If you have power, you can use that power to gather more power to yourself. It’s a simple-sounding statement, but it has been true throughout history, at all levels of society. The powerful tend to become more powerful over time, simply by exercising their authority. This is why the Founding Fathers built the idea of checks and balances into the fabric of America’s government – to prevent any one institution or person in government from becoming too powerful.
In a similar feedback loop, the wealthy tend to become progressively more wealthy over time – those who have financial resources are better able to invest them and gain more wealth. This reinforcing cycle has repeatedly given rise to a wealthy upper-class throughout history, and historically the US has been no exception to this.
However, what we’re seeing in the US today is a combination of these two feedback loops – moneyed interests can buy power, which they use to generate more money, which in turn gives them more power. This isn’t a new phenomenon, historically, but the extent to which our government (at all levels) has adopted it is a huge departure from America’s norms, and the damage that it is doing to us, and to our ability to fix our problems, is extremely worrying.
“Corruption,” as I use the term to describe this piece of the Interlock, actually means “corruption of governance.” Our system of governance, the way we Americans govern ourselves, has become corrupted by vested and powerful special interests, and this is tearing at the foundations of our national prosperity. If we cannot resolve this, the Interlock is effectively insoluble – without efficient and effective governance, our problems will only continue to fester.
Part 1: A new kind of corruption
Part 2: Corrosive effects
Part 3: Interactions – Corruption