Scenes from the class war

“Power is, as you might suspect, on the side of Power. Which is to say, Power never pleads guilty.”

“The statistical association between a representative’s personal wealth and their opposition to the estate tax remained even when factors such as age, party affiliation, their constituents’ opinions and anti-tax views were accounted for.”

“‘I donate to charity mostly for the tax breaks and I’•m going to donate less now that the deal looks worse for me‘ is probably near the top of the list of things rich people would do better just keeping to themselves.”

“That the Wall Street Journal would even dare publish such a thing without irony is indicative of the reality that the wealthy don’t live in the same country as the rest of us.”

“You can’t hate these people, and it’s clear that director Lauren Greenfield doesn’t. What you can do is deplore them.”

Spending money to keep kids healthy is about the best spending we can do. It’€™s an investment with a big payoff, both in terms of spending less later on sick kids, and the greater lifetime earnings potential of kids who grew up healthy and in some cases who got to grow up at all.”

“The more these big brands like Wendy’€™s and Taco Bell strike out against their blue collar employees supposedly because of an Obamacare provision that reportedly doesn’t even apply to them yet, the more it sounds like these are Republican companies simply trying to save money by making a political statement about a Democratic program and Democratic President they don’€™t like.”

“Please note this for future reference, and stop being assholes to your employees.”

Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending. For Congress to ‘decide whether’ to raise the debt ceiling, for programs and tax rates it has already voted into law, makes exactly as much sense as it would for a family to ‘decide whether’ to pay a credit-card bill for goods it has already bought.”

“We have a Republican Party today willing to eliminate any prospect for a decent future for anyone, including itself, if it cannot be a future that is 100 percent in accordance with its core beliefs and principles. That’s not governing. That’s just lobbing hand grenades.”

“Now that we’ve avoided the deficit reduction plan, we can go back to talking about how the problems are that your grandma is too rich and also, too, Teh Deficit.”

“The Postal Service is in such dire financial straits because, unlike any other agency or private business, it is required by Congress to pre-fund 75 years worth of pension benefits. So USPS is paying for the pensions of employees it has not even hired yet.”

“There’™s a lesson in here somewhere about the Market and Meritocracy and how much money ends up being available for rewarding management when you don’t actually have to pay your labor force.”

“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization.”

“Apart from advanced farming techniques and better land management, we’€™ll also need to figure out how to tamp down on food waste.”

“It does not follow that because human nature is sinful we must talk of nothing else and give up all attempts to realize social justice.”

“All over my city, poor people are being taken advantage of because of their accents or their education levels or their inability to navigate a difficult systems. They are paying exorbitant fees, being told they have no rights, being nickeled and dimed out of every cent the management can squeeze out of them.”

“In nearly every instance, Jesus speaks about both financial forgiveness and personal forgiveness simultaneously — as if he cannot separate the two.”

“The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”


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  • The James 5 quote that summarizes this article in the Slacktivist front page has probably been my most favorite Bible quote since I first heard John Goodman as Huey Long shout it in the Senate. :)

    “The Postal Service is in such dire financial straits because, unlike
    any other agency or private business, it is required by Congress to
    pre-fund 75 years worth of pension benefits. So USPS is paying for the pensions of employees it has not even hired yet.”

    What joker came up with that idea in the first place? Dollars to donuts some Republican came up with that in order to sabotage the USPS.

  • malpollyon

    Off topic – BBC Radio 4 is running a sort of “George Orwell Month“. Unlike the BBC’s online TV broadcasts, the online radio shows are available worldwide. Given how often Fred quote’s Orwell, I thought regular readers here might appreciate a heads up.

  •  What joker came up with that idea in the first place? Dollars to donuts
    some Republican came up with that in order to sabotage the USPS.

    That’s pretty much what it was.  Charlie Pierce brings it up over at Esquire from time to time, in that inimitable fashion by which Charlie Pierce brings up things that piss him right the hell off.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Meanwhile, private carriers like UPS don’t have to worry overmuch about funding pensions because the tax payers will bail them out by way of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation should they come up short. File under: Gains, privative; Costs, socialize.

  • Carstonio

    I almost missed the point of the laughter over the WSJ cartoon, and then I looked it again and realized the income figures were in six digits, not five.

