Friday, June 13, 2008

A tiny group of people at the top vs. class politics

The focus on groups of ultra elite rich people takes away from the actual story that's out there. For example, it could be easily pointed out that although these folks have tons and tons of money that the number of them is so small that their presence doesn't prove that the U.S. is a grossly unequal society. If you go down this route you'll see that there is in fact a big break between the numbers of ultra-ultra rich and the number of just rich and upper middle class people in the U.S. Furthermore, if you look in turn at that demographic you'll see that what could be considered the middle class is much larger than what one might think if they just looked at the ultra-ultra rich in relation to everyone else. While the elite of the elite should not have access to economic resources like they do, and should have them taxed into oblivion, the real drama of the U.S. class system comes in the area where the spike in wealth levels off some. That means looking at people who because of their occupation and their earnings fall into the category of owners, executives, and high powered white collar workers, and comparing the growth of their incomes with that of less upper middle class people, down to blue collar folks, and then down to the folks who could be categorized as being really poor. It's the interrelationships between these four subsets that really tells the story how wealth and power in the United States has shifter in the past twenty odd years since Reagan imposed his will on the tax code and on unions.

This is a class based analysis, one that combines information on occupation and job function with info on money made. The view that looks at five or six people, or a hundred, who make loads of money, is not, even if they pose their analysis in terms that use the language of class.

Instead, it's most likely evasion. You see, it's easier to attack modern day Vanderbilts and Rockefellers than it is to look at folks who may come from a class that either you, the progressive magazine writer, or your readers, come from. People don't see the ultra-ultra-ultra rich walking around but they do see the well off all over the place, meaning that they are tangible and not just abstractions. If someone were to start attacking these folks in print it would be a little too real, a little too solid, because it would imply that the people who agree with the analysis would have to actually change their behavior and attitudes. They might actually have to protest real people instead of paper cardboard cut outs and that's something that makes them uncomfortable.

As such, focussing on ultra-ultra-elites is an excuse for personal laziness. If you want to protest and work against something why not pick something that people can actually, see, touch, hear, and feel, like upper middle class people, instead of Mr. Monopoly man in a top hat?

They'll be fucking losers unless they do, because that's what left politics in every god damn country except the U.S. consists of.

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