Never mind the $700 billion price tag for extending the high-end tax breaks: virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are rushing to the aid of the oppressed affluent.
You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence. Itâ€™s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but itâ€™s also a matter of social pressure, since politicians spend a lot of time hanging out with the wealthy. So when the rich face the prospect of paying an extra 3 or 4 percent of their income in taxes, politicians feel their pain â€” feel it much more acutely, itâ€™s clear, than they feel the pain of families who are losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes.
And when the tax fight is over, one way or another, you can be sure that the people currently defending the incomes of the elite will go back to demanding cuts in Social Security and aid to the unemployed. America must make hard choices, theyâ€™ll say; we all have to be willing to make sacrifices.
But when they say â€œwe,â€ they mean â€œyou.â€ Sacrifice is for the little people.
Krugman writes that the anti-Obama rage is being generated by the as yet unscathed well off, not people who are actually being hurt by the downturn in the economy. I can already hear the clicky-click of rightie fingers striking keyboards arguing that “regular Americans” are angry too. Yes, but their anger is misplaced.
I see Bill Clinton said the tea party movement is a “general revolt against bigness.” People feel they are getting shafted, and they are thrashing around looking for someone to blame. And they have been conditioned by their leaders to blame government and liberals, so that’s what they do.
I came across a rightie blog today that I take it is picking up in popularity. Doc Zero writes,
Political control is whatâ€™s killing us. It is expressed in hundreds of ways: high tax rates with carefully tailored exceptions, massive bailouts, laws rigged to favor government-controlled industries, restrictions on resource development, and a vast poppy field of subsidies and penalties. The Democrats have added thousands of pages of fabulously expensive legislation since Obama took office. Two messages echo through those pages: Obey and be rewarded. Resist and be punished.
This is not appropriate behavior for a government that was meant to live in awe of the peopleâ€™s boundless freedom, and work carefully with limited powers to accomplish its sworn duties. Even the most apolitical citizen can now see that itâ€™s also disastrous behavior.
Who are the President and his congressional allies, to lecture us on what products to buy, or investments to make? Who are they to demand even more of our wealth to fund their next round of grand designs? Their failure is obvious and complete. I donâ€™t believe any group of brilliant central planners can legislate prosperityâ€¦ but if such a group exists, it sure as hell isnâ€™t this bunch.
There’s more, if you can stomach it. Sometimes I can sorta kinda figure out where righties are picking up their fantasies, but some of this has me stumped. There are government-controlled industries? Seems to me what we’ve got is an industry-controlled government, with regulatory agencies “captured” by industry insiders. That accelerated mightily under George Bush, and President Obama hasn’t moved fast enough to clean out the corruption.
“Restrictions on resource development, and a vast poppy field of subsidies and penalties” usually refers to environmental and safety standards. Doc apparently wants to go back to the days when the annual number of deaths in coal mines was in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, not merely dozens. And let’s not kid ourselves that without environmental regulation private industry would not have raped and pillaged the country long before now and left behind a ruined mess for taxpayers to clean up.
I don’t recall being lectured about what products to buy or which investments to make, unless Doc resents people who push curly light bulbs. They really do last longer than the regular ones. Maybe I slept through the march of the Government Product and Investment Gestapo.
Most of Doc Zero’s piece is an incoherent rant against bigness. He repeats the buzzwords he’s been taught, and it’s obvious he has no idea why government is doing these “big” things, and what price we would pay if they weren’t done.
As Clinton said, people are angry because they think they are being shafted. The problem is, they don’t clearly see that their primary enemy isn’t government. Or, I should say, government is the enemy only so far as it has been co-opted, which admittedly is pretty far. But most of the time the parts of government righties most hate are those parts that are still making a little effort to protect them from the coming tyranny.
We surely could put the limits on government that he wants and give ourselves “boundless freedom.” And we surely could hate living in the third-world rathole America would turn into if we did. And the angry rich will be even angrier, because they’d have to pay for bars and bodyguards to keep them safe from the angry peasants.
Yes, if you want “boundless freedom” from government, try Somalia. I take it the government is pretty much drowned in the bathtub. No tax collectors, no big government programs. Do take lots of guns, though, and maybe some mercenaries, for protection. Freedom can get rough.
In China, death from overwork is so common, there’s a word for it: guolaosi. …
…Yan Li’s family knows the meaning of guolaosi far too well. Li worked for a Foxconn factory in Southern China where he helped assemble components for iPads, Playstations, and mobile phones. He stood on the assembly line in one place, making the same tiny motion with his wrist all day. Sometimes, according to his family, his shifts would last for 24 hours. Sometimes up to 35 hours at a time. Li had no trade union, no group to represent his interests, and if he had tried to form one he’d probably have been imprisoned or killed. This went on until one day 27-year-old, otherwise healthy Li finished a particularly long shift and dropped dead.
Gualoisi is not uncommon in China. In fact, China Daily estimates that up to 600,000 workers a year die from overwork. That figure includes many workers like Li who are young and have no serious health problems before starting brutally strenuous jobs. It also includes workers who commit suicide to escape abusive work environments, which incidentally, happened to another worker at Li’s factory the same night he died.
Righties will scream that this is what happens under Communism. But these days People’s Republic of China is about as communist as it is a republic. This is what happens when workers have no government or union to speak for them, which is the world the teabaggers say they want. Well, they can have it.