Scenes from a class war

“They just don’t get that I’d rather they pay me a better wage so I wouldn’t have to go to a food bank.”

Republicans have run out of persuadable white voters.”

“The free market might be a great idea when it comes to setting the wages and salaries of working folks, but using it to set the fees for dock rental in one of the richest communities in America? That’s outrageous.”

“We want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that’s voter ID, sometimes we think that’s longer lines — whatever it may be.”

“Thus have the most egregious crimes of the last decade been fully shielded from prosecution when committed by those with the greatest political and economic power: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, spying on Americans’ communications without the warrants required by criminal law by government agencies and the telecom industry, an aggressive war launched on false pretenses, and massive, systemic financial fraud in the banking and credit industry that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.”

“I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes.”

This is a stunning level of silence from a church that for centuries has been at the forefront of worker and economic justice”

“In the argument over right-to-work laws, the first thing to get straight is that these laws have nothing to do with the right to work.”

“If right-to-work laws are indeed, as supporters claim, a ‘liberty’ issue for workers who are otherwise slaves to ‘union bosses,’ then why are Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan GOP legislators denying these ‘rights’ to the most esteemed workers under their purview, police officers and firefighters?”

Right-to-work laws go against everything we believe.”

Global solidarity among workers is the only way to meet the challenge of today’s global economy and the neo-liberal principles that govern it, a philosophy that promotes transnational business deals at the cost of a relentless search for cheaper labor and fewer governmental restrictions.”

“It’s a good reminder of the trade-offs that we have already made in the name of deficit reduction, which have received little attention amid the hand-wringing over the fiscal cliff.”

“If your company staked a claim in 1873, and had been mining gold from it continuously, the total cost to your company would have been $19,509.”

“One of the reasons Social Security is necessary is that most workers never see their pensions because their companies go under before there is ever a pay-out; but executives always seem to walk away with a pile of money anyway.”

“And it’s not just seniors who would be harmed by raising the Medicare eligibility age: Studies show that the proposal would actually increase systemwide health care spending and shift those additional costs onto state governments and onto employers and their employees.”

“A principle reduction program would provide much needed help to a significant number of troubled homeowners, help repair the nation’s housing market, and result in a net benefit to taxpayers.”

“In a nutshell, almost everything ordinary Americans think they know about the Bill of Rights, including the phrase ‘Bill of Rights,’ comes from the Reconstruction period.”

Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour.” (via Dave Ex Machina)

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  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’ve always been liberal because it was right in front of my face ‘We are poor, and these jerks (your bosses) are a large chunk of why.

    Yeah, nothing like experiencing poverty to make you left wing.

    Due to parental chronic illness my siblings and I grew up dependent on government welfare and private charity, and even those didn’t make ends meet. But my parents valued education, civic participation and installed in us a sense of duty towards our fellow human beings. The idea that poverty would go away if people weren’t stupid/lazy/greedy isn’t one I could entertain for even a fraction of a second because I grew up steeped in the disputing evidence. Life has a habit of kicking you when you’re down, and for some people the kicking is so unrelenting that they can never get up. But they still have a right to eat, and to have a safe place to live.

    A friend of mine is the archetypal compassionate right winger. He does lots of individual acts of charity, and believes that we should all do this instead of requiring the government to provide for the disadvantaged. The conversation always ends when I point out that I’ve been on the receiving end of both, and I vastly prefer the government variety. We didn’t have to go to the government every fortnight and explain that, yeah, we were still poor and we needed groveries this week too, and hope that the government hadn’t found some more photogenic charity case that took priority. Charities focusing on little kiddies with tragic illnesses always get more support than those trying to alleviate poverty. Hell, animal shelters get more support than charities trying to alleviate poverty.

  • Albanaeon

    “Yeah, nothing like experiencing poverty to make you left wing.”

    You would think, but I’ve met more than my fair share of those that were poor and aren’t now go full on libertarian.  It’s really uncomfortable when people who really do know better spout complete bs about poor people.   Or even weirder when it’s the in-laws living for free at your house…

    I would guess its that “welfare” has been so successfully framed as something “Those People” get and never get off of and because they aren’t anymore than they aren’t and it’s all about the bootstraps.

    Or they they are completely terrified by the idea that there’s only a sliver of difference between them and “Those People” and are in complete, and angry, denial about it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s certainly not universal, no. I’ve observed what you describe, and it frustrates me too. Although not people who go full-on libertarian–I think I’ve met a total of one libertarian Australian in real life, and he was a highly privileged upper middle classman.

    In general political terms–in Australia anyway–the poor and the working class can be counted on to support left wing political parties on masse.

    In my personal experience the strongest disdain for poor people lies within the middle class. Who, as you suggest, may be in denial about how easily they could become poor themselves, so need to pretend the difference is onw of character, not circumstance.

  • reynard61

    “Republicans have run out of persuadable white voters.”

    Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that “Binders full of Latinos” is going to be the 2016 election’s main meme?

  • Didn’t Romney already jump into the Fail Ocean and swim the Fail Marathon when it came to trying to “persuade” Hispanic voters?

    I can’t see a presumptive Republican in 2016 snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in that scenario.

  • christopher_y

    Mark Z. – I like “Danegeld”. Hits the nail on the head.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     A certain close relative of mine was talking about how we desperately needed to change in order compete with China and India, to stop hemorrhaging jobs and to bring them back to the United States. 

    I told him that in order to do this, it would be necessary to reduce wages to the same level as the average line worker in China or India make, eliminate pretty much all workplace protections and employee benefits and end all outside oversight over things like waste disposal and pollution.

