Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/7/2014 (3 weeks ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Without moral restraint, plutocrats are building their own scaffold.

An article published in 2011 in Forbes is making the rounds again and people are talking, but despite the dust on the copy, it's a timely conversation. The article by Brendan Coffey reveals that there are four companies that control 147 other companies and those 147 companies control virtually everything. So in other words, control of world markets is quite concentrated.

In the game of plutocracy you start by owing money to the bank and as it progresses, you owe more.

In the game of plutocracy you start by owing money to the bank and as it progresses, you owe more.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/7/2014 (3 weeks ago)

Published in Business & Economics

Keywords: Business, Morals, Revolution, Forbes, Inequality


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Slowly, Americans are waking up to see the nation is slipping further into plutocracy where a few wealthy people manipulate politics and markets to perpetually enrich themselves. This is how free-markets work, but without moral checks on greed, plutocracy emerges and opportunity for the individual evaporates.

This is the simple outline of the problem, and while we can bog ourselves down in minutiae, the bottom line is the same. Plutocrats at the top have become so wealthy and powerful they are beginning to pull the ladder up behind them, leaving millions of Americans without much hope of moving up the social ladder. The American Dream is evaporating as we awaken.

Let's support the spread of morals to counteract greed. Better decisions come from moral education.


That Americans are awakening to this is what makes the article penned by Brendan Coffey in 2011 so timely. According to Coffey, researchers built a digital model of 37 million companies and their connections which surprisingly showed that these millions of companies are controlled by just 147 firms. Those 147 dominant firms are themselves controlled by just four much larger firms.

None of this is engineered deliberately, it's just the product of rich people doing what they do to get richer.

Coffey wrote: "You can see where I'm headed here. That means the real power to control the world lies with four companies: McGraw-Hill, which owns Standard & Poor's, Northwestern Mutual, which owns Russell Investments, the index arm of which runs the benchmark Russell 1,000 and Russell 3,000, CME Group which owns 90% of Dow Jones Indexes, and Barclay's, which took over Lehman Brothers and its Lehman Aggregate Bond Index, the dominant world bond fund index. Together, these four firms dominate the world of indexing. And in turn, that means they hold real sway over the world's money."

Coffey then explains how these companies can manipulate indexes and other indicators which gives them a powerful influence on the world market. You can read his full article here, which in turn links back to others to support his conclusions.

Ultimately, we live in a much more economically homogenous world than we think. Those four companies are dominated by powerful stakeholders creating a power elite that is virtually untouchable.

Conspiracy theorists might be on to something when they claim that most of the world's decisions are made by a small group of perhaps a few dozen men, although there's no active conspiracy going on. Each plutocrat has just one desire, which is to enrich and empower themselves, even at the expense of their fellow billionaires. They are by no means loyal to one another.

But there's much more to this than that. When the elites number in the dozens, and power is concentrated in their hands, it leaves very little in share of voice for the people. This is becoming painfully evident in the United States, a nation which is supposed to be a republic and where people elect representatives to govern themselves. Unfortunately, the entire process is awash in corporate cash and the politicians are bought and owned by their sponsors.

Recent studies have shown that even when corporate will and public will are at odds, it is the corporate will that won legislative battle much more often. Now, elections only offer the illusion of choice as opposed to genuine choice and no matter what the people want or say, the corporate money does all the deciding.

What's most ironic about all this is that for all their wealth and power, the plutocrats are eroding the very foundation of their wealth, which is the middle class. Inequality is rising sharply and the middle class is shrinking. While we can blame President Obama, or the American welfare state, or the rise of tuition, or low minimum wages and so on, these are all red herrings. Even Obama is just a puppet of the elites.

The heart of the problem is that there is no more moral compass which governs decision making on behalf of the plutocrats. Historically, even plutocrats listened to the Church, or their American values when making decisions. Take for example Henry Ford who insisted on paying his workers enough to allow them to buy the cars they built. There are no more Henry Fords today.

Billionaire Nick Hanauer in the current issue of Politico Magazine said as much in his article, "The Pitchforks Are Coming. For Us Plutocrats." As inequality grows and the middle class disappears, the foundation of a stable society erodes, and the likelihood of civil unrest and tectonic economic upheaval grows.

Of course, it's not like the elites don't see this coming-they do, but it's human nature to ignore the threat until it's too late. Consider the first batch of aristocrats beheaded during the French Revolution. If they believed for a moment they had a date with the scaffold, they would have fled the country well before their own people turned against them.

In France, all it took was a single bad year and a government too broke to buy bread for the people, and within days to weeks, the revolution was out of control beyond anything the royal family or First Estate could do. It can happen faster than you think.

Today's plutocrats would probably contract themselves to build their own scaffold. This is why we need a moral revolution at the top, before pitchforks appear in the streets.

Having four companies in control of everything, even if by extension, is dangerous especially if the people who make decisions in those companies lack the morality to restrain their greed and ensure the social ladder stays in place behind them. It's tempting to pull the ladder up behind you and enjoy all the cake for yourself, except that history shows us that strategy never works.

