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Plutonomy, a term that combines plutocracy and economy, refers to an economy in which growth is confined to people at the very top of the wealth pyramid. The term was coined by investment and marketing advisers to characterize the U.S. economy, as an ostensible guide to framing profitable investment and marketing strategies. Critics assert that this usage is one of the many indicators of the moral corruption of the system.

Plutonomy stands at the opposite end of the continuum from economic democracy, a system in which every person has an ownership stake in the means of production on which their livelihood depends. Economic democracy is an essential foundation of political democracy. Plutonomy and political democracy are mutually exclusive, as the current U.S. experience demonstrates so clearly.

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Author: David Korten