What is elitism? According to most dictionaries, it is something like this. "The belief that a society or system should be run by elites." Or maybe, "The superior attitude or behavior associated with an elite." And there is this one. "The fact or sensing that one is a member of an elite.
Which takes us to the meaning of the root word, "elite." In this page we aren't writing about athletic achievement, such as an elite athlete. We aren't discussing medical breakthroughs like those of an elite surgeon who develops a new procedure to save lives.
Here are a couple definitions of elite:
* "(A person or class of persons) considered superior by others (or by themselves,) as in intellect, talent, power, wealth, or position in society"
* "A person having, thought to have, (or professing) superior intellect or talent, power, wealth, or membership in the upper echelons of society"
I highlighted "or by themselves" and "or professing" because that kind of answer to "What is elitism?" is the subject of this page.
I've written extensively about the national dangers of an entitlement mentality. It drags down a country's growth, initiative and productivity. It fosters an attitude of laziness and a willingness to sit back and let other people or governments "take care of them."
And as the next generations grow up within this entitlement mentality, the cycle repeats. Over and over again. Overall growth stalls. Resources that could be used to grow nations and to assist those truly in need are diluted and dispersed to growing numbers of citizens who don't recognize a need, nor even a feel any desire to pull their own weight.
But there is a silent, nearly invisible force that is feeding this entitlement mentality. It is a layered structure, with each level built upon the next, dependent upon each other for survival.
As the levels go up, the grip on power gets tighter. The level of influence and the ability to direct policy grows as well.
What is elitism? It is a sense of superiority that somehow allows a person or a group the ability to justify in their own minds, any action, even ones that are blatantly dishonest or corrupt.
In order for the first level of elitism to maintain their grip on power, they need to convince enough people that they are really "serving their constituents." Members of congress need to get elected and stay elected. That means they need to tell people what they want to hear, even if it feeds the growing entitlement mentality.
"It isn't your fault. Vote for me. We'll send you taxpayer money. Ignore your commitment to pay off your student loans. Entry level jobs are beneath you. Sign up for unemployment instead. And remember, vote for me."
Included in this same level would be a section of elitism that has never run a business, never even hired an employee, and in fact spent their entire adult lives in classrooms or in university offices.
But they still possess that feeling of superiority that allows them to pontificate on how businesses should be run. They post long essays about raising the minimum wage to higher and higher levels, all the while not having a clue how the balance between income and expense determines the success of a business and by extension, the ability to continue to pay wages.
And they throw their support behind the "legislators" who promise the world, but have no idea how to pay for it.
The next level in the pyramid involves those who directly profit from the efforts of the lower level of elitism.
There was a study done years ago revealing, " that 37 of 49 top FDA officials who left the FDA took positions with
companies they had regulated. They also reported that over 150 FDA
officials owned stock in drug companies they were assigned to manage." The number has grown exponentially since that study was completed. What is elitism? It is profiting at taxpayer expense.
Companies pay universities large sums of money to cut and paste corporate spin and then allow one of their professors to sign the documents, thus creating an illusion of "research credibility." The Monsanto conspiracy has been caught in this web of deceit as they followed the proven methods of the tobacco empire who placed corporate profits ahead of human health for decades.
Corporations pay off legislators to buy their votes which guarantees their own minions will be placed in regulatory positions, fire-walling them from accountability and responsibility.
Another definition of "What is elitism?" could be a complete disregard for the health and prosperity of the citizens, instead opting for personal and financial gain.
As the level of elitism grows, so to does the level of influence and power. At the top of the pyramid, you'll find the very large banks. As we learned from our page about Jekyll Island, this level of elitism has been in place for over a century.
Please be sure to check out Mike Maloney's amazing series of videos describing the history of money. You'll find it in the resource library, located in the left margin of every page.
The level of power within this group of big banks is unfathomable. If you doubt it, think about the election process in America.
Think about the outcome of past elections. Through all of them, the upper level of elitism has maintained it's grip on power. Is it because they make sure anyone sitting in the big chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. is "manageable?"
In the remaining sections, I'll present a few more specific examples which answer the question, "What is elitism?"
The Glass-Steagall Act was put in place decades ago to keep investment banks separate from banks holding regular deposits. The idea was to protect ordinary citizens from excessive risk-taking by big banks.
This became a problem in the late nineties for two companies seeking to merge into one giant entity.
What is elitism? It is violating the law of the land to bend to the will of big banks. During the Bill Clinton presidency, the rules of law were not only ignored, but completely circumvented.
