I was having a cordial political discussion with some people today and, as is often the case, someone made the comment that there will be new elections in 2010, and we will be able to take back America. This is a democracy after all. But is it? Is what we live in really a democracy? Sure, we all get to vote, but how are we casting our votes? For who? And why?
A democracy is a system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives, and as such, it is the common people who are considered as the primary source of political power. A democracy also assumes the existence and practice of the principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.
Does that accurately describe the country we live in now? Have you ever looked at the people around you at work — who are complaining about overtime and wondering if the boss will figure out that they weren’t really sick on Friday — and told yourself, “These people, together with myself, rule this country,” without laughing at yourself afterword? Have you ever spent a moment at the local saloon — where the “common people” are hanging out, drinking, laughing, groping each other and spilling beer on their shoes — and thought solemnly, “Right here, in this room, is where the primary source of political power in our nation grows from,” and kept a straight face? Have you ever just looked in the mirror and said, “This is my country. I am a respected individual, and this nation recognizes my social equality,” and didn’t fall over on the floor laughing uncontrollably? I didn’t think so.
So, what happened? If the founding fathers were so careful to set up a government that would always represent “We the people,” how did it all go so wrong? Simple. We sold the farm.
Farmer George Augere has been tilling his fields for 50 years. The Augere Farm usually made enough money to support his immediate family, and he also provided jobs for many of his extended family members. On the day of his retirement, the farm supported George, his wife, three of their five children, six of their eleven grandchildren, two siblings, two cousins, three nephews, an uncle, and Mr. Davis, who had worked for George since he was young.
Sure, there had been rough times. The three years of drought back in the late nineties almost bankrupted them, but they survived. Then, when Aunt Irma got sick a few years back, they couldn’t afford a nursing home, but everyone chipped in and made her as comfortable as possible during her last months. Yes, George had been forced to borrow money sometimes to keep the farm going, but when he did he worked tirelessly to pay off the loans.
The days were long, and the work was hard, but like the generations of farmers before him, George was proud of the fact that he has been able to provide a future for his children and grandchildren, and given them the opportunity to build upon his success. He hoped that they would have the same chances to excel in their lives that his father and grandfather had given him.
When George decided to retire, he left it up to the family to decide who would inherit the reins of the Augere Farm. He left each family member an equal share of the farm with the only caveat being that every year a new election would be held to determine who would run the farm for the next 12 months. George’s nephew Barry was a great guy, and everyone liked him. He always knew just what to say, and he always knew just the right time to flash his pearly smile. He had the ability to make almost everyone in the family follow his lead, no matter where he thought to lead them, and it was no surprise when they voted to make him the new leader of the farm.
Right away he went to work making changes. He convinced them that they needed to trade in that old John Deere — it may have been twenty years old, but it had still run just fine — for a brand new Jinma tractor. Yes, it was $30,000 for a smaller tractor, but the new one was better for the environment, and of course Barry was good friends with the sales representative. He talked them into laying off Mr. Davis, who had worked for them for over thirty years, and replaced him with a couple of illegal immigrants, who worked for less money. Later, he switched to a hybrid seed stock. Sure, it was much more expensive, but Barry explained to the family that these new plants were better for the environment, and used less natural resources to grow.
Barry made all kinds of promises to his family as he led the farm into new directions. “We won’t have to work as hard for what we want,” he said. “Everyone who works on the farm should be equal,” he beamed. “Every family member and employee who works for this farm will make as much as he needs to live, but will only have to work as hard they are able,” he boomed! Over the next few years, he promised and gave them more and more, and every year they re-elected him. Under Barry’s leadership, most of the family got new cars, and built new houses, and were able to go on vacations that they had only dreamed of before. He even convinced them to let the two illegal immigrants participate in future elections and gave them enough money to build new houses and buy new cars of their own. When Uncle Charlie, who was nearly 90 now, fell ill, Barry convinced the family to fund his stay in the best nursing home money could buy. Nothing was too good for a member of the farm. Barry’s family cheered him and told him that they wanted him to be in charge of the farm forever.
Barry’s cousin John, however, wasn’t as enamored with Barry as the rest of the family. John wasn’t as good as Barry at rallying the family behind him as Barry was, but he understood simple math. He eyed the family’s finances warily, and wondered how the family could afford such extravagance with the modest income of the Augere Farm. He asked, “Where is all this money coming from, Barry?”
“Everyone knows that you have to spend money to make money,” Barry answered.
“But where is it all coming from,” John persisted.
“Well, I took out a mortgage on the farm,” Barry told him, “but don’t worry, we won’t have to pay it off for decades.”
John asked fearfully, “How are we going to make payments on it?”
“Easy,” Barry answered, “Uncle Bill, and Cousin Warren both work extra jobs and have a lot more money than the rest of the family. They are just going to have to chip in a little extra to pay the interest on the loan.”