  • rrhersh

    The Wall Street Journal has a long history of bemoaning how hard it is to be rich in America.  Back in the late 1990s my workplace had a subscription.  I loved reading the Weekend Journal section on Fridays.  I have no idea if this still exists, but it was a soft news section with a lot of lifestyle pieces.  My favorite was during a (in retrospect rather modest) economic downturn.  It was a sob story about families having to cut back on their maid services.  One tragic figure had to eliminate the help entirely.  There was some discussion of whether anyone would buy the idea that messy was the new chic.  There was no mention of any hardship on the minimum wage earners having their hours cut.

  • The Postal Service! I hear those guys are touring again this year.

  • Katie

    On the subject of food waste, there is an organization in my area that runs a project called Market on the Move.  They obtain, mainly through donation, produce that has been rejected by restaurants and grocery stores, mainly because some of it is starting to go bad, or its good, but it needs to be eaten in the next few days.  Normally, this food would end up in landfills.  Instead, its redistributed.  Costs are covered by charging a $10 ‘donation’, which allows one to get roughly 60 pounds of produce, which keeps the project going, and gets a lot of fresh vegetables onto the tables of people who might otherwise find it difficult to afford the same.  I mention it because I think this is a model that could work in other areas.

    I’ve been able to cut down a lot on my personal food waste in the last few years by a combination of composting and keeping chickens.  Anything that is truly inedible goes into the compost directly, and anything that is edible, including meat scraps, goes to the chickens, who convert it into eggs and nitrogen.

  • Fusina

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Are these people ever going to feel secure? I know I don’t, and I don’t have near as much as them. But it isn’t lack of money that scares me, it is idiots in power who only want more and more–power and money both. And what they can do to destroy the America that can be, a place where people can work, and not only survive but thrive, to create, and all because they want more money, so someone has to do without so they can have theirs. My parents have bought into this–they are not rich, I don’t have a grand fortune waiting for me to inherit, but they absolutely believe that lower taxes on rich people helps them. Historically speaking, the wealthy in America remind me of the French aristos just before the revolution. Hope they don’t lose their heads.


  • LL

    Yes, it still exists. They’ve added a new section, titled (not kidding) Mansion. It’s about mansions (or houses that most of us could never hope to afford). I page through it, sometimes it’s interesting to see how the 1% lives. 

  • Jenny Islander

    Anybody who needs to stretch their food money, see if your community has a chapter of the Freegans.  They are mainly urban, rescuing literal Dumpsterloads of perfectly fresh, wholesome food for redistribution while taking some for themselves.  I’m talking deli food that was in a warming tray less than an hour ago, day-old artisan bread, even ice cream that’s still frozen and not freezer burned in the least.  This is the appalling waste behind the lovely still life that is the upmarket grocery store.

    On a smaller scale, I am the purchaser for my church’s Feed My Sheep program, by which we attempt to massage a tiny grant and some matching donations (an amazing amount of matching donations considering the number of parishioners on fixed incomes) into at least 4 bags of groceries per week for the local food bank.  The food bank manager tells me that a local grocery store that shall remain nameless is supposed to throw all of its nearly-fresh produce into a Dumpster and put bleach on it.  However, the produce manager “forgets” to do this regularly, “absentmindedly” complaining to his good buddy the food bank manager about all these boxes of celery and potatoes piling up on the loading dock, and then, somehow, the boxes disappear!  Apparently the store manager regularly recites the relevant corporate regulations to all department managers.  But he also never goes out on the loading dock.  More power to him.

  • Worthless Beast

    The only one I clicked was the one on AZspot.  It made me think about some of the fatalism and pessimissm that I’ve seen people complain about in modern Christianity (not without reason.  The Left Behind novels are very fatalistic). 

    I’m not sure whether I’m more “Christian” anymore or more “None” sometimes, but I tend to consider myself more the former though I haven’t been to church in a long time and whenever this pessimissm is brought up, I not only remember my former conservative days and how it was taught in the churches, but I think about how, no, I don’t agree – I actually *do* think the world is getting better.  I don’t actually think it goes against the Bible or Christian philosophy to think that, either.  I do believe humans are imperfect and that we will never create Utopia, but I do think our world can become better by increment if we decide its worth fighting for (we may not ever be perfect, but imperfection doesn’t mean we don’t fight for “better”).  People who weren’t content to say “It’s just human sinfulness at work” and decided to fight for something better, I believe, is the reason why we even have ideas like civil rights and the notion that slavery is abhorrent.   If the situation is not equal, I don’t think the response Jesus would want is “It’s just human nature, nothing we can do about it.” and sitting on hands.

