Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The road to serfdom, part 2

In the '40s Frederich von Hayak wrote the Libertarian's clarion call for smaller government, "The Road to Serfdom."  His basic point was that tyranny was the natural consequence of a government that was too powerful and controlled too much of people's lives.  With a tyrannical government the people become modern day serfs serving at the pleasure of monolithic Socialist or Communist government rulers.  Indeed, the Soviet Union was a prime example of a helpless populace under the foot of a tyrannical centralized government.

Today, the Robert's Supreme Court seems to be sending the United States on a different path to serfdom - a tyranny that will be the natural consequence of a plutocracy that is too powerful and will control too much of people's lives. They infamously passed "Citizens United" by a 5-4 vote, and today they now pass McCutcheon 5-4 to extend even further the reach of the billionaire class to influence elections, policies, regulations, and laws of our country.  

The reasoning on the part of the conservatives is that money is speech and free speech is protected by the first amendment.  That is the problem with ideologues - they become absolutists.  Free speech is certainly protected, but not absolutely.  The most famous limit of free speech is the notion that nobody has the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater because the resulting panic and stampede will kill people.

I believe it is the same in this case.  Backing candidates with contributions is a fine and democratic principle.  But when the upper tenth of a percent of the population is given unlimited ability to buy politicians and buy elections and buy regulations and buy laws, we the people are robbed of our democracy.

I don't think you have to look too much further than billionaire Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and Republican donor, to see the problem.  He apparently is pushing to kill online gambling.  No secret as to why a casino owner wants to ban online gambling.  It certainly has nothing to do with the benefit of the country, and it has everything to do with the benefit of Mr. Adelson.  

Right now, Republicans are celebrating these billionaire empowering Supreme Court decisions because they are getting most of the campaign financial backing from the plutocrats.  The worm may turn, of course, and hard core lefty billionaires may predominate in future times.  But none of that is really the point.  

The point is that the Supreme Court is turning our democracy (rule by the people) into a plutocracy (rule by the rich).  

Serfdom under plutocracy or serfdom under communism is about the same either way.

The odd thing is they are turning us into serfs in the name of freedom.