Tocqueville and Rich People Bashing

In Tocqueville’s influential novel Democracy in America he outlines some very important ideas regarding the inevitable flaws of Democracy as compared to it’s counterpart Monarchy. Tocqueville believes that the Tyranny of the Majority is far more destructive to a society than any Monarch could ever be. His basic theory is clearly stated when he said 

“The authority of a king is purely physical, and it controls the actions of the subject without subduing his private will; but the majority possesses a power which is physical and moral at the same time; it acts upon the will as well as upon the actions of men, and it represses not only all contest, but all controversy.”

He believes that in a Monarchy there is some reprise from the people and from the oppressive nobles. The King/Queen is the scapegoat where all decisions are laid to rest regardless of people’s opinion on the matter. Therefore people are free to think as they will, free of all societal pressure and biases. This supposed intellectual freedom is worth far more in his eyes than anything else. He says that a king may kill you but cannot change your mind. Versus you simply not wanting to think differently due to social pressure and group thought. 

My classmates mostly widely disagreed with this critique and took the other extreme of blaming the “Ruling class” and the Corporations that supposedly “Run the media”. From my interpretation of their argument the shift of power from the masses and into the few has caused the current situation of the country. I completely agree on all almost every aspect of the argument. 

Firstly: If The Rich Corporations ruled the media then why would they receive bad press? Different news corporations have their own biases I.e. Fox and CNN. If you really beleive the media is run by the Corperations read this.

 http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/06/the-10-companies-burned-worst-by-bad-press/240448/

Secondly: If you really are against the bailouts then you fail to understand Economics. If the President “Bailed out” all of the people who bought crappy mortgages that would be far more Socialist/communist and less productive than bailing out companies that will PAY YOU BACK! Don’t believe me? Take a look 

http://projects.propublica.org/bailout/

My Favorite Quote: 

“REFUNDS $359B MONEY RETURNED TO TREASURY BY BAILED-OUT COMPANIES”

The Federal Government and taxpayers as a whole are actually profiting from the bailouts due to interest paid thus far. Image

Thirdly: Rich people are taxed a solid amount to keep them from vehemently exploiting us “normal people”. Top earners are taxed almost 40% (Marginal) at the Federal level. Also in regards to us being wage slaves, yes we are but this is not a bad thing. Yes my job sucks but my unskilled and non-physically demanding labor is not worth much more than $8 an hour. The minimum wage laws exist to protect us. We are not being rolled by companies. With a few  notable exceptions….

Image

 

Finally: In regards to speculation and how that affected the economy. It is a bubble that popped like any other. That happens. It would take way to long to explain how it works but if your interested here is the prime historical example of how it all happens. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

I would address the arguments in further depth but in the interest of keeping this brief i will begin closing arguments. Tocqueville was far more worried about an uneducated mass running the show than he was about the mob feeling a bit used. And he cited the example of blacks having difficulty voting. For the most part i would tend to agree with him on this. I would rather have a select knowledgeable group of people running things than blatant mob rule. simply put Paine was wrong, we are not all fit to rule. The arguments i gave attest to this; if uneducated mobs ran things with little or no foresight we would fall into ruin rapidly. This is why we have a representative democracy instead of a direct one.  

Disclaimer: If you were in the class session where this debate happened this is not a personal attack. Don’t get too upset. That said, if you still disagree with me i would love to hear your counterarguments 🙂

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10 Responses to Tocqueville and Rich People Bashing

  1. horboy80 says:

    Firstly: Good idea on the disclaimer 😉 I think everyone who reads these blogs need to remember to stay civil even if you strongly disagree with someone. So that be said . . . I respectfully disagree with some of your views in your blog.

    With your statement that large corporations in fact do not run the media because they receive bad press is a bit naive. Who owns the major networks? Well FoxNews is owned by Fox Entertainment Group which is a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation which also owns 20th Century Fox and The Wallstreet Journal. NewsCorp is the world’s second-largest media group as of 2011. Go to anything owned by NewsCorp and find something that sheds a poor light on one of it’s sister companies. Now if you are able to find something, look and see if they reported first or if they simply followed suit because the other major media groups, also owned by major multinational conglomerations (CNN = Time Warner, MSNBC = Comcast/GE, ABC= Disney), printed it first. Now ask yourself, How is it okay that these few corporations control most of the media on TV, a huge chunk on the net, and nearly all of our entertainment in all forms? A little bad press really proves nothing.

  2. aussielandmn says:

    I’m afraid I must agree with Horboy80. Here is a good article that breaks down the media control within the United States. Freedom of the press should not just be freedom from government influence but also from corporate/private influence.

    In addition, most people’s frustration with current economic/political situation is not necessarily with just the rich. It is the unfair attention, access, and influence that the government provides these groups. One of the occupy movements main complaints was these corporations exercise to much control over the government. Thus the one percent negates the voice of the ninety nine percent. It was as much about political rights as it was about economic inequality.

