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Democracy or plutocracy? Which label better fits today’s US of A? An apt question to contemplate as we enter what could turn out to be our most harrowing political year since Abe Lincoln’s election. Where to begin this contemplation? How about we take a stab at some definitions.

In a democracy, people identify the problems they face and, working together, try to fashion solutions. In a plutocracy, by contrast, a society’s richest employ their power to exploit the most pressing problems their nation faces — and keep real solutions off the table.

Where do these definitions leave the 21st-century United States? In deep plutocratic doo. Consider, for instance, how we’re responding, as a nation, to our contemporary housing crisis.

For younger American families, the classic American dream — a home of your own! — has become an ongoing nightmare. Some 20 percent of young American men between 25 and 34 lived with their parents last year, 12 percent of young women. America’s multigenerational household population, the Pew Research center notes, has quadrupled since the early 1970s.

Some […]

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