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Monday, September 19, 2011

Class Warfare Waged by the Political Class

Republicans love to talk about class warfare. Only Communists in the days of Lenin seem to have loved the phrase more, or used it with more gusto. Here's the latest, via Politico:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is ripping President Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on the rich, calling it "class warfare."

"Class warfare might make for good politics, but it makes for bad economics," the Wisconsin Republican said on "Fox News Sunday."

Acually, Ryan's got it backwards. Using "class warfare" as a rallying cry is great politics. There are still a few Americans left who harbor a visceral antipathy for anything that reminds them of the Reds. And many more of us, virtually all, take seriously the idea that our society, however stratified economically, is still classless in the sense that all people are equal under the law.

So talking about "class warfare" hits us all in a sensitive place, because we cherish the idea that we're all in the same class. And, so far as the criminal code goes, that is more or less true. More or less, since black people are clearly not in the same class that white people are, at least so far as rates of conviction and incarceration, as well as what lawyers call "collateral consequences."

But economic stratification does create different classes, at least economic ones, and it bewilders us that Republicans perpetuate the idea that there is something wicked about a tax code that recognizes these differences.

In fact, it was those Commie-symp pinkos of the Greatest Generation -- you remember, the ones who fought WWII and built the suburbs -- who voted into effect the sort of progressive tax code that created a thriving and productive American middle class. Nobody called it class warfare in those days, though. They called it common sense and good citizenship.

As for economics, the myth of the "trickle-down" remains deeply beloved of the right. They believe, in the face of all evidence, that when the wealthy are left to do whatever they want with their money, they will choose to create jobs. That this is nonsense ought to be shown by the fact that America has, right now, the greatest concentration of wealth in the fewest number of hands since the Gilded Age, and yet it also has the deepest unemployment crisis since the Depression. After they buy a few houses and some yachts, the super-rich don't create jobs; they create big bank accounts. Lots of jobs for investment advisors, but not so many for the rest of us.

The irony, of course, is that Ryan is attacking a proposal nicknamed "the Buffett Rule," after one of the most successful investors in history. Buffett has long argued that rich people don't pay enough in taxes, and when asked whether he would lend his name to the President's proposal, answered, "Sure, its what I believe."

So if Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to argue that the proposal is good politics and bad economics., they will first need to convince us that they aren't scoring cheap political points, and that they know as much about economics as Warren Buffett.


MadPriest said...

One of the main tactics used by the rich and powerful is that of trying to make the poor feel guilty about fighting for a just society. I remember when Mrs Thatcher was prime minister in Britain she coined the phrase "the politics of envy."

Anonymous said...

I think clergy should stick to religion; the idea that a bunch of soft0Left (or hard Right)humanities majors can get together and talk to their invisible friend and set the economy to rights is disturbing.
Either that or lose your tax breaks. Why should non-believers take up the slack for your tax breaks?

Father Anonymous said...

Yes, and I think internet trolls should stay under their bridges.

For the record, my seminary classmates included several chemists and a former JPL rocket engineer, so we were hardly all "humanities majors." And while we do get one modest tax-break (regarding our housing), we could get a lot more if we were some rich guy in Texas who puts a few cows on his estate and calls it a "farm." (Seriously; the Dallas suburbs are full of this nonsense).

But the bigger question is whether you think other classes of citizen should avoid political discussion. It's pretty unseemly in women, isn't it? Should people with no college education be barred from voting? I mean, they don't know anything. For that matter, why do we let Congressmen talk about economics, when they obviously don't understand it?

Anonymous said...

But what do you bring to the discussion in terms of facts or logic? You and the Fundies just end up screaming past each other, quoting from the same book. If the Bible were clear, you'd have it figured out by now-but with over 1000 denomination, you can't even figure out most of the basics of organizing your own religion, let alone the country.
You want to be treated seriously? Get a real degree in a real subject. Stop asking us to call someone "Doctor" who's got a degree that's easier to get than a BA in a hard science. And the stupid clothes and titles to get us to treat you with respect, differently from everyone else? Sorry-don't do it.
Your own churches don't treat women as worthy to speak in public; the fact that Mainline Protestantism began to allow this after ww2 is a minor concession; the Orthodox and Catholics and Fundies and the "Churches of Color" don't.
And I never mentioned those without college education-don't put words in my mouth. Or hands in my pockets.

Father Anonymous said...

I wasn't putting words in your moth; I was asking a reasonable follow-up question: which classes of people do you think ought to be discouraged from using their rights to free political speech?

But, and this is important, you will have to answer that question in your own blog, because this sort of trolling is just not acceptable here. If you want to comment on a particular point in a particular post, go ahead; if you want to insult religion as an idea, and all religious believers, you'll have to do it elsewhere.

MadPriest said...

You tell him, Father A!

Anyway these atheist trolls are so bad at it. They should leave the insulting of religion up to us experts. We have far more experience of doing it properly than they will ever have :-)