I believe that the past week has been a watershed moment in American politics. People are starting to use the word “class” again and I wish Kevin Drum (in the excellent piece I talked about earlier) had used it here:
American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.
Click here for more infographics on America’s plutocracy. It doesn’t take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they’ve enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich.
What’s wrong with the rich? I’m moderate income now, but one day I will be rich, and you will still be a dirty fucking hippie.
Fuck that. Nowadays, some studies show that “the lower classes of Canada, Britain, Germany and France have an easier time earning their way up the social ladder than their American counterparts”. If you’ve seen Ben Quayle or Luke Russert or Jenna Bush on tv anytime recently, you know damn well we’re not living in a meritocracy.
The entire conservative project is about defining and maintaing economic class structure. Trickle down: if you give the productive rich enough, their productivity will benefit everyone else. Bell curve: the middle and lower classes are genetically inferior. Bobo’s new book: the primal scent of the wealthy entitles them to treat the rest of us like slaves.
There’s nothing convincing behind any of it. The millionaires at Goldman Sachs think that fucking the middle-class with more spending cuts is actually bad for the economy. Not many people in the fed believe a word of the Chicago school economic nonsense. But supply side and rational market dogma appeals to the rich (even though it may even hurt their investments in the long run), because it justifies tax cuts and deregulation, it justifies giving the rich more money and letting them do whatever they want. And the rich rule our world.
This week we moved a little closer towards convincing Americans that the real conflicts aren’t Sam’s Club Republicans versus strapping young bucks or Jesus freaks versus dirty fucking hippies, they’re rich people versus the middle and lower class. They’re the top few percent against everyone else. It doesn’t have to be that way — the policies that help working people wouldn’t hurt the rich that much — but it is, because some rich people have created an apparatus that pushes an extreme anti-working person ideology.
Another Commenter at Balloon Juice (fka Bella Q)
I’m in the choir, so I’m determined to try to educate those in the pews. So I got a little Friedmanesque with the metaphor, but I’m not a churchgoer, so sue me.
There is power in the union!
@Another Commenter at Balloon Juice (fka Bella Q):
I don’t see six months anywhere in there.
joe from Lowell
I’ve never really been drawn to class war politics. I’ve wanted to provide aid for those who needed it, to promote opportunity for everyone in our society, to defend equal protection, to curb the excesses of the rich and powerful when they harmed the rest of us, even to redistribute in the pursuit of justice and opportunity and humane conditions – but I never had any interest in orienting my politics around fighting a class war.
But dammit, I going to defend myself when I’m attacked.
Your post conjured up ads for dating the rich. Kewl. Is this a great country or what!
A writer at balloon juice is shrill.
I hope this is a turning point or (positive) hinge of history.
We have so much ground to make up societally after 9/11.
And maybe, maybe this has taught more people about the corporate slant of formerly trusted mass media.
@joe from Lowell: Same here. I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose via no contest.
Fucking A right, Doug.
I’m gonna be interested to see how, and whether, this hits young people. We aren’t that far away from an impact on people being able to go to college, or at least to be able to afford to with a job market that won’t support them or their loans. Hell, we’re probably there already.
Until we get a solid cross-section of Americans at least fighting to get us back to Eisenhower-like policies (economically), we aren’t going to break the firm ideological control the rich have over our media and our discourse generally.
And how do you think the non uber rich classes ever got power?
Drum’s article is a good one, but those union bosses whose long gone presence he rightfully laments and correctly points out were not enlightened angels did not make omelets without breaking eggs.
We can blog and whine all we like, but those with all the money and all the power have never given it up.
You want it? Then you damn well better be prepared to fight for it. They’re ready.
Which side are you (all of you) on? And how do you know?
Buying pizza is nice. Taking back what is ours is hard.
I think a lot of this can be traced back to the beginnings of excessive executive compensation. And the dogmas that grew up to help explain that.
Sometimes the pizza of liberty has to be sprinkled with the blood fatcats.
@joe from Lowell:
“But dammit, I going to defend myself when I’m attacked.”
You’ve been attacked and bled for more than 30 years.
Starting to feel like a 100-year cycle, no?
Thomas Jefferson’s ghost is giving you a standing ovation wherever he is, BGinCHI.
