The Rage of the Rich; the Confusion of the Right (Updated)

Read Paul Krugman:

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. It’s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but it’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 — feel it much more acutely, it’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, they’ll say; we all have to be willing to make sacrifices.

But when they say “we,” they mean “you.” 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 what’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 people’s boundless freedom, and work carefully with limited powers to accomplish its sworn duties. Even the most apolitical citizen can now see that it’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 don’t believe any group of brilliant central planners can legislate prosperity… but if such a group exists, it sure as hell isn’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.

Update: Here’s more of what Doc Zero wants for America

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.

12 thoughts on “The Rage of the Rich; the Confusion of the Right (Updated)

  1. Man I read Doc Zero’s entire post, mind numbing and the comments, blind acceptance ditto heads one and all!

    I think it has been fascinating to watch the tax cuts for the rich defended at every opportunity, it’s just such a ridiculous argument. They argue raising taxes now will hurt the recovery (a recovery none of them acknowledge is actually taking place), suspending the tax cuts for the rich will amount to the government picking winners and losers (I guess picking only winners is OK), ending the tax cuts now prevent small businesses from hiring (so why wasn’t anyone hiring for the last four years?). The right has done nothing but complain about how Obama is bankrupting the country with spending (most of which was created in the final days of bu$hco), but think nothing of the massive deficits the tax cuts will create. And at least ninety nine percent of the advocates for the tax cuts either in goverment, or bobbleheads on the TeeVee will all see their taxes increase if the tax cuts are allowed to expire. It’s like watching a bunch of crack heads argue against drug laws, it truly is fascinating.

  2. You know, I don’t even blame people for their ignorance. Where can they turn to get information about Liberalism and what it stands for?
    Radio? If you want information about the right, just turn your AM or FM dial. You’ll find a rightie talker every few clicks (yeah, I know, digital radio’s don’t have dials, I just like the image). I live about 70 miles north of NY City and I can’t find ONE liberal station on the dial except at night when I can get this station out of Buffalo, 300+ miles away. And that’s if their hockey team or minor league baseball team doesn’t have a game.
    TV? There’s really only a few shows on MSNBC, whereas FOX is 24X7X365. And even then, Cablevision makes customers get a converter to get MSNBC. So, in the livingroom, we get the channel, yet in the room where my computer is, I don’t because we can’t afford two boxes. FOX and CNN come in just fine, though.
    The Sunday news gab fests break down to about 60-70% Republicans and righties, the rest weak are Democratic politicians and advisors. Once in awhile, a Krugman or a Maddow are allowed to appear. Grayson? Don’t make me laugh, they never put him on.
    Newspapers? For every Krugman, Herbert or Dionne article that’s syndicated, you have dozens of Kristols, Krauthammers, and Goldbergs – and those are the least offensive ones syndicated.

    The smartest move the right ever made was to push for elimination of “The Fairness Doctrine.”
    I don’t mind the fact that newspapers can be one-sided – they frequently were throughout our history. But when I turn to other mediums, like radio and TV, the crap I have to listen to and watch from the right comes over PUBLIC airwaves. Why, then, can’t we reinstate that doctine, outside of the fact that the Democrats make jellyfish like like they have solid steel spines?
    Cross-ownership of mediums has also caused irreperable harm. Just look at NY, where you have FOX News, FOX radio (on many stations), the NY Post, and the Wall Street Journal. All Murdoch, all the time…
    And now, does anyone doubt the real reason why they want to eliminate “Net Neutrality?” The want to suppress the last voice that the left has, the internet.

    So, how do you blame people, and call them ‘low information voters,’ when even if they do reach out and try, almost every medium out there is heavily tilted to the right. Where a person like me can only listen to liberal talkers at night, tweaking the dial like some some partisan fighter trying to find out what’s really happening in the world on the BBC or Voice of America with a ham radio in Europe during WWII?
    If we don’t get a “Fairness Doctrine” in place, and continue to have “Net Neutrality,” we can’t expect people to be aware of both sides of the political and economic spectrum. The prevailing winds blow, no, howl, from the right. And there’s no incentive for them to allow any more than a breeze from the left.

  3. I would totally support ending the multitude of “carefully tailored exceptions” to the tax code. That would really simplify things a lot, and even the playing field for people who can’t afford to pay a lawyer to figure out how to pay less taxes. You’d probably be able to fire quite a few IRS agents, too.

    Bailing out the banks was a terrible idea from a social and psychological perspective. You can’t reward failure unless you want to see more failure in the future. They committed massive fraud. We should have seized them outright and punished the criminals thoroughly. Only the government could have done it while keeping lending and savings going. I don’t understand how a full and complete collapse of all the banks and all their assets would have helped anyone, but that appears to be the favored conservative position ?

    What about the car industry? Did conservatives want to see GM, Chrysler, and other brands cease to exist, and the corresponding supply chain fall apart? I guess they’re Ford owners. Or don’t mind buying foreign cars for uh, all of forever.

