"We have witnessed the emergence of the Age of Oligarchy"

"...Wall Street grandees, many of whom should have spent the past years studying the inside of jail cells for their misbehavior, are only bothered by how to spend their ill-gotten earnings, and how not to pay taxes on it.

...There is the diminished role for small business, greater concentration of financial assets, and a troubling decline in home ownership. On a cultural level, there is a general malaise about the prospect for upward mobility for future generations.

...It was born from a confluence of forces: globalization, the financialization of the economy, and the shift towards digital technology.

...both political parties are to blame[, supported by] ...Wall Street traders, venture capitalists and tech executives -- who benefit most from the federal bailouts, cheap money, low interest rates, and low capital gains tax rates.  

...“Quantitative easing,” the government’s purchase of financial assets from commercial banks, essentially constituted a “too big to fail” windfall to the largest Wall Street firms.  By 2011, pay for executives at the largest banking firms hit new records, just three years after the financial “wizards” left the world economy on the brink of economic catastrophe. Meanwhile, as “too big to fail” banks received huge bailouts, the ranks of  community banks continues dropping to the lowest number since the 1930s...

...politically connected banks received larger bailouts from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis than financial institutions that spent less or nothing on lobbying and contributions to political campaigns.

...“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,” Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis once noted, “but we can't have both.”

...The vast majority recognize the reality of crony capitalism and understand that government contracts go to the politically connected. More troubling still, less than one third believe the country even operates under a free market system. Most suspect that the American dream is falling increasingly out of reach. By margins of more than two to one, Americans say they enjoy fewer economic opportunities than their parents, and that their offspring will have far less job security and disposable income.    

...American politics has ceased to function as a rising democracy and come to resemble an emerging plutocracy. These days, political choice is fought over by dueling groups of billionaires appealing to right and left to see who will best look after their interests.

...influence buying from both parties undermines the very structure of the democratic system as well as a competitive economy. It allows specific interests ...to make or break candidates.

...there comes a time -- as occurred in the early years of the last century and again in the 1930s -- when the political economy so poorly serves the vast majority that it ignites a political prairie fire.

...if the corrupt bargain between the oligarchs and the political class goes unbroken, the wait may not be long."


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