Citicorp and Travelers hatched their plan. Sandy Weill, an original co-CEO of this new company was not concerned with this roadblock. He stated "the legislation will change...we have had enough discussions to believe this will not be a problem" He said this in advance of any law change!
Discussions? With whom? How about the man sitting in the chair as secretary of the treasury of the Clinton cabinet at that time? His name was Robert Rubin. Or maybe with Timothy Geithner, at the time aligned with the New York branch of the federal reserve?
And the law was changed. Not until after the merger which placed Citigroup in direct violation of federal law. But only if the law is enforced. And in this case, it was not.
Here is part of a comment from Kenneth Guenther who was the CEO of Independent Community Bankers of America.
"Who do they think they are? Other people, firms, cannot act like this... Citicorp and Travelers were so big that they were able to pull this off. They were able to pull off the biggest financial conglomerate ... the largest financial coming together of banking, insurance and securities-when legislation was still on the books saying this was illegal. And they pulled this off with the blessings of the president of the United States, President Clinton, the chairman of the Federal Reserve system, Alan Greenspan; and the secretary of the treasury, Robert Rubin. And then, when it's all over, what happens? The secretary of the treasury becomes a vice chairman of the emerging Citigroup."
After leaving Citgroup, Rubin became an advisor to Barack Obama. Timothy Geithner would serve a turbulent term as that president's secretary of the treasury. "Hope and change" were replaced with more useful elitism and crony capitalism.
There is perhaps no better example of elitism than the two-headed monster that holds a death grip on the political process in America. What is elitism? It is an attitude of absolute arrogance and complete disregard for the constituents in whom elected officials are supposed to represent.
We've seen another example of the devious nature of elitism. The poster child for Washington insider corruption, Hillary Clinton was challenged in the primary process by someone who broke all the established "rules" of campaigning.
He told the truth, which was unheard of in an election process. We certainly didn't agree with all that he said, but we applauded his honesty. The entrenched political machines were so taken back by this strategy of truth that they conspired from within to insure their standard-bearer of dishonesty and "status quo" was victorious.
The sitting DNC chair was forced to resign when the news came out, but it was merely considered collateral damage in the battle for political domination.
The answers to "What is elitism?" have surfaced all around us in the world of sports. We've seen time after time, that winning records are more important than personal responsibility and the rules of law.
At Baylor University, evidence continues to mount, indicating an institutional wink and nod was in place when it came to discipline and accountability within the football team. It cost the head coach his job, and eventually the school president met the same fate.
There was a prison sentence handed down in that case. But what gained more news time was the concern about whether the outgoing coach would be allowed to return after a year.
The reality of big-time sports in college is that the head coach has his or her finger on the pulse of nearly everything that goes on in his or her program. His attempts to absolve himself of blame in the Baylor crimes speaks volumes about the elitist attitude of that discharged coach and the former university president who tried to shield the coach.
In a more egregious example that answers the question of what is elitism, we see the case of the Stanford swimmer who attacked a semi-conscious women. The swimmer's father in a vivid example of how to teach your child that he is above the law, argued that this rape shouldn't wreck in his son's future, in particular his shot at the Olympics. His concern for his son's victim was underwhelming to say the least.
But it worked on the judge. Even though this "honorable" judge called it one of the worst cases he had seen, he didn't see it as being worthy of a prison sentence.
When we do not hold athletes, celebrities or people with the money to buy verdicts accountable, the end result is always a sense of elitism-of being above the law.
There is a solution, albeit a harsh one, which means it has little chance of being adopted. The head coaches who hand out scholarships, have a responsibility to make sure this free tuition is given to upstanding citizens, not predators looking for easy marks in new areas.
Since some sports have more athletes on scholarship, a sort of ratio system would be required. 10% seems about right. If a football coach brings a future convict on to his campus, that team would lose 10% of it's scholarship opportunities following a felony conviction of a player.
A swimming coach would lose the same 10%. The number would be less, but the effect on the team would be the same. And after one application, you can be certain that coaches would pay more attention to past character examples than to 40 yard dash times or 50 meter split times.
As I've written in other pages at books-empower.com, our role is two-fold. We must become better informed. We must become more financially literate. We must pass those ideas down to the next generation because they will be stuck with the bill if we don't fix the problems we helped to create.
And we must mobilize and respond. Our votes and our choices will change things. Simply refusing to buy anything associated with corporations who place profits ahead of human health is step one. Step two is vote out those who cave in to elitism and disregard the will of the people.
We can change the definition of "What is elitism?" to "A former policy of placing oneself above the greater good, which has been eliminated by a groundswell of support and action from everyday American citizens."
What a great lesson for future generations as they study history.