Forum, May 8: Heading Toward an Armed Plutocracy

Monday, May 07, 2018
Heading Toward Armed Plutocracy

I feel a sense of urgency about the state of our country. We face issues that are complex and seemingly intractable: racial discrimination, criminal injustice, income disparities, health care inequities, gun violence, divisiveness, climate change and the depredation of the environment. How likely are we to deal effectively with these given the rancor among members of Congress, an impulsive president and shallow attempts coping with the issues? For citizens, our country’s factional leadership fosters social and political conflicts.

It is sobering to imagine what might happen to our country if the contentiousness deepens. I worry about the widening gap between the rich and non-rich and the rise of the national security state.

Evidence suggests a trend toward an armed plutocracy:

Polls indicate that American “confidence” in our democratic government continues to fall.

In their book Who Governs? authors James N. Druckman and Lawrence R. Jacobs found that presidents listen to the opinions of the wealthy and well-connected insiders and neglect those of most of the electorate.

A study by the Economic Policy Institute showed that between 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of all income growth in the United States went to the top 1 percent of the population. Citigroup in 2005 acknowledged that “the World is dividing into two blocs — the Plutonomy and the rest.”

In the war on terror, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon have become more entrenched enhancing the militarization of the country.

The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre has issued an alarm about a fantasized socialist takeover of the United States.

Since 9/11, privatization has metastasized as corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state.

George Washington’s warning about the dangers of factionalism is relevant: the despot’s rise would be fueled by “disorders and miseries” that would gradually push citizens “to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual.”

Bob Scobie


Entire Promise of the Constitution

Many of us believe in “law and order,” and are grateful to live in a society that works and pays to find the “perps,” particularly the most worrisome ones. We’re relieved when the authorities whisk those people away from the rest of us. We believe in the Constitution. We’re glad that the guy who is suspected of killing a Maine deputy has been brought to the station “in the name of the law.”

But most of us still believe in the entire promise of the Constitution. We believe in due process, and innocent until proven guilty and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, even when a suspect’s guilt is obvious to any kindergartner. We’ll assert that we embrace these constitutional guarantees because of our sense of fairness and justice. But in truth, most of us embrace them because they protect our own selves from abuse by government authority.

So, are we supposed to be pleased by a news photo (“Suspect in Killing of Maine Deputy Now in Custody,” April 29) of a cop’s hand pulling the suspected cop killer’s head back by the hair for a portrait? We shouldn’t be.

Stephen M. Wood


Lessons From History

A recent op-ed column about the importance of not forgetting the past, in this case the Holocaust, prompted me to look at the importance of remembering history as it applies to current events (“We Are Beginning to Forget the Holocaust,” April 23).

America still suffers from racism. After emancipation, our system became one of apartheid for African-Americans. It was the law of the land and was entrenched in our culture for 100 years, until the civil rights movement led to legislation ending the apartheid system, at least on paper. Sadly, there remains a great deal of ongoing injustice and unfinished work.

Israel, look and see: Memories do not die, but live on in cultural consciousness and are passed on in word and deed, shaping and influencing history itself.

The Holocaust was a horrific trauma, beyond comprehension. The effects of this genocide continue to the present day. The Holocaust led to the creation and restoration of a historical homeland for Jews, and reinforced the Zionist movement in a powerful way.

Israel, look and see. Learn from history. America created an apartheid system, but it could not vanquish the oppressed, and deep wounds remain unhealed. Israel today has created an apartheid state and needs to wall itself off from the people it has displaced from their homeland, the people it oppresses, the Palestinian people. If history repeats itself, where will Israel be in 100 years?

We are all children of God. It is critical for each of us to be fully informed about the current actions and policies of Israel toward the Palestinian people. We must strive to find a just peace and an end to apartheid Israel, as we continue to struggle with the inheritance of apartheid America. If Israel takes a lesson from history, it might avoid repeating the past.

Richard P. Morse


Guidance for Litterers

My husband and I just completed our spring roadside clean-up, so it is time to write my annual letter to folks who feel the need to litter. First of all, it would be ideal it you could refrain from littering. If you are unable to do, please keep this in mind: Please drink your beer from cans. It is much easier for us to retrieve cans than bottles, because the glass bottles often shatter, creating a health hazard. Also, we are able to crush the cans, which then take up less space in our wheelbarrow. We continue to appreciate when dirty diapers are placed in bags prior to throwing them out the car window.   

On a more positive note, we cleaned up twice the amount of recyclables as trash, which we will take to the recycling center.  Perhaps next time, before littering, you might consider taking a trip there on your own!

Jan Kulig