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Forum Post: Understanding America's Class System

Posted 2 years ago on Dec. 26, 2011, 1:45 p.m. EST by Anachronism (225)
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How about them political elites, huh? Five million bucks for Chelsea Clinton's wedding, 15K just to rent the air-conditioned shitters -- huge chrome and glass babies with hot water and everything. No gas masks and waxy little squares of toilet paper for those guys.

Yes, it looks big time from the cheap seats. But the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington's political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling class does not work at all.

Moneywise, Washington's political class is richer than the working class by the same orders of magnitude as the ruling class is richer than the political class. This gives the political class something to aim for. To that end, they have adopted the ruling elite's behaviors, tastes and lifestyles, with an eye on becoming members. Moreover, it is a molting process that begins with the right university and connections, and culminates in flying off to Washington with the rest of your generation's most privileged and ambitious young moths.

They make enough dough to at least fake it until they make it. Fifty-one of the 100 members of the US Senate are at the very least millionaires -- probably more than that, since multi-million million dollar residences and estates are exempt from the official tally. For instance in the House, Nancy Pelosi's net worth is either $13 million, or $92 million, depending upon who is counting. Why they bother to shave such large numbers is a mystery. Thirteen million, ninety two million, the difference is not gonna change our opinion of Nancy. Our opinion being that the broad is loaded. More than loaded. The comparatively poor members of Congress, like Barney Frank, are near millionaires. His publicly declared net worth is $976,000. For the life of me, I cannot see how they get by.

Along with the habits, the political class adopts the ruling class's social canon and presumptions, especially the one most necessary for acceptance: That the public has the collective intelligence of a chicken. OK, so it may be very hard to disprove that at the moment, but we must maintain at least some egalitarian semblance here. Anyway, as a group, the political elites think, look and act alike, and act toward their own interests. That makes them a class.

his political class stands between all of us down here and the tiny minority in the ruling class waaaaaay up there, wherever the hell up there is. No use to squint. You can't see it from where we are. That comes in mighty handy in denying the existence of a ruling class.

On the other hand, you do not need to see an egg-sucking dog in action to know what to expect -- or not to expect. The track record of the political class is an open book. As the layer of millionaires buffering the elites who pay for their campaigns, they've done their jobs. They approved the Bush administration's massive tax cut for the rich. They dropped the per-child tax credit for families with incomes less than $20,000. They "reformed" prescription drugs right out of Medicare. They reformed health care into hundreds of billions of increased profits for the insurance industry.

However, the American political class' finest moment came in September 2008 when the financial greed machinery of American investment houses went tits up. The Republican and Democratic parties, major corporations, and manufacturers of US opinion came together in one of the greater bipartisan efforts in modern US history. There was nothing to do, they all agreed, but buy up $700 billion in "toxic asset" investments. "Otherwise," they prophesied, the world would end. Meaning that the ongoing national Ponzi scheme they have always sold to the American people as the US economy, would finally crash.

And in case there were any skeptics out there among the unwashed, the public was reminded just how much they stood to lose -- which was everything. Deep in the boiler room, the Goldman Sachs black bag crew had wired up the "economy" with enough explosive "financial instruments" to take out every working mook's home, or retirement savings, which the medical industry was already sucking up at an alarming rate. Something had to be done before the health care industry got it all, and repo the family ride.

Yessiree, it was gonna be a "systemic collapse," by god, and if you needed proof, just look at the way both George Bush and Barack Obama agreed that some American corporations were too big to let sink, therefore it was time for the public to start bailing out the boat. Meanwhile, the royal economists were unanimous in that this "rescue" was going to require another 10 trillion bucks somewhere down the pike -- a very short pike. So it must all be damned serious and we gotta do this thing. Right folks?

In an unusual display of common sense, the American public said "Bullshit," by margins of three or four to one, depending upon region. That did not bother political and economic elites much. What the fuck do the proles know anyway?

Then, in midstream, the political and economic owning classes switched horses, after realizing there was more gravy for the kingpins in buying up banks and big industries. It was unconstitutional, but what the hell, that's what Supreme Courts are for. The proles mumbled and peered into their TV sets for explanations that never came.

http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2010/08/understanding-america.html

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[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 2 years ago

Call it consumer conditioned numbness, which it is. But it is safe to say most Americans give not a happy damn about the rest of humanity, starving infants, the homeless and whatnot, so long as the unhygienic swarms stay the hell out of our yards and don’t bring up that tired commie stuff about our lifestyle being based upon armed global theft and sweatshop misery. In that way, we all test positive for the Devil’s hickey.

Republicans may flaunt their hickeys like high school kids in the locker room, but guilt-plagued Democrats, feeling the smart of the mark of the beast, console themselves that they can banish it at the ballot box, if only they close their eyes and wish upon a star. Thus their comfortable self-delusions that the Tiger Woods of the Democratic Party, the technically black Barack Obama, is somehow blessed with an inner moral compass lacking in the rest of society, and therefore does not bear the damnable mark. Wiser souls, aware that Obama possesses a net worth of several millions, a Harvard law degree and a career born in that venerable political whorehouse called Chicago, assume the Devil’s mark is probably located on his posterior where we cannot see it.

[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 2 years ago

Excerpt:

The ruling elite stays in power through the patronage both parties offer their supporters. They hang onto or follow their party's leaders much the same as remoras cling to big sharks, and pilot fish accompany sharks, happy to get the leftovers. Both parties provide their activists and followers with livelihoods, through programs or legislation that just happen to make the rich richer.

