This three-sided war between government, tycoons and organized crime will involve members of all three groups using each other against their own rivals. The distinction between all three will be vague at best. Government officials will profit from their business connections and use their power to aid organized crime. Organized crime will have its own businesses and politicians. And the tycoons will run for office and have clean ‘white’ businesses, dirty ‘black’ businesses and ‘gray’ businesses.
Most of the money in the country is in the hands of one of these three groups. The tycoons control the white market. Organized crime controls the black market. Government controls the monetary supply and collects tribute from both markets, officially and unofficially. This is a closed system with very little room for dynamism except through outside intervention.
In an oligarchy, walking in and starting your own business is not really an option. The first bar that any new business has to meet is that of connections. The second bar is the interests of the oligarchy. You don’t start a car company if the oligarchy’s titans have a lot of money invested in a buggy monopoly. The car company will be either burned out or legislated out of business. Conversely, if you pick your moment, you can get a monopoly on that new foreign automotive technology if you know the right people and spread the right amount of bribes around.
The oligarchy safeguards established interests. It is a mafia whose goal is to control and profit from all wealth. Even when it comes to power as the result of a revolution, it very quickly discovers its own established interests. Its members will knock each other off, but they all agree that the basic nature of the system should not change. What they fear most of all is the collapse of that system.
There is plenty of money to be made in an oligarchy, but there is very little forward motion. New things do not emerge out of an oligarchy of union guilds, politically connected tycoons and politicians who derive their power and influence from their connections to both. Once a new thing exists, then the oligarchy will find ways to profit from it and even improve it, but there is no progress from within the oligarchy.
There is also very little social mobility. Human ingenuity can allow people to become wealthy under nearly any set of circumstances, but it’s a good deal harder to do it under an oligarchy. Oligarchies have enough instability that it is possible, but those individual stories of making it up from the slums are usually isolated incidents. The majority of slum-dwellers stay in the slums and become involved with a political faction if they want to improve their lives.
In the oligarchy the wealthy form a natural aristocracy, but it isn’t an aristocracy of talent, it’s the accretion of closeness to power. This aristocracy changes in composition with revolutions, but its nature remains the same. It is a collection of the people with the best lobbyists, the best bribes and the closest cultural ties to whoever is in power. Any member of the oligarchy can have his wealth and influence stripped away in minutes at the behest of the regime.
Even as American Exceptionalism declined, the remaining free enterprise aspects of the country kept the American Dream alive. For a while that American Dream, the ability to enter the country and move up the economic ladder became the sum of the nation. Generations of politicians reduced the meaning of the United States to a nation of immigrants where any new arrival could launch his own business and make money.
The rise of the oligarchy is foreclosing that dream leaving only the nation of immigrants struggling within a complicated political hierarchy for government handouts from a political movement that denounces some tycoons at the behest of other tycoons. It’s the oligarchy at war for control of the dead present, even as it kills the past and the future to accommodate its plans.
It is the end of America and the rise of an Obamerica. Obamerica will still have great reserves of wealth, but on average it be far poorer and far less productive.