Class Warfare

October 15, 2010

in Economics,Law,Politics

Yes, class warfare has been waged against those of the middle class and the poor for decades. No, the middle class and poor have not been fighting back, at least not yet.

I am suggesting a new and different strategy for at least the first significant counterattack. The plutocrats have handed us the weapon we need. They and their toadies have maimed the economy. Would you believe that can be turned into a weapon?

While they are somewhat cushioned from the results of their mischief, I have found a way to turn their weapons against them. Jujitsu is a method of using your opponents force against him rather than directly confronting that force. Everything old is new again.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the World Justice Project. It is an organization dedicated to “lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity. It’s honorary chairs have included a range of Supreme Court justices from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Sandra Day O’Connor. Others are Desmond Tutu, Colin Powell and Jimmy Carter.

Recently, they published the results of a study, called The Rule of Law Index. It evaluates and ranks how laws are implemented and enforced around the world. Countries are ranked on such factors as whether government officials are accountable, whether legal institutions actually protect rights, and how ordinary people fare in the system. The index ranks 35 countries but will double that next year.

Of the 11 industrial countries, we were at the bottom in accessibility and affordability. We fell below such countries as Mexico, Croatia and the Dominican Republic. When polled, the responses were telling. “For instance, only 40% of low-income respondents who used the court system in the past three years reported that the process was fair, compared to 71% of wealthy respondents. This 31% gap between poor and rich litigants in the USA is the widest among all developed countries sampled. In France this gap is only 5%, in South Korea it is 4% and in Spain it is nonexistent.”

I’m inclined to believe that the reason for the rich litigants’ satisfaction being only 71% is a matter of spoiled brats not getting everything they want even when they win. The system does at least occasionally recognize the need to provide the gloss of fairness.

You and I suffer a disadvantage in our courts system. Other studies prove that perception of a disparity is real. Obama has appointed the acknowledged leading legal mind, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, to address this problem. Less than one in five poor people with a legal problem obtain legal services of any kind.

Is this really a serious problem? Mr. Tribe says, “The truth is that as a nation, we face nothing short of a justice crisis. It is a crisis both acute and chronic, affecting not only the poor but the middle class. The situation we face is unconscionable.”

Bernie Madoff went to prison for ripping off a relatively few. The Wall Street bankers and mortgage brokers ripped off millions. How many will Bernie ever get to see again? When the Dow dropped from around 14,000 to the neighborhood of 7,500 many IRAs, 401ks, pension funds, university endowments and such, many people experienced a sleepless night or two.

But, apparently, the consequences of destroying several trillion dollars of other people’s money do not include any perp walks. Actually, this year the result was $144 billion in bonuses.

Let’s step back and assess where we are. The poor and middle class, quickly merging, have little access to the courts and less satisfaction. The elite does have access. The parasitic plutocracy avoids paying the price and ends up profiting from their greed.

The problem is actual criminal activity. Fraud was committed when sub-prime mortgages were rated and sold as AAA investments. Any lawyer worth his three-martini lunch can come up with a dozen collateral charges. If some of these bad people were sentenced to a year for each offense, they could watch the dying of the Sun through the bars on their windows.

The pension funds and others managing large amounts of investments suffered major financial hits. They do, however, have the wherewithal to pursue legal remedies. They also need to fear action charging them with failure to do due diligence and fulfill their other responsibilities. They should be harassed, poked and prodded until they seek redress for their clients. Use one pack of parasites to squeeze another pack parasites. Some activity in the civil courts, with concomitant publicity, will make it easier to pressure the authorities to bring charges in the criminal courts.

Additionally, there needs to be a constant drumbeat for accountability. That accountability should be for those handling those huge amounts of your pension money. It should be extended to include government officials, politicians, anyone culpable. This will not be something that comes quickly. This will not be something to which the plutocrats and their lackeys will easily acquiesce.

We have a justice system that puts one of every four prisoners in the world in our prisons. We have the longest sentences in the world. Yet, a financial heist that dwarfs anything we could have imagined fails to stir our justice system to punish even one malefactor.

We can’t directly force the system to act. It is possible, however, to get those financial geniuses to face off against each other. We might benefit as a side effect. Some of you may get a bit of your retirement back . . . or maybe a little revenge and a justice system we deserve.

Let’s begin a class war by proxy.


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{ 2 comments }

Albert McCombs February 19, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this
technological globe the whole thing is presented on net?

oak hill locksmith February 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Sorry for not furthering the discussion, but I just wanted to say thank you for the insightful post.

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