Plutocracy

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Plutocracy</DT>
Rule by money or wealth; a form of government where control or power is in the hands of the wealthy. </DD>

The philosophical issues regarding plutocracy are fundamental to political thought. Inevitably, a discussion of plutocracy will center around the nexus of politics and economics. Plutocracy can be the resultant state of many conceivable political systems., indeed, the issue seems to be that government itself Work (or labor) applied to reality (natural resources) creates wealth which is symbolized by government created monetary systems (money), and the people or economic structures (companies and corporations) that are best able to benefit from this are those closest to government and it's operators. Since governments can make their controllers wealthy, some might argue that any system will evolve to a state of plutocracy. Revolutionaries may start out as peasants and end up owning the appropriated common wealth of the previous state.

A key issue in preventing plutocracy is the question of what sort of governmental system ensures that wealth and power is not ceded to the public operators of a government as private individuals. This is a separate question from "what are the means of control available to the wealthy?", which of course is fundamental to the question of plutocracy. No formal plutocracy has existed, so the term always refers to de-facto control of a government by the rich (wealthy). Ayn Rand attempted to imagine a utopian plutocracy in her book Atlas Shrugged.

Another issue is "What constitutes control?" Is "influence" a kind of control? What is the real role of money in elections? How indirect a power still constitutes "governmental" power, for example, if one were trying to determine if "plutocratic" was a legitimate label for a particular government.

And perhaps most fundamentally, the topic of plutocracy raises the question of "how much or what kind of disproportionate advantage should the wealthy have in a governmental system?", and subsequently "how much should be tolerated?".

Progressive answers to these question can be said to start with understanding that economics is an accounting of wealth, politics is an accounting of desire, and proper government should secure equitable freedom within a society. Wealth is physical while desire is emotional. Since unfettered ownership and unfettered desire are dysfunctional with respect to equitable freedoms, governments are created to set limits on each.

The degree to which limitations are placed on ownership determine the degree of possible plutocracy. A system of no limitations on ownership, including slavery, is the ultimate plutocracy and is the denial of a principle of equitable freedom. Only a system that allows no private ownership can hope to eliminate plutocracy completely.

However, for practical purposes, a nearly plutocracy free government could be achieved that would allow substantial private ownership. Indeed, this is the practical sense of equitable freedom... a system that rather than deny personal wealth merely secures a sense of equity in terms of freedom rather than wealth. While wealth cannot help but present increasing opportunity, the ideal is that there is a basic equity of freedom available to free persons whatever their stage of wealth. The government then works to secure such a basic level of wealth to ensure this basic level of freedom. For example, a public highway system, while it does not ensure that a poor person can travel around the world on a vacation journey, does in fact enable people of nearly any economic level to move freely within the continental United States.

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