Plutocracy, U.S.A.

BY KIRK BANE AND MICHAEL MANVILLE
04.10.2001 | POLITICS

Plutocracy: 1. government by the wealthy
2. a controlling class of the wealthy

Since the inception of our government in 1789, the United States has been run by a wealthy elite. Two Founding Fathers, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, advocated a plutocratic form of government for the new nation. Jay, America's first Chief Justice, declared that, "The people who own the country ought to govern it." Hamilton, President Washington's Treasury Secretary, contended that "the rich and the well-born" should lead the nation. And so it came to pass.

In a biting expose of Bush the Second's plutocratic new Cabinet (the most affluent team of public servants ever assembled to head the country), Jim Hightower reveals that among its members are "four CEOs, several corporate board members, and a couple of corporate lobbyists...[who] have dedicated their careers to advancing corporate interests over working families, the environment, consumers, poor people, family farmers, ordinary taxpayers, and any other people's interests." Consider, for example, the corporate connections of the following six Secretaries.

  1. Elaine Chao (Labor): Bank of America, Dole Food, Clorox, Northwest Airlines, and Columbia/HCA Healthcare

  2. Norman Mineta (Transportation): Lockheed Martin

  3. Paul O'Neill (Treasury): Alcoa, International Paper Co., Eastman Kodak, and Lucent Technologies

  4. Colin Powell (State): America Online

  5. Anthony Principi (Veterans Affairs): Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, QTC Medical Services Inc., and the Federal Network

  6. Donald Rumsfeld (Defense): General Instrument Corp., G. D. Searle & Co., Asea Brown Boveri Ltd., the Tribune Co., Gilead Sciences Inc., and RAND Corporation

"Big Money" has dominated this country for 212 years and is firmly entrenched today; in 2001, plutocracy reigns supreme. To borrow a phrase from progressive historian Howard Zinn, America is "still in the hands of the elites." Their goal secured, Jay and Hamilton would jump for joy.

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Sources:

  1. Julian Borger, "Richest Cabinet in History Would Gain From Bush Tax Cuts," (London) Guardian (Feb. 27, 2001) Borger states that Boy Bush's Cabinet "is a veritable tycoons' club with seven of its members owning assets worth more than $10 million."
  2. "Bush Incorporated Is Open For Business: The All-Star, All-Corporate Corporate Cabinet," The Hightower Lowdown (Feb. 2001)
  3. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1997)
  4. Michael Parenti, Democracy for the Few (1995)
  5. Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States (1995)

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