On The Money
Financial Advice for the Working-Class
Democracy is Overrated
Winston Churchill once said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” I’m sure people haven’t gotten any smarter in the last half-century, and neither has democracy. I know some people still think that democracy is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I sure don’t see the evidence of it. What has democracy done for you lately? Do you ever remember a time when democracy worked? I sure don’t.
I was about four I guess, when a news bulletin interrupted one of my favorite TV shows, Captain Kangaroo, to tell the world that Robert Kennedy had been shot. “Kennedy’s been shot” was already a familiar phrase in my limited lexicon.
As far as I remember, no one ever really liked the Vietnam war, yet it dragged on forever, it seemed. I remember, at 12, sitting through hours of incredibly boring televised testimony that preempted everything on TV, trying to figure out what a water gate was. I knew it had something to do with Nixon cheating in his re-election campaign, and that our president was a crook.
I remember a peanut farmer giving us the hard truth about fossil fuels and telling us what we needed to do to prepare for the future. That was just about the same time Pink Floyd’s album Animals came out. I remember that the American people resoundingly said “Fuck the future, gimme more now!” and voted for a cowboy actor who promised to lie to them, just after The Wall had peaked.
I remember the Iran/Contra scandal. I remember fabricated threats, and real violence in places like Grenada, Panama, and Nicaragua. I remember massive increases in military spending, while they demonized the poor. The word “Homelessness” joined our common lexicon, and it became a condition of life for millions of Americans. I remember that Reagan drastically raised taxes on waiters, waitresses and bartenders by taxing their tips, and that he gutted college grant funds. As a waiter, putting myself through college at the time, you can imagine how much I appreciated that.
As far as I can tell, Reagan got reelected four more times, by the same idiots who elected him the first time. Clinton proved that he, like Reagan, was elected specifically to lie to us, when he remained popular even as Congress impeached him for lying to Congress. We didn’t care. We knew we were living a fantasy, why shouldn’t he? We didn’t care that Bill Clinton got a little nookie on the side, we didn’t care that he lied about it. We were just disappointed that Monica Lewinsky wasn’t hotter.
Around the millennium, people began to realize that Jimmy Carter was right about a few things, and that those solar panels that he put on the White House were actually a pretty good idea. The American people almost put a (sort of) environmentalist in the Oval Office in 2000, but things got ugly in Florida and the Supreme Court handed the presidency to GW Bush. The American people just shrugged.
After eight long years of war, torture, civil rights abuses, human rights abuses, mortgage fraud, economic collapse, and bank bailouts, the American people finally united behind the first African-American president in history, and we could hardly be more disappointed with him.
All of the problems that I remember as a child; pollution, smog, poverty, deforestation, overfishing and technological warfare, have only gotten worse, and we have a whole bunch of new problems, like homelessness, unaffordable health care, and an uber-class that just sucks the life out of everything. That doesn’t sound to me like democracy is working. It sure doesn’t feel like democracy is working. It might be working for somebody, but its not working for me, or anyone I know.
I’m not saying that saying that communism or socialism or even monarchy or dictatorship would improve things, I’m saying that the only thing that all 300 million of us can agree on, is that the majority of Americans are idiots. Democracy is the process whereby we let those idiots run our lives.
Yes, democracy amounts to a dictatorship of the dumb, a gulag of the gullible and a republic of the retarded. Forget about the nonsense that it takes an intelligent, informed public for democracy to succeed. Democracy succeeds by turning stupidity into power that only money can wield. It’s time to face the fact that, although it seems like a great theory, democracy really doesn’t work in practice, either.