Economics and Politics and Social Issues22 Oct 2011 06:24 pm

Whether wealth be of an individual, a corporation, or a cartel of like minded individuals their is much one can do to further their interests. If the primary goal is financial there are many things wealth can do to protect itself, increase its dominance and significantly expand its relative worth.

One of the most sure methods of slanting the playing field in your favor is to maintain or create laws which maximize your legal and commercial advantage. The more wealth has influence and control over the political arena the easier it becomes for wealth to maintain and increase its position.

Though wealth can use its resources to increase and better its position in almost any political system we will focus on the tools and strategies wealth can use in democratic governments. Since politicians need to get elected they are very dependent on money, media and public relations to insure their attaining the office they desire.

In many ways we could make the argument that campaign contributions is wealth’s best friend. First you could make the size of your contribution dependent on the candidates promise or active promotion of the passage of a bill from which you will directly benefit. Second, you could tie your contribution into the securing of a position for yourself or a minion that provides you with an undisputed current or future business advantage.

To insure that your money is not being wasted betting on a losing horse, you can always wait to commit yourself to a candidate until the polls are giving a nod in one direction. In such a case the size of your contribution would need to be sizable to establish the politicians dependence on your continued and future support.

Yet, true wealth is free to contribute to as many candidates as is thought prudent. Betting on more than one horse in a race is fine and often one does not have to feel constrained by party affiliation. Cartels functioning as voting blocks can funnel their contributions through an individual regarded as a Republican or Democrat in a given situation to avoid appearing contradictory or disloyal. If profit is your main motive than policy is much more important than party affiliation, and the goal is for your contribution to go to a winning candidate who will feel indebted to you and your support.

Once elected a politician is in constant need of funding for re-election and political power. So even if you weren’t a big contributor during the campaign, you can buy yourself support and friendship through contributions of almost any elected official. In such a situation those of wealth can donate money to a politician’s pet project in exchange for their support of passage of any legislation which enhances their business needs.

In the realm of political influence by the wealthy we are all very familiar with the power and influence of lobbyists. The wealthy have long realized the pampering of and pandering to politicians is a very wise investment. The money spent is but a fraction of what it can generate.

The history of capitalism is full of stories where a corporation or business cartel pushed through legislation which gave them an unfair advantage or actually destroyed their competitors. The joint efforts of construction, the automotive and related industries did a fine job of passing laws which undermined the survival of the electric trolley, as well as a budding electric train industry. When I was young there was an electric train line that ran from Chicago to Milwaukee that despite a loyal passenger base could not survive the onslaught of being legally handcuffed and marginalized.

When the US was young its economy thrived and became competitive by passing laws which protected it from the monetary and technological advantages of British mega-companies. Yet, once the US formed its own economic elite the laws have changed giving back all advantage to the wealthy. The major reason why “free trade” is so popular amongst our largest corporations is that it takes away all protections from smaller businesses and allows big business to dominate every region both domestic and international.

Misleading titles such as “free trade” seduce the population into handing over their last remaining hopes of ever competing against the wealthy. If you are wealthy you can use “free trade” and “free market principles” to simply buy out any competitor, underprice them through volume or even taking a temporary loss through low prices to force them out of business. In return for your political donations you can get government (tax payer) subsidies, low interest loans, and favorable tax laws making it almost impossible for any competition to arise in the first place.

In business perception is everything, that is why so much money is spent on advertising, public relations and on perceptual management. Knowing this wealth is able to invest huge sums of money into creating consumer loyalty and demand. The wealthy can hire the best minds in the fields of social psychology, public relations and neuropsychology to best understand and influence the public at large.

Yet, for the wealthy such moves are only preparing the soil for their public opinion commercial farming. Even the least innovative or ambitious tycoon can place beneficial news stories, use their role as advertisers to influence what a paper says or doesn’t, and pressure the media to print favorable stories. Yet, the wealthy need not stop their, for they can actually own media or become part of a conglomerate that does.

The truly wealthy can not only own media and publishing houses, but fund or own universities, research organizations, think tanks, or control education policies and curricula. The truly wealthy can reinterpret if not rewrite history giving them and their projects a heroic and revered image. The wealthy can write the scripts that the average person takes as historical and modern reality.
The wealthy can fund or create non-profit groups which appear to be philanthropic or humanitarian and which function as tax shelters and attack dogs. One of the possible explanations of why the world’s most renown economists can be wrong so often yet remain revered is that the wealthy control the title of respected and famous economists. The wealthy have created a world where the only sanctioned “schools of economic thought” are those generated by its think tanks, universities, and businesses which protect and further their interests.

The wealthy can and do increase their net worth while being the world’s most prolific philanthropists. Through their non-profit foundations, charities, and humanitarian projects even retired billionaires find ways of using these havens to increase their overall wealth. In essence, the wealthy are able to use philanthropy as a commercial boon, which protects them from the IRS and has them become the heroes and idols of the very populace which are becoming relatively poorer through their apparent generosity.

The wealthy can also create socially conscious non-profits who promulgate their economic and ideological message. Oftentimes this can be done with the public believing its a grass roots organization. The wealthy can also infiltrate or contaminate any existing socially conscious group or movement. The wealthy can usually corrupt a well intentioned union, or move astray from its original purpose.

The wealthy can and have taken a non-violent movement and make it militant. The wealthy can create a bogus ecological entity whose extreme views and actions discredit or destroy the public support of a legitimate group whose public backing is interfering with the business profits of the wealthy. The wealthy can create or incite a war which will either add to their coffers or divert the public’s attention away from their malfeasance.

The wealthy can do pretty much what it imagines, and can hire people who can imagine for them. This is not to say that the wealthy has to do these things. It is only to point out that they can, and that to the extent that profit is their guiding force, that it is logical that they do such things. It is also important to point out, that those of wealth who do not do these things will be at a disadvantage to those with wealth who do these things, and therefore, will likely lose to the more ambitious and self-serving in then long run.

I do not think it is human nature or inevitable for successful or ambitious people to act in this way. Yet, I don’t think it is paranoid to assume or anticipate that economically ambitious people are and will do such actions which increase and protect their wealth and privileged position.

The problem is not in human nature or in the desire to be successful. The problem is constructing a social and economic system that rewards and fosters this style of being in the world. We have choices, but much money and energy is bering spent trying to convince us through fear and deception that there is nothing inherently wrong with a profit based capitalistic society, in fact we being told that our problems are due to the fact that we have never had a truly free enterprise system.
We’ve never had and never will have a totally perfect any kind of system. Yet, I have no doubt that we can create a system and a social structure that is far more humane and far more successful at reducing human suffering while improving the quality of life for the majority of those on the planet.

Jim Guido

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