Charting the American Oligarchy – How 0.01% of the Population Contributes 42% of All Campaign Cash

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

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This is an economic fight, but this is also a political fight. The biggest financial institutions aren’t just big – they wield enormous political power. Last December, Citibank lobbyists wrote an amendment to Dodd-Frank and persuaded their friends in Washington to attach it to a bill that had to pass or the government would have been shut down. And when there was pushback over the amendment, the CEO of JPMorgan, Jamie Dimon, personally got on the phone with Members of Congress to secure their votes. How many individuals who are looking for a mortgage or a credit card could make that call? How many small banks could have their lobbyists write an amendment and threaten to shut down the US government if they didn’t get it? None. Keep in mind that the big banks aren’t trying to make the market more competitive; they just want rules that create more advantages for themselves. The system is rigged and those who rigged it want to keep it that way.

– From Senator Elizabeth Warren’s excellent speech: “The Unfinished Business of Financial Reform”

This is probably one of the most important posts I’ll write all year. The reason is because in order to displace the current paradigm, the public needs to deeply and intellectually understand exactly where the real cancer resides.

I never liked the saying: “We are the 99%.” While admittedly catchy and effective as a slogan, I think it is ultimately divisive and counterproductive. The reason I say this is because the statement itself alienates much needed allies for no good reason.

In a country with a population of 320 million, the 1% represents 3.2 million people, which is a pretty big number. While the 1% certainly have far superior material lives compared to the 99%, that doesn’t mean a particularly large percentage of them are thieves, cronies or oligarchs. In fact, it behooves people interested in transitioning to another paradigm to court as many of them as possible to the cause. It is very useful to have well meaning people with resources and connections on your side. To blithely assume there aren’t plenty of potential allies from a pool of 3.2 million is committing strategic suicide. Indeed, John Hancock came from one of the wealthiest families in the American colonies in the run up to the Revolution, yet he isn’t remembered by history for his family’s tremendous wealth, but for his signature:

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The moment you proudly espouse, “I am the 99%,” you are being tribal and open yourself up to irrational thought. You are essentially saying 3.2 million of your countrymen and women are in some way the enemy merely because of their income. You are lumping a lot of very decent — albeit wealthy — people inappropriately into the oligarch bucket. While many of them are indeed oligarch wannabes or their well paid henchmen, many of them are not. You create a barrier between yourselves and them. This works to make many of the 1% reflexively align with each other when they should be aligning with you. It’s a pretty stupid strategy to alienate millions of people you know nothing about.

The root of the problem is the oligarchy, run by, well, oligarchs. Here is how I defined the term in the post: Inside the Mind of an Oligarch – Sheldon Adelson Proclaims “I Don’t Like Journalism.”

In a nutshell, while many oligarchs are extremely wealthy (or have access to extreme wealth), not all people with extreme wealth are oligarchs. The term oligarch is reserved for those with extreme wealth who also want to control the political process, policy levers and most other aspects of the lives of the citizenry in a top-down tyrannical and undemocratic manner. They think they know best about pretty much everything, and believe unelected technocrats who share their worldview should be empowered so that they can unilaterally make all of society’s important decisions. The unwashed masses (plebs) in their minds are unnecessary distractions who must to be told what to do. Useless eaters who need to be brainwashed into worshipping the oligarch mindset, or turned into apathetic automatons incapable or unwilling to engage in critical thought. Either outcome is equally acceptable and equally encouraged.

So oligarchs are the problem, but there aren’t 3.2 million of them. In case you missed it the first time around, I discussed this in the post, Where Does the Real Problem Reside? Two Charts Showing the 0.01% vs. the 1%. In that piece, I highlighted the following chart, which showed how the 1% has more or less been treading water while the wealth of the 0.01% has exploded in recent years:

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While that chart is disturbing in its own right, over the weekend, I came across another one that simply blew me away. It was from Palo Alto based political data compiling company CrowdPac, and it showed the percentage of political contributions emanating from the 0.01% of income earners. Here is what it showed:

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You’ll notice a couple of trends from the chart above, but one that is crystal clear is that although the trend has been higher for decades, it hit escape velocity since the bailouts (and the Citizens United decision). These two things resulted in an increased concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the oligarchy (the bailouts), and provided an avenue for this wealth and power to be wielded (Citizens United). The bailouts did very little to help the American economy, but served as a mind-boggling windfall for the plutocracy.