John was beside himself. He went to the rest of the family and explained to them that Barry’s plan would bankrupt the Augere Farm. His protests fell on deaf ears however, and the rest of the family thought John was just a troublemaker. Even Bill and Warren thought that Barry was doing a great job, and wouldn’t hear of replacing him in the next election. “He’s so smart, and so caring,” they said, “we don’t mind paying a little extra.”
After a while though, as Barry spent more and more money keeping his family happy, and now the families of his immigrant workers, the size of the mortgage against the farm grew. Soon, Bill and Warren were told that they would have to work a little harder at their second jobs and contribute a little bit more to the family’s finances. Cousin Brad and Nephew Mike were also told that they would have to start working a little harder and contributing more. “From each according to their ability, guys,” Barry told them. “You have a responsibility to take care of your family.” Over time, more members of the family were asked to contribute a little bit more the benefit of the others. Brad and Mike were asked to contribute even more, and Bill and Warren were asked to give up almost all of their income from their second jobs to support the farm.
Later that year, hardly anyone noticed when when Uncle Bill stopped showing up for work at the farm. Barry noticed when Bill’s check didn’t get deposited in the bank that month, though, and went looking for him. He found Bill’s house empty and his car gone. After a little investigation he learned that Bill had quit his second job and moved out of the state where he had started his own farm with Mr. Davis as a partner. Then Warren lost his second job due to budget cuts and was no longer able to contribute extra money to the farm every month. Brad broke his leg in an accident and could no longer work at all. Mike was told that he would have to work even harder.
Over time, one by one, several more of the hardest working members of the family resigned and moved away. The Augere Farm began to suffer, and its income began to shrink.
“I told you,” John cried. “You can’t keep spending money like this and expect the farm to survive.”
“Nonsense,” Barry answered, “I’ll just borrow a little more money. We’ll get through this.”
And that’s what he did. He took out another mortgage on the farm, and took out loans against the homes his family had built during the last several years. “Don’t worry,” he told them, “we won’t have to pay these loans off for years to come.”
The next few years were a little tougher. More of the hardest working family members gave up and moved away, and with each one that left the farm produced less and less. The family who remained, though, demanded more and more from Barry. He sold off the harvester to pay the interest on the loans, and then borrowed a little more to buy a new car for his daughter. During the following fall harvest he had to rent a harvester, and sold the tractor in order to pay for it. It became a never ending downward spiral. Realizing that he was in trouble, Barry started looking for a solution.
He found that solution in Mr. Yen, who agreed to take on some of the Augere Farm’s debt in exchange for the land. “You can stay there and work the land,” he told Barry, “nothing will change, other than how the land is titled. Instead of paying all that interest on the loans, you’ll just have to pay rent. Besides, I’ll pay you a little under the table so you’ll have some money in your pocket when all is said and done.”
“But what about my family?” Barry asked.
“I can’t give you enough to pay off all of their debts,” Mr. Yen told him, “and I can’t employ them all. I run a tight ship. But you’ll be taken care of, my friend.”
“Okay,” Barry relented, “let’s do it.”
And just like that, Barry sold the farm.
What happened to George’s farm is exactly what is happening to our country. The votes of our electorate are being bought with promises of extravagant benefits to the “common people.” The problem is of course, that all of these benefits have to be paid for someday, by someone. The crime wasn’t Barry selling the farm to Mr. Yen, the crime was committed when the family sold the farm to Barry for a few material promises and a pretty smile. The crime was selling out the future for a little extra stuff today.
The Obama administration is telling us that only the rich will have to pay more so everyone else can have free health care. Only the rich corporations will have to fund the new environmental revolution. He tells us that all of the common people deserve economic justice and equality. In short, the government is buying the votes of the American people, and it has destroyed our democracy. Our president, our congress, and our supreme court have all thrown their hats into the bidding circle, looking to buy the farm, and then sell it down the river.
These are lies that they tell us for one purpose, and one purpose only. To stay in power. And in order to keep that power, they are willing to buy our votes with our very own souls. In the end, all it will cost us is our freedom.
2010? Maybe we can take back our country, but I’m not optimistic. We still have too much wealth in this country for Obama and his lackeys to buy votes with. They’ll bankrupt us eventually, though. Even Vice President Biden said so. When that happens, maybe real democracy can make a comeback.
Until then, welcome to augereocracy, where control of the government goes to the highest bidder.
au·ger·e·oc·ra·cy [aw-jeer-ee–ok–ruh-see] -noun, plural -cies.
- a puppet republic where the members of the supposedly democratically elected government received the majority of the votes by promising the most benefits (ie. kickbacks, bribes) to the voters
- a government that provides increasingly greater benefits to its electorate in order keep power.
- a state or society characterized by a formal relinquishing of rights in exchange for perceived financial benefits.
- political or social inequality resulting from class warfare and wealth redistribution.
- majority rule, where such majority is purchased through the promise of personal benefit.
