Sunday, July 28, 2013

Towering economic separation erodes the effectiveness of public opinion activism

By Denis Rancourt

A good street demonstration is not what it use to be, in terms of its impact. Likewise, petitions and letters to politicians just don't cut it any more. A YouTube video can, in rare cases, get a cop investigated and put on paid leave, but that is about as far as it goes. Don't think about systemic changes.

There is tremendous opinion opposition to injustices of all kinds but none of it seems to matter.

When the wealthy are so wealthy that they live in separate realities, completely disconnected from the middle and lower classes, and even from the upper middle class, then there is no vehicle of social pressure to be equitable towards others. The wealthy become untouchable and buy political power to serve their own desires.

There is undoubtedly a causal link between towering mega-salaries and mega-profits of international entities and their top managers and overseers, on the one hand, and the ineffectiveness of public opinion activism, on the other hand.

The more the elite are financially able to live in a separate and independent universe, the more this elite is indifferent to the howlings of the lower strata of the economic pyramid.

In any plutocracy such as ours, the ratio between the wealth of the elite and the economic means of the average worker is the best indicator of the extent to which complaints and opinions from the basement can have any influence at all in the penthouse. The higher the ratio of, say, executive salaries to worker salaries, the greater the mistreatment and dissatisfaction of ordinary people, and the more stunning the examples of individual injustices.

One might have the impression that public opinion activism boosted by mainstream media coverage can be somewhat effective, but this is merely an impression. The mainstream media is entirely a management tool of the elite. Allowed stories are approved messages to the managers, who know to apply cosmetic methods while preserving and strengthening the status of the elite. A particular incident of injustice may be treated, but without in any way threatening business as usual. The opinion fire is put out in such a way as to apply a chill on any more demands.

The single most effective financial policy change to increase democracy and justice in our society, would be to roll back the obscene salaries and bonuses of the elite, and the obscene profits and capital mobilities of their corporations. The more the ruling (real and corporate) persons are connected to others, the more fairness becomes a norm.

This is because economic isolation breeds contempt. The more the wealthy are wealthy, the more they can buy out, directly and indirectly, all the players in the institutions, that might otherwise create some equity in following public pressures. The more the wealthy are wealthy, and the more managers' salaries are high, the less public pressures are pressures at all.

There is a direct and causal link between towering economic separation and social and civil injustice. If the mayor of the town and the town councilors do not live in the town, then the townsfolk cannot expect to have much say in municipal management policies. Wealth gaps and towering wealth disparities are poison. Extreme class separation enables extreme class oppression.