The last thing they’ll ever do is act in your interest

A good one sentence summary of contemporary American from E. J. Dionne:

The American ruling class is failing us — and itself.

[….]

An enlightened ruling class understands that it can get richer and its riches will be more secure if prosperity is broadly shared, if government is investing in productive projects that lift the whole society and if social mobility allows some circulation of the elites. A ruling class closed to new talent doesn’t remain a ruling class for long.

I believe that the health of the American economy depends on the health of the American middle-class. I don’t mean this philosophically, I believe that historical data shows this to be true in reality.

The American ruling class does not believe this. They believe that the American middle-class are lazy, worthless rubes, strapping young bucks buying big screen tvs with their ill-begotten union wages and gubmint hand-outs.

The ruling class is deserving because it creates jobs. If they don’t create jobs here, they create them for the Chinese, who are harder-working anyway. The members of the ruling class who don’t create jobs — media elites, trust fund babies — are deserving because they have higher IQs, which is all that matters in a Bell Curve world. If they don’t have higher IQs, they did better on those all-important marshmallow tests Bobo is always blabbering about. Failing all of that, they have a better primal scent than plebes like you and me. Even if they’re not deserving or genetically superior at all, that doesn’t matter, because they can get their kids into good colleges and high-paying jobs, so there’s no chance that any of their descendants will ever be middle-class. It’s Luke Russert’s world, we’re just living in it.

If you follow this to its logical conclusion, there is no reason for the ruling class to support policies that help the American middle-class. They don’t believe that their own financial well-being is related to that of the middle-class. They don’t believe that the middle-class deserves anything. They don’t believe that anyone important to them will ever be in the middle-class.

So why support Medicare, Social Security, progressive taxation etc.? There’s no reason to, none at all. To the contrary, those things are all drags on your own income.

It’s not just that the desires of the ruling class have become delinked from the desires of the middle-class. The desires of the ruling class are now in direct opposition to those of the middle-class. There’s a class war going on, it’s that simple.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

71 replies
  1. 1
    Mandramas says:

    There’s a class war going on, it’s that simple.

    We’ve always been at war. It only varies its intensity.

  2. 2
    biff diggerence says:

    And if our Galtian overlords continue to squeeze the life out of the rest of us, there is always the “French Solution” for a diffident ruling class. “Shunk”.

  3. 3
    BrklynLibrul says:

    I agree 300% with the spirit of this deliciously subversive post, but where’s the economic data that would buttress your argument that the interests of ruling elites are directly opposed to the interests of the middle class? I sense some conflict, yes, but in general any historical analysis and/or spread sheet analysis would offer evidence that a healthy middle class supports a healthy economic elite, yes?

  4. 4
    Comrade DougJ says:

    @BrklynLibrul:

    I will address this later in more detail. But I think it’s pretty obvious in the main, the wealth of the western world was fueled by the creation of a middle-class.

  5. 5
    New Yorker says:

    @biff diggerence:

    You’d think these people would be looking at the situations in the middle east and realize that you can only squeeze so much out of ordinary people before they snap and chase you out of the country while seizing all of your wealth. I think some of the uber-rich (Warren Buffett) understand this, but then again, when you hear David Koch or Donald Trump speak, they sound about as grounded in reality as Qaddafi.

  6. 6
    joeyess says:

    It’s not just that the desires of the ruling class have become delinked from the desires of the middle-class. The desires of the ruling class are now in direct opposition to those of the middle-class. There’s a class war going on, it’s that simple.

    Why how evah ya dare tah say that! Someone get meh the smellin’ salts and point meh toward tah faintin’ couch. I’s thinks I’m about tah pass out!

  7. 7
    General Stuck says:

    I believe that the health of the American economy depends on the health of the American middle-class. I don’t mean this philosophically, I believe that historical data shows this to be true in reality.

    In our free market econ system, yes, it does depend on a healthy middle class. But the health of the rich getting and staying rich does not. There are many other ways to get that wealth, than through a healthy, supply and demand free market. As we are seeing.

    The real benefit of a healthy middle class, in a wholistic sense, is it’s vital contribution to maintaining a healthy democracy, and more importantly, a STABLE democracy/

    When the plutocrats say fuck it with getting rich by playing with tedious rules of supply and demand, and just start monkey wrenching the delicate machinery of our free market system, then we are all in for a world of shit. Pitchfork futures will go threw the roof.

