DEADLINE EXTENDED (AGAIN)! The “Not a Plutocracy?” $20 Challenge

Given the way the health care debate has gone, it now seems that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies (a/k/a the “medical-industrial complex”) will once again come out on top, despite the express wishes of a good-sized chunk of the American people for some kind of public/government-funded insurance  option. The corporations and their lackeys have pulled out all the stops to confuse and frighten the American public.  Corporate control of politicians and media seems practically unshakeable.  This leads me to wonder if we oughtn’t just make a few little tweaks to the Constitution and codify what appear to be the facts-on-the-ground: that this is actually a plutocratic country, with decisions being made by the wealthiest folks, for the benefit of the wealthiest folks, all dressed up in a cynical “democratic” shell.

But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe this really is still a democracy.  Maybe there are times when the wealthy interests lose out (or at least don’t get everything they want) in favor of the general welfare, or in response to the wishes of the people .  Maybe there are even times when wealthy interests VOLUNTARILY take a hit because it would serve the greater good.

So here’s the deal.  I’ve got $20 (not much, I know, but this SHOULD be easy, right?) that I will give to the person who can offer the most convincing evidence refuting the following assertion: “At present, the United States of America is a de facto plutocracy.”

This evidence could be presented in the form of an essay, a video rant, a list of facts, a dramatic dialogue, an interpretive dance, a crayon drawing scrawled on a napkin, a PowerPoint preso, whatever. My decision will be my own, quite possibly arbitrary, and it’ll be final. If I can’t make a final decision among a bunch of similarly-qualified entrants, I’ll commit some random act to determine the winner.  I also reserve the right to declare NO winner at all. All entries remain property of their creators, so you can republish or do whatever you want (that’s only fair), but by sending in your entry you grant me permission to publish it on this blog.  Send your entry (or a URL pointer to it) to smendler[at]yahoo.com; include the word “PLUTOCRACY” in the subject line.  Deadline (twice extended!) is 11:59:59 PM ET on OCTOBER 31, 2010.  Good luck!

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7 responses to “DEADLINE EXTENDED (AGAIN)! The “Not a Plutocracy?” $20 Challenge

  1. A special $5 prize will be offered for the best “Yeah, America IS a plutocracy, so WHAT?” essay, making the case that not only is the US a plutocracy, but that plutocracy is actually a good thing. Put your mouth where your money is! Bonus points if you try to assert some kind of divine imprimatur for plutocratic rule.

  2. Let me get my thinking music on. I can’t help thinking it’s not a plutocracy, but I can’t think why. Maybe it’s because of all those delightful additives in my food . . .

  3. In a recent comment to a friend ( a doctor) of mine here are my comments as to where we are today in health care reform. Dr. Schumann is about to conduct “A town hall on where we are so far in health care reform.”

    Dear Debbie,

    Thanks for your service to the community. I would appreciate your review of my comments below.

    If there are no numbers attached to the proposals as part of the health care reform discussion what is there to discuss? Without resources, social programs do not move forward.

    The proposals inclusive of HR. 3200 and HR 676 are in analysis chaos. At the same time the HR 676 Model system Canada is according to officials there imploding. (http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/article/681882). COOPs on the horizon make sense but there is yet a fatal flaw in the design, a huge adoption period (http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/234351/topic/WS_HLM2_LED/Senator-Proposes-Insurance-Cooperatives-as-an-Alternative-to-Public-Plan-Option.html; http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/blog/john-geyman-md-pnhp/2009/08/17/exchanges-co-ops-and-cop-outs-on-health-care-reform; http://www.healthreformwatch.com/2009/06/15/jost-on-cooperatives/).

