I learned these hard lessons years ago and now think they’re obvious, so it’s hard for me to be civil when people with the blank open faces of the unthinking bleat these ideas at me. It’s almost insulting to hear someone who has put zero thought into an issue relative to what’s needed telling someone with extensive experience in it all about “the real solution.” You want to punch — and then you remember: this person has not seen what I’ve seen, had the advantages and disadvantages I’ve had, nor traveled as widely or engaged in enough scurrilous activity to see the “seamy underside” of modern reality.
So, speaking slowly, here goes:
In a recent column, he noted that the $3.6 trillion total is “gargantuan” (we columnists are paid to make keen observations like that), but what really upset him was that the tax burden to finance universal health care, energy independence and other big initiatives in Obama’s budget “is predicated on a class divide.”
With heavy sighs, Brooks expressed great despair that “no new burdens will fall on 95 percent of the American people,” adding with a tsk-tsk that “all the costs will be borne by the rich and all benefits redistributed downward.”
Leaving aside the fact that such things as health-care coverage for every American and a booming green energy economy will benefit the rich as well as the rest of us, Brooks’ column was echoing a prevalent theme in all of the right’s attacks on Obama’s economic proposals: Class War! Indeed, the Times’ columnist even suggested (sadly) that Obama’s budget was fundamentally un-American: “The U.S. has never been a society riven by class resentment,” he sniffed.
This typical modern user has no idea what he’s talking about.
Modernity is defined by rationalism, or the idea that in complex interactions of many factors, we can focus in on a single factor and measure BEFORE and AFTER states to achieve a replicatable process.
Works great for making cars, but fails to assess secondary effects: pollution, social change, intellectual change, economic change.
However, our entire modern civilization is based on glibly allowing sophomores to make their changes, and then the rest of us adapt however we can.
The single factor they’ve picked here: wealth.
What they fail to include: does wealth correlate to intelligence, does intelligence correlate to degree of responsibility, does wealth correlate to degree of responsibility, does degree of responsibility correlate to leadership ability, and are all these in fact related — that smarter people are able to see further ahead than two weeks, and so have more responsibility and earn more?
This is in contrast to a mass of people that we know from experience can’t see ahead more than two weeks, spend whatever money they have until they’re head over heels in debt, buy flashy new things and throw them out the next week, frequently default and flake out, leaving behind huge piles of waste. These people also invent nothing, contribute nothing to culture or learning, and so on. But they’d like to think they do. They have blogs and twitters and myspace and indie funk rockabilly grindcore bands and lots of facebook friends and know all about the latest TV, movies, cuisine, music, and so on. They may even engage in some garbage artform like interpretive dance or modern sculpture. And they hate the wealthy.
I think there is the origin of your class war, sirs: in the irresponsible masses who are seeking a “Reason” why they are down and others are up. Surely it couldn’t be lack of ability, or lack of organization? Surely it couldn’t be all the stupid decisions they’ve made? No, it must be someone else’s fault, and they’re wired to believe that because they’re irresponsible.
These are the same people who think nothing of tossing their fast food bags out the window when they’re done eating, don’t seem to mind abandoning cars outside their apartments, and don’t care if an acre of forest got destroyed for a new McDonald’s — they want a hamburger, now, and it makes them feel powerful to demand it and get it and they’ll pay any markup for that feeling.
Class war is what happens when these irresponsible people gang up on the responsible people, triumph by strength of numbers, and then in their ensuing bad leadership plunge the country into third-world decline. France. Russia. South Africa. Greece. India. Rome. Even in the new world, the mighty Aztecs (my true heroes in this life) and Maya were destroyed because their day laborer populations united with the Spanish — all 200 of them — and overthrew them.