You know, I’m a little slow. I’ve read that a tiny increase in our state sales tax, or approximately $32 in additional taxes from every taxpayer would completely solve our budget problem here in Wisconsin. Thirty two dollars. Instead, Walker’s solution is designed to provide the maximum amount pain to the maximum amount of people who can least afford it. Feature, not a bug, right?
I’ve read the Yglesias link before and I was confused then (and now) about exactly what Meyer is talking about. He seems to talk about classical (he says “So we’d better come back to, and begin with as our base, these classic macro-econometric models”) vs. neoclassical economic models. Is the classical one Keynesian, and the neoclassical one Chicago school or whatever followers of Milton Friedman call themselves? Or is the neoclassical one the Austrian school of bullshit?
Attica! Attica! Attica!
Seriously Doug, you are righteous the last few days as all of BJ has been. Even EDK, who I have yet to give credit to. Brava, Erik. Brava.
All, I’m ready to fight. So inspired the last few weeks. Can this be real? Can we do this?
you all have been rocking as a blog
Just as an FYI for anyone interested, this post over at Rortybomb makes a damned good case that the teachers in Wisconsin are sucking hind teat when it comes to being “middle class” in Wisconsin despite their soshulist union benefits.
The Average Teacher in Wisconsin Has a Smaller Salary Than the Median Wisconsin Household.
My wife is pretty apolitical and even she was wondering what the fuck Jenna Bush was doing on her teevee (Today show) this morning.
A.Fucking.Men to Doug and to every commenter so far. Blood WILL be spilled before all this over. Sat in a bar and grill in a little college town in the Midwest tonight, listening to the locals talk about it all. It was pretty amazing – one guy starts ranting to his schoolteacher friend (a substitute teacher, no less!) about the fucking teachers who don’t deserve any fucking pension money (I’m quoting), then segued into a high soprano for more about the fucking CEO’s who are robbing the rest of us blind. He allowed as how he was an insurance agent who knew how to work and save, unlike those teachers, so he deserved his salary and pension, goddammnit, but not “those guys.” Jesus. The cognitive dissonance in this country is pretty amazing.
I don’t know what classical means, but essentially the guy is saying that he (and most at the fed) believe in countercyclicalism — Keynes and, yes, Milton Friedman — and the econ journals have been taken over by rational market (don’t fuck with the genius of the cycle) types.
@WyldPirate: No, no, no. Just read the Cedar Rapids Gazette, where you’ll see that the average salary for a Wisconsin teacher is $100,000 a year. Sheesh, Wyld … keep up.
the policies that help working people wouldn’t hurt the rich that much
I’m not convinced it would hurt them at all. I’d think there’s as good a case it would improve their lot along with everyone else’s. A rising tide does lift all boats – it’s just that the people who usually say that have no intention of lifting the tide.
I was thinking earlier today that until a significant number of candidates can win on “cut defense spending and raise taxes” all the sturm und drang is theater. Throw in a little abortion-this and immigrant-that to peel off the useful idiots, and you can keep this disaster sailing right into the iceberg.
Sorry, but you can’t refer to spilling blood or you may get fired.
and this is why Mitch Daniels in IN and Gov Whatshisname in FL are backing off of the collective bargaining fight…some of them are smarter than they look…
@khead: Sorry, my bad.
But America is a land of possibility! This quote sums up one of the fundamental problems I’ve had with the argument over affirmative action. Any kid can succeed without any preferential treatment we are told by people who send their kids to private schools that costs thousands a year. Who pay thousands for SAT prep. Whose children mostly come from solid middle class and upper middle class homes where parents are more likely to be college educated. But let’s all pretend a kid growing up in the dirt poor ghetto has just as much opportunity as Meghan McCain, if only she applies herself.
BTW … I LOVE the title of this post, Doug. You and ED are indeed rocking the house.
I don’t think it hurts them at all, either. By that I mean that Clinton-Obama type policies don’t hurt them at all. 1950s tax rates might hurt them.
@Jeffro: Christ, I wish Walker would do the same, but I think he has nailed his colors to the mast. Damn his black soul.
@Madeline: $32 from each taxpayer? That’s not possible! After all, this is the sooper-dooper’est scary-creepiest apocolypto-deficit that will destroy Wisconsin unless it is addressed NOW with unprecedented measures!