There are roughly 250 million adults in America, so 0.01% of that is about 25,000 people. I would argue even this number is too high. In fact, I want to find out information about what percentage of political contributions come from the 0.001%. That number will probably get us much closer to the root of the problem. It is far more possible and efficient to closely monitor 2,500 people as opposed to 25,000. After all, 25,000 people don’t regularly call Congress and get the specific legislation they want passed. 25,000 people don’t have a direct line to the Federal Reserve, but people like Jamie Dimon do, and it is these people we must watch like hawks. If we can zero in on the 2,500 wealthiest people, we can also efficiently pick out the worst offenders, as opposed to just demonizing people based on wealth, even within the 0.001%. You can’t easily separate the good from the bad with a sample of 25,000 people, but you can with 2,500 (and that smaller group has much more pull anyway).

Far fewer people are calling the shots in America than you could ever imagine, and we must zero in with laser like precision on them, as opposed to alienating 3.2 million people. A more accurate slogan would be: “We are not the Oligarchy.” 

For related articles, see:

Portrait of the American Oligarchy – The Very Troubling Income and Wealth Trends Since 1989

When Asked if the U.S. is a Capitalist Democracy or Oligarchy, Janet Yellen Can’t Answer…

New Report from Princeton and Northwestern Proves It: The U.S. is an Oligarchy

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  • fritz

    ANYHOW , nice Numbers laying bare (?) , the “CORRUPTABILITY” of campaigning CANDIDATE – PRETENDERS !!! The systemic INADEQUATY lies in the QUESTION ; to WHOM “their LOYALTY” tends ?. Is it with their “Mass of VOTERS” ; or more psychologically : Do they “sing the “TUNES”; of those , Who fed THEM” , and have them on their List of Wages `? YOUR JUDGEMENT !!!

    • Bob

      I tried three times to read that. I still got nothing.

      • fritz

        i AM REALLY SORRY , but this Comment , written in the ancient Greek Philosophical TERMS of “ARISTOTELIC IDEA” uses “DIALECTIC” and not the antiquated “NARRATIVES” off the biblical LANGUAGE ! Every IDEA / WORD there , is measured by its “REALITY” and it is only true , when “IDEA & REALITY are identic” !!! EVERY COMMON GUY knows the “DIFFERENCE” between “TRUTH & LIE” ! Use your EXPERIENCE !

        • JoJosephson

          Sophist dreck from the propagandist and self-impressed academe world contained within our institutions of lower living…either that or some wannabe that wants to run a reeducation camp.

          • fritz

            Poor selfdeclared KM -serf , Being not able to Identify the TRUTH ! Your BABYLON – Translation of “Dreck” , is pitiful , as all of Youe Tribes Actions are ! Try a Real Dictionary or much better — “KEEP YOUR TRAP SHOT UP” !!!

          • animalogic

            Fritz, i think i get what you mean, and it has merit. However, and please dont be offended your writing style can be a little opaque. I maybe be wrong here, but i think you are trying to express yourself through a poetic style. Its no reflection on you to note that poetry is by far the most demanding forrm of written communication there is. Anyway, keep at it.

          • fritz

            Thank You , for helping to clear up the Differnce between the , especially american Way of resolving “Everyday Problems” , by using knowledge offered from “Natural Science” .This “Technic” straightly aims at the Purpose ; without “Considering possible unwanted CONSEQUENCES” ! Contrary & far beyond this “Materialistic Way of THINKING (?)”, Exists the commonly Unknown and Unwanted “Spiritual IDEA – LISM” ; based on “Personal RESPONSIBILITY for All DEEDS” , humans Enact !

