As the protests in the Ukraine unfolded this past weekend, the world got to see how President Viktor Yanukovych and members of parliament, like Yuriy Ivanyushchenko, lived. “Good” would be an understatement.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own helipad, golf course, gold-plated sinks, dining halls, Grecian gardens and exotic farm animals? When you’re a member of the elite it could all be yours, courtesy of “the people.”
Time and time again throughout history, the ruling class finds ways to horde wealth created by the people — all while claiming to act in “the people’s” interest. Unlike entrepreneurial start ups, factories and businesses, government officials essentially produce nothing. Outside its primarily purpose — the safety and security of the people — the size and scope of government should be limited in part to prevent exactly the kind of predictable theft demonstrated in the Ukraine.
Americans do not need the newspaper to tell them about the countless politicians who come to the nation’s capital, only to find themselves years later as members of the “one percent” the Occupy protesters railed against. It’s quite obvious what is happening.
Regardless, documentation is good. The New York Times reported in January:
For the first time in history, more than half the members of the House and Senate are now millionaires, according to a new analysis of financial disclosure reports filed last year.
The median net worth for lawmakers in the House and Senate was $1,008,767 — up 4.4 percent, according to the analysis, conducted by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which examines the influence of money on politics in Washington.
Over all, at least 268 of the 534 current members of Congress had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, which is the year covered by the reports that each lawmaker had to file in 2013.
The failure of the Occupy movement was that it had no focus. It didn’t know who to blame. The problem isn’t capitalism, but crony capitalism, which is fueled by the Leviathan they sought to feed. The problem isn’t guys like Darrell Issa, who made his millions by starting his own company (i.e., Viper car alarms), but career politicians who never worked a day in the private sector as an adult, don’t understand how it works, but still accrued wealth beyond the average American’s wildest dreams through shady connections and the “perks” of power (e.g., buying prime real estate just before legislation passed for that new super highway or construction project).
If Americans do not think that what is happening in the Ukraine and Venezuela could one day happen here, they are kidding themselves. There are millions of Americans who routinely vote for the U.S. versions of Viktor Yanukovych and Yuriy Ivanyushchenko. There are also millions of Americans who read enough history to see that it’s primed to repeat itself, and when it does they will be angry. At this time in history, Americans would be wise to reacquaint themselves with the principles that guided our founding fathers. If they do not, there will be needlessly painful days ahead.