But seriously folks, one of the many small hypocrisies in all of this is the business about dropping the bill on the Democratic legislators with just a couple of hours before the vote. Weren’t all these tea party types droning on in their sanctimonious way about how important it was to “Read the bills, read the *whole* bill…”? It really is amazing how those guys can manage that “We are at war with Eastasia and allies with Eurasia!” /click/ “We are at war with Eurasia and allies with Eastasia” switch seamlessly.
After Progressive Pressure, Sunday Show Will Feature Labor Leader
This is still not enough, but at least it’s a small step in the right direction.
I give you Billy Bragg:
Heh. You shoulda been there last night.
@Jim, Once: Yes, they’re using the same math that Horowitz has been using all these years to bash on the professoriate. Actually, it resembles McMegan’s math. I wonder if conservatives have a special source for calculators.
My grandfather was a “union boss” for 35 years. My entire family has been involved in the union movement our whole lives. Our involvement was in a building trade union, I don’t know much about public service unions, but I do know that they are necessary.
In my community a helluva lot of middle class families enjoyed a nice, middle class way of life thanks to my grandfather.
That the GOP has co-opted the whole image of union “bosses” to be associated with organized crime, thugs, goons, etc makes me sick. I look at the crooked, thieving, lying CEO’s of some very respectable corporations who have been convicted of crimes and wonder why all CEO’s are not painted with the same brush. Because they dress nicer? Belong to fancy country clubs? Because they don’t come home from work dirty? Anyone in a leadership position within a union is considered a “goon”, bully, etc. I can tell you that my grandfather was the kindest, gentlest man I’ve ever known. He did a lot of good for a whole lot of people in this community.
Joe: Amen, brother. I’m heading for the barricades myself.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Fix’t that for you. :)
This place has been on fire lately and I am enjoying reading more than commenting since I am still taking this all in.
Before cooking, soak the rich.
You want to see really, really, really stupid? Local “think tank” (and I use the term loosely) complains that park department employees who live in the parks don’t pay enough rent.
oh, damn, that’s hilarious.
This is one of your best posts evar. Great stuff.
@joe from Lowell:
Yeah, funny what a little crazed union busting will do.
@Odie Hugh Manatee:
I’ve had a shitload of fun the last few days. Seriously.
Agree that this place has been on fire.
I’ve stated my theory on this phenom before here. I think it is caused mostly from an element of the rich person psyche that likely helped drive them to be rich in the first place.
Something like a persistent delusion that money can provide something like immortality, or at least distance them from the pains and ultimate tragedies that befall every human, that gets born and wonders around planet earth for a few years.
Every dollar horded, in such a mindset, separates them a little more in their minds, from the rabble and feeds this delusion, and has the added benefit of actually creating the poverty in lower classes as a kind of macabre highlight that supports their delusions. And that feeds even more hording of dollars, and more tragedy below, and more of a false sense of security for the rich, until fate ultimately catches up and doesn’t care how much money you have squirreled away, because in the end, we are all destined to become wormfood and no one here gets out alive.
An Oligarchs Lament
No. The bigger problem is that it isn’t true. A rising tide doesn’t lift boats that are sinking because somebody has punched holes in their bottoms. The Kochs and their ilk are busy sabotaging the other guys’ dinghies and sailboats so that they’ll have no choice but to work as deckhands on their overlords’ yachts.
@ppcli: and once again we see that whatever a teabagger is hollering about today is exactly what a teabagger hero will be doing tomorrow.
lipskeyboard to God’s ear.
Like many of you, I was curious what side that asshole Charles Krauthammer was on. He comes down on the side of the plutocrats. I loved his bullshit conclusion:
Yes, we are a serious people that elect Randian idiots like Paul Ryan who will eliminate the deficit in 2063 after repealing all the tax cuts rich people pay (capital gains, estate, dividends, interest). We will balance the budget by eliminating earmarks, bear DNA testing, and funding for White House teleprompters. We will eliminate the debt by starting five more wars in the Middle East.
My brain had an earworm inversion after reading this site this past week, which I will share:
“The Kochs would like to buy the world, with corrupt companies…”
I know we have too many categories already but Are We Serious People has to be one.