          • JoJosephson

            I rest my case.

          • fritz

            Keep in Mind , the intellectual “ZEITGEIST” IS NO CHALLENGE FOR THE “ETERNAL WELTGEIST” !!!

          • JoJosephson

            Congratulations, you get to be “right.” Have fun with that.

          • fritz

            Seems you got it “right” ; — only by using “emotional Intelligence & a little “bias” !

  • Great article and topic Washington’s Blog, and this article surly fits with yours today!

    April 20, 2015 Battlefield America: The War on the American People

    As I document in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, “we the people” have now come full circle, from being held captive by the British police state to being held captive by the American police state.

    • fritz

      There is much room for extending the revolutionary MOVEMENT ! What We experience today on a “GLOBAL SCALE” literally could be circumscribed as “JUDGEMENT DAY” ! PINK FLOYD , in their Album “DIVISION BELL” gave us a believeable Hint of the ALL -, EVERYTHING – & EVERYONE – changing “MOMENT” , We are In ! “Imagining intellectual MATERIALISTS” interpreted JUDGEMENT DAY as a cruell “SLAUGHTERING”; – therefore their Run to the most sophisticated WEAPONS ! “DEVELOPMENT & PRODUCTION” paid by oppressed TAXPAYERS ! In Reality “JUDGEMENT DAY” refers to the “humanity of HUMANS” ! It’s the TIME of “UNCOVERING the VEILED LIES” & the “APPEARANCE of TRUTH” ! “EXCLUDE, and You have excludet Your Self” , this simple Principle , is the “absolute unchangeable MEASUREMENT of the SPIRIT” !

      • Agreed, but we are dealing with evil as you can hear for yourself, and that evil is government lifetime bureaucrats!

        America’s Future NOW! Conference 06-09-2010 Van Jones addresses the Conference. “. . . this week will mark an historic inflection point when progressives decided to be progressive again, in this Country. I think something shifted this week.” & “. . . a governing movement is 3 things: it’s top-down, you handled that. You got the White House, the Senate and the House. You handled the top-down. But it’s also bottom-up, and inside-out.”

        • fritz

          We faced a similar Problem in China , until a youg student who was allowed to make snapshots of newly elected President Xi Jinping , showed Him the BLUEPRINT in Commentform to the Book of Jacques Martin LSE , titled “When China rules the World” ! (2012 , 2013 ) Therefor the SPIRIT of HUMANITY is out of the BOTTLE ; and Unstoppable SPREADING ; as the NUMBER of former US – Vassalls prove . There is no Chance for 140 Fanilies of Global PLUTOCRATS ; to win their BATTLE against “HUMANITY” by sponsoring greedy “MERCENARIES” !!!

          • fritz

            The “biggest Nuclear armed FORCE” , World has ever seen , “safeguards Global PEACE” !!!

        • fritz

          Have a Look into “” !!!

  • Apr 28, 2015 Be Vigilant of a Major Economic Calamity around September 2015 – Jeff Berwick

    Anarcho-Capitalist. Libertarian. Freedom fighter against mankind’s two biggest enemies, the State and the Central Banks.

  • animalogic

    Author makes some very good points–viz not alienating a large number of potentally supportive people. Of course, in reality one might wonder exactly how many would support a socialist/progressive program. Sometimes the dog is more vicious than its master.

    • freedom74

      You haven’t counted the amount of millionaires and billionaires that support the left ideology in the US and abroad have you? The rich want Socialist/progressive programs because they eventually become the Soviet model and they are hoping the be the guys in the limos with their own traffic lane while everyone else is nothing but a state serf.

      That is the defining difference between our current faux liberals and real liberals. Real liberals understand that a wealth redistribution system still leaves the .1% or .01% in charge but removes all hope for the 99.99% of getting above subsistence levels. The fake new “liberals” that believe that a huge bureaucratic police state will do anything to help the common man are amazingly stupid and completely unaware of facts and history.

  • fritz

    A possibly Good SOURCE of INFORMATION is “AMTV” !