2009 Blog Posts Politics and Leadership

The U.S. Ruling Class Needs to Upgrade its Performance or Move Aside

Like most U.S. citizens, I am prone to go long stretches of time without thinking much about the ruling class. This is due to several factors, the most important being the highly sophisticated phalanx of barriers used by members of the clan to hide their prodigious wealth, unmatched power, and pervasive influence, from public scrutiny.

The gated communities, exclusive resorts, private airports, country clubs, limited entry neighborhoods, palatial, urban safe houses, rural estates, isolated islands, and other such that they use to avoid contact with the rest of us are important components of the phalanx.

Members of the ruling class also tended to be loyally protected by the mass media minions (their employees) who shape public perception and opinion via the press, advertising, public relations, motion pictures, art, and political dialogue.

Educators routinely participate in maintaining the phalanx of protection provided the nation’s ruling class via pedagogical paradigms that conspicuously ignore the definitive ways in which the ruling class use the rest of us to facilitate their best interests. As they have since the Middle Ages, the mainstream religious establishment tends to accept and condone the current social order in ways that provide invaluable aid, comfort and protection for the ruling class.

Maybe most important, the ruling class is protected at every level of government protected by those who exercise definitive political power. There is no better proof of this truth than the current smarmy debacle taking place in Washington over the Obama administration’s proposed plans for health care reform.

Even though public opinion polls consistently confirm that a definitive majority of the nation’s citizens want a comprehensive health care system that includes a public option, and even though Democrats control the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, there is a good chance that entrenched interests favorable to the ruling class will ensure that the public interest is inadequately served.

The fact that people without health insurance, or affordable medical options, routinely die on the streets of the nation’s cities in great numbers each year, has little impact on the overall situation as regards the best interests of the ruling class versus those of the rest of us.

Thus, president George W. Bush spent much of his time in office promulgating policies beneficial to those who rule. His ruinous tax cuts are but one of the many benefits awarded to the wealthy and powerful who dominate public and private power in this nation. Moreover, it was patently clear throughout his eight years in the White House that he had little or no interest in those aspects of public policy pertinent to the best interests of average citizens.

Barack Obama has a different resume. Nonetheless, much of his time these days is being spent touting policies virtually identical to those of his predecessor. I might note the Obama administration’s approach to the current financial crisis in order to elaborate the point. The Wall Street financiers have been taken care of by the administration’s following through on the bailout strategy initially formulated by the Bush administration. Banks, corporations, and other “too big to fail” segments of the financial system, are being protected by the Obama administration in ways that are even alarming many Conservative Republicans.

All the while, members of the working class, and those trapped in the poverty required by the structure and normal operations of the economic system, are largely being ignored by the Obama administration. It might not be entirely appropriate to accuse the Obama administration of practicing “trickle down” economics. But such accusations are not entirely inaccurate.

Most of those who supported Obama’s improbable candidacy for the presidency hoped for much more. But now that the candidate of change is in office, the mantra emanating from the White House tends to be composed of Reaganesque “stay the course” platitudes. As a result, president Obama is conspicuously avoiding his opportunity to make meaningful history where the best interests of average citizens are concerned. But our problems extend beyond the fragile ego, timid policies, and vague legislative aspirations of President Barack Obama.

Our key problem is that we are being led by a class of people who don’t have a clue about which policies to pursue in order to provide sounder, healthier, balanced, productive lives for the majority of the people who reside in this nation. Drunk with power, wallowing in wealth of the sort that could only be envied by ancient kings, they are largely out of touch with reality as experienced by average citizens.

When they discuss major social problems such inadequate health care, endemic hunger, homelessness, criminally under funded educational systems, and the appalling lack of working-class jobs necessary for basic survival, it is obvious that the vast majority of them might as well be addressing unicorns and wizards. From the perspective of those who are more familiar with hunger and desperate prospects than are their privileged rulers , the casual, slovenly nature of their dialogue is startling, if not terribly frightening.

Desultory ruling class leadership is not new. As a matter of fact, weak, unfocused, self-centered leadership has been the group’s forte for generations. But in the past, the U.S. had more room for error, and the hard-working millions who compose the working classes generally proved sufficient productivity to nullify the inadequacies of those who consider themselves our betters.

The unified, global economy has changed the equation. Nation’s with weak, clueless leaders pay a steep price these days. And those that prove incapable of appropriately addressing their problems end up mired in massive, structural poverty of the sort commonly associated with Third World failed states.

Given this, president Obama’s recent trip to Asia should be seen as a bad omen regarding the immediate future of the United States. The loyal, see-no-evil mainstream press lauded the trip as just another instance of the U.S. president touching bases with adoring, subordinate nations situated on the periphery of the American Empire. But there was more serious business afoot than the neo-colonial fantasies of the obedient minions employed by the mainstream press.

From the Asian perspective, Obama’s trip was a form of official acknowledgement that the U.S. is in the process of losing control of its economic destiny. As a result, Obama’s most important efforts were focused on getting Asia’s expansively wealthy leaders to believe that the once highly admired, and soberly feared, economy has not run terminally aground.
In short, the U.S. president was on a begging mission.

If the Japanese, Chinese, and other wealthy Asians, decide that investing in the U.S. is not worth the trouble because of the nation’s faltering economic system, much of what we have come to know as the American-way-of-life will become as much a symbolic relic of monumentally incompetent leadership as is the former Soviet Union. President Obama was graciously received during the public segments of his Asian sojourn. But I am rather certain that he didn’t convince any of those who heard his deferential commentary that they need worry any time soon about the U.S. altering its surprisingly precipitous slide toward economic dependency.

Thus, it seems reasonable to me to conclude that it is just a matter of time until they pull the plug on the flow of funds that have helped keep the U.S. economy viable during recent decades. When and if this occurs, the consequences will be highly destructive for tens of millions of average Americans in ways that make the current recession appear mild in comparison.

Given this, it is clear that the time has come for the U.S. ruling-class to radically upgrade its overall performance pertinent to the nation’s social, economic and political destiny. Moreover, if its members are too busy perusing their stock options, trust accounts, tax breaks, foreign investments and expanding fortunes to radically upgrade their performance in ways which take the best interests of the rest of us into account, they need to step aside—because the rest of us can no afford the luxury of carrying them, while ignoring the massively inadequate nature of their destabilizing, clueless leadership.

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Robert Terrell

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