  8. 8
    joeyess says:

    @biff diggerence:

    there is always the “French Solution” for a diffident ruling class.

    I am not douching any of those people. I don’t care what their problem is.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    biff diggerence says:

    @joeyess:

    I failed onomatopoetically. Alas.

  11. 11
    joeyess says:

    @biff diggerence: i had to look that up, you elitist, you.

  12. 12
    Dennis SGMM says:

    I believe that the health of the American economy depends on the health of the American middle-class.

    Although that may have been true in the past I don’t think that it is now. The DJIA currently stands at 12107.25, bank profits are setting records as are corporate profits. Thanks to the help of both political parties the wealthy have achieved their long sought goal of decoupling their financial health from that of the nation. In any prior era nine percent unemployment (And sixteen percent U6 unemployment) would be considered a national disaster requiring whatever-it-takes measures to mitigate. These days “austerity” is the buzzword.

  13. 13
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    which is all that matters in a Bell Curve world

    But they don’t have higher IQs. That is empirically obvious. 94% of scientists are not-conservative. 70% of post-baccs vote democratic. See also Salam-Douthat stratification on cognitive ability.
    Conservatism, like religiosity, is negatively correlated with cognitive ability, of which the conventional metric is IQ.

    same question I gave Tim F.
    why do so many juicers and frontpagers continue to be obsessed with a dumbass 16 year old book written by a political “scientist”?
    Many things conform to bell curve distributions, not just IQ.
    Why is IQ/cognitive ability such a hot button here?

  14. 14
    Judas Escargot says:

    @General Stuck:

    The real benefit of a healthy middle class, in a wholistic sense, is it’s vital contribution to maintaining a healthy democracy, and more importantly, a STABLE democracy/

    I’ve said this before, but a stable republic requires certain institutions to function: courts, universities, hospitals, and yes corporations. Without a large enough middle/professional class to populate and manage those institutions, your society will start to fail.

    To destroy the middle class is to take a sledgehammer to one of the load-bearing walls of our system (to use a clumsy metaphor).

  15. 15
    Brachiator says:

    It’s not just that the desires of the ruling class have become delinked from the desires of the middle-class. The desires of the ruling class are now in direct opposition to those of the middle-class. There’s a class war going on, it’s that simple.

    Yeah, pretty much. For some reason, rich societies seem to want to install oligarchies, even though it is the wider prosperity of the middle class that even allows an elite to amass great wealth.

    And even though it sometimes looks like oligarchies can succeed (from Mexico to new Russia to Saudi Arabia and the other oil kingdoms), instability allows brews beneath the surface. And American oligarchs think that they have a core of the citizens on their side because they have been able to woo them with conservative platitudes and exploit racial anxiety. While this may work for a while, even bonehead Tea Party People are going to notice at some point that they are getting the short end of the stick from their “friends” in the GOP.

  16. 16
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas: haha, since Kylon and Pythagorus, right?

    We’ve always been at war. It only varies its intensity.

    Actually, its evolution in action. The oligarchs have evolved to perfectly fill their evolutionary niche.
    Now, like a Jurassic superpredator, they are instinctively extincting their prey base.
    Its all they know how to do.

  17. 17
    Rick Massimo says:

    I grew up in the smallest, dingiest house in a rich neighborhood. I’ve heard a lot of rich people talking privately, and I can tell you that this business of the greatness of America always – ALWAYS – wore away real quick when the possibility of making more money somewhere else, or by copying the oppressive traditions of other countries, came up. After about 45 seconds, it became obvious that they thought America was only just barely good enough for them. And this was 30 years ago; the crazification has been going on for decades since then.

  18. 18
    kdaug says:

    Estate tax = 95%.

    IQ? I’ll debate Paris Hilton or the Kardashian plastics any day.

    Some of the “elites” earned their money. Let ’em keep it.

    Most of them inherited it though, and in my personal experience they’re the most vapid, stupid, non-thinking primates dragging their knuckles on the planet.

    (Psst: It’s because they’ve never had to work for anything).

  19. 19
    camchuck says:

    Here’s another one sentence summary of the ruling class worldview: “Fuck you, I got mine.”

  20. 20
    PeakVT says:

    For some reason, rich societies seem to want to install oligarchies, even though it is the wider prosperity of the middle class that even allows an elite to amass great wealth.

    The super-rich want power, not more wealth. Beyond a certain point more money has absolutely no utility.

