Democratic Underground  

Sold to the Highest Bidder
April 18, 2002
By James M. Kehl

Daniel M. Friedenberg has written a very well-researched book entitled Sold To The Highest Bidder. I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand how the money classes control elections and, in effect, also control the legislators and the legislation enacted. Mr. Friedenberg examines the presidential elections and presidential administrations of Presidents Eisenhower through George W. Bush. His thesis is "that the rich distort, and thus control, the country for their benefit." Mr. Friedenberg's book is very well-documented. I think he proves his thesis in this book.

A democracy is a form of "government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them or their elected representatives;" a plutocracy is "government by the wealthy." Money is often the factor that determines who gets elected to political office because money " buys the media, and it is the media that, except in times of extreme crisis such as the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, elect candidates." Most of the book is an explanation of how this process works.

The chapter on Ronald Reagan effectively dispels the myth that Reagan was a great president. Peggy Noonan has written books that praised the Reagan Administration. However, the Iran-Contra affair was one of the most illegal undertakings of the twentieth century. As Paul Begala subsequently pointed out, 30 Reagan Administration officials were convicted of crimes as opposed to only one Clinton administration official. This is not a positive indication of "character mattering."

Reagan's policy of "lower taxes and greater military expense turned the United States into a debtor nation, pushing the day of reckoning to future generations, while at the same time it cleaved the nation, making the rich richer and the poor poorer." Reagan's administration did not effectuate a "Reagan Revolution but the Reagan Counterrevolution, a return to what historians call the Age of the Robber Barons, reminiscent of the period following the Civil War up to President Theodore Roosevelt."

Reagan's admirerers also claimed that his deficits and excessive military spending brought about the downfall of the Soviet Union. Mr. Friedenberg believes that Nixon's building a relationship with China was a greater factor because it forced Russia to defend its Chinese borders. Because of its economic shortages and domestic problems, Russia " was not the terror seen by our militarists. Such liars who spoke ominously of nonexistent bomber gaps, then missile gaps, then spacecraft gaps, created a mass hysteria. The great deficit caused by Reagan's military spending was a factor, but only one factor, bringing about the end of the Cold War." I believe that most historians would agree. In short, Reagan was not the great President that the AM Talk Radio gasbags and their "dittoheads" claim that he was.

One of the results of these ten administrations has been the economic stratification of the United States in such a way that Britian "now has greater economic equality than the United States." In America , the richest 10 percent of our citizens own two-thirds of our wealth while almost 50 percent of the poorest of Americans own only three percent of our nation's wealth. Because money is such an important part of elections, the candidates are beholden to the small minoity of citizens who make the largest donations. Once elected, a politican's chief goal is to be reelected. If his votes are not in accordance with the desires of those who financially backed him, the contributors wil discontinue their contributions and the politican will not be reelected. Mr. Friedenberg suggests certain political reforms such as elimination of the electoral college, term limits, reapportionment of representation in the House and Senate and different ways that political parties should conduct their primaries.

Mr. Friedenberg begins his conclusion by stating that America is a great place "for the alert and resourceful, particularly those of white native stock." America is not such a great place "for the disadvantaged, the weak in body or mind, those born without close family ties, and many of those who are not white." Mr Friedenberg then carefully analyzes and documents why these statements are true. Mr. Friedenberg believes that Americans have the ability to change this situation because Americans have the right to vote and because of the technological advances that have been made and will continue to be made. He states that "the means are there but the selfish interests of small groups, who buy our so-called leaders to enhance their great fortunes or plague them with outmoded values no longer relevant in our time, block the path." If it is true that a country gets the type of government it merits, "then we are an unworthy people. It lies within our hands to become more worthy."

I too believe that the American people have the capability of changing this situation. In order to do so, I would suggust the following:

1. One of the greatest privileges of citizenship is the right to vote. However, 49% of our citizens did not exercise this right because they feel that it is not important who is in power. That is one of the most incorrect beliefs of all time. The world would be much different today if Al Gore was president. The U. S. fiscal situation would be better, the environment would be protected, and perhaps the World Trade Center towers would still be standing and thousands of our fellow citizens would still be alive. The economic futures of these nonvoters and their descend- ants have been adversely impacted by the Bush administration's bad fiscal policies, appointments of incompetent people and general pandering to the property class.

2. Once the citizens decide to vote, they must then stop voting Republican. The Republican Party is the party of the "property class." I read in Money magazine a couple of years ago that a married couple had to earn $150,000 annually in order to be considered upper middle-class. People who earn between $41,000-$100,000 annually are not members of the upper class. Voting Republican constitutes support of policies that help the property class maintain control of the country. When Bush's tax cut is fully phased in, a family of four with a taxable income of $43,850 will pay $600 less in taxes annually than that family paid in 2000. A family of four with a taxable income of $339,850 will pay $14,745 less in taxes than that family would have paid in 2000. To finance that tax cut, part of the funds that could be used to fund the social security retirement of the family whose taxable income is $43,850 may be used. This is only one concrete example of how the funds earned by the lower classes are subsidizing the property class's maintenance of their wealth and power. I could write an entire article about this topic.

3. If the middle and lower classes don't vote Republican, the Republicans won't get elected. Then we could solve middle class problems of affordable college education, prescription drugs for the elderly, health care coverage for all and many other problems.

4. The property classes control the news and media. How- ever, information is available on the Internet and elsewhere. Our citizens need to use these sources and stop relying on gasbags like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News and other disinformation blowhards. If this is done, these noncontributors to society may have to get jobs where they are forced to do productive work. Then, everyone will be better off.

Sold To The Highest Bidder is a book that I would recommend to anyone interested in politics and how the property class has turned this country into a plutocracy. I hope a lot of people will take the time to read it.


James M. Kehl is a certified public accountant who works in Maryland.

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article
Democratic Underground Homepage