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Democracy and Economic

Inequality
Can they exist at the same time???
Functionalism vs. Conflict
Perspective
Some Current Information
• Within a decade $1 out of every $5 spent in
the U.S. economy will go for health care
(USA Today, February 21, 2006)

• 2007 budget proposal would cut the


Commodity Supplemental Food Program –
food assistance to 420,000 low income
seniors in an average month. Savings per
month – less than $20/person/month
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 14, 2006)
• Budget would cut expenditures for non-defense
discretionary programs by $125 billion – next 5
years
– Preventative Care Block Grant – preventative health
services – underserved populations
– TRIO Talent Search program – disad. high school
students finish H.S. and go to college
– Community Services Block Grant – services to low
income families
– $1 billion (over 5 years) – child care funding for low
and moderate income families
• $79 billion increase over 5 years in defense and
homeland-security spending (not including Iraq
and Afghanistan)
• Tax Cuts = $285 billion (5 years) $1.7 trillion (10
years)
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 14, 2006)
Can Justice be Achieved with Economic
Inequality?
Can democracy truly exist if we live in a
society of haves and have nots?

Is it the responsibility of citizens to take


an active role in changing the economic
system, or should it be left to the the
natural forces of capitalism?
Members of the Power Elite – how
they rule…
• The Constitution
– Role of government – it “ought to be so
constituted as to protect the minority of the
opulent against the majority” – James Madison
– Electoral college
You Call This a
– Commerce clause
Democracy by Paul
– Contract clause
Kivel
Members of the Power Elite – how
they rule…
• Corporations
– 1886 – given rights as a person
– Expanded power and size
• 52 of the 100 largest economies in the world are
corporations
Members of the Power Elite – how
they rule…
• The Courts
– Interpret the law – not necessarily justice
– Prohibited labor from strikes, picketts, etc…
– Found favor with business at the expense of
workers (cancelling contracts, etc…)
– Found constitutional – issues of eminent
domain
How Does All of this Impact
Democracy Today?
Herbert Spencer
•Social Darwinism - individual competition = “the law of
life”
•"Society advances where its fittest members are allowed to
assert their fitness with the least hindrance.“
•unfit should "not be prevented from dying out."
•Spencer believed that individuals could genetically pass on
their learned characteristics to their children.
•the fittest persons inherited such qualities as industriousness,
frugality, the desire to own property, and the ability to
accumulate wealth. The unfit inherited laziness, stupidity, and
immorality.
•population of unfit people would slowly decline.
•Government should not take any actions to prevent this from
happening.
Karl Marx
•Bourgeoisie – owners of capital
•Proletariat – workers
•Alienation
•Class Conflict - proletariat would overthrow the bourgeoisie
and institute a new classless system
•Only true representation of the people could exist by those
not actively exploiting their labor
•Dictatorship of the proletariat would provide a temporary
means to this end
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
"Between capitalist and communist society
there lies the period of the revolutionary
transformation of the one into the other.
Corresponding to this is also a political
transition period in which the state can be
nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of
the proletariat." - Karl Marx,
The dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the organization of the
vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of
suppressing the oppressors, cannot result merely in an expansion of
democracy. Simultaneously with an immense expansion of
democracy, which for the first time becomes democracy for the
poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the money-
bags, the dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of
restrictions on the freedom of the oppressors, the exploiters, the
capitalists. We must suppress them in order to free humanity from
wage slavery, their resistance must be crushed by force; it is clear
that there is no freedom and no democracy where there is
suppression and where there is violence." - V.I. Lenin
Who do you tend to agree with?
Marx of Spencer…