Louis Dembitz Brandeis is one of the most widely quoted jurists in the world, as well as one of the most important jurists in the United States in the past century. He graduated from Harvard University at the age of 20 with the highest grades in the history of the institution at the time, and went on to become a rich and successful lawyer.
But instead of accumulating money and power, Brandeis, who was born in 1856 and died in 1941, dedicated most of his career as a lawyer to cases working toward social objectives he believed in. His most important historic achievement was most probably his battle against the tycoons, bankers, monopolies, and cartels that ruled the American economy at the start of the previous century.
These people, who he dubbed the "robber barons", are reminiscent of the 10 most powerful Israeli families in the country's economy.
Through the use of other people's money, direct or indirect control of banks and financial institutions and using a series of cartels and monopolies, these "robber barons" became the real rulers of the economy – more powerful than the government, the president, the congress and the senate.
Over the past few years, TheMarker has made a great effort to warn against the looming dangers facing the Israeli economy and democracy as a result of the massive control a small number of families have over the economy. In the last two years we have come to the conclusion that centralization is not merely a danger to specific sectors, but an immediate and obvious threat to democracy.
Before Brandies made his mark on the American public arena and became such an influential figure in it, many economists and jurists claimed that there is nothing that can be done regarding the centralization of power. They claimed that it is the nature of the economy that these monopolies, cartels, and concentration groups are created.
Brandies, however, showed that this centralization in which cartels and monopolies are headed by people who control other people's money isn't unavoidable. He proved that it was possible to break them and destroy them, and that it was beneficial to do so because they harm the economy, aren't efficient, and suppress competition and democracy.
So where is the Israeli Brandeis? Where is our jurist, economist, or public figure who has the combination of extensive economic knowledge that isn't based on empty "capitalist" or "socialist" slogans?
Where is the man whose "socialism" isn't just declarations but has the true willingness to stand up to the most powerful people in the economy? How pathetic and saddening it is to see that most, if not all, of the greatest jurists in Israel are connected to some oligarch or another – and prefer the comfortable life, the respect, the prestige, and the cocktails rather than working for the good of the public.
In his book entitled "Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use it", Brandeis quotes the 28th U.S. President, Widrow Wilson:
"No country can afford to have its prosperity originated by a small controlling class The treasury of American does not lie in the brains of the small body of men now in control of the great enterprises… It depends upon the inventions of unknown men, upon the originations of unknown men, upon the ambitions of unknown men.
Every country is renewed out of the ranks of the unknown not out of the ranks of the already famous and powerful in control."
So next time a prime minister, a finance minister, or any other politician summons the "leaders of the economy" – a group of famous people who accumulated power and influence over the economy, politics, and journalism – he should review Wilson's words:
These are not the people who will bring innovation and development to the Israeli economy. These people already have power and money – and their monopolies, cartels, and conglomerates will eventually suppress development and progress, as Brandeis says.
The unknown people - the anonymous entrepreneurs and inventions are the ones who will bring innovation and progress to this country, just as Louis Brandeis, the passionate Zionist, grand jurist, brilliant economist, and fighter for social justice, imagined a hundred years ago.
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