  21. 21
    Mandramas says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: In some stable periods, the oligarchs reach to a stable equilibrium on feeding patterns to preserve the lower classes. But sometimes, a change on the external factors or a memetic mutations generate a hipper-exploiting generation that devastate the lower classes, changing the class ecosystem and produce revolutions.
    In this case, the absence of a oppositional ESS due the fall of Communism, is pushing the regulated market ESS into a instable Free Market Capitalism form.

  22. 22
    gene108 says:

    I think we can all conclude from the last 40 years that having a strong middle-class has no inherent or intrinsic basis. Having a strong middle-class is a social value, like say taboos against pre-marital sex / the current acceptance of pre-marital and non-marital sex, especially by consenting adults.

    If we choose to longer place value on a strong middle-class, there will no longer be one.

    It’s really that simple.

    If businesses in the U.S. wanted to value a strong middle-class, they would and we wouldn’t have the hollowing out of the middle-class that we have today.

    I’m not specifically saying everyone should be in a union or manufacturing jobs should be kept here, but the jobs that replace them should also pay considerably more than they do. There’s no inherent reason a factory job paid $20-$30/hr, while a service job pays $8-$12/hr. There’s no reason a service job can’t pay close to what old factory jobs did, if corporations valued having a strong middle-class.

  23. 23
    PurpleGirl says:

    From David Cay Johnston:

    9 Things the Rich Don’t Want You to Know about Taxes

    http://wweek.com/portland/arti.....taxes.html

  24. 24
    Steve M. says:

    My beliefs are similar to yours, Doug, but I’m less inclined to think that the rich actually feel contempt for us. They just think it’s a Hobbesian war of each against all and they’re going to grab anything they can get. Or put it this way: they’re like drug dealers who don’t care that they’re helping to destroy a poor neighborhood — setting up shop in a failed state of a neighborhood actually seems to generate more profits for them, and less societal pressure to shut them down, so they start to think that societal decay is actually good for their profit margin.

  25. 25
    gene108 says:

    @kdaug:

    IQ? I’ll debate Paris Hilton or the Kardashian plastics any day.

    The entertainment business is very competitive and there is no one, who is so inherently talented he (she) couldn’t be replaced by someone else, who no one has ever heard of and does just as well.

    I think Paris Hilton’s pretty smart. She made some serious money off of her limited talent as an actress and getting paid to appear at nightclubs.

    It takes a certain amount of savvy leverage what limited skills you appear to have into a lucrative career and still stay in the spotlight.

    The biggest disappointment I have with the Kardashians is Bruce Jenner. WTF is the guy on my Wheaties box as a kid doing as part of that family?

  26. 26
    Mandramas says:

    @gene108: There are societies that valued a middle-class status as a normal goal of life. America values most to reach high class, even when it is improbable. American people is biased to laws that favor high class because they hoped to became rich someday. This bias only changes after very deep depressions, when the people suddenly discover that dreams are over.

  27. 27
    nancydarling says:

    Perhaps a few of them have heard the squeaking of the tumbrel wheels.

    http://www.patrioticmillionaires.org/

  28. 28
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas:

    the absence of a oppositional ESS due the fall of Communism, is pushing the regulated market ESS into a instable Free Market Capitalism form.

    wallah…that is why the Oligarchs attempted to make al-Islam the oppositionary ESS post 911. But, unfortunately for America, al-Islam is immune to market based capitalism. Did market based capitalism bring down the sovs, in your opinion?
    OBL basically junk-punched America in the economic nads for occupying Holy Lands…but Cheney and Bush spun that as “they hate us for our freedoms”.
    What do you think?

  29. 29
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas:

    the oligarchs reach to a stable equilibrium on feeding patterns to preserve the lower classes.

    that is what evolutionary economics is all about. The market needs a bridle more than it needs spurs now. You are correct about all Americans believing they can be rich. That is a mix of protestant individualism and objectivism.
    America has no concept of wahdat al wujud and wahdat al shuhud…the basic premise of social justice, that humans are all connected and what is good for your neighbor is good for you.
    Instead its every man for himself.
    ;)

  30. 30
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas: I still think the big problem is evolving a new social compact. White Patriarchy Social Cohesion Model kept the bankstahs honest when they had to go to church every suday and look god and their neighbors in the face.

  31. 31
    Cat says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    Why is IQ/cognitive ability such a hot button here?

