Article I, Section 9, Clause 8: No titles of nobility?

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Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution – No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.

And no title is. Directly. But it does seem obvious that a social class exists in America that equates to nobility, and this class is sanctioned by the state. To be noble is essentially to be born with a title that guarantees power and status for as long as the status quo is maintained. Due to property law then, there is no consequential difference between being born a Rockefeller and being born a Baron, except that it is much more desirable to be born a Rockefeller. The Rockefeller name has status far beyond that of a title like Baron or Lord. The Rockefeller heir has more power; he/she inherits billions and immeasurable influence. So, in reality, while no official title of nobility is granted to the next Rockefeller, Vanderbilt or Trump, they will all enjoy the same privileges above and beyond that of the old European nobility.

The noble class has reached levels of prosperity in America that were unimaginable in the past under any previous system. This is in part because the United States economy is now consumer driven, rather than slave driven. People forget that institutionalized emancipation was adopted not because of a moral objection to slavery, but because a consumer driven economy is more economically viable than a slavery based one. In usual circumstances, to keep a slave costs money, and buying one is a capital investment. Both these costs are avoided when you employ a free person directly; you pay them only for the work they do, and they have to fend for themselves outside of the time they are employed. The employee has to spend their wage on food, shelter and clothes. In this way they end up giving back their wages to a class of employers; these are the people who own everything and profit from the work the employees do. Not only this, but free people are usually more productive workers than slaves, and have a greater incentive to use their ingenuity to help the economy. Given more choice about their work, the working class is happier and more productive, as they are now working for their own success. They believe that they can build for themselves something like what the nobles have. They are still forced to work for a living, but they are given the added incentive of upward mobility in this new system. They are given an independence to act within the economy, yet they are still bound to that economy and to the large owners of capital indirectly. The nobles retain power by controlling the economy; they own most of the capital within the economy and have great influence over the political system through lobbying ect., so they essentially run the whole system.

“Ownership (of corporations) appears to be very dispersed. The New York Stock Exchange loves to say that everybody has a share of America, but in fact, behind all these bank names (the largest shareholders of GM) are really a small group of rich people, rich institutions that essentially run the economy and the rest of us are just spectators… (ownership of corporations) is… more concentrated than it was in 1950, we’re back at 1929 levels of concentration” (Doug Henwood, 2007)

The top one percent of Americans hold forty three percent of all the financial wealth in America. The top twenty percent holds ninety three percent. The bottom eighty percent of Americans holds seven percent (1). The too big to fail banks can be shown to control the US economy almost absolutely. The same one’s, incidentally, that US taxes bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis. I include the Federal Reserve in this category; it is privately owned by a few people (2). It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly who owns these banks; I don’t know myself, but the point I’m making is that the nobility, or oligarchy or whatever, is still in power, like it has been for most of history. The class system exists in America like it does everywhere else.

“Capitalism is the first class system in history that pretends not to be one”
(Rick Kuhn, 2007).

1) G. William Domhoff – http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

2) Bloomberg, 2011 – http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=avjlPu.bRVmk
 

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24 Responses to Article I, Section 9, Clause 8: No titles of nobility?

  1. rafaelmadeira says:

    Yes, I’ve been to school. The point being?

    • change says:

      My point is that granting a title of nobility is unconstitutional, yet the US laws and establishment actively supports the existence of a noble class, which is essentially the same thing as granting a title.

      If you agree with me and this is old news to you, then just say so, dont act like I have no argument.

      • sunshinefiasco says:

        Also, you do realize that the people who wrote the document, signed it, debated it, and ratified it were members of the socialite members of the upper-upper class (would you say noble class?), meaning that it is extremely unlikely that they intended for there not to be an upper class?

        Something tells me that your definition of a noble class doesn’t match up with ol’ Madison’s. Also, supposedly one of the reasons for it was to prevent foreign corruption.

      • dovahkiin says:

        Actually it was a smart move for several reasons. A serf knows he’s a serf, he knows he’s not going anywhere. So he’s not going to labor under the delusion that if he works extra hard that he’ll have his own noble house. Secondly, the peasents were given certain protections in the law. Sure they were slaves in all but name, but they got feast days, they got protection from warlords, they had a house that could not be repossessed even if the crops failed.

  2. Guy Fox says:

    People forget that institutionalized emancipation was adopted not because of a moral objection to slavery, but because a consumer driven economy is more economically viable than a slavery based one.
    Increasing the customer base might have been a welcome side-effect of abolishing slavery, but that was hardly the point. The most potent abolitionists were Christians from Vittoria and las Casas all the way down to Tubman and Lincoln. Like capitalism and socialism, slavery and abolition aren’t/weren’t teleological programs of a shadowy illuminati. They are/were the blessed/vile social whole that exceeded the individual acts of which they were constituted.