- a system of government in which the power, which used to be vested in the people, who ruled either directly or through free elected representatives, is now solidly controlled by a select few who have purchased that power from the people by promising ever increasing benefits from the treasury.
2009; [root: augere (Latin, present infinitive) – 1. increase, augment; 2. enlarge, spread; 3. lengthen; 4. exaggerate; 5. honor, enrich; 6. (figuratively) exalt, praise. – rel. auction]
Related words or phrases for : augereocracy
socialism, communism, progressivism, voter auction, bribery, influence peddling
example: “The people in this country have forsaken their democracy and sold their votes and control of our government to the highest bidder in exchange for free healthcare and rent controlled housing. We are now an augereocracy.”
Compliments on a great post! It obviously took a lot of thought and work, it’s well-crafted and makes a fantastic point. I, for one, am grateful and keep up the good work.
Let’s keep calling this naked emperor what he is.
Alexis de Tocqueville “.in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.”
Ben Franklin “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. ”
Lets hope your example of Augereocracy is not our country’s epitaph:
“The people in this country have forsaken their democracy and sold their votes and control of our government to the highest bidder in exchange for free healthcare and rent controlled housing. We are now an augereocracy.”
The United States, as set up by the Founders was not and never was intended to be a democracy! It was supposed to be a representative republic. The people were meant to elect congressmen, governors were given the power to appoint senators and delegates from each state had the task of electing the president. Over the last 233 years we have screwed up a very well thought out system of government. Those great men who risked everything in 1776 would be sick if they could see what has evolved from their amazing invention.
Although I would not argue with what I perceive as the spirit of this bit, it sort of paints an unrealistic picture of how our government was founded and how it has changed over time.
The Constitution was a mix of compromises to begin with and our laws have been a mix of compromises ever since. With all the “faults” of our system of government… we do have the oldest written Constitution and we possess the most powerful economy and have the most powerful military on the planet. Representatives have been selling votes to special interests, corporations, and pandering to the citizens (which should be the word you use instead of making a new one up). It is life. It ain’t perfect.
Our problems go back much farther. Our system of government is a triad. The Federal Government, the State Governments and The People. The states and the people each had a house of Congress. The people had the House of Representatives and the States had the Senate which up until about 1917 or so was elected by the state legislatures.
When the Senate was changed to “at large” state popular vote, the power shifted in our politics. Now the people had a house and the major metropolitan cities of the state had a house. Just as Chicago carries Illinois, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh carries Pennsylvania, and even Wilmington carries little Delaware, the Senate is basically nothing more than a representative of the largest metro area of each state … which now gets TWO representatives while rural House districts get only one representative in the House and none in the Senate.
I have a suggestion to fix that without a change to the US Constitution. The Constitution says that the Senate will be elected by the people of the state. Fine. But it does not specify how they shall be nominated. I propose that the State Legislature nominate a minimum of two candidates and may nominate a maximum of one candidate for each political party represented in the Legislature. The people would then elect one of the candidates to fill the seat in the Senate.
What this does is still allows the major metro to elect the Senator but returns some power to the Legislature. If the sitting Senator’s votes go against the interest of his State with such things as unfunded mandates, etc. Then the Legislature will not re-nominate that member when the term expires. So in that way the Senator is also responsible to the Legislature in addition to the people of the state.
This would not require a change to the US Constitution though it would require a change to the various State constitutions.
Nicely done, Wisdom, nicely done.
crosspatch, check out what was to be the actual “First Amendment” to the Constitution, namely, “Article the First” or what deals with the actual size of the House of Representatives. Our founders attempted to set a minimum level of representation, which by some accounts would have the House have 6,000 members. That might sound a bit chaotic, but how can someone be a representative to 700,000 people given today’s population. The founder sought to cap it at 50,000. Maybe that proposed amendment which is still on the books should be passed. I tend to agree the issue of popularly elected Senators has created a huge problem where looking out for a states interest is second to getting money for election and pandering.
@Palmetto Mike – just a minor correction in your statement…yes we are set up to be a republic, with representatives who govern, but it is a democratic republic. Semantics, I know, but significant. There are republics governed by ‘representatives’ that are not freely elected.
@blast – I don’t disparage the need for compromise, nor do I dismiss the role of compromise in the building of our nation, but you misunderstood something. My post wasn’t about politicians selling out to special interests or pandering, it was about the voters selling out to the politicians. We are the problem, and as such, we are the only solution.
@crosspatch – Interesting idea, but each state would have to enact it individually, and I can’t see it happening. I don’t think anything but a constitutional convention will strip the federal government of the power that it has grabbed in the last 80 years. I have, in the past, argued against repealing the 22nd amendment, but as my insight into states rights has grown, my opinion has changed.
To everyone else, thanks for your comments and especially your compliments. Writing analogies is always a risky way to get a point across, but I enjoy it and appreciate having an audience at FA who is willing to read my indulgences and give me honest feedback.