Taken from April 9 Austin Chronicle editorial
by Michael Ventura
The Oxford English Dictionary‘s definition cites the clunky prose of American Political Science Review: “An oligarchy is an organization characterized by the fact that … the highest degree of authority … [is] free from control by any of the remainder of the [organization].”
“Oligarchy” is a big, bad word that defines a country we still call a republic.
The United States became an oligarchy slowly, in plain sight, without need of conspiracies. A Supreme Court ruling in 1896 granted corporations more rights than individuals. From the mid-19th century to today, town councils, state legislatures, and the federal government have given railroads, steel companies, oil companies, and the like every break possible. The outcome was what most people wanted: jobs, money, progress. The U.S. had the biggest and best commercial enterprises in history. For a while, especially after World War II, Americans lived high: Our population, just 5% or 6% of the world’s total, gobbled roughly 50% of the world’s resources.
That could not continue indefinitely.