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It works like this... The most important assets for a free people are
time and leisure. Once you have that, then you can develop the ability
to think critically, to analyze facts, events, trends, and to become
aware of the dynamics that operate within a social system.
In a society, once a large-enough segment of the population has
developed an understanding of how the system works, you then have an
informed citizenry who is able to act in favor of their interests.
So in a healthy democracy where the population is informed and
educated, you will not have a very marked disparity in income
distribution between the population and the rich.
So having access to time and leisure, leads to an improved ability to
think, to analyse, and to become aware about how the system works.
This in turn leads to the ability to organize with other informed
citizens to take collective actions to safeguard your interests.
For the citizenry, this results in having a larger share of the nation's income, wealth, and power.
That's why the oligarchs are always (eternally) trying to find ways
to chip away at the ability for the common man to be able to have access
to idle time and/or leisure.
That explains the hundreds of millions of dollars certain business
organizations and lobbying groups spend on bribing politicians
nationwide to setup a legislative framework to make it harder for
workers to unionize, to make education less accessible, to destroy the
proper functions of government.
When it comes to power, the most significant component is income and wealth, especially in a capitalist system.
Once people fall into poverty, they become powerless (by and large);
that's why you hardly see politicians talking about the poor. They are
always talking about the "middle class."
And it does not matter how large the segment of the population
falling into poverty may be. For example, a population that has a 10%
incidence of poverty, is as powerless as a population who has 80% living
in poverty (in my opinion).
Right now (as you read this), there is a segment of the population
who has vast wealth and it's using it to manipulate the bought off
politicians nationwide (federal, state, counties, cities) to push
"austerity measures" onto the citizenry.
These austerity measures have the effect of curtailing access to education, health care, and a plethora of workers' rights.
As these very well-planned policies take effect, the average worker
then has less time, and less leisure. This immediately translates into a
rapidly-expanding wealth gap between the rich, an the rest. As the
rich become richer (aided by the bribing of Democrats and Republican
politicians across the entire country), and the poor become poorer, the
percentage of the population who is poor also increases rapidly (as it
is the case now).
As poverty spreads through the population, ignorance also spreads,
since poor people don't have access to the proper infrastructure to get
And here's the "brilliance" of the oligarchs. As the "hamster
wheels" (as it were) are spun faster and faster, the workers try to keep
up. Those who fall off the wheel, unable to keep up with the
oppression and exploitation, then fall into poverty, and are quickly
marginalized, stripped from any source of power, and ghettoized.