We're headed into perilous times, distracted by celebrity worship, sporting extravaganzas, and hyped political scandals that approach reality-show heights in terms of drama. Meanwhile, the real scandal is the fact that our government has mortgaged the future of our nation while playing for the next election cycle, all at the behest of their corporate masters who operate behind the scenes in Washington and around the world.

It's public disengagement and unrestrained greed that have created a perfect storm of circumstances where just a few dozen men, controlling four companies, have become the economic masters of the world. In doing what they do, they have started consuming the middle class of American society in a bid to become yet more rich and powerful because this is the nature of greed.

Unfortunately, our nation may likely be just one bad year away from collapse. In 1787, the young King Louis XVI knew he faced some significant economic challenges, but he had no imagining that he was just months away from total disaster.

The warning signs are there, but nobody who can do anything is heeding them, so let us pray that when the difficulties come we remember our morals and use the opportunity to create a better future.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Business & Economics

INDEBTEDNESS: One in three U.S. adults have 'debt in collections' Watch

Image of One in three American adults are so far behind in personal debt that many of their accounts have been referred to collections.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Some call it the American way, and it's become a most uncomfortable fact of life for many Americans. Personal debt is at an all-time high, and at least one in three Americans, 77 million people, have had their debt referred to collection agencies as a result. ... continue reading


LUMP OF COAL - LITERALLY! Coal companies pushed to brink of insolvency by Obama policies Watch

Image of The very fuel that fed the Industrial Revolution and powered U.S. growth for much of the past century, the coal industry finds itself on the brink of insolvency, with many companies going out of business.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dealing with cheap natural gas and tighter regulation, the U.S. coal industry has fallen on hard times. The very fuel that fed the Industrial Revolution and powered U.S. growth for much of the past century, the coal industry finds itself on the brink of ... continue reading


The poor getting power in U.S. - typical household is now worth a third less Watch

Image of The old saw goes that when only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The rich get richer - and the poor have children. But seriously, folks, the poor is getting even poorer in the United States. Recovery from the last big recession in 2007, hasn't really taken off as of yet. Recent studies show that the average American ... continue reading


HAIL BRITANIA! Britain declared fastest growing economy in developed world Watch

Image of Britain is now

By CNA/EWTN News

There will always be an England, as the old song goes. While the United Kingdom has experienced highs and lows, it's always recovered - and prospered. This was born out by the recent news that Britain will be the best performing major economy in the developed ... continue reading


Amazon sits on slippery slope as investors pull out from company Watch

Image of Amazon, despite constant reinvestment into technology like smartphones and drones, continues to lose investors and profits.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Amazon lost over $16 billion in value on the night of July 26, a sign that investors were growing weary of the retail giant's repeated failures to make a consistent profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This was Amazon's largest quarterly loss in two years, ... continue reading


The buck does stop here: Chinese currency set to close the gap between it and the dollar Watch

Image of A new study from China indicates that the Chinese yuan is likely to become the third most used international currency by 2019.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

China's currency, the renminbi (RMB), is looking to become the third-largest international currency behind the U.S.'s dollar and the euro by 2019 said the Renmin University of China in a report published on July 20. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Last year, ... continue reading


Financial consultant warns that U.S. is entering third largest stock bubble Watch

Image of A new study by financial consulting firm Smithers & Co. warns that the U.S. is entering another major stock bubble, the third largest in U.S. history.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new research report by financial consultant Andrew Smithers, chairman of Smithers & Co., suggests that the U.S. is in the midst of another stock-market bubble, much like the bubbles in 1853, 1906, 1929, 1969 and 1999. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


WARNING: The most important article you may ever read - We need a moral revolution at the top, before pitchforks appear in the street Watch

Image of In the game of plutocracy you start by owing money to the bank and as it progresses, you owe more.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An article published in 2011 in Forbes is making the rounds again and people are talking, but despite the dust on the copy, it's a timely conversation. The article by Brendan Coffey reveals that there are four companies that control 147 other companies and those 147 ... continue reading


U.S. to shortly overtake Saudi Arabia, Russia in production of natural oil Watch

Image of In Texas and North Dakota, oil extraction is soaring at shale formations as companies split rocks using high-pressure liquid in a process known as fracking.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States has often found itself at the mercy of unstable nations for the majority of its oil imports. That day may soon be past after American begins the extraction of energy from shale rock, eventually overtaking both Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil ... continue reading


Unemployment among black Americans twice that among whites Watch

Image of The jobless rate among whites last month was 6.6 percent; among blacks, 12.6 percent. The unemployment rate for blacks has averaged about 2.2 times that for whites.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When African-Americans marched on Washington in 1963, it was under the banner of "Jobs and Freedom." There remains a great inequity with the former; the number of unemployed blacks in America remains twice as much as whites, and has remained that way for ... continue reading


All Business & Economics News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2014 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter