The Eye Of A Needle Just Got Larger
I was reminded of this phrase when a recent Center for Responsive Politics study of 2009 data found that 261 of the 535 members of Congress were millionaires (this probably understates the actual number because members of Congress aren't required to report their homes as assets). When looking at both houses together, the legislators weighed in with a hefty median income of $911,000. For the Senate alone, median income was an astounding $2.38 million. This is not too shabby when the median household income in America is roughly $50,000.
In other words, politics has increasingly been turned over to the wealthy.
That certainly seems to be the case. Meg Whitman tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to buy her way into the California governor's mansion. Michael Bloomberg (quite successfully) spent even more to retain his position as Mayor of New York City. Both spent millions of their own fortunes in their campaigns. It's pretty hard to compete with that kind of money unless the less wealthy candidate vigorously pursues special interests' donations. The results, Mr. Trees points out, are predictable:
With the modern return of the practice of "swilling the planters with bumbo," though, we now find ourselves in a new age of aristocratic despotism. You need only study income distribution over the last quarter of a century to see that the nation's policies have been slanted overwhelmingly in favor of the rich. Between 1979 and 2004, the after-tax income for the top 1% skyrocketed 176%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. How did the bottom fifth do? They squeezed out a measly 6% gain.
And our owners won't have it any other way.
Labels: Public Financing of Elections