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Art by Alex Smith-Perry/VOX ATL staff

‘So Much Power, So Much Influence’: The Super-Rich and our Government [Opinion]

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All my life I’ve believed that celebrities, the super rich, and the government were separate. Watching the news and reading articles, I’ve found this to be untrue. Money has a much bigger part in the government than most realize. There are many examples of current politicians using this to their advantage. This can impact us teens in the future by creating a larger wealth gap, negatively affecting many. 

The extremely wealthy have so much power and so much influence,”  says Atlanta teen Joseph Rodriguez, 14, who attends DeKalb School of the Arts, “They own all of our news companies, our phone and tech companies, our delivery services and even both of our political parties. But what scares me the most is that they use that power to lobby for laws (more tax cuts for the rich and the attempted privatizations of the USPS are just a few examples) purposely made to halt progress & put people like them in power. These people can and will choose a candidate for their party that reflects those values.”

The Super Rich and Political Power

Unfortunately, there are many ways for the super-rich to gain political power. Many donate to politicians’ campaigns (such as Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, who donated over $620,000 to the Biden campaign in June), which can make it appear as if the politician has more support than they actually do. Another donor to the Biden campaign is Eli Reinhard, who also donated over $620,000 in June. Reinhard is a real-estate developer who has a mixed history of political donations. In 2008, he donated $10,000 to the Republican Party of California and in the same year donated to former New York Mayor Rudy Guliani’s presidential campaign. 

The super-rich often support representatives who will vote for and create laws that allow them to gain power, such as allowing them to pay less taxes and giving them land. Others go as far as running for positions of power, such as president or a place in Congress. A study showed that in 2014,  over half of the members of Congress were millionaires. Later in 2017, Congress passed a tax act that allowed the top 1% to pay hundreds of thousands less in taxes, while only allowing the average middle-class citizen to pay about $40 less in taxes annually. When the people at the tops of successful companies pay less taxes, their stock value goes up, as they have more money. Many members of Congress are well aware of this and own individual stocks. Therefore, when the 2017 tax act was passed, those members of Congress (such as David Perdue, R-Ga.) gained money. 

‘They Don’t Know What It’s Like to be Lower or Middle Class’

A good modern example of the wealthy gaining political power is Donald Trump. His party created the 2017 tax act, using his power to benefit himself and wealthy members of Congress. He has also used his place of power to avoid paying taxes (to learn more about super-rich people that donated to Trump’s campaign, click here).

Eliana Marcus, 14, a DeKalb School of the Arts student says, “It scares me that they get to make so many decisions when they don’t know what it is like to be lower or even middle class.”  

“I do believe being wealthy gives you power,” says Rodriguez. “Not only power over other people but you know have an influx of money to spend on lobbying to stop something that would negatively affect you, but not everyone else (like the wealth tax several lawmakers are trying to pass).”

Trump: No Experience, Only Money

Trump has gained a very large amount of power for someone with little to no political experience, only money and fame, like many other super-rich Americans. I hope we see less of this in the future, as the wealthy having political power has had astonishing results (example: 200,000 people dying in a year from a preventable virus). They have pulled more strings in the government than the amount of taxes they pay.

The super rich have much more political power than we think, which many people like me believe has helped to increase the national debt. We must remember to check the facts before we support a politician and do research on their actual plan, not just the one they publish. If we support candidates who genuinely care for the United States citizens, it can mean a better future for our generation.

 

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