Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Behind Every Great Fortune is a Crime
There are many issues which animate the passions of the the good citizens of New Hampshire--gun control or the lack of it, a state income tax, or the lack of it, abortion, immigration--but the most fundamental issue of all, and the one on which I suspect President Obama actually won the election, is that of economic distribution of wealth, or, as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and every Republican would say, "Class warfare."
Republicans made great bushels of hay quoting Mr. Obama's remark that he intended to "redistribute" the wealth, which confirmed Rush Limbaugh's deeply held belief that Mr. Obama is Karl Marx, reincarnated. As self contained and controlled as Mr. Obama is, this was an unfortunate lapse, even if, especially if it reflected his real opinion. It was not politic.
The idea of taking from the rich to give to the poor does not evoke images of Robin Hood in this state, it evokes images of theft from the hard working "successful" and giving to the undeserving poor.
Luckily, for Mr. Obama, the Republicans are so tightly sewn into the pockets of the really, really rich, they could not even bring themselves to answer Mr. Obama's taunts that the Republicans refuse to make billionaires "pay their fair share." They insisted no share is a fair share to pay in taxes, especially if you are rich and successful, and higher tax rates on the rich was "class warfare" and "punishing success."
You would not catch a Republican quoting Balzac, "Behind every fortune is a crime."
Mr. Obama will not be able to do anything about Fisher Island in Florida, where the very rich isolate themselves from the hoi polloi, or any of the other similar, if not quite so upscale islands like Bald Head Island, NC, Kiawa Island, Fisher's Island, New York, the Hamptons, Long Island, any of a long list of islands of wealth and privilege where the rich can be rich without feeling guilty.
Here in New England, the high school graduates who worked for decades in the trades, mastered crafts, learned computers on the job still do reasonably well. They consider themselves middle class, have a "camp" on a lake and can afford to go on vacation and eat out in restaurants occasionally. They can splurge on a Red Sox game, where they spend a week's pay paying for the salaries of millionaire ball players and owners.
As Cesar said, "Give them bread and circus."
That's what we've got in New Hampshire. Workers who are only occasionally restive, who are happy to have a job, and who do not believe in unions, who love their guns, their delusion of "freedom" and cannot see the evils in a system which gives the top 1% that 43% of the pie shown above, while the 80% of Americans squeeze into that bottom red slice of the pie. If I am reading my New Hampshire neighbors correctly, they have worked hard all their lives. They get up in the morning, go to work, solve problems, do no complain about being given more work than they had the day before, and that work ethic is so ingrained in them, they assume if someone is richer, it must be because they worked and are still working harder. Of course, having also been with those rich bosses, my take is they work far less hard than these good New Hampshire folk--the bosses just scheme harder and love the game of intrigue. But in terms of productive work, actually building those built in bookcases, re wiring the kitchen, rebuilding the bathroom, the boss class hasn't a clue. They are at work making deals in rooms with original art on the wall and polished wood desks. But that all may be just the Phantom's ignorance showing.
Walk around any of the Vanderbilt mansions, whether at Newport, Rhode Island, or in North Carolina or in the Adirondacks, or any of the dozens of places where Vanderbilts built estates which make Downton Abbey look like a tar paper shack. If your gut reaction is, "Oh, how beautiful," rather than "Oh, how shameful," then you are part of the problem.
Posted by the phantom speaks at 5:14 PM