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20. Concentration and Corruption of Power

[H]e that thinks absolute power purifies men's blood, and corrects the baseness of human nature, need read the history of this, or any other age, to be convinced to the contrary.

  • John Locke

 

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more (if you add) corruption by authority.

  • Lord Action

 

Humanity has long observed that people become corrupted when they have too much power.  Something deep in our human nature gets activated when we have too much power, fame or wealth. We suffer from ego inflation disorders.  Those make us sick.  They twist us and lead to vicious behaviors.  Very few, if any, can wield great power without succumbing to corruption.  History has taught us this, about a zillion times.  Are we not better off learning that lesson and applying it?

We have government systems that are increasingly centralizing power, as a megatrend.  More and more power is being concentrated in central governments.  U.S. federal government is steadily gaining power from state and local governments.  The E.U. is taking power previously held by countries and localities.  Trade agreements are concentrating power taken from nations and states.

Increasing power concentrations leads to abuses of power and ego inflation illnesses harming officials.  It makes it easier for wielders of wealth, power and fame to influence and abuse government power, because they have fewer government systems to infiltrate and corrupt to win enormous influence.

 

It leads to far away bureaucrats micro-managing the behaviors and activities of people everywhere, though obtuse, voluminous and burdensome regulation, and people being frustrated and annoyed by it.  It leads to increased military, police, behavior enforcement and punishment authorities and their goons producing violence, harm and suffering, as those in power assert power, and protect it from challenges.  It leads to manipulations to concentrate power even further, and to bring ever more under control.

Corporate capitalist systems are increasingly concentrating power, as a megatrend, creating centralized command and control economies that exercise power over markets and employees to produce ever more wealth and power for corporate owners.  Of the world’s largest 100 economic entities, ranked by revenues, 69 are centralized command and control corporations and only 31 are nations.[1]  Relatively few people at the top direct the activities of all employees, through power they hold over them.

Increasingly, power, wealth and fame are being concentrated in fewer and fewer individual humans.  82% of the money generated in 2017 went to the richest 1% of the global population; the $762 billion increase in wealth of billionaires would have been enough to end global extreme poverty 7 times over; and a mere 42 people owned as much wealth as half the people on Earth, over 3.75 billion people.[2]  The world’s richest 1% are on course to control as much as two-thirds of the world’s wealth by 2030.[3] 

Increasingly fewer people are controlling increasingly more power and wealth, almost everywhere.  Those increasingly fewer people increasingly own or control more and more of everything, including:  the corporations which exert power over employees, markets and governments; the real property, that people must rent or buy from them, under terms they increasingly control; global news and media, which they use to program us for control; think tanks, policy, advertising and consulting organizations, which they use for intellectual cover for what they do and to exert influence over us and governments; resources, goods and services, which all must buy from them, under terms more favorable to them; and sources of money for politicians to get elected, which they use to control government.

The increases in inequality in wealth and power produce corruption in those with the wealth and power.  Who in the history of Earth has ever wielded extreme wealth and power without becoming corrupted?  We know from vast and repeated experience that wealth and power concentrations corrupt humans.  Common sense tells us, to avoid abuse, we cannot allow extreme concentrations of wealth and power.  The primary motivation for the structure Founding Fathers built into the design of U.S. government was to reduce opportunities for concentration and abuse of power, because they recognized their dangers.

We must reverse prevailing megatrends and reduce inequality and unfairness in income, wealth, power and fame concentrations to prevent corruption and abuse of power that do us, life and systems harm!  We must recognize the “human law” that power and wealth corrupt human beings and result in harms. 

We must collaborate to combat wealth, income, power and attention concentrations, doing things like:  breaking up corporations that achieve too much market power; pushing as much government power as possible or practical toward the edges, away from central governments and toward close communities; implementing aggressive, progressive tax schemes that redistribute wealth and income more fairly; disallowing significant news and media ownership concentrations; limiting the amount of real property any individual or corporation can own; limiting how long people can hold elected government positions.

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.

  • Mahatma Gandhi

We must change our values, souls, beings, behaviors and actions to demote concentrations of wealth, power, fame and ego and promote love, compassion, knowledge, humility, service and selflessness.  Let’s work on developing our own personal powers, by being, feeling and doing what makes us better! Let’s come together and stop giving power to what creates harm and isn’t working!  Let’s work to deconcentrate wealth, power, ego and fame, spreading that fairly and efficiently among all of us!

 

[1] “The world’s top 100 economies: 31 countries; 69 corporations”, Duncan Green, September 20, 2016, The World Bank, https://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/world-s-top-100-economies-31-countries-69-corporations

[2] “Inequality gap widens as ‘world’s richest 1% get 82% of the wealth,’ Oxfam says”, Sam Meredith, CNBC, January 22, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/22/wef-18-oxfam-says-worlds-richest-1-percent-get-82-percent-of-the-wealth.html

[3] “Richest 1% on target to own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030: World leaders urged to act as anger over inequality reaches a ‘tipping point’”, Michael Savage, The Guardian, April 7, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/07/global-inequality-tipping-point-2030

 

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