By Chet Yarbrough
Rights of Man
By Thomas Paine
Narrated by Arthur Morey
Thomas Paine (Author 1737-1809)
It seems time today to read Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man”. Though his primary purpose is to refute Edmund Burke’s condemnation of the 1789 French revolution, his observations on British Aristocracy are the essence of today’s American “moneyocracy”.
Though President Trump is not the originator of American “moneyocracy”, he is its quintessential representative.
In spite of recent mass murders by demented Americans, Trump insists on giving voice to the NRA’s belief in an American right to buy automatic weapons designed only to kill people.
It takes money to run a campaign for public office. Trump, like most politicians, panders to lobbyist’ and business’ interests that distort the American electoral process.
The appeal of Trump has to do with American’s desire to be left alone. Whether a misogynist, a gun toting individualist, a federal tax cheat, or an independent morally upright American, many believe that is their right. Trump exemplifies the right to be left alone.
Beginning with congress’s approval of tax reform, America’s ballooning deficit is a direct consequence of a mistaken belief that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Contrary to the tired refrain “jobs, jobs, jobs” to make “America Great Again”, the current administration is setting the table for the world’s next economic crises.
The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations are an amorphous scream of disgust by an educated population that resents American “moneyocracy’s” control of the economy, elected representatives, the election system, and the “Rights of Man”. “Moneyocracy” is an inheritable line of an American aristocracy.
Instead of 18th century Aristocratic control of British government, 21st century America substitutes the wealth of individuals and corporations (classified as individuals) to control American Democracy. This is not a partisan issue in America.
Every President, Republican or Democratic, has sided with corporate interests in this era of corporate largess. The world is in a state of economic upheaval that is fueled by technology. That economic upheaval is not adequately addressed by corporate America. The government continues to subsidize yesterday’s economy at the expense of middle and lower income citizens.
Management executives that are employees of corporate America take salaries 50 times or more than salaries of their average employee.
The new controller of our economy, the primary interest group of elected representatives, and the master of the American election system is corporate America.
Wealth is the new hereditary right of succession. Corporate America is the thief and ruler of inherent “Rights of Man”.
Once individual compensation reaches beyond rationality, money becomes fuel to maintain America’s “Moneyocracy”, the new hereditary right of succession.
The controller of our economy and political representation is corporate America.
The primary interest group of elected representatives, the master of the American election system, and ultimately, the thief and ruler of inherent “Rights of Man” are corporations and the super-rich. Of course, the rich have always been in control of American government. However, now the rich are not just singular individuals. They are corporations classified as individuals.
The Supreme Court in “Citizens United v Federal Election Commission” in 2010 rules that corporations are individuals.
The Supreme Court’s unwise decision based on freedom of speech identifies corporations as persons. With that nose in Democracy’s tent, corporations could offer millions of dollars to election campaigns. What human being cannot be influenced by such largess? Excessive executive compensation perpetuates “moneyocracy”, but corporate influence is the cause of the loss of the “Rights of Man”.
Tax change is a smoke screen that obscures the real danger of American decline in the 21st century. It is too blunt an instrument to bludgeon the rich. It smacks of false patriarchy and jingoist rhetoric.
American history shows that Americans believe that hard work is the source of success but being American does not guarantee a free ride. Equal opportunity is where America fails.
Education, anti-discrimination legislation, and equality of opportunity have to be strengthened. Corporate America needs to step up. Corporations need to quit wasting money influencing legislators and invest in human rights.
Corporations need to subsidize education by re-training their employees to meet changes wrought by technology.
Corporations must insist on equal treatment of employees, by gender and/or ethnicity. The government needs to re-enforce equal opportunity for all.
America needs to return to the ideals of equal opportunity by allowing entrepreneurs to create wealth through human productivity. Money is not an end but it has become an end that has no end; i.e. high salaries perpetuate themselves through an Aristocratic “moneyocracy”. If one says they make a $1,000,000 a year they are saying they are better then someone who makes $10,000 or $100,000 a year. Salaried compensation is perceived as human value.
Denying salaries that exceed 50 times average employee compensation is not denying the creation of wealth. Entrepreneurs that create productive companies that grow to multi-billion dollar enterprises have opportunity to become billionaires; not from salaries, but from building human productivity that creates wealth.
“Occupy Wall Street” is an unlikely precursor of another American Revolution; however, it may be a symptom of an American cancer that debilitates productive life without killing the patient. “Occupying Wall Street” is not a hippie “sit in” but a plea for reform of American “moneycracy” just as Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” was a plea for reform of Aristocratic inheritance.
ADDENDUM: Does the “right to be left alone” extend to pandemics? The question is raised when it comes to a pandemic that has killed over 783,000 people in the United States as of November 15, 2021. (Statistics provided by “worldometer”, a reference website that provides real-time statistics. Considered the best free reference website by the American Library Association.)