    I include the Federal Reserve in this category; it is privately owned by a few people.
    A few people is a stretch. Indirectly by several thousand shareholders would be more accurate. And the only actions it can execute as a private institution reduce it basically to an insurance cooperative for the shareholders. Any exchange rate or public debt issuance is executed at the behest of the federal government. And the NY president of the AFL-CIO is on the bloody board of directors! This isn’t any freakin’ conspiracy. You could probably get details on most of this from Wikipedia.

    Yes, the wealth gap and the heritability of influence and fortune are undesirable, but attributing these problems to a restricted and secretive financial-capitalist initiate does not help because it makes everyone else seem powerless. You’ve got at least 2 federal representatives and the same vote as Dick Cheney and Robert Benmosche. Use ‘em! As long as you’re convinced that the man is keeping you down, you’ll always find one willing to do so, whether or not he’s able without your help.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      Ehh, okay, you’ve made some good points, but

      So, the head of the 2.5million member NY AFL-CIO (which includes everything from actors, writers, and stagehands, to teachers, federal and state employees, to nurses, dockworkers and tradesmen) is not part of the privileged upper class with power over and connections to wealthy and powerful people? Because, I’m one of those idealistic kids that you read about, but I’m not a complete idiot.

      Secondly, you’ve got at least 3 federal representatives, and you may have the same number of votes as Dick Cheney, but you don’t actually mean to say that if we were just more involved, any one of us could have the same impact on politics as Dick Cheney? I’m a few tens of millions of dollars short, and my rolodex is not nearly as impressive.

      This isn’t any freakin’ conspiracy.
      It doesn’t have to be. It could be systemic, or perhaps it’s just the nature of things. It does seem like the same people are winning over and over again though. And when they lose, they don’t seem to lose as badly. The discussion about whether society has any responsibility to try and change that is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, but to pretend it’s not happening is just silly.

  3. ThomasR says:

    People forget that institutionalized emancipation was adopted not because of a moral objection to slavery, but because a consumer driven economy is more economically viable than a slavery based one.

    People forget? Pretty extraordinary claim. I would like to see some proof or evidence before I accept an argument with this as an assumption.

    Also, twenty percent of people owning ninety-three percent of the wealth sounds bad (and it is) but twenty percent of 300 million is still a lot of people. You’re not talking about some sort of small cabal.

    • change says:

      1.What I meant was that most people aren’t aware or are never taught that fact. If you need evidence for that, ask the people you know why slavery was abolished.

      2.There is a small cabal at the top; they are made up of less than the one percent I mention who control forty three percent of America’s financial wealth.

      • operator says:

        There is a small cabal at the top; they are made up of less than the one percent I mention who control forty three percent of America’s financial wealth.

        Assuming your elite cabal makes up 0.001% of the US population, that’d be 31,189 people … and if you’re suggesting a conspiracy by committee, it’s frankly amazing that they’ve managed to agree upon anything, let alone debt ceilings.

        Perhaps this argument would hold more water if (a) you acknowledged that it is the tendency of the hoi polloi to be acted upon versus taking action, (b) those willing to take action will tend to act for their own benefit first and all other concerns last, and therefore (c) inequality is the natural product of a social system so (d) it is in the interest of the incumbent elite to maintain their advantage …

        … but we still haven’t determined why (unless you count unsustainable population growth or dependency upon non-renewable resources) any of this is a bad thing for homo sapiens

        So, why is the existence of an elite class deleterious?

        • change says:

          I never said it was a bad thing or deleterious, I said it was unconstitutional.

          I agree with all of (a), (b), (c) and (d). I do think (a) is arguable. I don’t know how these points address my argument though.

          31,189 people is as good a number as any; this amount of people could hold key positions as executives, politicians and wealthy people wielding great influence. As you go further up the chain, power becomes more concentrated.

          • operator says:

            I never said it was a bad thing or deleterious, I said it was unconstitutional.

            No, you stated that the Constitution states that the United States Government may not bestow titles, then you stated:

            And no title is. Directly. But it does seem obvious that a social class exists in America that equates to nobility, and this class is sanctioned by the state.

            So the sum of your argument is that it seems as though the United States government, in violation of the framework established by the Constitution of the United States, grants a title of nobility to members of an elite class?

  4. Dan Dravot says:

    The noble class has reached levels of prosperity in America that were unimaginable in the past under any previous system.

