Oligarchy is the New Democracy


I’ve been saying it for a while now, but to have it confirmed by scientific research is kind of a relief: a Princeton study has found that the U.S. government does not function as a democracy, but an oligarchy. Oligarchy. What that means to those of you who failed history of any kind: a small group of wealthy citizens control government policy. That means they tilt the scales of income and tax regulation in their favor, regardless of what the rest of the population wants or how it votes. Like, for instance, South Africa throughout much of the 20th century. Or, for our more literary types, The Party of George Orwell’s 198419-fucking-84, people – the book that scared the shit out of every high school sophomore in America.

Here’s my favorite quote from the study, just to, you know, set the tone for the rest of this article:

The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

So, you’re saying I may as well just vote for Roseanne Barr or pencil in my cat’s name on the next election? That my vote statistically does not make a damn difference?

Whew. Glad that’s out of the way.

Now that we’ve found ourselves in a real-life version of Orwell’s worst nightmare, well, the question is, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to just roll over and let the mind-control continue? I don’t know about you, but ushering in an era of Big Brother kind of seems to be happening already, what with all the NSA activity of late and whatnot. In addition to spying on my private correspondence, I fully expect mics to be installed in the walls of my bathroom and my sexual activity to be monitored by the FBI.


I mean, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really want to live in a democracy anyway. All that voting every once in a while was really cramping my social life. I mean, I could be shopping at Walmart with my poverty-level wages earned at Walmart instead of showing up to drop my ballot in the slot. Oh, wait! Silly me! My wages at Walmart wouldn’t cover the cost of any product offered at Walmart. I’d be visiting my local food pantry and hitting up the Goodwill for new underwear, because after spending 3/4 of my income on a shitty studio in a neighborhood with bars on the windows, I’d have barely enough money to hitch a ride to work on the MTA, pay some thirteen-year old five bucks an hour to watch my four children and cover the wage garnishment from back hospital bills. And really, who needs underwear anyway?

Perhaps I’m just not fit to have my opinion count in matters of public policy, especially because the wealthy sure know what they’re doing to better themselves. In the years following the Great Recession, the top 1% of earners captured 95% of income gains. The bottom 99%, in contrast, did not. In fact, they are worse off in so many ways I’m not even going to waste my breath on this loser group once referred to as “The Middle Class” but whom I will now refer to as “Funders of 740 Park Avenue.” Somebody’s got to pay for Stephen Schwarzman’s private jet, and it may as well be us.

Now, this may astonish you guys, but I am not one of the 1%. Shocking, I know. Therefore, the Koch brothers managed to make an additional $1.3 billion dollars off of me (well, and you guys, too), rounding off their net worth to $100 billion dollars. I am so proud of those guys; I’d like to chuff them on their adorable little cheeks. Clearly, they are more fit to run the country than anybody I could elect into office.

So I’m willing to give oligarchy a chance. Look at all it’s done for us so far. I won’t even need to think for myself pretty soon! Isn’t that amazing? I can just work three jobs to support myself and my family until I drop dead of exhaustion at forty-five. Nobody wants to live forever.

It’s almost as amazing as how we’ve just let it happen, rather than taking contrary action. Leave the pitchforks and giving a shit to countries who aren’t quite so invested in their elite citizens. Not the good ol’ U.S. of A. We take care of our wealthy here, and they take care of our government.


About the author

Natalie DeYoung is a freelance writer and editor from Southern California, where she lives with her husband and unruly pets. A contributing editor at yeah write, she has written for Sprocket Ink, The Huffington Post and HaveHeart Magazine. She blogs about the arts and recovery with a little fiction and poetry thrown in for flavor at The Cat Lady Sings. In her spare time she enjoys reading way too much, playing the piano and singing, painting, baking, hiking and perpetually enrolling in grad school for esoteric subjects. More than anything, she wishes to live in a country where President Bartlet runs the country with his gang of quirky, likable staffers. Talk to her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+, or hire her to edit your shizz at her professional website.