Monday, October 26, 2009

Class Warfare, My View

Why does the phrase "class warfare" carry such weight with people who aren't rich? I have never understood that, especially when it becomes quite clear that the class warfare that has been waged has been against the bottom 95%. I mean it's strange that people are real quick to level all sorts of attacks and judgments on people who are poor, but will not say boo to those who are robbing us blind.

I characterize the last thirty years as class warfare carried out against those of us who aren't in the top 1 to 5 percent of income earners. That tiny lot got real fat off of the backs of the rest of us. They even let a little of what they didn't want trickle down to some of us, enough so that our concerns about growing income disparities, and stagnant wages would be ignored. They fanned the flames of blaming the poor, and got it so that the notion of helping your fellow man when in need was nothing short of taking something out of your wallets to give to those who deserved nothing more than scorn.

When all of that came tumbling down last year, I had a small hope that something just shy of a real revolution would come. But I should have known better. I still remember the blip of outrage that came in the wake of the Enron scandal. Talk about a canary in a coal mine, but it wasn't sustained.

So, I was happy to hear about this "Showdown in Chicago" protest at that American Bankers Association meeting. I would love to see full scale protests on Wall Street everyday for the rest of the year, because those tricks deserve it. Tax the hell out of every bonus given. Cap those salaries for those who recieved my tax dollars.

I am still waiting to see a revamping, for 21st century realities, of the economic measures put in place under FDR. This era of regulations and taxes being bad has to come to an end. Too many of us truly want something for nothing, and too many of us act like we are rich, so we support the rich in all that they do, even when what they do benefits only them, and leaves us in fiscal pain. I am all for striving, and who wouldn't want to be rich. But it is shameful watching people who are not rich speak so forcefully for the interests of the rich, and denigrate those who simply don't have.

Where are the demands for genuine help for the middle class? What happened to that program to relieve those under threat of foreclosure? What penalities will come to those who took this economy to the brink of the abyss? And when will folks who don't have money stop propping up the policies that have kept them stuck for the last several years? What will it take to break that habit?


Mike said...

I think that the trouble with the American Dream is that everyone firmly believes that one day they WILL be rich (whether it is coming up with postit notes, winning the lotto or whatever).
That belief permeates much of the debate. Too many of us spout opinions as if we were already rich. That needs to change.

Anonymous said...

Note to all: there is no middle class.

There is the temporary enjoyment of conspicuous consumption until a recession happens, you get layed off and discover only temporary jobs, or find full-time crappy jobs with crappy benefits.

You may also discover that younger people tend to remain employed or get re-ermployed faster. Of course, they too get close to 40 and "surprise!", it happens to them (gasp!).

Most people are poor. There is a veneer of prosperity, and we're one more downturn away from discovering how thin and fragile it truly is.

If you are ready, allow me to invite you to defining yourself as part of "The Practical Class".

It's a "no credit card" life style (oh, and those bankers we just bailed out, who want to maintain the huge bonus structure of old, they just hiked credit card rates to about 30% - not too usury, but oh so close).

You live by the cash on hand, and find everyway to only buy what you need, not what is foisted upon us through advertising and cashiers who have to pitch an "offer" at you.

At a Home Depot, a cashier offered me $25 off my bill if I opened a Home Depot line of credit. I declined. I am not playing. If enough people opt out, the banks will have to scale back their credit operations, and their bonuses!

The Practical Class goes without and manages to survive. No brand new car, no "mall therapy", not living in the delusion that consumption is tied to self-worth.

Walk away from the dictated expectations of success, and define success on your terms. On how much money you actually save (saving is good). On how little you actually need to survive (by having a low daily cost of existance, you may find you have more choices with your time and money, as opposed to trying to pay for last years stuff, while buying "what's next" before anyone else). Break the cycle, and self-direct.

You can still socialize, eat, travel. Just not at some unsustainable level.

Think "sustainability" in everything you do. If you ask yourself, "Is this sustainable?", you'll make more good choices along the way.

I'm just sayin'...