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Money Subverts Democracy – a Perfect Storm

February 7, 2014

It is a common perception that money subverts democracy. Many partial solutions are advocated but are either not in the interests of the elite, or where adopted singly do not work. It seems we are heading for a world in which huge corporations determine what laws are made and what we may do. To prevent this more radical and holistic solutions are needed.

In former times the elite ruled with the sword. Now they use money to achieve the same result without getting their hands dirty. Money buys arms, influence and instruments of repression.

Money funds political campaigning and so it benefits parties that look after the interests of the wealthy. The right are ready enough to complain about union funding of the Labour party but this pales into insignificance compared to funding by the wealthy – often through corporations.

Money funds massive lobbying exercises, such as climate change denial.

Too much research funding is provided by the private sector. Occasionally research results contrary to the interest of corporations are suppressed. More often research priorities are influenced by the profit motive rather than the common good.

The media are not balanced or objective. Their focus is often determined by the interests of their owners and advertisers. It is no so much that they lie, but that many of the really important issues are not covered properly; hence citizens receive a very distorted picture of reality. How then can they exercise their democratic rights in a sensible fashion? It is very disappointing that the BBC also manages not to cover many of the important issues. If any organisation can afford high quality investigative journalism it should be the BBC.

Inequality is rising. In part this may be because with technological advance, less labour is required. As things are it is capitalists that benefit from the technology and so there is a vicious circle in which far from wealth ‘trickling down’ it flows up. Social mobility is reduced. This is justified by the current dominant neoclassical economic theory, for which there is no empirical evidence, and which contains internal logical contradictions. Neoclassical economics claims to predict the inevitable and so morality does not come into economic decisions. If the theory were correct then morality would be irrelevant, but it is not right and ought to be challenged. wages/salary/’compensation’ levels are more often determined by power relations.

In our system money begets money. ‘ Unto those that hath shall be given; from those who hath not shall be taken even that that they hath’.

Money has captured the leadership of all the main political parties in the UK. Under most voting systems the leadership are able to impose discipline on MPs. STV would make them more beholden to voters.

International ‘free trade’ necessarily subverts national democracies. It places reliance on Intergovernmental Organisations most of which are essentially undemocratic, and dominated by corporations. A common argument for free trade is that it is ‘the engine of growth’. But endless economic growth is unsustainable. We need to adopt the Swedish motto of Lagum (‘just enough’, or ‘just the right amount’). Rather than maximising international trade, we want stability. It would help if Keynes’ plan for controlling the balance of payments had been adopted at Bretton Woods.

The right to a fair trial means nothing if you cannot pay for representation. The legal system is not fair. Corporate Personhood must be abolished.

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