The Swamp Rabbit and I were weatherproofing his new shack in Tinicum Swamp and discussing the repeal of net neutrality rules. There is no end to a plutocrat’s money lust, I said, or to an oligarch’s lust for power.
“What’s the difference between a pluto-cat and an oligarch?” Swamp Rabbit said.
I had to think about that. “A plutocrat is a rich businessperson who is obsessed with becoming even richer,” I said. “An oligarch is one of a small gang of people who control the government. You can be a oligarch without being a plutocrat, but oligarchs these days are almost always plutocrats.”
Swamp Rabbit drove a nail into a crossbeam and said, “You mean like Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast? How much you think him and his pluto-cat friends spent on killing net neutrality?”
Good question. Comcast runs an empire of media outlets and has spent multi-millions on lobbyists. Verizon and AT&T other mega-corporations have also spent huge amounts. I said, “I’m not sure, but you can bet your scrawny rabbit ass that a lot of their lobbying money came from overcharging cable customers.”
You have to be persistent to become an oligarch, I explained. Comcast lobbied extra-hard to deep-six net neutrality rules installed in 2015, when Obama was president. Their efforts paid off bigly after Trump got elected and appointed Republican and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai to chair the FCC.
“Damn!” Swamp Rabbit said. “Now the pluto-cats can make us pay more for faster internet connections, and they can block websites they don’t like.”
He drank from a bottle of Wild Turkey and coughed for a minute. Then he said, “I get it that a gang of corporate scumbags owns the media. But shouldn’t the gov’mint be worried that scumbags have all that power?”
“That’s just it,” I replied. “The scumbags are the gov’mint. They’re oligarchs, remember? Pass me that bottle.”