Saturday, March 21, 2009

Too Much Power

"The rich have too much power," someone said yesterday. It is a commonly-held sentiment, but I wonder what it means? I don't know who the richest people in my town or my state are, but I doubt that they have much power over me. Town and state officials, not all elected, have much more power over me. They in turn do not necessarily have that much power to do what they want. Their power is derivative, a community consensus of what we all should be able to do and not do to each other. In that realm, the rich do have more power to do what they want to.

Yet even that is hardly unlimited, and there are ways that one can do that without having a lot of money. The power to be left alone, particularly beloved of libertarians, is sometimes accomplished in the opposite way. People limit their wealth to get off the grid, not be connected to the government or standard economy, or otherwise extricate themselves from others having power over them.

Taxation is a limitation on the power of everyone. The more your money goes into gas taxes or property taxes, the less power you have to do what you want. Further, how officials use that money to structure the society around you also has its effect. Moving to another location is an enormous power, allowing one to get away from difficult people, dangerous neighborhoods, and declining economies. Still, one has to live somewhere, and that somewhere will have its own rules and structure. Eastern Europeans move to the west. Western Europeans move to Canada, New Zealand, and the US.


Larry Sheldon said...

Ever heard of the concept of the first level veto?

It is the very bottom of the chain that is the most powerful.

If they won't do the work, maybe because there is no point in it, it won't be done.

No amount of "rich" will get the job done it the person who has to do it refuses to do it.

Anonymous said...

I am not a Marxist in any way or fashion, but the concept of surplus labor (exceeding the sum of available employment as the means to subsist) isn't that farfetched as a fundamental given (especially with unchecked immigration) - which negates any claim of thiws 'first level veto'. It's cute but totally absurd. That's not to say that the wealthiest have unbridled power over the rest of us - but to start with an assumption that the observable powerless are actually the holders of the most power (which the 'first level' implies) is beyond delusional, and would yield no credible theories or remedies for curing societies evident inequities. Cheers, Tom (btw, Yay - Spring has sprung :)

Larry Sheldon said...

Looks like dialectic to me.

If the person who has to do the work, doesn't do it, it doesn't get done. It is simple as that.

Why should he? You going to beat him? Torture him?

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the ole labeling routine - forget any logic ... not too imaginative though. Anyone else want to put in their *true* thoughts? Anyone? Hello out there(?) Cheers (and not to worry - I fully understand ;)

Larry Sheldon said...

Labeling routine? Is that what you call what you do?

There is no intelligent life here, Jim.

TomG--jump in with the last word.

I'm out.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

This argument is unfamiliar to me, but looks like it has a libertarian/Randian background.

Anonymous said...

Gee LS, ok if I must (I'd make a good slave, obeying being my gig for sure - though I still enjoy a good cerebral joust once in a while, so thanks) ... piggybacking on AVI's last label to finish my point (if there's one worth making, of course) upholding "the virtue of selfishness" is most apt for a buyer of labor when there's a vast amount of semi-, under-, and unemployed to bid on it (the price being driven down to its nadir - where the only incentive not to bid is coverage of ones subsistence, no more). Meanwhile on that same labor's side of the equation - if "virtue of selfishness" were to be interpreted by anyone as "I don't need to do such a demeaning, inadequate job", that person can waste away in delusional pride that they've "stood up to The Man" ... while other more prudent souls do that perceived grunge work and tell themselves that it will likely get better some day and they'll rise above this level to some Middle Class contentment. Sorry for being so long-winded though - definitely need my coffee! Cheers, Tom