    So has everybody else. As systems go, we could do a heck of a lot worse. Also, we couldn’t do any better. Could tweak this one a bit to reduce the power of crony capitalists and we’d all benefit enormously, but that would involve less government, which is not politically feasible with a near-majority of Americans at least partially on the dole.

    People forget that institutionalized emancipation was adopted not because of a moral objection to slavery, but because a consumer driven economy is more economically viable than a slavery based one.

    Personally, I never forget that! Isn’t it nice when the incentives are aligned so everybody benefits when you do the right thing? If the people who did away with slavery had done so against their own and the country’s economic interests, I would have greater admiration for their moral character, but I’d also worry a lot more about slavery being re-established.

  5. sunshinefiasco says:

    The Rockefeller heir has more power; he/she inherits billions and immeasurable influence.

    No, you’re missing the point. The Rockefeller heir has more power because they have more money, not exclusively because of the name of Rockefeller. If I make a few billion dollars in the next 5 years, my future kids bearing the Fiasco name will have access to the same kind of power (and a lot fewer people paying attention to what they do). If I go broke 15 years after that, they’ll be more similar to people who had titles of nobility but whose families had thrown all their money away.

    The difference: If the Rockefellers go broke in the next couple of decades, then the remaining Rockefellers are just broke people who get a “Hey were you related to…”. They’re not gonna be able to walk into a Hamptons country club like nothing happened. In a country like the UK, even if your family is bankrupt and disgraced, you’re still the Viscounts of Wherevershire, and you still receive social (and whatever other privileges) for forever. (In fact, you still had to be born a Lord to sit in that house of parliament until 1999. Seriously, 1999. And there are still nearly 100 seats that are elected exclusively hereditary peers)

    The class system exists in America like it does everywhere else.
    Are there people who think we live in a classless society? Were there ever? I know that rich people like to say that they’re middle class, but that doesn’t fool anyone except the A.J. Sopranos of the world, does it?

    The New York Stock Exchange loves to say that everybody has a share of America, but in fact, behind all these bank names (the largest shareholders of GM) are really a small group of rich people, rich institutions that essentially run the economy and the rest of us are just spectators…

    Are there any people running around saying “I know I can trust XYZ Corp., because its shares are owned by Americans of varied financial backgrounds?” Where I come from, even the broke people are aware that rich people are out for rich people. Especially rich people who make money by rubbing it on other money and watching it multiply.

    Also, I’m not sure why you’re choosing to compare the effects of a rigid, clearly defined class system in a highly industrialized, capitalist country (say, England), to a country like the US, which has a similar background and a somewhat muddier relationship with class. Having a more rigidly defined class structure hasn’t seemed to do them any favors. Not by a long shot.

    • change says:

      I believe that the class system is as rigid in the US as it is in Europe. It is just as hard to move up a class in the UK as it is in America, if not harder; I’ve lived and worked in both countries, and went to college in the US. I’m trying to address the notion that somehow the class system of the US isn’t what it is in Europe, or that moving up or down a class is easy or based largely on some value intrinsic to that person, like ingenuity.

      A title by itself doesn’t necessarily mean anything; a Baron is with no money is not treated as anything like nobility. The title has to be backed up; the Rockefellers have a recognizable title and the power to back it up. Their wealth and CONTROL lends them the power; the title lends them the recognition.

      The Rockefellers are not going to go broke ever. In theory they can, but in practice it will not happen. It would be an exception to the rule if they did; every noble of any time period ran the same, if not greater risk of losing their title. Rich families like the Rockefeller’s usually know how to protect their money; even if they don’t, they have already employed very smart and trustworthy people to manage their fortunes before the next in line inherits.

      • sunshinefiasco says:

        Well, I haven’t been to the UK, but I have many friends from the UK/Ireland, and from what they tell me, it sounds like it’s a lot harder/relationships between classes are way more screwed up (and I’m from a lower-middle/working class background in the US).

        Second of all, the general principle of people get what they deserve (whether it’s about class/sin/whatever) is one of the most deeply culturally embedded ideas that I can think of. Not coincidentally, it’s incredibly self-serving to an individuals personal sanity and feelings of security. So, even though I know it isn’t true, yep, lots of people sure do think it.

        Third of all, I should have mentioned this before, but comparing to the Rockefellers to Baron number 1 isn’t really fair. The Rockefellers will still be known as the Rockefellers even if they’re broke, the same way Lady Di would still be Lady Di had she lived and gone broke. The figurative family Fiasco would be screwed just as much as Baron number 1. Also, just because the Rockefellers don’t go broke, doesn’t mean that magnates and wealthy families don’t go broke.

