We often think of the Founding Fathers as a monolithic institution. However, they often disagreed. Indeed, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were often at loggerheads — in spite of a friendship spanning decades.
Some of our Founding Fathers did agree on some things, though. Even though they were, by and large, privileged and what we would consider the “one percent,” some of our Founding Fathers also had definite ideas of letting corporations get too involved in governing. Here are some of my favorite quotes about money and its influence on politics and government:
That's right, John Adams thought that government could protect people, and help them prosper. Unfortunately, too often those In Charge of Making the Laws are a class of people that are interested in sticking around as long as they can, pulling in a “salary” that is more than what most Americans make — even though they are already millionaires in their own right. Too often, what we see in government now is the result of individuals catering to their friends, and working to maintain their own power, influence, and wealth. The interests of the majority of the governed, and the business of the people, are rarely of concern.
We have ample evidence that the interests of large corporations and banks trump the interests of the rest of us. In fact, the Supreme Court has acknowledged that corporations can essentially buy politicians and elections if they wish. Additionally, at a time when “bailing out” ordinary people would have gone a long way toward resolving the recent financial crisis, all the focus was on the banks. What has been the result? The economic recovery, including jobs and wage growth, has advanced at a snail's pace, leading to many people feeling financially insecure, even as banks enjoy record profits.
A growing wealth gap isn't good for society. Just before the Great Depression, there was huge income inequality, and we're reaching that point. It doesn't seem as pronounced, since modern living and better access to debt means that it's harder for us to identify the “have nots,” but the reality is that the wealth gap is growing, and that it isn't good for the economy. It might not even be good for civilization as we know it. We could lose out in terms of our system of government and society with the growing wealth inequality; studies indicate that wealth inequality was a factor in the major collapses of the last 5,000 years. The “elites” are often the last to recognize the coming fall, and fight to keep resources concentrated in the hands of the few, even while those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder try to raise awareness and call for change.