    Maybe they want to believe the ruling class is smart so their world view remains intact.

    If, for instance, the ruling class was merely just of average or slightly above average intelligence and their ability to acquire and hold power is more about their ability to act in un-empathic and selfish ways. Nothing makes a smart person feel worse about themselves then being taken advantage of by someone less intelligent then themselves.

  32. 32
    Sloegin says:

    It isn’t just unionized blue-collar folks that the rich despise, they hate the white-collars in equal measure, particularly white-collars who vote the wrong way.

    They hate everyone who doesn’t ‘work’ for a living, which in their lexicon apparently means ‘not owning a business or large amounts of capital’.

  33. 33
    a1 says:

    If you follow this to its logical conclusion, there is no reason for the ruling class to support policies that help the American middle-class. They don’t believe that their own financial well-being is related to that of the middle-class. They don’t believe that the middle-class deserves anything. They don’t believe that anyone important to them will ever be in the middle-class.

    You cannot be more right with this, DougJ. And with that attitude, the ruling class’s gushing about the “seriousness” of Paul Ryan’s plan makes sense. Finally, someone who comes out and says the things the rich really believe about the lower classes but feel it’s too impolite to say themselves! It’s the same claim that racists make when they praise Rush Limbaugh or Pat Buchanan as “politically incorrect” when they say hateful things about black people. It must feel so good to have public figures officially validate your biases like that.

  34. 34
    srv says:

    The American ruling class does not believe this

    Doug, you have to stop thinking about them as Americans. They are another class now, a world class, above all our parochial interests. As the Atlantic put best:

    The good news—and the bad news—for America is that the nation’s own super-elite is rapidly adjusting to this more global perspective. The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter. “His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled.

    America is just what the passport says, their loyalty is elsewhere.

    Forgot the link:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/mag.....lite/8343/

  35. 35
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    Why is IQ/cognitive ability such a hot button here?

    Because this topic has very strong past associations with some very bad actors in the western political/cultural system, like for example the so-called scientific racists, the eugenics movement, etc. (and please note that this topic can go Godwin in a hurry). IQ/cognitive differences is a third rail, you should not touch it, not even in good faith. It is a dog-whistle that attracts the very worst sort of wolves. Please find a way to make your points without it. Most of the things you seem to be trying to say don’t need this sort of baggage anyway, they can be argued in good faith without dragging in IQ differences as an unfortunate distraction.

  36. 36
    Wolfdaughter says:

    Years ago I read an article in Psychology Today. A grain of salt is always needed with articles from that magazine, but nonetheless I believe that this one contained more than a grain of truth.

    The rich, especially the very rich, are isolated from the rest of us. They have their own schools, their country clubs, their gated communities. They socialize with each other.

    I believe (tho I can’t prove this) that somewhere deep down underneath, those who inherited their wealth realize they don’t “deserve” it. Those who clawed their way up from lower or middle class, on the backs of “friends” and associates, also know that their path to the “top” was unconscionable. But both types of rich folk bury this knowledge under massive layers of denial.

    So they tell themselves and each other that anyone not rich is a lazy bum, etc., and deserve their lot in life. Therefore, no need to feel guilty.

    The Psychology Today article did some in depth study of prep schools like Groton. Those schools force their students to do arbitrary and stupid things, while telling the students that they are the elite class, deserving of the rewards to come by going to the right schools and knowing the right people. The schools are set up so that students sort of “survive” their years in those institutions. (Basic training in the military shares some of these aspects.)

    So the students graduate firmly believing that they are deserving of riches and rewards. And they learn who are proper people for them to associate with. Those who follow the paths laid out for them thus have little contact outside their enclaves and therefore little challenge to their world views.

    Hermione: the word is “voila”, not “wallah”. French.

  37. 37
    Helena Montana says:

    We’re not supposed to HAVE a “ruling” class.

  38. 38
    Mandramas says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: The USRR went down since it industrial capacity was so smaller that the combined industrial capacity of America and Western Europe. In order to maintain herself as a credible threat, they have to exhaust their people into a overexpensive defense race. In a peace context situation, or if the western world was not so efficiently industrialiced on the previous century, or if the tech level don’t grants Mutual Asured Destruction as the only deterrent, USRR could have persisted as a communist country. The cold war was a attrition war, and the russian had the lower hand.

  39. 39
    Mandramas says:

    @Wolfdaughter: “Wallah” means “By allah” in arabic. Wrong language at all, WD.