    While I agree with you that booms and bust are a ‘natural’ part of the economy, there are certain things that can be done by both corporations and the government to lessen to blow and decrease these risks. Actions not taken in the last several twenty years. In addition, the way in which sheer stupidity and greed drove some corporations and parts of the government to act hinges slightly on the criminal side.

    As for the tax rate, while it is true that those that earn over a certain amount are taxed at 40% marginally, the way in which most of the wealthy make their money is through investments and playing the stock market. The tax rate for these gains range from 0% to 20%. Not very much considering the amount of money made each year by some of these people is in the millions, tens of millions or hundreds of millions.

    Overall, though there is a place in our society for our political and economic elite, there does need to be room for the people. While a representative democracy does work for us now, I would argue that the people need to have a more direct control in the actions of government. I trust the people, as long as they have clear unbiased information available to them, as much as our elected representatives.

    Also on a final note, the ideology tenants of socialism and communism are quite vague as there are so many different versions of each one. Christian socialism, democratic socialism, Maoist communism and Leninist-Marxism communist. Therefore it is hard to narrow down what exactly they would do in this economic situation. That being said though, it is highly unlikely that the socialism, generally associated with social distribution of labor and goods, or communism, generally associated with communal ownership of property and direct democratic action, would advocate the plan of bailing out individuals. I would argue that would be more of an extreme welfare liberal action. In addition, though they are related socialism and communism are not the same. It’s much likes saying totalitarianism and fascism are the exactly alike.

  3. newbieblogster13 says:

    I agree with your statement that it’s better to have a knowledgeable group rule rather than mob rule, but I also think mob rule can turn out pretty well especially with a failing government. A current example of this situation is Mexico. The government has been corrupted for so long that certain towns and villages have taken it into their own hands to deal with their drug lord problems and corrupt government officials who ignore this problem. These towns/villages have blocked people from going in and out and created prisons for those suspected of being part of the drug cartel or helping them. Here’s the link:
    http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/docview/1283406834
    It’s most likely true that not everyone is fit to rule, but I think a majority of people can.

  4. “Freedom of the press should not just be freedom from government influence but also from corporate/private influence”

    So the press should be free from everyone? The press is not an entity it is an idea implemented by people. So who exactly should distribute information? People form companies etc. because an individual or even a collection of people is simply not enough to effectively distribute information. There are perhaps 6 different major news networks and hundreds of smaller ones. You have choices there is no force fed propaganda here.

    . “The tax rate for these gains range from 0% to 20%”

    This is not entirely accurate. Dividends are considered normal income and taxed as such. The distinction between ordinary and qualified dividends expired at the end of 2012. To my knowledge there have been no new rules made, therefore dividend income is treated as ordinary income subject to the ordinary income tax rates. But the 20% correct for Capital Gains if you ignore the 3.8% Medicare tax for high earners.

    And newbie, that is all good and well for Mexico, but here in America we do not have mob rule, we have a system of Laws and Rules backed by people who dedicate their lives to sniffing out corruption. Most of those people make little more than the rest of us. I do not trust the majority, because as one of my classmates eloquently put it ” They don’t know nothin. The average voter is completely ignorant…” Out of respect i won’t name them, but i rest my case. How many of us could actually manage our own stock portfolio let alone an entire country? Lets leave it to the experts, and if you feel inclined become an expert….

  5. kdmflag says:

    When Tocqueville was originally comparing the woes and strengths of the monarchy over the newly democratized United States, there is no argument that he was touring a nation very different from the one that stands now. What I glean most from his writings is the sense of agency that he experiences over and over throughout the country, and this is what I believe shows in greatest contrast to his homeland. His views on the ‘scapegoat of the monarchy’ are in my eyes, a foreigners envy of a shiny new system. He repeatedly praises the individuals freedom to make choices in work, exploration, education, social standing and more.
    As for the meat of your argument postulating that the wealthy in America have supplanted the crown as scapegoats. I couldn’t agree more. I doubt there are more than a handful of societies in the world where the community majority, and especially those consigned to lower socioeconomic status do no lay some, if not all of the burden at the feet of those better off. Look towards a modern ‘communist’ State such as China, where equal distribution is a pillar of the ideology, and you will still see those who receive noticeably less, begrudging the well-off.
    Yet when you raise the supposition that the monarchy provides more freedom of thought, I cannot disagree more. Freedom of choice and thoughts are the product of a governments level of coercion, which is much higher during a monarchy. We may sway millions of minds with the church of public opinion, but we do not force them at blade’s end to fight or die. This tumultuous mob voice broadcasts a dozen different opinions, all supposedly correct, over any conceivable medium. And it is for this reason that the corporations who hold major commercial and political sway in is nation receive bad press. They are speaking out against each other. As pointed out earlier, many news organizations are owned by different conglomerates. I won’t bother posting the link again, OK maybe I will;
    http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

    Dan Rather has made some very interesting comments on the homogenization of our American news and its influence on our nations actions and ideals. I wish I had more time this morning to dig them up, but I don’t. I hope you enjoy my response and I will spend some time tonight linking references. I look forward to everyone’s responses.