    There are certainly some numbers that are already in evidence such as those projected by the Trustees for Medicare that show that it is insolvent now and illiquid by 2017(http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/downloads/tr2009.pdf). We also know that this year the United States will have borrowed 40% of its total spending inclusive of Medicare and any other entitlement which is commented upon by all the Federal Reserve Governors suggesting significant dislocations across our entire economy (http://www.dallasfed.org/news/speeches/fisher/2008/fs080528.cfm). The deficits are much larger now than suggested in 2008 at $99 trillion plus. Deficits squeeze out the ability of the economy to finance all things that require it. In addition we know that the “public plan” is simply a way to introduce a limited health finance plan that when it runs out of money will come back to the tax payer to bail it out and at the same time as is suggested by many single payer advocates the way to “single payer” without the broader fight. The debt implications would take it down were it to become law. As ignorant as the stock insurers are they like a large number of the American people understand the implications of the “public option.” Throw away options are: single payer state plans, allowing insurers to bid business across state lines, Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, and doing nothing to change anything; non-starters in my opinion.

    One of the pillars of health care financial reform is dependent on who we do business. All the suggested plans and the ones in place today are on life support or never are born. Any system of health care that requires credit based financing (all the ones suggested on the table now do require credit financing) rapidly implode or else must deny care across all methodologies. Medicare, single payer model is no exception. We cut benefits, claim illusory savings or borrow which leads to higher taxes to pay interest and principle rapidly crippling care and leaving us all with enormous national debts we would pass on to our children. Nationally we are trapped by our banking system which as we have all witnessed preys upon: our government who volunteers for abuse (bail out, TARP, FDIC et al.), our businesses and our citizenry. We are forced by government to do business with the Federal Reserve System of banks who create loans and currency from thin air but expect to be paid back the face value of the currency they compel the Treasury to issue plus interest. The Federal Reserve System is ingenious but ultimately dismantles (many reasons for the dissemble) most everything it touches. It manages to get us fighting amongst ourselves about government and private industry policy while it stands on the sidelines collecting principle and interest endlessly. The question is what do those banks contribute to society? At the moment we are eying the insurance companies as bad actors (they are) and many are seeking health finance solutions inside government for relief. The problem is that the only solution the government can offer is to recycle the financial requirements back to banks that prey on us. We need a different solution, a better solution than the Federal Reserve System ( http://solari.com/blog/?p=3210) to assure we are solvent.

    I know that until and unless we understand our banking system and what to do about it; all reforms end up being financed by those who care for one thing, control of the money supply (“Let me issue and control a Nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws”. – Amsel (Amschel) Bauer Mayer Rothschild, 1838). The same bankers (the Rothschilds) who built the Bank of England, Federal Reserve of the United States and the Euro are still running feudal system money and credit system. Until we tackle the banking issues, their way of financing society; we are chasing our tails and reform fails every time. There is no way to outrun the Federal Reserve System with reforms that depend upon use of the Federal Reserve System Banks and Creditors.

    I think the Federal Reserve System needs to be part of the broader conversation but probably not at your town hall meeting. You may have already studied the Federal Reserve System but if you have not it would be of assistance to you in creating policy positions that have a chance of working long term for the people you want to serve. I of course have my own ideas on the subject of reform but those are for another time. Thanks for the read.

  4. Well, I got very few responses by my original deadline, so I’ve extended it to the end of the year!

  5. Physical wealth does not drive popular politics. Plutocrats are not early adopters of anything. Most all the time they follow after the talented create the wealth of ideas, products and services. At the present time all of the paper wealth in the U.S. is under attack. Their enemies are winning. The UN called for replacing the dollar as the standard currency for commodities trading worldwide. Multiple governments including China, France, Japan, Russia and others are forming an alliance to displace the dollar. 911 was the opening skirmish to bring the U.S. wealthy down. Overnight the paper rich could find themselves as poor as the rest of us. The only thing that most wealthy people have is the ability to be audacious. They replace talent with gall and aggression. Its human nature to some. BTW I don’t want the prize if chosen.

  6. Looks like I might have to extend the deadline further! How about till 10/31/2010?

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