American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class

American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class

by Ron Formisano


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A permanent political class has emerged on a scale unprecedented in our nation 's history. Its self-dealing, nepotism, and corruption contribute to rising inequality. Its reach extends from the governing elite throughout nongovernmental institutions. Aside from constituting an oligarchy of prestige and power, it enables the creation of an aristocracy of massive inherited wealth that is accumulating immense political power. In a muckraking tour de force reminiscent of Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair, and C. Wright Mills, American Oligarchy demonstrates the way the corrupt culture of the permanent political class extends down to the state and local level. Ron Formisano breaks down the ways this class creates economic inequality and how its own endemic corruption infects our entire society. Formisano delves into the work of not just politicians but lobbyists, consultants, appointed bureaucrats, pollsters, celebrity journalists, behind-the-scenes billionaires, and others. Their shameless pursuit of wealth and self-aggrandizement, often at taxpayer expense, rewards channeling the flow of income and wealth to elites. That inequality in turn has choked off social mobility and made a joke of meritocracy. As Formisano shows, these forces respond to the oligarchy 's power and compete to bask in the presence of the .01 percent. They also exacerbate the dangerous instability of an American democracy divided between extreme wealth and extreme poverty.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252082825
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 09/30/2017
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 355,441
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Ron Formisano is the William T. Bryan Chair of American History and professor emeritus of history at the University of Kentucky. His books include Plutocracy in America: How Increasing Inequality Destroys the Middle Class and Exploits the Poor, The Tea Party: A Brief History , and For the People: American Populist Movements from the Revolution to the 1850s .

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: Beyond Plutocracy: Becoming an Aristocracy 1

Chapter 1 Meet the Political Class 13

Chapter 2 Our One Percent Government, Congress, and Its Adjuncts: The Way to Wealth 37

Chapter 3 Is the Political Class Corrupt? 60

Chapter 4 The Permanent Campaign and the Permanent Political Class 86

Chapter 5 Political Class Adaption and Expansion 110

Chapter 6 The Political Class in a Poor State 132

Chapter 7 The Profitable World of Nonprofits 161

Conclusion 187

Afterword 207

Notes 211

Index 265

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