    He was absolutely ecstatic that I understood what he was getting at. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    And he thinks that if he personally made, what, three dollars an hour? (What are wages in China?) If he personally had no employer-provided health insurance (which, on that money, means no health insurance)? If he personally had no guarantee of job security or a safe working environment or having the time to do things other than work and sleep? If he personally lived in an area being polluted by a company that doesn’t care about the pollution because of course none of its executives are affected?

    He thinks that’d be an improvement?

    Or does he just think it wouldn’t touch him?

  • The_L1985

    ” The idea that poverty would go away if people weren’t stupid/lazy/greedy isn’t one I could entertain for even a fraction of a second because I grew up steeped in the disputing evidence.”

    I actually felt that getting rid of greed and laziness would decrease poverty quite a bit. However, I caught on pretty quickly that most of the greedy, lazy folks tended to be rich folks, not poor ones. There are good rich people, and lazy poor people, but as generalities, I could not make that hold. Especially knowing so many aunts who don’t have much money, but have big hearts and a strong drive to do the right thing.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Actually, he DOES think that would be an improvement, since in the same conversation–last Monday, actually–he told me that if he didn’t care for the pollution in one area, he was free to move somewhere better, and that in the absence of anything resembling a minimum wage, prices across the board would fall drastically and literally millions of new jobs would spring up, some of which would undoubtedly pay very well. In any event, he said, there would be so many jobs that anyone working for a slave’s wage would be able to move to a better one in no time at all if they wanted to. 

    His plan for becoming very wealthy involved buying houses, living in them briefly and then selling them at a higher price.  Oh, and real estate.  This has worked out so well for him and his wife that he’s just recently taken gotten his fourth loan from his father-in-law in order to stay afloat. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Except there wouldn’t be anywhere less polluted for anyone who wasn’t rich as sin, and there’d still be fewer jobs than people (though with no worker protections each person with a job would probably be working enough hours for one and a half people) so nearly everyone would be stuck with one of the shit jobs. Want a better-paying job? No problem! Find one at some other company! Meanwhile we’ll be hiring someone who’s willing to take the shit pay and make less fuss about it, and have fun finding a company that pays better.

  • Doesn’t your friend know all that stuff was tried in the 18th and 19th centuries?

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Yeah, pretty much this.  I have an entire family that consists of temporarily disadvantaged millionaires.

  •  Sure, but it’s just like with guns: the problem isn’t that they treated the workers terribly, it’s that they didn’t treat them terribly enough.  If they’d just really put the screws to the workers, it would have created a libertarian paradise.  Full of workers who were happy to work 80 hour weeks for 20 cents an hour swimming through carcinogenic chemicals to remove shards of glass from crushing machines without health insurance.

    They’d be happy and everything would be great. Because they’d all have guns.

  • fredgiblet

    Most people don’t.  History isn’t a strong spot for most Americans and uncomfortable history even less so.

  • In my opinion, it’s not possible to teach someone something when they think they can make lots of money by not knowing it. I’m pretty sure that the Industrial Revolution is at least touched on, even briefly, at some point in the 12 years of mandatory public education in the US (or, failing that, in college general education courses), but if someone’s latest money-making racket is based on not knowing about it then they won’t, even if their doctoral thesis was on 18th and 19th century labor relations. They won’t understand because they get paid not to understand.

    To take an unrelated example — Ben Stein went to an extremely well-regarded high school in the richest state of the country before going on to attend Columbia and Yale — both Ivy League institutions for his undergraduate and law educations. At some point in those decades of education, he must have learned basic biology, yet he is now a successful creationist writer and speaker.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    When members of the predator class say “lazy”, they mean “unwilling to work 90 hours a week for bad room and board”.

  • David Starner

    Why do I get the feeling that the same people in favor of abolishing minimum wages are fans of right to work? I mean, the personal freedom to negotiate for a closed shop is nothing like the personal freedom to negotiate to pay your workers a pittance.

  • JoyfulA

     I remember it as $5,000; I was making $7,000 at the time as an assistant supervisor with a couple of years of college. I was shocked; I’d have been essentially going to work every day for $2,000 a year, and that was in the days of male and female help wanted ads—-in other words, there was very little upward mobility for a woman.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think the intent was that the government checks would have been supplementing your paycheck, not supplanting any part of it. Certainly that’s what’s meant when the Green Party supports similar (hypothetical) legislation.

  • Jenny Islander

    We have it already in Alaska; it’s called the Permanent Fund Dividend.  The amount varies depending on 5-year aggregate performance (or something like that).  It has not noticeably increased the amount of laziness and spendthriftiness, but the amount of money going into the local economy surges every fall, right after payout.

    We used to put the kids’ PFDs into college funds.  These days we used them to cover  expenses that have risen faster than our household income.  I am still able to keep mine for spending money (used to be for my Roth IRA) so I don’t have to ask my husband for an allowance, but that may change.

  • JoshuaS

     There were different numbers being kicked around, and one of them was $5000, but I double-checked and Nixon’s starting proposal was definitely for $1600.

    think the intent was that the government checks would have been
    supplementing your paycheck, not supplanting any part of it. Certainly
    that’s what’s meant when the Green Party supports similar (hypothetical)

    Yeah, as I tried to explain before (badly) the proposal also included a version of Friedman’s negative income tax proposal, which was specifically designed to correct the problem of someone essentially losing government benefits in direct proportion to their earned income going up (thereby discouraging people from working because they might hit an arbitrary threshhold where they actually end up behind financially — such as losing public household because your annual income was slightly too high but still not enough to survive on.)