Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Class War?

Conservatives have been saying for years that liberals are engaging in class warfare. This warfare is on the rich.

The poor, defenseless rich.

And because everyone in America wants to be rich and thinks that they could be someday, this rhetoric has taken hold and become fact, at least in the minds of many. "When I am rich beyond measure, I don't want to have to pay taxes on my estate." This is the bootstrap thing, which assumes that 1) you actually have bootstraps, and 2) America is a level playing field.

This "war on the rich" has taken the form of pushes for fairness in the tax system and... and... what else? Seriously. I don't get it. Don't we usually root for the underdog when there is a contest between opposing forces who have unequal access to resources? Unless their ideology is flagrantly corrupt, evil, or ridiculous, we generally cheer on the side that is smaller, less equipped, or less privileged.

Don't we?

Why are so many regular people putting so much energy into defending our wealthy, our corporations, our privileged few? Never have so many pushed so hard for the rights of so few. Is it the idea that the people at the top have to have as much money as possible, so that they can provide the fuel for the economic engine of the nation? I don't think that the data have borne that out as a sound theory. Aren't we seeing large corporate profits and still experiencing high unemployment? Is that far too simplistic an observation? Because, as I say, I don't get it.

Here in Minnesota, our newly elected republicans in our newly GOP-controlled house and senate are continuing former governor and present presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty's tradition of balancing the budget using only one or two tools in the policy toolbox. It's unclear to me whether or not they have resorted budget gimmicks, but they certainly are using cuts and other cut-like measures. Tim Pawlenty's tradition of tax cuts and his refusal to raise revenue helped to get us into this mess, so I fail to see how more of the same is going to get us out.

It's the same old song and dance that is playing out all over the country. Slash the number of state workers, limit collective bargaining, punish teachers, cut aid to the poor, and generally continue to gut the already gutted. The very people who are out there spending money daily will have less money and will possibly wind up on state programs or otherwise being paid for by the state in emergency rooms or other facilities and programs.

Cutting aid does not cut need. I can't say it enough: someone always has to pay, and it's usually the government. And the government is us.

I fail to see how cutting 15% from the state workforce and pushing those taxpaying middle income workers out of work and perhaps onto unemployment is going to help the economy or, in the long run, the state budget. If the idea is to push them onto the federal budget tally, it flies in the face of their whole deficit reduction obsession.

I fail to see how cutting health care to the poor is going to help, either, for many of the same reasons.

I thought I was living in a country whose government cared for its people, but that's clearly a long-lost idealist dream, if it ever was a reality.We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America...

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