Friday, January 13, 2012

The War of the Classes...

Class warfare is real - it is really happening, and has been really happening since...well, since our republic was founded. However, for the two centuries prior to the 1980s, the class warfare argument was being made by the poor (mainly) and the middle class against the rich.
Somehow, the wealthy in this country - or at least the wealthy by political proxy - have begun to make the class warfare argument of the rich against the poor.
Since the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we've heard non-stop from conservative politicians that the occupiers, and President Obama in supporting their disillusionment with the plutocratic/oligarchic system we've devolved into in this country. It's been a repeated argument by Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, two men who certainly know something about class warfare, because they've been engaging in it for their entire careers.
The rich have been engaging in class warfare against the middle class and poor in this country for the last 30+ years. They've used every means as their disposal to chip away at the democratic system, all to increase their personal wealth. If we look at income disparity in this country, we see that incomes of the wealthiest people in this country have risen over 185% in the last 30 years, while middle and low income workers have either stagnated, or for the first time in history, gone down. Also, we've seen a steady decline in the tax rate for the wealthiest in this country, from a high during the middle of the last century of more than 65%, to a meager 32% currently. This means that through the rough economy of the 1980s and again during the 2000s (for most people, the top-tier continued to do well during those "rough" times), the rich continued to pay less and less of their taxes.
So how has the class warfare argument shifted from the rich against the poor to the poor against the rich? The rich control information. The rich control all media, and therefore are able to manipulate opinion. So as soon as the president or the middle class start having a discussion about rich people simply paying their fair share, you hear the wealthy (by political proxy) complain that the president and the middle class are engaging in tax warfare. The argument the wealthy make is that they're the "job creators", which has shown during this downturn to be complete bullshit, because they've essentially horded their money during these lean times. I'm not a class warrior, and I do agree that in good times people with money are more capable of creating companies (and by default, jobs) than those with no money, but I think this line of thinking fails to recognize two things: the first is that the wealthy are not creating companies to create jobs, they're creating them to make money (which I won't make a value judgment about here, it's just a fact), and second, just because people in the middle and lower classes don't create jobs, it doesn't make them less valuable as citizens (although politicians would have you believe this).
Bottom line: there is a still a class war being waged in this country, but it's a war of the wealthy "capitalists" - what Ayn Rand would call the moochers - against both the capitalist system, as well as the middle and lower classes. We as a society are being taken advantage of by a system of collusion between government and business that has set in place mechanisms to benefit the few to the detriment to the many.
And while the middle and lower-middle class still has a small voice, the poor have been all but forgotten, by EVERYONE. No one speaks of the poor anymore, because they have no political capital and vote in small numbers. We need to re-engage everyone in this country in a national discourse about how to best move forward in a utilitarian way.

No comments: