Class warfare and the attack on living standards
If I had to identify just one problem as the most fundamental in our society, I would have to choose wealth inequality because it crosses so many areas. On a pure economic basis, it prevents money from adequately circulating; from a self reliance standpoint, it’s harmful since concentrated ownership makes it ever more difficult for an individual to live independent of employment; from a social justice standpoint, it’s impossible to believe any individual can be worth hundreds, thousands, millions, or billions that of someone else; and from a political standpoint, it corrupts the entire system.
Mort Zuckerman has written an article today in the Financial Times in which he addresses the two Americas. The two Americas Mr. Zuckerman is concerned about, though, are not that “captured by the standard class warfare speeches that dramatize the gulf between the rich and the poor” but rather the apparently more important gap between public employees and private. “Public workers have become a privileged class – an elite who live better than their private-sector counterparts. Public servants have become the public’s masters.”
This is an incredible bit of sophistry when we consider that Zuckerman, a billionaire real estate magnate and editor-in-chief of US News & World Report, sits at the pinnacle of a society of feudal-like inequality. He also, it must be noted, has close connections to the democratic party establishment. His class utterly dominates national politics and the media but he has the chutzpah to claim we should be worried about the elite power of public employees! This is nothing but class warfare that serves two purposes. First, it seeks to misdirect worker anger from the owners of society to other struggling workers – classic divide and rule. Second, it’s another step in the grand plan to lower the wages of American workers in order to compete in the rigged game known as the 21st century global economy. He proposes to do this through yet another unelected commission.
He notes that private workers are substantially worse off than their public counterparts in that unemployment is much higher, pay is lower, and only 18% have pensions. But his argument is not that the private worker should rise and demand better living standards. Far from it. His goal is to reduce the pay and benefits of public workers to that of private and to misdirect anger away from the elites.
Zuckerman correctly observes that “political tension is bound to grow when jobs disappear faster in the private than the public sector, just as compensation in the former is squeezed more”. In light of Zuckerman’s status in US society and his close connections to the democratic party establishment, this is a highly revealing statement on the direction we’re headed.
Americans need to see Zuckerman for who he is and utterly reject his vision of society. These are powerful people who live as royalty. They control the political process, the media, and much of the economics profession. If we keep to the rules of globalization as written by American elites over the past decades, our future is necessarily grim.
I can’t help but close with yet another dig on economics – the principle academic justification for this system. Economists can’t totally ignore inequality but they can trivialize it and pose unrelated reasons for it. Here’s a sad example, for instance, of an economist fascinated by beautiful fractal pictures of inequality as if they posed some insight beyond the obvious fact that capitalism hierarchically concentrates power.
Writing about this stuff every day really gets depressing sometimes. Time to visit the mountains!