David B.




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March 26, 2009

Class War? Bring It On


Imagine: A nation of hardworking people – who’ve been forced to watch as their homes, jobs and futures have evaporated thanks to the greed, incompetence and malfeasance of a cabal of penthouse-dwelling banking overlords – has shown a measure of indignation when informed that the worst of the worst of these, the human carp occupying the boardroom and corner offices at AIG, were being treated to $170-odd million in bonuses thanks to their tax dollars.


A Politico.com pundit, inexplicably selected for an interview on the BBC, lamented a “disastrous” week for the Obama Administration owing to the rising tide of popular anti-oligarch sentiment, characterizing the groundswell of popular rage against the AIG welfare scheme as tantamount to “class war.” It was a mantra echoed throughout Fox News, the wingnutosphere and the grumbling classes of newly-defanged Washington reactionary parasites aghast at the thought that anything should ever come between a banker and his next Ferrari or oceanfront condo. The rabble were getting ever so slightly restless! Oh, the impertinence! Oh, the horror! Imagine: The poor, the powerless and the hungry might stop licking the boot that kicks them!


Well, it would be about damn time. The Armani-clad parasite class have had a free ride since the first seconds of the Reagan Administration, engineering three decades of rising national productivity paired with flatlined or declining real wages for some 98 percent of the population even as their own pay packets bloated like blood-engorged ticks. The old disparity benchmark between the wages of the highest- and lowest-paid employees in the American workforce used to be a scant 1000:1. Nurtured under the loving, protective wings of Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, that figure now stands at a high of 80,000:1 amongst the highest echelons in the financial services field.


Think about that: It takes 80,000 times more money to feed, clothe, house and amuse a Bernard Madoff than it does to do the same for the person who takes out your garbage. The latter provides you with a clean living environment. The former engineers a global economic collapse, profiting as you are evicted from your home. Cool with you?


Oh, but we shouldn’t point out such things. After all, it might provoke a class war or something.


Guess what: The class war has already begun. In fact, it’s been going on for centuries. The thing is that only one side knows about it, and only one side has been fighting.


It has always been an easy matter to convince the broad mass of Americans that it is in their best interests to celebrate the vast material success of the anointed, storied men who give them orders and exploit their labor for their own profit. After all, the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the governing class should be rewarded and encouraged! These titans of business create jobs! It is owing to their vast, immane beneficence that we are able to toil in their factories and shine their shoes in order to buy the Kraft American Singles and Ford Pintos that they wish to sell us!


We should be grateful. And – if we’re really, really good – we might even be allowed to join them. Buy that lotto ticket. Or maybe Regis Philbin will ask you if you want to be a millionaire, or Ed McMahon will show up at your door with an oversized check. Or, if you only work a little harder for a little longer and put a little more of your hard-earned money into shares of their overpriced stocks and bonds, just maybe you’ll be able to trade up some day to a McMansion of your own – packed to the gills with sulfur-filled Chinese drywall.


It’s a con. It’s always been a con – the oldest con in the book. Hypnotize the rubes with glittering baubles, pander to their basest instincts towards hoarding and competition, dangle the carrot of “the good life” a few inches before their noses, and use every tool at your disposal – the TV, the pulpit, the editorial page – to encourage them to dream, dream, dream of the “better life” awaiting them somewhere down the yellow brick road, whether in heaven above or in a gated community cul-de-sac.


By definition, a dreamer is not engaged with reality. The dreamer doesn’t notice that his time, his energy, his rightful share of resources and his physical health are being siphoned off with every passing day. By the time the con becomes obvious and he reaches the charnel house at the yellow brick road’s dead end, it’s too late to do anything about it.


The class war, as practiced daily in the office parks and brokerages and factory floors of the United States, is the ultimate masterpiece in asymmetrical warfare – one side armed to the teeth and out for blood, the other blissfully unaware of being under attack. For a fleeting second, some feared that the AIG bonuses might have disrupted this precious asymmetry. Had it done so, and were there justice, the last investment banker would be sobbing at the center of the charred wreckage of the last McMansion.


But never fear: Another $1 trillion was delivered safely into the bankers’ hands, the Dow went up 500 points, and all was forgiven. And as Dorothy Parker once said, “Thus they are both fit and well/Who should be by rights in hell.”


And as the Everly Brothers said: “Dream, dream, dream.”


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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