  40. 40
    Cassidy says:

    Failing all of that, they have a better primal scent than plebes like you and me.

    No, that’s just the smell of urine and fear as you start slamming their head into the ground.

  41. 41
    Parallel 5ths (Jewish Steel) says:

    Whither noblesse oblige?

    I kid. Don’t sic that L’Hôte guy on me.

  42. 42
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas: DougJ says:

    The desires of the ruling class are now in direct opposition to those of the middle-class.

    see..its more like a predator prey relationship.
    What needs to happen is a a symbiotic relationship.
    In America there are not any real libertarians. At least, I can’t think of any.
    All the pseudo-libertarians are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. If they were real libertarians they would be socially liberal and fiscally liberal.
    Fiscally liberal means fiscal social justice policy, like redistribution and civil welfare.
    Those are dirty words in America.

  43. 43
    Brachiator says:

    @PeakVT: RE: For some reason, rich societies seem to want to install oligarchies, even though it is the wider prosperity of the middle class that even allows an elite to amass great wealth.

    The super-rich want power, not more wealth. Beyond a certain point more money has absolutely no utility.

    Agree with you on the power thing.

    But oligarchs seem to always forget who brung ’em to the dance. Even in ancient Greece, the aristocrats turned on the (kinda) middle class which had provided the sailors for the ships that had previously helped Athens expand and prosper.

    The Thirty Tyrants were a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed in Athens after its defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC. Contemporary Athenians referred to them simply as “the oligarchy” or “the Thirty.”
    __
    The Thirty severely reduced the rights of Athenian citizens. Imposing a limit on the number of citizens allowed to vote (limiting the franchise for example to the wealthiest citizens) was a standard move on the part of wealthy people who objected to being subject to the votes of the “rabble” in a broad-based democracy where all free adult males could vote. Participation in legal functions — which had previously been open to all Athenians — was restricted by the 30 to a select group of 500 persons. Only 3,000 Athenians were granted the right to carry weapons or receive a jury trial.

    Kinda reminds me of Rupert Murdoch and the Kochii doing their worst to undermine democracy.

  44. 44
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Wolfdaughter: n’importante.
    je parle un peux le francais.

    en francais on dit zut alors! ou mon dieu! on anglais AMG!
    C’est la meme chose comme “wallah” en arabique.
    ;)
    @Mandramas: toujours le preux chevalier, non?

  45. 45
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: this sounds like very good advice.
    :(

  46. 46
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    wallah.
    S&P just downgraded America.
    Eric Cantor is explaining why this is good for republicans.

  47. 47
    Mandramas says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: En effet, mademoiselle. La vie est tellement injuste de ne le permet pas.

  48. 48
    kdaug says:

    @gene108: Agents. Producers. Friends of the family.

    Don’t feed me bullshit about intrinsic value. There is none.

  49. 49
    Elie says:

    Actually, I am relieved that the oligarchs (or those who represent their interests), appear so obvious and their techniques so crude.

    Their side seems to command through the weight of their visibility and ability to babble without stopping in the forums given them by our so called media. Do not necessarily accept that they dictate the terms or that their visibility directly reflects their absolute strength.

    To me, their high pitched cries and calls to arms seem forced and a bit hysterical… not the easy and more silent command and control of absolute rulers, confident in their power. They brandish their sticks with teeth bared — naked apes walking in dangerous territory, acting as if — puffed up, hissing and spitting while all the while, underneath releasing the stinkiing sweat of fear.

    I do not underestimate them at all. The most dangerous opponent is emotional rather than cerebral, fearful, impulsive. The emotions and high level of activity covers the fear with progressively more aggressive actions…. Calling their bluff must be done carefully, watching how close they bring their lit matches to the keg of gasoline to show us their boldness…Its not about outsmarting them… that can be done. Its managing their insanity in order to prevent the most damaging excesses… observing but not over reacting to their ranting and fake charges while carefully selecting the most dangerous actions that need to be consciously defused.

    I certainly have no idea how all of this will turn out in the medium or long term, but being cynical and pessimistic disarms us more, in my opinion, than believing in the things that we value and operating from them in a conscious, unfearful way. They are more afraid than we are. Of that I am certain.

  50. 50
    kdaug says:

    @Elie: Agreed.