    PS While discussing media takeovers by a smaller faction of corporate interests, why don’t we all go look at the interactions between DirecTv and Newscorp in the fall of 2011 to summer of 2012, I believe. (More links to come)

    • So you trust Business Insider over any other news network? I really fail to see the difference. It is just owned by a bunch of rich guys who used the internet to make themselves millionaires. How are they any less corrupt than Disney or Fox?

      • kdmflag says:

        I don’t trust business insider at all. It may sound terrible, but I grabbed this site reference as the first thing on Google which supported my argument, (which doesn’t invalidate the data, it just means I was in a hurry to link and move onto other points, here is a scientific Journal explaining the dangers and current reality of media homogenization, if you would prefer scientific text over colored charts and graphs http://www.scientificjournals.org/journals2008/articles/1305.pdf) To answer how Disney or NewsCorp may be more corrupt than an obscure website is simply put. For good or for ill these corporations hold a great deal of sway pertaining to the information provided to this nation, over what was originally public airways (now illegally sold by the FCC) that we should be concerned with any biases or affiliations that may influence the news and stories provided. It is this immense power that is the foundation of any corruption.

  6. http://www.ithaca.edu/rhp/independentmedia/USindymedialist/

    Here is a list of a small fraction of independent news networks. Basically you can choose to read about whatever agenda you damn well please. I maintain that your “evil corporate america” theory is without weight.

    “It may sound terrible, but I grabbed this site reference as the first thing on Google which supported my argument, (which doesn’t invalidate the data, it just means I was in a hurry to link and move onto other points,”

    So you basically caved to what you are calling out to be the problem out of sheer convenience. Sounds diabolical…

    Also, my question still stands, what incorrect or bad agenda are major news networks pushing down our throats? They could not exist if people did not watch them. We as the consumer reflect what is put on television. If we disagree we do not watch it, i.e. people avoid CNN or actively despise Fox because they disagree. My Favorite line from the “Academic Journal” was this

    “Distinctions drawn between conservative and liberal economic policy and democracy as it is
    practiced in the US rarely, if ever, exceed the confines of a dogmatic dedication to the orthodoxy
    of capitalist economic systems and democracy American style”

    Yep you got us. We are force feeding you a Capitalist agenda. Yes you are right Capitalism is evil, its controlled by us the evil right wing Mongols who only want to keep you the people stupid and poor while we amass our fortunes. Al Gore is only a cover, he is not really that wealthy, he our puppet. Along with a lot of other wealthy liberals.

  7. aussielandmn says:

    The problem with the monopoly of the corporations within the media is that does not create diversity. Look at what MSNBC, FOX news or nearly any of the major news networks report on. It’s basically the same. In addition, because they can control 90% of the media, they can put radical pundits on that no respectably news agency normally would. However, with their control and the fact that the people do not have any reliable options they can put on or write whatever they want. As for the independent media and news outlets, the vast majority of them are small local or regional news agency, severally limiting their reach. Also with little funds, a lot of them get their information from national news organizations. While you may not think that is a problem, think about it this way, would you allow six organizations to control 90% of the world s oil? In addition, responding to your earlier comment about my post, your right the press does not operate in a vacuum, however, I have this strange and perhaps silly idea that news media should report facts with little bias or political/corporate spin. You know, like how they are suppose to.

    “Lets leave it to the experts, and if you feel inclined become an expert….”

    Ah, the simple argument. Unfortunately life is not as simplest as your argument. The fact is we did leave to the experts. For most of our history we have. It was called an oligarchy or aristocratic monarchy. There were many names for it but the idea of simply letting the experts handle it is dangerous. It encourages political separation between the people and our elite. Which is ineffectively considering that the government’s job is to work for the people. The people need to be a part of the political process, even if it is only on the most basic of levels such as voting. In addition, that statement fails to take into consideration how difficult it is to be an ‘expert.’ Therefore, we need have the ability for people to participate in government. Not simply shut them out because they are not what you arbitrary considered an ‘expect’. The elites do have a position to play in our society, but they ultimately need to pay attention to the people.

    • “I have this strange and perhaps silly idea that news media should report facts with little bias or political/corporate spin. You know, like how they are suppose to”

      I maintain my question. Is there anything you have seen on the news that you think is overly skewed or manipulated in a particular way that harms the viewer or anyone for that matter? In short what exactly have they done wrong besides being a large company? And yes i do think having 6 major news networks is substantial to create competition. Also, people watch what they agree with more, ie that spin you hate so much. CNN is not very straightforward, they applaud certain viewpoints and underscore things sharply as does FOX. It draws in ratings and makes news much less dry. If you want facts look it up yourself.

      And secondly, you seriously think you can force everyone to get engaged and make intelligent voting decisions on everything all the time? There are a lot of people who care about politics only as much as it directly effects their daily lives. Other than that they couldn’t give a rats ass. What do you propose we do with them? And again you ignore the trampling of minorities. If you get upset about politicians pandering to the lowest common denominator, then there is no way to logically hold both beliefs.

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