In 1948 Leonard E. Read, the founder of the first “freedom philosophy” think tank, The Foundation for Economic Education, wrote a prescient book titled Pattern for Revolt. The book anticipated the launch of the Tea Party movement more than half a century later, and described the policies and campaign of an outsider candidate for the Presidency in 1948 and 1952. This classic is an ideal candidate to be re-issued as part of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, because so much of what Read wrote about the problems politicians have understanding economics is relevant to today.
Read coined a phrase in that book: the plunderstorm economy, which can be defined as “an economy run on the basis of interests of a group of political and corporate elite (plundercrats) who legally plunder the wealth earned by others and give it to themselves their allies through the use of the political process.”
Plundercrats are the bureaucrats in federal, state, and local government, as well as Fortune 500 companies who enforce the distribution of this legal plunder. Examples of plundercrats abound, including the HHS officials who have approved Obamacare waivers for unions and friends of Nancy Pelosi, and DOE officials who worked with GE and Sylvania to engineer the ridiculous energy standards for incandescent light bulbs.
With a tip of the hat to Mr. Read, I would like to offer another term that builds on that theme that is extraordinarily important in the discussion of our current fiscal difficulties:
The plunderclass — Americans who, to a significant degree live off “entitlement” payments received from the federal government as a result of legally plundering the wealth and earnings of working Americans and small businessmen, and tranfering it to them through taxation and redistribution. This class has grown from a very small level of 5% at the start of the War on Poverty to a remarkably high level approaching 40% in 2012.
Our current political and domestic problems can be summed up neatly in one concept.
There are three America’s today: the plundercrats who rig the system to give themselves enormous economic benefits, the plunderclass who vote for the plundercrats because they give them benefits from the public treasury, and the rest of us who do the work and pay the taxes. Call us mainstream America, the Tea Party, small business, the working class, or the middle class, our story is the same. We’re tired of supporting this corrupt and failed system. In next year’s elections, we’ll throw off the constraints it imposes upon us. When that job is done, you’ll start to see this economy take off again. Until then, look for the continued implosion of this plunderstorm economy.
Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .