Mass media, corporate finance and "Manufacturing consent"
Corporate power has commodified political discourse and meaningful civic engagement has been replaced by political consumerism and the gaze of the mainstream media. A cascade of media campaigns continues before and after the election only to be interrupted on election day. Political parties have turned into money laundering operations for the super-rich and social media duties are farmed out to media outlets. Electoral politics has turned into the normalization of spectacular media events and meaningful engagement has been converted into a consumption experience.
Education and inequality
The education system that played the role of great equalizer and created a vibrant middle class in the US does not function that way anymore. All the benefits of economic growth have been captured by the big corporations and their shareholders in the past few decades. While after tax profits of corporations doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent of the GDP after 1970, the share of wages declined by 8 percent of GDP. As a result, $2 trillion USD was shifted from the middle class to the super rich. In the case of poor sections, the situation is worse. Children of low-income families have to frequently change school due to poor housing, have little help with homework, have chronic health problems and live in chaotic and unsafe neighborhoods (Hanauer 2019). Student debt is another burden which has been carried by baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennial, and Gen-Z students. Repayment of these debts is playing havoc with their lives. In the US, homeownership by Millennials has declined by 20 percent, a significant number have postponed marrying and having children. The situation is similar in other democracies. The nuclear family, the building block of “free societies,” seems to be falling apart (Abrams and Cody 2019). At the same time wealthy parents have been bribing coaches and helping their children to cheat in exams to get them admission into college. Fifty people were charged by federal prosecutors in the US for paying $25 million to college-prep professionals to bribe coaches and administrators (Williams 2019).