Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The American oligarchy myth reappears as frequently as Bigfoot

Myths are created to explain or mystify. The existance of an oligarchy that controls government in the United States is one such myth that appears more frequently than Sasquatch.

Politicians running for office describe this oligarchy as secretly running government in the United States. This is, of course, utterly silly. But using this myth appeals to voters who apparently don't know anything about how our country is governed. Then again, I have to admit that sometimes I find myself drawn in when I find some public policy offensive, until I think about our government.

We have 50 state governments which are run by 18,749 elected officials most of whom aren't members of anything resembling an oligarchy. (There are another 500,000+ elected local officials but that's another topic.)

Because of the "Tea Party Effect" of the past decade, the majority of these state governments are implementing populist right wing policies.

In fact, 23 of the States are Republican trifectas where both legislative houses are Republican controlled and the Governor is a Republican.

It is important to acknowledge that 34 states have Republican Governors, Republicans control 33 of the state lower chambers and 35 of the state senates (and the Nebraska unicameral legislature).  Those Republican legislatures and governors disable programs like Obamacare and try to implement extremely conservative social legislation.

Because populist right wing activist voters aren't easily distracted by shiny iStuff or the latest organic carrot petfood like lefties, they earned that control by working diligently every week rather than briefly every four years.

Despite the fact that many of my fellow lefties think the populist right is uninformed, the populist right wing clearly understands that the way to take control of government is from the bottom up, not the top down.

The populist right wing took control the House of Representatives, members of which are elected from Districts which districts are designed (gerrymandered) by Republican legislatures.

The fact is that in terms of direct revenue, the federal government collects about $3.3 trillion which is Constitutionally controlled by the House of Representatives, while states and their local governments collect about $3.3 trillion Constitutionally controlled by those Republican State officials.

Presidents don't have the ability to determine how all that money is spent. They can recommend, but per the Constitution federal appropriation measures are initiated in the House of Representatives and state expenditures aren't even in the President's field of vision.

With or without the President's input, the federal government spends about $0.6 trillion of that on military costs, $0.7 trillion on Medicare costs, $0.6 trillion on Medicaid costs, $1.2 trillion in Social Security/retirement payments, etc. State expenditures on education is about $1.0 trillion. Together they spend $0.3 trillion on transportation, $0.4 trillion on low-income programs (welfare, unemployment, etc.), and more than we can imagine.

We lefties every four years see some shiny iCandidate that we just must have as President so that he/she can experience the frustration resulting from our irresponsible neglect of the real, complex American government.

How did your state lower house representative and your state senator vote on your state's participation in the expansion of Medicare or implementation of Obamacare? Do you know?

It's both silly and convenient to blame whatever is wrong with our government policies on some oligarchy. Most of us need only look in the mirror to see what's wrong with our government.

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