An Opportunity to Reflect on Ruling Class Vulgarity and Extreme inequality in Washington DC

The pompous, corporate-plutocratic re-coronation of New Imperial War Criminal Bush will “cost tens of millions of dollars – $40 million alone in private donations to the balls and invitation-only parties” (Will Lester, Associated Press…

[see http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=544&u=/ap/20050114/ap_on_go_pr_wh/inaugural_price_tag_3&printer=1]).

This revolting display of craven ruling-class vulgarity, defended by a massive concentration and display of the latest police-state-of-the-art hardware and technique, is an opportune moment to review Robert Pastor’s worthwhile reflections on the sorry state of what passes for a “democratic” elections system in in the US. See his recent “America Observed: Why foreign election observers would rate the United States near the bottom” at http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewPrint&articleId=8960. Pastor’s curious finding that the US actually has one of the worst, least legitemately democratic election set-ups in the world (even just by standard bourgeois criteria, not some left standard) takes on added poignancy when we recall that American-occupied Iraq is close to holding its “first democratic election” under the direction, protection, and tutelage of Uncle Sam.

Here’s the last paragraph of Pastor’s interesting article: “Washington, you may recall, tried to export the Iowa caucus-model though it violates the first principle of free elections, a secret ballot. An Iraqi ayatollah rejected that and also insisted on the importance of direct elections (meaning no Electoral College). Should we be surprised that the Iraqi Election Commission chose to visit Mexico instead of the United States to learn how to conduct elections?”

As the super-opulent privileged few party like its 1984 behind the protective umbrella of awesome state power in the aristocratic quarters of Washington DC, it’s also worth reflecting on the fact that that jurisdiction is the most unequal city in the industrialized world’s most unequal and wealth-top-heavy nation, where the top 1 percent owns more than 40 percent of total wealth, where the top 10 percent owns two-thirds, and where black median household net worth is one tenth of white median net household worth. As anyone who has ever visited DC knows, the city’s stunning class/income inequality is heavily racialized.

Here is a brief introductory statement from a report put out last July by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute

By Angie Rodgers and Ed Lazere

Across the nation, income inequality — the gap between high-income and low-income households— is substantial and has widened significantly over the past two decades. While this phenomenon is national in scope, an analysis of data from the 2000 census shows that income inequality is particularly serious in the District of Columbia. The average income of the top fifth of the District’s households $186,830 in 1999 was 31 times higher than the average income of the bottom fifth of households $6,126. The gap between high-income and low-income households in the District is as wide or wider than in any of the central cities of the nation’s 40 largest metro areas. Two other cities, Atlanta and Miami, have similar income gaps, but in most cities the gap is much smaller than in DC. In the typical large city, the income of the top fifth of households is 18 times the income of the bottom fifth. Income inequality widened in the District in the 1990s, as the benefits of its economic expansion went almost exclusively to its highest-income residents. The average income for the top fifth of DC households grew 36 percent during this period, adjusting for inflation, while the average income of the bottom fifth of households rose just three percent…..”

See full study at www.dcfpi.org/7-22-04pov.pr.htm

See also Fannie Mae Foundation’s State of Housing in the Nation’s Capital Report (for 2003) at

Click on chapters 2 and 7 for data on concentrated, disproportionately black poverty and extreme poverty in the city that serves as capital to the nation that US Senator Fay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) calls “the beacon to the world of the way life should be.”

Leave a comment