October 2012 10:19

"Picture a country at the height of its international power and prestige. It has military forces stationed around the globe. It is an intellectual leader...." It's not the one you're thinking of.
Picture a country at the height of its international power and prestige. It has military forces stationed around the globe. It is an intellectual leader. Its citizens are pleased to insist that the national idea, their country's way of life, is a beacon of enlightenment and human rights for the rest of the world. Indeed, they are wont to harp on the notion that the country embodies the very concept of Western Civilization.
But beneath the fa├žade of greatness there is creeping rot. The rich (who are accustomed to getting their way in all things) corrupt the system and buy the people's representatives in this venerable democracy. The country lurches towards political polarization and, predictably, the machinery of orderly governance becomes gridlocked. The politicians of the right, who take every opportunity to bellow for increased spending on the military, refuse to raise the revenues to pay for it. Why?
Because the wealthy citizens who happen to own these representatives refuse to pay a single cent in additional income taxes. Their class solidarity as alleged "'job creators"' who are owed unconditional deference outweighs their loyalty to the nation at large. They successfully demand that even the crushing expense of a long war should be paid for by loans from abroad (the interest payments on which merely add to the expense) rather than by direct taxes from those citizens best able to afford them. Naturally, a growing share of the population develops a visceral sense that the system is rigged.
There is worse to come. ..... [continued]