  51. 51
    Brachiator says:

    @Elie:

    Actually, I am relieved that the oligarchs (or those who represent their interests), appear so obvious and their techniques so crude….Its managing their insanity in order to prevent the most damaging excesses…

    Easier said than done. Once again, the examples of history is a nasty bastard. The ancient Etruscan aristocracy happily sold themselves into pampered slavery to the conquering Romans, maintaining their status at the cost of their civilization. Tough cookies for the rest of the Etruscans.

    Renewed resistance to the power on the Tiber proved futile. Roman history is filled with records of victories and triumphs over Etruscan cities, especially in the south…. Volsinii also was attacked in this year, and its fields devastated. During this same bleak period, Etruscan society was wracked with class struggles that eventually led to the development of a substantial freedman class, especially in northern Etruria, where numerous small rural settlements sprang up in the hills. In some cities, the aristocracy looked to Rome for assistance against the restless slave class. The noble Cilnii family at Arretium called for help with a revolt of the lower classes in 302 BC, while at Volsinii the situation deteriorated so badly that the Romans marched in and razed the city.

    The rich somehow, always know how to stick together.

  52. 52
    Elie says:

    @Brachiator:

    Agree completely — not always easily done — esp in the short term.

    We will make our errors and have our setbacks, but that should not deter us from standing up for ourselves calmly. Stay centered and on the track for what we believe in and want — and that we know has the interests of the people front and center. We can’t set a clock by it, or know for certain the measure of the sacrifice that will be needed, but what other choice is there?

  53. 53
    jwb says:

    @Comrade DougJ: Yes, but the question is whether the ruling class still needs the middle class. What they needed the middle class for in the past is to provide a sufficiently large market that economies of scale kick in. Since transportation and information costs have historically been relatively high, this middle class needed to be located in a relatively geographically compact area. With containerization, the internet, and other technological improvements, transportation and information transfer costs have plummeted, and this has opened up the potential of a world market. 5% of the world’s population is roughly 350 million, comparable to the size of the total US market. What this means is that it is possible to achieve effective economies of scale selling products only to those in the economic top 5%. As long as transportation costs and information flow remain cheap, I really don’t see how the middle class can help but be squeezed until it gets over its reluctance to see its labor as something that needs to be organized in opposition to capital.

  54. 54
    tweedster says:

    well now, you wouldn’t want to punish the “successful” among us by robbing them of there “success”

  55. 55
    tweedster says:

    @tweedster: their, there, what’s the difference?

  56. 56
    Brachiator says:

    @Elie:

    We can’t set a clock by it, or know for certain the measure of the sacrifice that will be needed, but what other choice is there?

    Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

  57. 57
    Cerberus says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Well, there’s the rub really. Sure, the wealthy have found expanding profits through the “screw the workers” trick of fleecing the middle class and the structures designed for their protection in order to post a better quarter.

    And in a strictly short-term analysis, this works. Hell, corporations have moved entirely into that business model for the last 30 years using a combination of fleecing their companies assets and employees for better quarters, using the better quarters to combine to hide the damage, repeat.

    The problem with this nihilistic sacking the company for the loose change under the couch approach to wealth acquisition is that at some point the future you are borrowing off of disappears.

    Look at corporations teetering on the edge of the depression, needing massive bailouts in order to continue the short-term chase of bubbles. Look at the last big booms essentially just being bubbles ringing the last spare change out of the middle class.

    Look at our nation. Sure, we’re selling the land and the regulation and the last public services to the highest bidder and that’s keeping the big guys in the game, but they have no idea how to run any of it and what happens when they bust America or the infrastructure finally collapses or the long-suffering public workers desperately keeping everything running give up.

    We’re pretty much only keeping everything running because there are enough people of good moral fortitude ignoring direct orders to provide a worse product to employees for short-term gain. People are working unpaid overtime, going above and beyond the job description, directly ignoring bosses to provide a product that is as functional as they can and the beancounters are chasing those dividends and trying to make more from less and stretching that effort as far as it will go.

    Sure, it’s working great now, but then it breaks.

    Perhaps they go on and try and break other industrialized countries. Sure, they can try, but none are as big as America and few have as little resistance as we do to attempts to destroy a nation for the benefit of the wealthy. The European nations have a strong s-word political power, China and India don’t have enough to steal.

    The problem I think is that we’re getting Big Bosses and “business gurus” who have spent their entire corporate life in the “screw the workers, ???, profit” era and so believe that this financial trick has no bottom, that there is no point where the dividends stop paying off.