        Just ask him,him,
        <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Pellatt&quot; him,them, or about a million actors, musicians, politicians, and athletes who screwed up too many chances. And those are the ultra-rich, never mind this kind of rich.

        • change says:

          Ignore the musicians, actors, politicians (who never made any money) and athletes. They don’t qualify as wealthy; they got rich quick and lost it as quickly. They also never had the real capital and sheer amount of money that the Vanderbilts and such. did

          Magnates and such do lose it all sometimes, but they usually don’t because the game is rigged in their favor.

          Lady Di would never have lived poorly while she was a princess; her Mother in Law still owns half of Scotland.

          In terms of the class system being more rigid over there, you could be right. But it is hard to compare.

  6. claudius says:

    Correction: “Communism is the first class system that pretends not to be one.”

    The reason why such men became so wealthy is because of the industries they created. If you completely restructure the infrastructure of a country thereby benefiting its people, you have earned some sort of compensation. In Rockefellar’s case, that was about half a trillion dollars in today’s money. Today, it is comparable to if you created a viable energy source to completely replace carbon based fuels.

    Bill Gates is loaded – but should we criticize him solely based on his wealth? The reason why these mean become wealthy is because their inventions bring unimaginable value into the economy. Think about how many companies and jobs were created from the invention of the PC alone; think about the time and utility it has saved; think about the other inventions that branched off from it (e.g., the internet), creating even more value and utility for the economy.

    The only thing that will save us from the current economic crisis is new industry. New industries create new companies and millions of jobs, and bring more wealth to this planet. This is the only thing that will bring more value into the economy, period. The federal government cannot save us, they are kicking the can down the road. Americans need to get off their asses and innovate.

    • change says:

      I’m not criticizing rich people, and I’m not advocating communism. I’m pointing out an inconsistency in the implementation of the constitution and the existence of a modern, established nobility.

  7. qerplonk says:

    Are there any wealthy countries that don’t have a wealthy elite?

  8. antoinebugleboy says:

    “They are still forced to work for a living, but they are given the added incentive of upward mobility in this new system.”

    The writer has a very loose definition of “forced”. Individuals in a free society are “forced” to work for a living the same way a rock is “forced” to fall to the ground by gravity. Equating the need to work for a living, i.e., produce something of value to exchange for sustenance, to the violent coercion inflicted upon slaves to steal their labor is a sloppy and irresponsible cognitive mistake at best.

    • change says:

      I am merely saying that the consumer system is more effective at forcing large groups of people to work. Slavery sucks and is a morally worse system; I equate it in function, not nature.

  9. ExOttoyuhr says:

    My thoughts on reading this article:

    1. The commoners lead better lives in the current dispensation than they would as slaves or serfs.

    2. Upward social mobility has never been easy, but also has never been impossible: off the top of my head, Admiral Coligny, Ismail I of the Safavids, and Zhu Yuanzhang (founder of the Ming dynasty) were all the sons of peasants.

    It’s just as possible now as it was back in the day, or more so. Most IT millionaires come from rich families (Bill Gates went to Harvard), but “Dad’s a surgeon” is not quite the same as porphorygenitus.

    Even more so, look at the Gilded Age tycoons, including the FOB Andrew Carnegie. Warren Buffet is a more recent counterpart to them.

    3. Downward mobility is simple and easy, and always has been. Just bet the farm on Pets.com. (The average lifespan of a medieval or early modern noble house was about 200 years.)

    4. Manipulating laws to keep your fortune only works if you manipulate the laws in ways that preserve your fortune. Judging from the rate of inflation, I wonder whether anyone in the US is particularly good at that. (It doesn’t help that governments often have different priorities from their rich subjects, and are normally better-armed. A common medieval and early-modern dynamic was the king and the commons against the aristocracy; in the end, the king and the commons won.)

    5. Granting titles of nobility, and perhaps a share in the government, might cause the de facto nobility to behave more honorably. Even if noblesse oblige and gentilesse are not universal impulses, they darned well are Western ones.

    6. On the other hand, as sunshinefiasco points out, granting genuine titles of nobility would also grant continued power to those who used to be rich and stopped being so.

  10. Pingback: Artigo 1° seção 9 inciso VIII da Constituição dos Estados Unidos da América | Bunker de Idéias

  11. mkdaremo says:

    Sadly this analysis is completely outdated. Aristocrats grow and learn too, you know. I mean, we do have “Democracy” after all.

    Reanalyze based on a. Clinton, b. Obama, sorry, i don’t memorize prez, so dunno who else, but yeah, screw that shit, a scholarship to Harvard is all u gotta give away to run this country…

    Oops, I forgot, u peeps around here don’t believe that tribal conspiracies actually exist lolol

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