@Omnes Omnibus: Oh, Walker absolutely is “all in” on this, and that’s actually fine. It’s fine because of three things:
1) The gov’t workers have already agreed to the cuts/additional health ins & pension contributions/whatever…and that message is getting out (albeit slowly) that attacking collective bargaining was totally not needed
2) Their fellow gov’t workers in the police and fire unions are publicly supporting them (quite smartly, I might add) in trying to protect collective bargaining rights
3) The protests have been large, loud, and peaceful.
Also, almost forgot: 4) Walker’s Koch-up with the prank phone call. All but the most ardent FOX News viewers are hearing at least a little about that, and people who’ve never even heard about the Koch brothers will. If we do our jobs and do a little helpful explaining around the water cooler, that is. =)
Watching the smarter Repubs like Daniels and FL Gov Guy, not to mention Rove, often gives a good “tell” as to where their weak spots are. Wherever they back off or get overly defensive about, that’s where we just need to push all the harder.
Are We Not Serious People? We are Devo!
I hope you’re right, Doug. Personally, I still think our society is completely fucked. But I hope you’re right.
@Mark S.: I love how Krauthammer works in “famously progressive Wisconsin” with Scott Walker, Paul Ryan by his awesome title, “new generation of Republicans” (which was kind of brave, considering the damage to the Republican brand this past decade), “Rubicon” (echoing historical bravery, sort of), and “recklessly principled”.
Heck, I would like to be described as “recklessly principled” =)
Krauthammer is a master – I’m actually a little jealous.
I’m so used to rich assholes winning that I thought that would happen here, and they may yet, but that phone call is killer. That is the kind of thing that can cripple even the most stubborn douche. He looks so sleazy and stupid at the same time. It is really waking up the nonpolitical people I talk to. They hate it, and they are really bothered by him now.
We are all
Tunisians Egyptians North Africans Cheeseheads Indianans Ohioansunion men now.
@joe from Lowell:
There’s always been a class war. It’s just that for the past 30 years, it’s been a virtually unopposed war from the top against the middle and the bottom.
Their most successful gambit has been convincing part of the middle that if it weren’t for the bottom, they’d be at the top too.
I don’t remember the Kraut being that bad ten years ago. He was conservative, but not batshit. But now he just oozes evil.
He also lies constantly now. I think my favorite Kraut column was after Sarah looked like an idiot when she had no idea what the Bush Doctrine was. Kraut tried to claim there were several Bush Doctrines, and most people would probably think of some speech W gave where he said we should promote democracy around the world.
Has anyone here seen this yet: http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=5045 ?
Thought it might interest a few folks here.
I might be the most pessimistic optimist on this blog right now, but as long as we have relative free and fair elections, then there is hope, and there is no point not celebrating a little for a much needed victory like WI.
When we no longer can depend on the possibility of solving our problems from enlightened thinking at the ballot box, then it will be time for politics by other means. We are not there, yet, and it is not a foregone conclusion we will end up there.
So, once more, liberals, form a circle and fire away.
@Jeffro: Me, I think it’s overwrought drivel.
@geg6: Tread carefully my friend.
A couple of weeks ago there was a throwaway from Maddow or her surrogates about the “always awesome Balloon Juice”. Appreciated, and I certainly enjoy basking in the flat-panel spotlight, but I doubt this place is visible only to friendlies.
@General Stuck: So are you pessimistic compared to all the optimists here, or optimistic compared to all the pessimists?
@Mark S.: True, but ten years ago he hadn’t gone all in on the Iraq War and been burned by how badly that turned out (in terms of the damage to the Republican brand and the neocon cause, strengthening Iran, and putting the US even further in the hole, to say nothing of getting Obama elected over Hillary, who he clearly found more favorable to the neocons/Israel back in 2008).
He went all in and is now totally okay with “lies in the service of a greater truth”, or whatever the bs quote is from whomever, as long as it’s his truth.
Still, on some level, you have to admire the writing. He is clearly not phoning it in. I can’t help picturing him hitting the ATM for ‘just another hundred’ to put on red, because you know, this time, it just HAS to hit…
DougJ, I’m totally fucking blown away by this post. You got the facts, the ideology, the bullshit, the shrillness. Damn dude. I’m speechless.
And you’re right about this being a watershed moment. Call it Republican overreach (or whatever), but if this legislation passes, it will surely be viewed by future historians as a tipping point in the restructuring of American society.