    Problem is that depended on people having support networks, still making middle class money, having middle class protections, having dreams of social advancement, leeching off infrastructure, government protections and regulations, and most critically education to provide trained workers who could understand their tasks and improvise to save you from your own stupidity.

    These people don’t seem to recognize this and only know that this advice made them rich and so must do so through “free market, invisible hand, tax cuts and human sacrifice makes the sun rise”.

    In short, they are idiots.

  58. 58
    mclaren says:

    E. J. Dionne is spouting ignorant twaddle. The plain fact of the matter is that the billionaires don’t need the American middle class anymore.

    Once upon a time, the American middle manufactured the goods and provided the services that rich people in America used. Today, for the most part, poor people in the third world manufacture the goods and provide the services that rich people consume in America.

    Ever notice how all those rich folks always have illegal immigrant third world nannies and housemaids? Not middle class Americans. That’s because rich people know that if they import poor people from the third world as their housekeepers and maids, they can hold them as virtual slaves. You can’t do that with a middle-class U.S. citizen.

    Take a look at the consumer products you use every day and ask yourself: how many of ’em are actually made here in America?

    Almost none.

    Your iPod, your laptop, your detergent, your clothes, your washing machine, your car–all assembled in Singapore or Taiwan or Bangladesh from parts manufactured in China.

    E. J. Dionne is living in the past. Robert Frank nailed it with his article “Do the rich even need the rest of America anymore?”

  59. 59
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @mclaren: lol. they may not need the middle class but they do need an electoral majority. Otherwise they will all have to go live in France with Dr. Manzi.
    The problem for the predators is that a large part of the prey base is going to be immunized against the GOP starting in 2020.
    And the demographic timer goes tick…..tick……tick….

  60. 60
    Mandramas says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: Hi sister. Why the demografic clock? Do you think young people of this century won’t vote conservatives?

  61. 61
    THE says:

    It occurs to me that some of the problem here might be caused by looking at a global change through American blinkers.

    The global middle class is expanding hugely as Asia industrializes.

    But the American part of the middle class is contracting because, for the time being, Asians are still willing to do middle class jobs for less than Americans, and they are out-competing them.

    In time, as Asian wages catch up with American wages, the export of middle class jobs to Asia will probably stop.

  62. 62
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas:salaams brother.

    Do you think young people of this century won’t vote conservatives?

    Because of racism. Racists are not cool.
    In America, pop-culture has been captured by youth and minorities. So even the demographic fair share of youth that would normally fall to conservative ideology is increasingly liberal, and more importantly, either more secular or nontraditional religion. Intellectual elites and cultural elites are nearly purely liberal.
    In 2020 the kids from the 2008 event will start aging into the electorate.
    The 2008 event is the first time non-hispanic cauc became a minority in children under 5.
    As long as the GOP is increasingly white, christian, and old the demographic timer runs against them.
    In America, one political party has become 99% christian and white.
    And christians are uncool.
    Christian culture makes terrible movies and awful music, and those are two things the youth demographic cares passionately about.
    In the age of social media, branding and “coolth” have become even more important than ever.
    Everyone wants to go to Cooltown.
    And no one can get to Cooltown on the conservative express anymore.
    It only goes to christiantown or crazytown.

  63. 63
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @THE: yup, agree. Of course…. it doesn’t matter if the middle class turns into the poverty class as far as the predators are concerned….as long as the prey can still be spoofed into voting GOP.
    The problem for the predators arises when the decline of the middle class becomes so horrifically obvious that they can’t blame it on liberal policies anymore…..and of course when the 2008 event kids start aging into the electorate as the old white christian base dies off.

    A tribe without reps cannot survive.

  64. 64
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Spock

    But the American part of the middle class is contracting because, for the time being, Asians are still willing to do middle class jobs for less than Americans, and they are out-competing them.

    Can I point out that this is the result of Freemarket theory? The innovation of the market is creating jobs….just not jobs for Americans.

  65. 65
    Mandramas says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: I agree, but young people grown up, and become conservative. Rule of cool goes dead after the 30s. After all, the actual generation in the power is the same generation that have 20s on 1970s, the hippie generation.
    Even there, the non economical component of the conservative message, like racism, Christianity and WASP primacy, could be deattached of the economical message, that is the real, main message. In a couple of decades, we could have a new cool republican party, with new subject of hate like, I don’t know, cyborgs or cloned people or elders.
    Also, don’t forget that the way it is implemented the US voting system, old people can easily outvote the young demographic. I think that if american people really organize to request that voting days moves to a Sunday, and to deprecate the voter registration, the voting demographic will be wildly different.

