Archive for May, 2017

On Inequality

May 11, 2017

Since at least, the bought and paid for result in Bush v Gore (2000), a saying of mine has been, “Never has an increase in public cynicism failed to benefit the Republican”.   Today, reading Joseph Stieglitz The Price of Inequality, he explains it in easy-to-understand terms.  On p. 120:

If the belief takes hold that the political system is stacked, that it’s unfair, individuals will feel released from the obligations of civic virtue… In the United States today and in many other democracies around the world, mistrust is ascendant.

The irony is that the wealthy who seek to manipulate the political system for their own ends welcome such an outcome.  Those who turn out to vote are those who see the political system working, or at least working for them. …

Moreover, if voters have to be induced to vote because they are disillusioned, it becomes expensive to turn out the vote; the more disillusioned they are the more it costs. But the more money that is required, the more power that the moneyed interests wield.  For those with money, spending to shape the political process is not a matter of civic virtue; it is an investment, from with they demand (and get) a return … That, in turn increases the sense of disillusionment that pervades the rest of the electorate and boosts the power of money further.

I’d leave it there but for an anecdote.  I’ve volunteered to make phone calls for John Wisniewski, NJ Assemblyman, and a candidate for the June 6 Democratic primary.     We use a robo-dialer with prepared lists of likely supporters or likely persuadable.  On the evening before the first TV debate we were using the latter.   I happened on a citizen whose standard reply was “they’re all crooks”.   Realize this is not an opportunity to debate with such an attitude, I offered that she might challenge herself and tune in and see how she felt after the debate.   “They’re all crooks” — Thank you for your time.

At the risk of disappointing my candidate and supporters, having watched the debate on Stockton University’s Facebook live stream, I’ll offer this judgement:  the least among the Democrats will be a much better public servant than any of the Republicans.    A bit of background. My support for Wisniewski is for his being the Assembly leader in the “Bridgegate” investigation, attempting to hold Gov Christie responsible for the actions of his immediate subordinates.   Wisniewski’s strongest points, in summary, are his plan to right the state’s troubled pension system, protect our environment, make good the Irene/Sandy recovery,  and reduce the influence of the state’s political county chairs.    I think he was unique among the four Democrats in calling for eliminating one of the state’s standard tests, the PARC, which he says the test-preparation costa the students and teachers 15 days/yr of valuable education time.  Depending which poll you follow, he’s either 2nd or 3rd, behind Phil Murphy, the latest Goldman Sachs gubernatorial candidate.   I’m feeling good about my choice.

So, bottom line, I’m invigorated by a Nobel Prize economist having illuminated the cause of political cynicism.   It’s important to me …