Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Class still matters

While money is important—especially when the Wal-Mart heirs have more of it that the poorer half of the USA population—I am still convinced after all these years that the biggest class differences are between Veblen's Leisure Classes and Industrial Classes (or as like to explain it—between the Producers and Predators).  This has been true for a very long time—the difference between a Viking raider and his boatbuilder is enormous but no larger than the priests of Christianity and the guys who built stone cathedrals with ceilings over 100' (30 meters) above the floor.

Because Producers learn from their mistakes, they improve their output by orders of magnitude over time.  The Viking longboats and cathedrals were phenomenal achievements but they are charmingly primitive alongside an integrated circuit or flat-screen TV—not to mention a modern automobile that combines all these technologies.  Not surprisingly, the gap in consciousness between Producers and Predators has also grown over time since the Leisure Classes are quite content to retain their time-honored strategies of force and fraud.  And why should they change—no matter how sophisticated the Producers become, they can always have their work stolen by the lovely class of people who invented slavery and compound interest.

What is interesting these days is that the BIG problems like climate change or the end of the age of petroleum can only be solved by Producers.  The very survival of the human race is dependent on the Predators stopping their destructive behavior and getting on with the business of funding the Producers.  Of course, this has happened before in history—the clergy at Chartres spent over a century essentially raising funds for their cathedral builders while I would guess that more than one Viking chieftain went broke buying boats.

IF, and this is a huge if, the Leisure Classes do want to stay ahead of the increasingly angry mobs, they must go back to their semi-useful function of fund-raisers.

Pretend All You Like

It’s Still Class Warfare


It’s an old joke, but it bears repeating: An Oxford professor meets a former student on the street. He asks what he’s been up to lately. The student tells him he’s working on a doctoral thesis about the survival of the class system in the United States. The professor expresses surprise. “I didn’t think there was a class system in the United States,” he says. “Nobody does,” the student replies. “That’s how it survives.”

The growing chasm between the so-called middle-class and the rich, coupled with the on-going, systematic assault on organized labor, isn’t simply the result of some unfortunate decisions. Rather, it’s evidence of a well-oiled drive, led by Wall Street and its minions, to separate and segregate the working class from the rest of the economy. It’s class warfare, plain and simple, fought the way our “real” wars are now fought—heavily muscled and sanitized.

Because there’s no opposition (not the Congress, or the Church, or organized labor, or citizen groups), the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The rich and powerful are actively seizing all they can get, and they’re doing it boldly, audaciously, in broad daylight, in front of our eyes, making it reminiscent of those frontier land-grabs where they took everything they wanted, knowing no one could stop them.

So what can we do about it? Vote for progressives and hope for the best? Write to our congressmen? Write to the president?

Actually, we can write the president. Not that anything meaningful will result from it, but it’s easy to do. Anyone interested in getting an opinion heard, getting a gripe off their chest, presenting a personal manifesto, or simply hurling insults at the Oval Office can write to President Obama at this address:

It might take a month or two, but unless you’ve issued a death threat or written a particularly vulgar letter, you’ll get a response. Of course, it won’t be President Obama who writes you. Indeed, it’s unlikely he’ll even read your letter. Rather, it will a nameless and faceless intern assigned to mail duty who writes back.

Six or seven weeks ago I wrote the president, grousing about how pitifully little he’s done for working people. Beginning with his abandonment of the EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act, which would’ve made card-check the law of the land), and his appointment of his old Chicago crony, that anti-union shill Arne Duncan, as Secretary of Education, I lamented the fact that he has been a profound disappointment.

Because this was my first letter to the president, and because I had no idea how it would play out, I was more interested in testing the water than in overwhelming the man with a long list of grievances, or coming off as wildly aggressive. After all, isn’t that Ted Cruz’s job?

Accordingly, I avoided ideology. There was no mention of class distinctions, class warfare, class protests, dialectics, or the Democrats’ betrayal of the American worker. Instead, I politely expressed my surprise at his reluctance to use the bully pulpit to promote the virtues of organized labor, and very gingerly accused him of being either insincere or gutless when it came to supporting unions.

The following is his (his intern’s) response, filled with enough platitudes, weasel words, and assorted bullshit to give politicians a bad name. Had he (his intern) said, “Before you start bitching, fella, try dealing with a Congress whose sole goal is to see you fail,” I would’ve respected him. But instead, I got platitudes. And call me nitpicky, but I objected to his (his intern’s) use of the upper case in the word “Nation.”
Dear David:
Thank you for writing. I have heard from many Americans about the concerns of working men and women, and I appreciate your perspective.

Since our Nation’s founding, we have relied on the firm resolve and commitment of working Americans. These men and women are the backbone of our communities and power the engine of our economy.

Workers have not always possessed the same rights and benefits many enjoy today. But throughout our history, hardworking individuals have joined together to exercise their right to a voice in the workplace. Through these efforts, the labor movement has improved the lives of countless working Americans and their families by representing their views and advocating for better wages and safe, fair working conditions. Over time, this work has helped lay the cornerstones of middle-class security—the 40-hour workweek and weekends, paid leave and pensions, the minimum wage and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare. As we support the groundbreaking contributions of the American workers who have built our country and brightened our tomorrow, we must continue to protect the role and rights of workers in our national life, including their right to collective bargaining.

Every day, hard-working men and women across America prove that, even in difficult times, our Nation is still home to the most innovative, dynamic, and talented workers in the world. Generations of working people have built our Nation—from our highways and skylines to the goods and services driving us in the 21st century. My Administration remains committed to supporting their efforts in moving our economy forward.

Thank you, again, for writing. I encourage you to read more about my Administration’s approach to this complex issue and other critical matters at

Barack Obama
It seems the head of AIG is actually a little worried about angry mobs.  Here he is historically absurd but for a member of the Leisure Class that has no clue what Producer-Predator class analysis implies, he gets a few facts straight.  Folks are extremely angry with people like him—perhaps angry enough to resort to spontaneous murder.  What he doesn't seem to understand is that paying himself $15 million / year in taxpayer money may leave him seriously short of defenders should the mobs ever form.

AIG CEO: Outrage Over Bonuses Was 'Just As Bad' As Lynchings In The Deep South


In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Benmosche appeared to say that public anger over the company's decision to dole out $450 million in bonuses after it received $173.3 billion in government aid was "just as bad" as actual historical lynchings in the Deep South.

The quote — which was not included in the Journal's print article but only in a subsequent MoneyBeat blog post — was picked up by the Columbia Journalism Review's Ryan Chittum.

Here's the quote in context from MoneyBeat:
Mr. Benmosche on the government’s campaign against partial “bonuses” to be paid to hundreds of employees in the AIG financial-products unit as they unwound massive, ill-fated bets on mortgage bonds. He said “less than 10” employees were behind the bad trades.

“That was ignorance … of the public at large, the government and other constituencies. I’ll tell you why. [Critics referred] to bonuses as above and beyond [basic compensation]. In financial markets that’s not the case. … It is core compensation.

“Now you have these bright young people [in the financial-products unit] who had nothing to do with [the bad bets that hurt the company.] … They understand the derivatives very well; they understand the complexity. … They’re all scared. They [had made] good livings. They probably lived beyond their means. …They aren’t going to stay there for nothing.

The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that–sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong."
In the interview, Benmosche also controversially claimed that "too big to fail" had been solved. more

No comments:

Post a Comment