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2016 Theme #2: the Hollow Shell of Democracy

2016 Theme #2: the Hollow Shell of Democracy

This week I am addressing themes I see playing out in 2016.

A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the hollowing out of democracy globally.

Democracy has three distinct states of being: formal, in actual practice and informal. Nations that claim the mantle of democracy typically mix features of all three varieties.

Formal democracy is the machinery of legislation and elections. Actual practice is how the machinery functions in the real world. Informal democracy is advocacy via direct action–protests, local movements and spontaneous mass expressions of outrage/disavowal of the status quo.

Formal democracies are being hollowed out. Within the hollow shell of formal democracy, wealthy elites purchase influence and lobbyists so regulation and legislation either actively advance their interests or imposes limits that are easily bypassed or negated in actual practice

For example, the formal machinery of democracy generates tax statutes, but in actual practice, super-wealthy individuals and entities are laws unto themselves: The Oligarch Tax Bracket: How The Tax Rate For The Wealthiest 400 Americans Plunged From 27% To 17% (Zero Hedge)

For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions (New York Times)

With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.

In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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