Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not Getting It

In the old days, the Republican Party knew their own plan. Rich people would put together their money to buy influence over people who were not rich with appeals to the fact that they were not rich. These people took the form of Nixon's 'silent majority' and the "Reagan Democrats" among others all pulling their doting Horatio Agliers up from their respective boot-straps. Once in power on the wave of populist nonsense, these politicians would then go about their business restructuring the system ever more into the favor of the wealthy.

The game, however, always required some insight and knowledge of its rules and intent by the players. Reagan was a savvy player of this game. On the one hand he reinvented American religiosity for his own gain. He, for example, used the religiously loaded term "evil" in his "Evil Empire Speech" to the evangelical union down in Florida and courted the likes of Jerry Falwell et al. On the other hand, he sent the country on a union busting, deregulating, regressive tax shifting spree of a decade that saw the rebirth of the American plutocracy (kleptocracy). Bush, with his brush clearing, folksy ways was able to disguise his aristocratic heritage and education in the Northeast from all of those who had been trained towards distaste of heritage, education, and the Northeast.

With Sarah Palin, the Republican Party has apparently forgotten the rules of this age-old and effective system for getting their interests into power. This year, this election cycle, they are actually putting one of "them" into the hot seat and people are confused. Especially the rich folk:

"If you turn on the news tonight when you get home, you're gonna see that, yah, this is another woeful day in the market, and the other side just doesn't understand -- no!" she said at an afternoon fundraiser at the home of mutual fund giant Jack Donahue. "Especially in a time like this, you don't propose to increase taxes. The phoniest claim in a campaign that's full of them is that Barack Obama is going to cut your taxes."

Of course, Obama never promised to cut taxes for people at $10,000-a-plate lunches in air-conditioned tents on waterfront compounds. And the crowd -- among them New York Jets owner Woody Johnson -- reacted without applause to Palin's Joe Six-Pack lines. After they didn't strike up the usual "Drill, baby, drill" or "USA" chants, Palin, rattled, read hurriedly through the rest of her speech.

Granted, the vast majority of these rich folk will vote for McCain anyway, but not all, and even those who do are holding their noses and are confused. The people the wealthy put into power are supposed to know the rules of the game and have the capacity to distinguish between their audiences.

In many ways, this was one of the 'appealing' traits of W. Bush. He had been playing the game for a long time, and he knew when he was speaking to crazy fundagelicals and when he was speaking to actual powerbrokers. The results of course, pleased everyone looking to be pleased. Actual power brokers saw capital gains taxes slashed, income taxes at the top slashed, and more than $1 trillion of the peoples' money funneled directly to them without the usual and annoying masks of 'tax reform' or reductions in 'government waste.' and, most shockingly, while decrying insufficient 'government regulation and oversight.' Fundagelicals got abstinence only eduction, an elimination of condoms to Africa, at least one supreme court judge, if not two, a 'parial birth abortion ban,' and a world closer to 'end times' with one war in the Middle East and one in Central Asia against the wrong types of brown people.

Alas, Sarah Palin is incapable of this distinction. To her unblinking, every newspaper and magazine reading, winking self, the world is uniform (maybe even flat). All political interests are the same to her. Rich powerbrokers, poor fundagelicals, rich fundagelicals, 'joe-six pack,' to her, it does not matter. The message stays the same and the reasoning remains elusive.

Now (also, too), some rich people, are coming out against her bold and bald confusion of 'how the world works' (which only McCain knows, of course).

The former Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, Hugh McColl Jr. has come out in favor of Obama:

In 49 years of living in Charlotte, I've seldom offered my opinion in writing and never submitted a piece such as this. The condition of our country compels me.

The economic disarray threatening our community and nation poses critical challenges but also presents opportunity. We can observe the presidential candidates in the crucible of crisis.

Only one of them demonstrates the needed intellect, fortitude and temperament. That is why I have decided to publicly support Barack Obama.

Today, is a new day. We have reached the point where the faithful Republican alliance between powerbroker and working stiff (come religious whacko) that Nixon and Reagan built, Clinton unwittingly strengthened, and Bush crafted into artform, has exploded. The wealthy are having a more difficult time stomaching the anti-intellectual nonsense of the religiously stupid and the religiously stupid are now actually feeling the effects of handing their country over to the most select and richest few in exchange for 'partial birth abortion bans.'

What we have now, are rich powerbrokers calling for, or even working on the campaign of (I'm looking at you Warren Buffett), the election of an educated meritocratic social democrat (kind of) because they are concerned that the people they've put into power in the past may actually endanger the country where their power lies, and thereby make their powerbroker status significantly less valuable.


  1. >>"more than $1 trillion of the peoples' money funneled directly to them<<

    The people's money? Excuse me? At least be honest. It was their money in the first instance. You may believe, even rightly, that they should have given more to others. But don't pretend that it was not their own money that they were talking about and wanted back. Sheesh!

  2. Are you suggesting that the national balance sheet belongs to the wealthy?

  3. I think the first time the government sanctioned a public corporation and granted its owners limited liability western society started down the path to socialized wealth.

    More to the point, considering the cards were always stacked against a McCain victory he would have been wiser to pick a VP candidate who did not expose the great rifts and flaws of the party. He could have chosen Lieberman and gone down with some grace.

  4. >>"the first time the government sanctioned a public corporation and granted its owners limited liability western[,] society started down the path to socialized wealth."<<

    Actually, the opposite is famously true. The birth of the artificial being called the corporation, and the concomitant, separation of ownership and management was as almost as important to capitalism and the efficient distribution of resources as the creation of money itself. It would be on the list of the top ten inventions that changed the world.

  5. That's the point: the "free-market" is an illusion. The ground basis of "capitalism" is a set of government policies. Since the creation of this wealth is founded in government action, the wealth is social.

  6. Dear Pericles,
    you exclaim...
    "The people's money? Excuse me? At least be honest. It was their money in the first instance. You may believe, even rightly, that they should have given more to others. But don't pretend that it was not their own money that they were talking about and wanted back. Sheesh!"

    From whence did their "own" money originate, with which to give out so many a crappy mortgage?

  7. Roga, I'm not sure I understand the question.

  8. Pericles, I'd like to hear more of what you think about the "artificial person" --the joint stock company or corporation-- and its relation to capitalism. I agree with you; but I think this development has been pernicious.

  9. "One of the major organizational innovations in the history of business was the development of the corporation. Corporations are distinguished from single proprietorships and partnerships (the two traditional forms of business organization) by two features: the organizational separation of ownership and management, and the legal limitation of owners' liability to the amount of their investment. The separation of ownership and management has proven enormously beneficial to both owners and managers, since it brings together those who have capital but not necessarily the skills or time to run a business and those who have managerial skills but not necessarily the capital. Corporations' limited liability has also made available increasing amounts of capital: since thsoe who provide the capital are legally liable only for the actions of management and only to the extent of their investment, they are more likely to be willing to invest.

    The success of the corporation has brought a flood of criticism; in fact, during the past century the bulk of criticism of business has focused on the corporate form of business. Robert Hessen's In Defense of the Corporation is an excellent study of the corporation's historical and moral roots, and contains clear and accurate responses to the major criticisms of corporations."

    From http://www.objectivistcenter.org/showcontent.aspx?ct=45&h=44

    Hassen's Book, though, is where I would go for the real argument. I don't own it, however.


Please post your comment(s) here. To reply to a specific comment, be sure to paste the appropriate @ displayed into the box below as the first line.