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Word of the week “Plutocracy”

January 19, 2011 Comments off

Definition of PLUTOCRACY

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

Examples of PLUTOCRACY

  1. If only the wealthy can afford to run for public office, are we more a plutocracy than a democracy?
  2. corporate greed and America’s growing plutocracy

The term “plutocracy” is formally defined as government by the wealthy, and is also sometimes used to refer to a wealthy class that controls a government, often from behind the scenes. More generally, a plutocracy is any form of government in which the wealthy exercise the preponderance of political power, whether directly or indirectly.Plutocracy may also have social and cultural aspects. Thus, in Democracy for the Few political scientist Michael Parenti is led to comment “American capitalism represents more than just an economic system; it is an entire cultural and social order, a plutocracy, a system of rule that is mostly by and for the rich. Most universities and colleges, publishing houses, mass circulation magazines, newspapers, television and radio stations, professional sports teams, foundations, churches, private museums, charity organizations, and hospitals are organized as corporations, ruled by boards of trustees (or directors or regents) composed overwhelmingly of affluent businesspeople. These boards exercise final judgment over all institutional matters.”The question of whether or not the United States could be said to be a plutocracy is discussed at length in Who Rules America, by sociologist G. William Domhoff. There Domhoff remarks: “The idea that a relatively fixed group of privileged people might shape the economy and government for their own benefit goes against the American grain. Nevertheless . . . the owners and top-level managers in large income-producing properties are far and away the dominant power figures in the United States. Their corporations, banks, and agribusinesses come together as a corporate community that dominates the federal government in Washington. Their real estate, construction, and land development companies form growth coalitions that dominate most local governments.” In the US, plutocratic governance is abetted by mass media owned by the hyperwealthy and operated in their own economic self-interest, the failure to provide public financing to political candidates, poor oversight of the electoral process, elitist Supreme Court appointments, the organization of wealth into socially-irresponsible corporations, the collapse of meaningful regulatory regimes, plutocratically financed “think tanks” (propaganda distribution centers), and an impoverished educational system that has failed utterly to provide Americans with the elements of political literacy (all of which have their foundations in philosophy).

Obama Eyeing Internet ID for Americans

January 10, 2011 Comments off

STANFORD, Calif. – President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

It’s “the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government” to centralize efforts toward creating an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.

That news, first reported by CNET, effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The move also is likely to please privacy and civil liberties groups that have raised concerns in the past over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies.

The announcement came at an event today at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, where U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Schmidt spoke.

The Obama administration is currently drafting what it’s calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

“We are not talking about a national ID card,” Locke said at the Stanford event. “We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.” Read more…