You don’t need a calculator (facts) when you just absolutely, for fuck sure,
knowbelieve the answer.
Some of us are chickens, other people are eggs, and the rest are toast?
We collectively represent a Breakfast of Champions.
Hope that clears it up :=)
To clarify: In the above comment, when I said you got the bullshit right, I meant you got the conservative bullshit right, not, you know, you’re own bullshit.
Can’t edit for some reason.
So, who has the good drugs?
No prob, I understood. And sorry edit’s not working, that’s been driving me nuts too.
You can see the thing breaking in this blog. When E.D. Kain is waving a red flag and singing about la lutte finale, there’s just the teeniest, tiniest chance that the wealthy have overstepped and made their class war against the rest of us just a bit too obvious.
I hope you’re right, Doug. I know that for me personally, this week has been a big deal. I’ve always been liberal and very politically engaged, but the events in WI and elsewhere have radicalized me to a degree that I frankly find somewhat surprising. More than ever before I feel like we’re in an absolute critical juncture for our country, and that activists, organizers and the like need to start adapting a siege mentality. I really feel like these are not normal times, and people who really care about the promise of this country, and modern liberal democracy in general, need to begin acclimating themselves to living in a moment that demands concerted,collective action to get us off the brink. Maybe I’ll calm down in a few weeks…but I doubt it. And, honestly, I’m looking forward to the struggle.
Amen. I’ve been telling my politic hating wife, it’s not about Republicans and Democrats it’s about moneyed interests verses the working class and poor people. We are very similar to the teabaggers, it’s just that we don’t watch Fox news. They are angry like we are but they directing there anger at the wrong groups.
That’s the way I’ve been looking at it lately. It makes it pretty clear the vast majority of the media is firmly on the side of the moneyed interests.
I love it people are starting to look at how much richer the top 1% is compared to the rest of the country.
@Jeffro: You see the bit from FOZNOOZ on Digby where Shepard Smith and Juan Williams hammered Walker and the whole thing as an attack to end the Democratic Party?
Shepard is going off again, like he does every now and then, and completely goes against not only the FOXNOOZ line but the timid other establishmentarian leader.
He really is bringing Maddow’s review to the FOXNOOZ viewers.
Juan Williams even at one point (and surprisingly he’s totally into this all against the Koch-maneuvered union-busting per se) mentions that ‘some viewers’ would get angry if Shepard said that, and Shepard said ‘Let them get angry! These are the facts.’
It’s worth a view. It’s another Shepard Smith moment bringing reality to FOXNOOZ.
@El Cid: Shep obviously has the goods on Ailes, no doubt!
This blog is on a tear…
TBTF, page 32 (paperback)
The day after the Bear Stearns rescue. Paulson is on the Today show.
I thought John was likely to have a good laugh over this, but it belongs here.
(Paulson goes on to say that the Bear Stearns shareholders don’t think they’ve been bailed out–they lost a lot of money)
To paraphrase a mentor of mine, people often speak of the poor being a problem for the rich, but the truth is exactly the opposite. The rich are the problem of the poor.
2 days after. Sorry.
What I have not seen yet is a long range game plan from Wisconson Dems. So here is a suggestion; you have eight Republican Senators who are eligible for recall (must have been in office for at least a year). Lets get started with recall petitions (not easy in Wisconson, you need a significant percentage of the votes cast in the election to recall). Get them started now. Put the fear of God in all eight of those bastards that their job is in peril. Publicize the number of signatures you are collecting in each Senate district. Want to bet who blinks first? And by the way, part two is to recall Walker as well, but time it so the recall election will be held at the same time as the Presidential election. Goodbye Walker.
I know I am a pessimist, even for the pessimists on BJ but what comes to mind reading this is Tom Leher’s “Folk Song Army”
“Remember the war against Franco
The kind where each of us belongs.
He may have won all the battles
but we had all the good songs!”
Having said that, I’ll be in Saint Paul for the rally this Saturday. I just don’t think it will unfuck this country.
@MikeJ: Link doesn’t work, but without seeing it, I’ll bet Mr, thalarctos’ left testicle that the “think” tank is the Discovery Institute, no?
that’s “Mr. thalarctos'”, and FYWP.