Chances are you have heard or read that the Occupy and 99% movement believes there is an international inequity in wealth. What most people do not seem to understand is that the core principle of the Occupy / 99% movement does not consider the inequality in wealth itself to be wrong. The inequality that is wrong is the political power. Instead of being firmly seated with the people (the 99%), it is wielded mostly by the wealthy (the 1%). The main grievance the Occupy / 99% movement is not about wealth, it is about power. While inequity in wealth might seem to be the core complaint of the movement, the protest is really about returning democracy to what has become a plutocracy.
“Plutocracy is rule by the wealthy or power provided by wealth.” (1)
The easiest and most general way to explain the demand of the Occupy / 99% movement is to say that we want a level playing field. This is why most decisions in the Occupy / 99% movement are made by direct democracy. Within the movement, a homeless person who lives under a bridge has one vote. Within the movement, a real estate broker who lives in a half million dollar home has one vote. Unfortunately, direct democracy is not very quick to make decisions. This is why many large democracies exist as representative democracies. Instead of requiring that all decision be made by a vote of the people, the people elect representatives who can more efficiently reach decisions.
What happens when those representatives begin listening to the wealthy 1% of the people more than they listen to the rest of the people (99%)? Although it can be argued that a pure plutonomy has not existed since antiquity, when representatives pay more attention to the wealthy 1% than the rest of the people (the 99%) we have the beginning of a plutonomy and the ending of a democracy. If you believe that notion is part of a strange conspiracy theory, consider the fact that the plan has been observed not only by the 99% but by the 1% as well.
In a Citigroup “Industry Note”, dated October 16, 2005; Citigroup advised its wealthiest clients that in the United States the top 1% of households account for more wealth than the bottom 99%. That and other observations in the memo might seem purely statistical if not for the tone of the memo. At the top of the memo, we see that what we are reading is an endorsement of the growing “Plutonomy”. In the October 16 document, Citigroup explains that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada are already “key Plutonomies”.
“The World is divided into two blocks – The plutonomy and the rest. The U.S., UK, and Canada are the key Plutonomies, economies powered by the wealthy.” – Citigroup Industry Note dated October 16, 2005 (2)
The very existence of Citigroup seems to indicate their observation that the wealthy run the United States is correct. It was not until Robert E. Rubin became the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury that businesses like Citigroup were legal in the United States. After leaving his position as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin became the Chairman at Citigroup. Shortly thereafter, he resigned from that position after being compensated an estimated $126 million dollars in cash and stock. Prior to his position as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin spent 26 years with Goldman Sax. See Robert E. Rubin for more information. Citigroup is right to use the word because what word other than “Plutonomies” would describe an economy where the rich take positions within the government so they can overturn laws which prevent them from making even more money?
On March 5, 2006 Citigroup issued a follow up Industry Note (3). That note assures the 1% that they are not only in good shape, but that the economic inequity continues to grow to fuel the lifestyles of the kings of plutonomy. Citigroup created the Industry Note of March 5, 2006 to further bang the drum of plutonomy.
“We thought this was a good time to bang the drum on plutonomy.” – From Citigroup Industry Note dated March 5, 2006
While one might think the beat of that drum would change when Citigroup had serious financial problems in 2008, they did what the wealthy do in a plutonomy. They simply demanded more of the 99%. In the case of Cigitgroup they demanded a bail out and received $45 billion dollars from U.S. tax payers via the U.S. government. Why? Because Citigroup is right, we live in a Plutocracy. We live in a culture where the rich rule.
“Citigroup stayed afloat with three bailouts totaling [SIC] $45 billion in federal funds.” – New York Times (4)
Although the press reported that Citigroup CEO Prandit was receiving a token salary of only $1.00 per year, in May of 2011, Citigroup CEO was rewarded with a $23.2 million dollar “retention package” (4).
As our elected officials are not willing to do it themselves, it is time for a direct democracy to overtake the plutonomy which pretends to be a representative democracy. To rob the power from Citigroup and other big banks, simply withhold your money. Move your savings, checking, and mortgages to smaller, local savings and loans. If you have money with which to invest, do so in your own community. Drive these money changers from the temple by not bringing your money to that temple.
Every time you spend a dollar you cast a vote. Vote these people OUT.
- Plutocracy as defined at Wikipedia
- Citigroup Industry Note dated October 16, 2005
- Citigroup Industry Note dated March 5, 2006
- New York Times: Citigroup Inc. 2011 Earnings Third Quarter