It irritates me every time I hear a so-called Liberal, who ought to know better, repeat the cliche about “government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich”. That formulation is wrong, and it studiously avoids the real issue.
The fact is that we have government of the people, by the politicians, for the wealthy. This statement bears information and implications that the cliche formulation lacks.
In the first place, it is all of us who are being governed, who suffer or gain from the actions and policies of our government.
Secondly, it is not we, and not the wealthy, who govern us, but rather the representatives of the wealthy, the politicians whom the wealthy choose and promote as candidates, and with whom they stay in direct communication while in office. (True, many politicians are themselves wealthy, and govern in such a a way as to support their own interests.)
And thirdly, we are all governed in such a way as to promote and enhance the interests of the wealthy, which of course includes their corporate and financial interests, as well as the general goals of their social class. We are not governed in a way that supports the interests of the people at large.
In other words, our form of government is best described as a representative plutocracy: the wealthy govern through their representatives.
One obvious implication of this state of affairs is that there really is “class warfare” in America, and it is not only seriously pursued, but truly effective. It is effective because the wealthy choose and direct the politicians, and because they own and direct the use of all the news and entertainment media that select and frame the issues that form our view of reality.
Evidence of class warfare can be found in the huge and growing disparities in income and wealth, the shifting of tax burdens from the wealthy to lower-income citizens, the rampant privatization of public funds, the diversion of resources away from public welfare and publicly-used infrastructure, the bailing out of private organizations without public benefit, and the existence of a class of marauding corporate executives who drift from corporation to corporation, soaking up enormous salaries and benefits.
All this should be apparent to any wide awake observer. So, the next time you hear someone refer to “government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich”, you should wonder why he or she is willing only to hint at the truth, rather than expressing it directly. Who is served by such reticence?