Friday, December 30, 2011

The Reality Disconnect of the Right

Last night, Eschaton regular poster, Echidne of the Snakes, pointed us to her Rumination on Merit. She got me thinking about the disconnect from reality that many on the right suffer from. Read the whole post, but here's the take-away:
The mythology of "Merit Always Gets Its Rewards" is strengthened by those stories of individuals who started out poor and destitute, then worked very hard and now are billionaires or famous dead presidents or whatever. The problem with this mythology is that it begins from one end (the billionaire or the dead president end) and then works backwards. It doesn't begin from the other end. If it did, we might hear of all the millions of people who had great talent and worked hard and got exactly nowhere.
The central irony of the Rugged Individualism so beloved of the conservative core of America is that the vast majority of its adherents belong to "the millions of people who had great talent and worked hard and got exactly nowhere" Echidne highlights. I'll stipulate, too, that a large number of that conservative core are unfortunate ones who were born into lives of relative lack of opportunity and either were denied educational opportunities or eschewed them. This segment also aspire to Rugged Individualism but remain deeply suspicious of the intellectual elite.

Can you believe I went to eastern sissy schools?
The trouble is many conservative leaders are stealth elitists who are, at best, "passing" as Rugged Individuals. The best example is New England blue-blood, silver-spoon George W. Bush, who was born into wealth and educated his entire life in elite northeastern schools. W. famously passed as a Texan, "clearing brush" on his "ranch" in Crawford, Texas. He then spent his presidency making life easy for establishment elites, in other words, his people, who by any stretch of the imagination are not rugged individualists. More often, as they say, they were born on third base, just like W.

Our Mitt, man of the people, with billionaire Meg Whitman
Another example of an establishment, silver-spooner born into the Meritocracy is Willard Mitt Romney, son of George Romney, former CEO of American Motors and governor of Michigan. George was a successful, much admired, moderate Republican, probably somewhat to the left of Barack Obama.

Barack Obama during his childhood in Hawaii
Many on the current far left think Barack Obama has sold out to the moneyed interests of the Wall Street and Washington establishments, and I'd find it hard to dispute that. But in a head-to-head comparison, Barack Obama is the real deal, born in relative low circumstances and through hard work and good choices has risen to the highest circles of wealth and power. Obama has truly earned his place in America's meritocracy. On the other side of the spectrum, Mitt Romney was born into wealth, educated with his wealthy brethren, went into business with family money to found Bain Capital, which made money the old-fashioned way: he manipulated capital markets and business opportunities. He made -- and continues to make -- millions by putting capital to work, whether it was good for the poor bastards that worked for the companies he acquired or not. These things are unimportant when maximizing capital and enhancing wealth.

Like the (successful) phonies that precede him, Mitt Romney is currently roaming the corn fields, coffee shops, and church socials of Iowa in jeans and a sport shirt with rolled up sleeves, ready to get side-by-side with everyday Americans to build a better future. Right.

Mitt Romney understands the plight of the average American: he and born-again-and-again elitists have made sure as many Americans as possible lead average lives. The moneyed elite can only acquire money by keeping an eye on the bottom line. Right?

What exactly does that mean? It's not a mystery. CEO pay has increased over the years until, according to a 2011 report from CNN, it is now 343 times the pay of the average American, in other words, $11.4 million for CEOs to $33,190 for the average American. CEOs, it's generally agreed, earn those kinds of big bucks because they do such a good job of keeping an eye on the bottom line, right? A key way to do that is to suppress wages. 

So, conservatives are on their way, by all accounts, to selecting as their leader -- as they did in 2000 -- a CEO who knows how to run companies and therefore knows how to run America.

Romney at Bain Capital. Whose money is this? Hint: not yours.
If Mitt Romney runs America like he did Bain Capital, he'll run it by keeping an eye on the bottom line, which means he'll only succeed if he cuts the amount of money that flows to the average American. Right? Yes, right! That's the CEO way! And this is why we want to elect him?

Possibly no. America does not like Mitt Romney, not the conservative core, not the independents who supposedly decide elections, and certainly not the Democratic base. Are we then going to elect Mitt Romney, silver-spooner elitist, over Barack Obama, actual rags-to-riches man who created his own luck? Quite possibly yes.

Why? Because millions and millions of dollars will flow from unlimited sources, unregulated sources, funneled by Karl Rove, Dick Armey, Ari Fleischer, and endless other operatives who channel money from the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, and the rest of the moneyed class protecting their prerogatives into the coffers of the moneyed class candidate, Willard Mitt Romney.

Why? Why? How could those farthest from the receiving end of the largess of Wall Street and Washington possibly vote for Mitt Romney? For one simple reason: each and every one of them are convinced they are one lottery ticket away, one lucky break away from getting what's rightfully theirs because they've worked hard all their lives and taken personal responsibility for their lives, unlike all the people on welfare that they have to pay for because the government makes them. They'd be all right if the guvmint would keep its goddam hands off their money!!

You can vote for me now that I'm one of you.

They'll also vote for Romney because the information echo chamber comprised of the Rupert Murdoch-Rush Limbaugh-Tea Party triumvirate will repeat over and over the misinformation that reinforced these false notions that "the others" are the reason why the average American can't get ahead.

Who are the actual "others?" Are they Kenyan Muslim Socialist Keynesian Stimulators? No, not really. They are the CEOs, the Bain Capitals, the Goldman Sachs, the JPMorgan Chases. How can I know this? It's easy.

Follow the money.

Here's William Domhoff of UC Santa Cruz:
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. Table 1 and Figure 1 present further details drawn from the careful work of economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2010).
There is one kernel of truth in why the conservative core, the Tea-Party, white, rural, primarily uneducated Christian dead-enders (commonly known as George W. Bush's diehard 28%) might, in the end, hold their noses, ignore their suspicions, and vote for Mitt Romney: he will, in fact, keep the goddam guvmint hands off their money. Why? Because Mitt Romney has better plans for it.

He's going to give it to the people of merit, the CEOs, the 1%-ers. That's what he going to do. Why? Because he went to Harvard to learn how to do it. And he's been doing it all his life. Who better?

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