Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Real Ruling Class

Is there a ruling class in our world? Surely, there have been castes or classes in the past, with some ruling and extracting the product of the labor of others, while others must obey and be exploited.

Marxists say there is such a class and that it is the capitalists. Others think that insofar as the power of capital rests on voluntary market transactions, the ideas of "ruling" and "exploitation" do not really apply here. Others look for more mysterious, hard-to-see rulers. Who really rules us? Is it the Trilateral Commission? The Jews? The Bavarian Illuminati? Each theory is more arcane than the last.

I think the answer to the question is the one that is right under your nose. Consider the very words, "ruling class." Who literally rules you? Who has the power de facto to extract wealth from you without your consent and even against your wishes?

The answer of course is the state, the government and its employees (see also the above graph, click to enlarge). For most its history and prehistory, the human race has lived in stateless societies, in conditions that were very primitive but also very equal. With the birth of the state, extreme political and economic inequality comes about. Primitive states were often frankly wealth-extraction devices and had virtually no other declared function. Modern states have evolved considerably and, I admit, do some things that are for the common good.

The wonder of it is that, though this answer is screamingly obvious, it is almost never given. Looking to see who the real overlords and masters of the Earth are, people consider everything but the obvious.

My point here is not (yet) to judge or blame. Maybe these people deserve all this wealth and power. My point here is the irrefultably obvious one: that they do indeed have them, staggering amounts of them, and that they are gaining on the rest of us day by day.

Beyond that, my only point is that we probably should not give them any more than they already have. It is in this context that I view the health care reform bills now before congress. Any one of them would surely be one of the largest gains in government power in the history of the republic.
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