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Here is the thing: if you get the people to identify with the wealthy or the ruling classes, you've won, because it will be political suicide to suggest (say) higher taxes for the wealthy in order to support a safety net or a way to bring back up the people who fall through the cracks.

So, the class war has been won by the wealthy by conditioning everyone to think of themselves not as they are or have been but as they might be in the future if they are hard-working, lucky and successful.

That people in the middle class and even the lower class identify most strongly with the wealthy is the only explanation I can muster for the average American's ideas about social justice, poverty, taxation, etc.

This identification with the wealthy is reinforced by the "American Dream" myth of the self-made man who pulled himself by his bootstraps out of a disadvantaged background and became wealthy (the only definition of "successful" that Americans accept). American politicians and business leaders will go out of their way to present themselves as "from the people".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 07:51:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]

the class war has been won by the wealthy by conditioning everyone to think of themselves not as they are or have been but as they might be in the future if they are hard-working, lucky and successful.

This is a fundamental point. I read a poll that stated that something like 10 or 20% of the population thought they were in the top 1% earners. Yes, everybody in the USA can make it rich, so laws that could be detrimental to me then, even if it would be good to me now, have more trouble being sold.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 03:18:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
something like 10 or 20% of the [US] population thought they were in the top 1% earners.

Jérôme, you must be joking. (Sadly, I know you are not).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 05:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Radio Host Garrison Keillor has an imaginary town he reports on each week. One of its properties:

"All the children are above average"

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Oct 12th, 2005 at 06:51:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually think that's quite funny.  I think the whole thing is "Where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children all above average."

Now if you want to hear something that's not funny, some school districts have actually made it a requirement for graduation that you have an above average GPA.  In other words, they're dictating that our children will be above average.  It's so absurd and I thought of Keillor when I read it.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 06:26:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Prairie Home Companion is quite funny. It airs on NPR, and if you follow the link to "Archive" in the program's homepage you can download an audio stream of past shows. I recommend it, it's really poetic as well as entertaining.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 06:44:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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