    Now, the American auto industry really has done an awful job over the past thirty years. Increasingly, they focused on larger and larger vehicles, mainly SUVs, caravans, and trucks. In some cases they were practically selling unarmed tanks (*cough* hummer *cough*). There’s no way those trends could survive or be profitable in the long run, considering the scarcity and price of fuel.

    So I guess if you also hated SUVs, caravans, trucks, and tanks, you could say let the auto industry die and be intellectually consistent. Did anyone on the right say this? I’ve only heard it from my commie-pinko buddies.

    Hmmm. “Laws rigged to favor government-controlled industries…” That should be laws rigged to favor corporations over small business, methinks. Or in other words, socialized sponsorship of corporate profit — subsidization.

    Restrictions on resource development? There are actually people who think there should be no restrictions on resource development? Or am I missing some detail here?

    It seems completely obvious that if we care at all about future generations we must have restrictions on resource development, or there’s not going to be anything left to develop.

    Then there is the “vast poppy field of subsidies and penalties”. Well, I’d kill off the subsidies good myself. However, what kind of penalties are we talking about? Like being fined by the EPA for polluting? Or being driven out of business by the FDA for lying to customers on what you sold them to eat…? I don’t see anything wrong with that, so one ought to be specific.

    I won’t even bother with the “thousands of pages” and authority fear mongering. Republicans and the modern right have no basis on which to criticize anyone for this — it looks far too hypocritical.

    “Boundless freedom”, “limited powers”, “sworn duties” — and then apolitical citizen? You’re talking ideology one moment and then lack of politics the next? How?

    As to the apparent “grand designs” of the government, I’d like to know what they are. We could use some grand and ambitious designs, honestly. Maybe that would get people fired up and produce some confidence in our ability to solve problems as a society again.

  4. I’m wondering why Paladino is so angry. I try to imaging being a multimillionaire like Paladino and that just leaves me with an imagined feeling of being very content. I assume he must be angry for a reason, but I just can’t figure out what that reason could be. Anybody know?

  5. Swami,
    He has money. He just doesn’t have all of the money. Or, at least all that he would like. It’s penis envy with a $ sign.

  6. Just for grins, I decided to click over and see what stand Doc Zero took on Bush’s profligate spending and radical expansion of executive branch security powers. So I went looking for archived posts demonstrating his long term defense of constitutionally limited government and support of freedom. Guess what?

    There aren’t any. Looks like he got started in April 2009. Yeah. Obama Derangement Syndrome again.

  7. erinyes …That’s exactly what I think..What better way to get the rubes worked up into a froth than by reflecting their anger back at them like it’s your own anger. I hear Paladino made his millions as a slum lord for public housing. I guess he might have some genuine anger issues with those intrusive government code compliance officers who are always cutting into his profits with citations for health and safety violations, but other than that…I think he’s just a cheerleader for the teaparty. He’s angry all the way to the bank.

  8. I think the comments really expressed my thoughts pretty well. I can add that I’m frustrated and confused with these teaparty/republicans/conservatives/what ever they are called. One of the things I never liked about GWBush was his blase attitude about major issues, “I think with my gut…” or whatever he would say; BHObama is tentative, this is really a problem with liberals, we are never content that we have enough data to draw any conclusions and even when we do we don’t always feel confident its the right decision. But maybe I’m only talking about myself…

    In any case, as kagerato wrote in the comments section – the notion that Obama is aggressively liberal (and has been portrayed as one to John Q. Public) is silly. Healthcare? A huge bill to give insurance companies more customers. Car industry? Look at the alternative – America couldn’t exist without a car industry (how would people get around? we don’t have many trains or other convenient forms of transportation…) Banks? I might be willing to give the conservatives some agreement here. However, cheap credit was running our economy and Bush and Obama couldn’t think of a way to re-construct our economy – so the bank bailout is better than soup lines! The stimulus? Its astonishing people are angry about that. How much of it went into tax credits? half? Anyone want to guess how many new federal employees were hired because of the stimulus? zero. The stimulus was simply a new way for the government to barter away more of its services to private businesses. I’m not even sure what the nonsense about freedom means.

    These teaparty people keep on talking reverently about the US Constitution. Some idiot dropped a copy of it on my door step this last summer (printed by the Heritage Foundation). I even read it. Its not really clearly written, so some people will interpret it in different manners. I think my point would be that this this was adopted in 1787 – 223 years ago. I’m skeptical that its even still appropriate. Issues have changed significantly.

    So how did we become so backwards and how do we get back? Is it clear that we have a failure to communicate on a massive scale. Folks out in the United States think Republicans have a better idea of how to solve problems then Obama and the Democrats! How can anyone adopt that idea? To me its counter-intuitive. Perhaps what Gulag said earlier is the reason – the press has become dominated by Conservative sources. It would be good to talk about the good things government has done in the past.

  9. kagerato – You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to make sense out of a modern-day conservative’s anything. Inconsistencies, incongruities, contradictions…all over the place which is why it’s impossible to counteract anything they say. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a schizophrenic, or make sense of what a schizophrenic thinks or says? Impossible. Today’s professed conservative is as equally out of touch with reality as is a schizophrenic. God bless us all.

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