  66. 66
    THE says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    The innovation of the market is creating jobs….just not jobs for Americans.

    I’d argue that it is still the greater good for mankind as a whole. Americans are so rich anyway that the drop in US wages is no big deal considering they are in the meantime, getting cheap goods from Asia in exchange. Meanwhile two billion Asians are advancing to modernity.

    Mankind is still advancing net.

    If Americans can’t distribute their wealth decently, that is their problem.

  67. 67
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas:

    I agree, but young people grown up, and become conservative.

    That is simply a falsehood. That used to be true, but not anymore.
    See the stats.
    And social media will continue to enforce the Coolth Principle.

    I’ve been troubled in recent months when discussing the issue of young voters with some fellow Republicans. There seems to be a sort of conventional wisdom that we should expect young voters to trend liberal and Democratic, that the behavior of young voters in 2008 is not serious cause for concern. This stems from a belief in partisanship as a life-cycle factor, that voters start liberal and Democratic and wind up older, conservative, and Republican. But the data paint a very different picture. Take the graph of partisan identification for instance; over the last few decades, young voters have not identified with the Democratic party in substantially higher numbers than voters overall. Even conservatism had its moment among young voters in the 1980’s. Yet with the end of the Reagan presidency, young voters shifted toward liberalism. This ideological shift did not play out into actual partisan identification in a meaningful way until 2006 and 2008.
    __
    Another bit of conventional wisdom I hear from my fellow Republicans about the youth vote is that they need to vote Democratic twice before they are “locked in for life”, supporting the notion that there is still time to turn the tide among this generation. Unfortunately, given that the shift began in 2006 and not 2008, for many voters the GOP may simply be too late. For the rest, if the Republican Party does not take immediate action to repair its brand, this generation may exhibit similarly low levels of Republican identification for years to come.

    Social Network Theory is the New Paradigm Shift.
    And this memetic mutation will simply continue to force peer group voting models, not voting parental politics as the voter ages.

    Like I said, a tribe without reps cannot survive.

  68. 68
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Mandramas:

    In a couple of decades, we could have a new cool republican party, with new subject of hate like, I don’t know, cyborgs or cloned people or elders.

    sure. Hating on outgroup ESS is the conservative aka political christianity way.
    But it is going to take waaay more than two decades.
    I predict 40 years in the wilderness for the GOP.

  69. 69
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @THE: I agree with this too.

    If Americans can’t distribute their wealth decently, that is their problem.

    That is why America needs social justice policies instead of market based policies.
    This is evolutionary economics theory, btw. You cannot restrict freemarket policies to your local aristotelean pond. They go global.

  70. 70
    THE says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    They go global.

    I’m not so sure about that. But this is not the place to argue about it. The causes of modernization are something I think a lot about. Clearly China has *it*. Japan has *it*. The West had *it*.

    But what is *it*? The magic fairy-dust that converts medieval traditional societies into modern, scientific-industrial powerhouses?

  71. 71
    Mandramas says:

    @THE: It is not hard to see.
    England went industrial very quickly compared to the rest of the europe to a convergence of technical and scientific skill, the availaibility of a large fleet and colonies to import raw materials, a empowered middle bourgoise middle class and the lack of religions wars in the intensity of France or Germany. Netherlands, the other great candidate, suffered the Spain’s domain. France killed the huguenots, Germany was a lot of divided principates, Italy had enough with the mediterranean trade, and Spain fells confortable with the conservative ways and Mexican gold.
    America became industrialized due Britain Empire used it as a offshore point; and also a place where to put all the risky bussiness, a sort of Fiscal Paradise of early XIX century. Cheap labor (slaves or inmmigrants) were also a important factor.
    Japan had a extremely conservative government until the Meiji revolution. They tried to regain the lost time since them, and they were strongly backed up by America after WWII.
    China also a had a very xenophobe government (that was justified since they were the Britain’s forced junkies, remember Opium Wars), but the implemented a heavy industrial communism, helped a lot since America started offshoring their entire industrial production there due to, not a surprise, cheap workforce.
    Do you see the pattern? A industrial empire jumpstart the next with a mass offshoring practice.

Comments are closed.