One good example is the psychologists, doctors and social workers who initiate the process of getting half the country on anti-depressants or mood stabilizers, a term that should scare the hell out of anyone who grasps the concept of the corporate state. They get their jobs through government funding, or research that defines behaviors as illnesses requiring powerful psychoactive drugs.

One new favorite is ODD, oppositional defiant disorder, in which children act like -- surprise, surprise -- the young assholes that children can sometimes be. Teenage rebellion becomes a psychological disorder. Diagnostic manual symptoms include "often argues with adults," an unheard of behavior of teenagers calling for antipsychotics such as Risperidone. Side effects of Risperidone include a mild speed like buzz, a super erection lasting hours, lactation and suicidal tendencies. Phew!

Big Pharma makes billions more in the name of alleviating the people's suffering. Obviously many millions are indeed suffering, but if that is the case, then American society is suffering. Never will it be asked publicly just what psychic anguish our society is suffering from. Because the answer is capitalist industrial commodity disease, and the psychic pathology of Americaness. That would mean consulting Mr. Marx, who predicted much of it, or Arthur Barsky, who brought the definition up to date.

[-] 1 points by LSN45 (535) 2 years ago

Well said! They will keep "stacking the deck" and "loading the dice" in their favor unless something is done. Here's my 2 cents:

There are a lot of improvements that need to be made. The list reforms Americans want to see is long and varied depending on who you talk to. That said, I believe there is one reform that would provide the American people the best chances of seeing other meaningful reforms actually happen - that is REAL, loop-hope free CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM! I have seen others on this site calling this the "fulcrum" or pivotal issue. Right now the current legalized bribery, pay-to-play system of campaign donations and paid lobbyists has disenfranchised the American voter. Until this is fixed, any other reform the politicians may try to placate us with (be it a change to healthcare, clamping down predatory school loans, new financial regulations, etc.) will be about as effective as a farmer putting a new roof on his CHICKEN COOP, but still letting the FOX guard it.

We need to go back to the original political currency. Instead of the current system of who can collect the most money from corporations and special interests it should be who has the BEST IDEAS to EFFECTIVELY RUN THE COUNTRY (we don't need "Wealth Redistribution," what we need is "Political Influence Redistribution")!

For the sake of our children and future generations of Americans, we need to take back our democracy from the rich and powerful who are using their vast sums of money to "speak" as if they represent millions of Americans. This "Corporate Personhood" that has crept into our laws is allowing them to manipulating our policies in their favor at the expense of the average American (the recent "Citizens United" Supreme Court ruling is a miscarriage of justice and must be reversed. The $50 or $100 a normal American may give to a political campaign becomes meaningless when corporations or other special interests are handing our millions to buy political access to the decision making process.

For decades now the corporations and special interests have had our "representatives" bought and paid for (both on the right and the left). Concentrating our efforts on getting the money out of our politics is the best way we can create an environment in which further reforms can be realized. Until we end the current system of legalized bribery (campaign donations) and paid lobbying our politicians will continue to be the LAP DOGS of the corporations and special interests. What we need first and foremost is real, loop-hole free CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM!!!! If the corruption is not dealt with first, the chance of any other meaningful reforms becoming a reality is almost zero - the special interests will just use their money to buy votes and put forward bills that create loop-holes or otherwise twist the law in their favor. If we want our children to live in a country where there vote matters, we need to get the money out of our politics, otherwise they will increasingly become the 21st century version of the "landless peasant." Spread the word - End the LEGALIZED BRIBERY!!! CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM needs to be THE main goal of the protests!!!

[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 2 years ago

Good luck sending the ethics police to washington. I don't think that will ever happen - except in some sort of theater type event. Nobody is going to mess with the capital accumulation of the ones with the most capital.

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 2 years ago

Thanks for posting. I just read some of Joe's stuff for the first time. I'll be reading more. It's to bad he didn't live long enough to see OWS but the way things are going he might have blown a gasket. I know it's hard not to be cynical but what do you think of the 99% Declaration? What do you think Joe would have said? http://www.the99declaration.org/

[-] 1 points by Anachronism (225) 2 years ago

Yeah, Joe was awesome.

[-] 0 points by economicallydiscardedcitizen (761) 2 years ago

It's too bad Joe Bageant has passed, we need more writers like him.

From the front page tribute here's the kind of guy he was: http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2011/10/now-the-world.html#more "Joe grew up a redneck and remained one his entire life. Bageant was a Second-Amendment-defending, whiskey-drinking farmer’s son of Virginia. But intellectually and spiritually, he’d transcended the provincialism, the racism, the anti-intellectualism and the clan (if not The Klan) mentality of his shuttered volk. There’s a fetishism in our culture for white folk who “remember their roots,” or black folk who “keep it real.” Joe did both of those things, but unlike so many others, he was not limited by the horizons of his formation. He grew up hard, hungry and poor, spent the Vietnam years in the Navy, came home and moved out to the West Coast to be a hippie, took heroic doses of hallucinogens, partied with rock stars and wrote about holy men. He tended bar on an Indian reservation, edited a journal of military history, lived in Belize, Colorado, Idaho, Mexico and Oregon before deciding, in his words, “to settle some scores with the bigoted, murderous redneck town I grew up in. I love ’em but they need a good ass kicking.” And so he moved back home.

Joe spent much of his life kicking the collective asses of the bigots, the prideful, the pompous, the blindly patriotic and the cruel. And in that life he also brought balm and his big love to the weaker-thans and the world-forgotten. He was an honorable man."

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