A Slog Worth Slogging

Democracy in Chains

In no way is this a political blog, but I mention a book everyone should wade through:

Democracy in Chains, The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, by Nancy MacLean.  (Amazon link)

MacLean is Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, and has experienced the sad results of far right politics in her home state of North Carolina. The book is well-researched and academic in nature; I guess that is why it is somewhat of a slog.

Like most people in the U.S., I’m not in favor of a welfare state. But I am in favor of education (how can our nation continue to be a successful if children don’t learn science?), public health (do we really want to go back to unsafe water and associated diseases?), and infrastructure (do you want to drive over unsafe bridges?)

Do you believe in a citizen’s right to vote, an independent press, and a fair judicial system?  The Koch machine that now controls the Republican Party, does not (except for the very rich); Koch’s tentacles have even reached into law schools to bring future judges into the fold.

Do you think Flint Michigan was an exception? Think again. MacLean points out that the problem was not governmental incompetence, but was a result of prodding and control by one of Koch’s think-tanks, described by one city commissioner as “dictatorship, pure and simple.” And Koch’s people also made sure the responsible political powers were protected legally.

Koch’s operations grew out of ideas promoted by James McGill Buchanan at George Mason University––the same James McGill Buchanan that advised Chile’s Pinochet, where unions were banned, healthcare and social security funds privatized, and universities purged of teachers who didn’t agree politically with the dictator. (Sound familiar?) A population with 23 percent poor in 1970 became a population with almost 50 percent poor or indigent by 1987, with wealth concentrated among the richest few.  To top it off, Buchanan guided the revision of Chile’s Constitution to be so confining that future administrations are still hamstrung in their efforts to get the nation back on its feet.  Read the chapter about Chile: “Chapter 10, A Constitution with Locks and Bolts.”

I don’t like to think and talk economics, and so for me the book was a slog (your mileage may differ).  If you can’t handle the whole book, at least read the cover flaps and the Conclusion chapter, “Get Ready.”

Maybe someday, a hero will translate this book into an easy-to-read form (comic book style, maybe?), and distribute it to a certain electorate.  I hope.

 

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