Who Rules? Networks…

Or rather one network.

Our federal government is built to share power across different networks across the country.

That’s beginning to break down. This video tells the story…

TRANSCRIPT:

Hello All.

When we think of the people who run things, we tend to think of individuals. We think of Bill Gates, or a given President. But that’s not how it really works. Organizations are run by networks, or groups of people. Sometimes these networks are built within a given organization, but the really effective ones are built across organizations. That’s why people tend to hire CEOs from outside the company. GATES AND WEST WING

The most powerful job a network can get is the US presidency. In the bad old days of the spoils system, it was pretty straightforward. A new president would fire as many government workers as possible and then give jobs to all of his friends. Throughout American history the presidency has rotated between the country’s many different geographical centers of power. A bunch of Massachusetts elitists would get tossed out by a group of genocidal Tennessee roughnecks, followed by a bunch of corrupt New York machine politicians.

This succession of regional networks could be chaotic, but it was also good for the country. No one network could hold on to power for more than four to eight years. People would enrich themselves, and their home state, but then they would go home and someone else would have a turn. Nobody had the opportunity to form a permanent ruling class.

This has begun to change. Recent politicians have seemed less and less connected to geography. Obama only spent 7 years in Illinois before winning his first election, Clinton barely made it a year in New York before becoming a Senator from that state. The Bushes generally put in a decade or two before running, but their power base isn’t limited to one state, or even to one country.

In US politics, where you come from is becoming much less important than where you went to school. In a geographic context the past few presidents look diverse, but when you look at their educations, not so much. We haven’t had a non ivy league educated president for over a quarter century. Presidents are like most modern professionals, they build the foundation of their networks at school. To a very real extent, we are beginning to be ruled by a single network. The appropriate word for this is oligarchy.

Our new ruling class agrees on the fundamentals, no matter what the partisan marketing says. The opportunities they have access to would make Andrew Jackson jealous. A secure government job is nice, but a hundred million dollar federal contract is much much nicer. Wall Street also happens to be run Ivy League graduates. Politicians will always be in it for themselves, and the framers of our constitution knew that. They relied on competition between regional interests keep our government healthy and free. That competition is pretty much over.

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