    Sometimes, even if you’re convinced you’re doomed to failure, you should still fight.

    (Looks like I’m in one of my optomistic moods today.  Strange, that).

  • “The Postal Service is in such dire financial straits because, unlike any other agency or private business, it is required by Congress to pre-fund 75 years worth of pension benefits. So USPS is paying for the pensions of employees it has not even hired yet.”

    It’s worse. The USPS is paying for the pensions of employees who haven’t even been BORN yet!

  • The rich do not consider screwing over the poor to be “class warfare”, it is “class policing action”.  

    It only escalates to “class war” if you fight back, apparently.  

  • Regarding the list of documentaties – BBC Four (the TV channel) are airing The Queen of Versailles at 10pm (GMT) today (Tues) and it should be on iPlayer for the rest of the week for UK Slacktivites who want to check it out

  • Antigone10

    I’m going to bet that the letter from the Chinese worker will prove to be false.

  • A lot of newspapers do this. And many of them (not necessarily the WSJ) spend a lot of ink bemoaning the end of newspaper sales. Gee, how big is your target market then?

  •  Update on this: It was actually aired YESTERDAY (Monday), but it is up on iPlayer and is even available for free download on the iPlayer app on iOS devices.

  • When I first saw that WSJ illustration, my first thought was “$25K-70K, that doesn’t seem at all unreasonable.” Then I realized that I was just looking at the amounts of their deductions. Yes, their deductions alone are more than many (probably most, if you exclude the retired couple) of us make.

  • Mike Timonin

    re: freegans and dumpster diving – a fascinating discussion of such plays a major role in Cory Doctorow’s novel _Pirate Cinema_ – his description makes me want to hunt down some local dumpsters, just a little.

  • reynard61

    “Bush aide: ‘GOP is shrinking daily before our eyes'”

    So does this mean that when it gets small enough we can drown it like a baby in a bathtub?

  • Turcano

    One of my professors has a friend who lives in the rich part of town who is considered “the neighborhood pauper” because he – shock and horror – has to live there year-round.

  • Hexep

    It is. There’s no such thing as the ‘CCPG,’ it’s not an acronym that anyone would ever use.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     You mean they have to wash their own dishes and vacuum their own carpets? 

    Wow, how…awful. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    It really is. For the people who are no longer being paid to do it for them, and thus probably not being paid at all.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Part of this is psychological: humans evaluate “being rich” not as total amount, but by comparision. (Cracked has an article about how being rich won’t make you happy – having enough money to get by/ out of poverty makes a difference, but being rich doesn’t make you more happy).

    However, it’s one thing to expect the WSJ to cater to the upper-middle class (and be out of touch with the problems of poor people); and see them catering to the absurdly rich. I missed the first time the small print on the family: 180 000 in investment income. If we assume they invested before the financial crisis, at the 6% for long-time conservative investments, that means this family has **30 million dollars** lying around in investments. (And not creating jobs, either: owning a company means profit fluctuates, but investments pay out regularly).

    30 million just for investment.

    How many people fall into that group?

  • That’s actually kind of sad. I’m sure workers there do actually work in conditions nobody in the West would tolerate for themselves and their children, so this may be some kind of false-flag trick to discredit legitimate letters that get sneaked out that are written in Chinese only.

  • Ross Thompson

    I like to think I’m moderately wealthy. My wife and I both work middle-class jobs that pay fairly well. We bought a new house last year, and felt comfortable carrying two mortgages until the old house sold (which might be happening right now). So, yeah. Very happy with my financial situation.

    And yet, our household income is less than what the married couple in that infographic gets purely from investments. They could quit their jobs, stay home all day and still be richer than us.

  • Carstonio

    While the cost of living in NYC is high, I doubt that it would be enough to explain the skewed figures in the graphic.

  • Jenny Islander

    Reminds me of a couple who won a lottery and moved to Rich People Town years ago.  They said that it was kind of like moving into an isolated village: locals had their ways and were surprised to see that other people had other ways.  The thing that positively shocked the villagers of Rich People Down, though, was the way the lottery couple got their flower garden to grow: by putting their very own personal fingers into actual dirt.

  • Münchner Kindl

     That’s why I don’t believe that the family has 4 children. They can’t delegate 9 months of pregnancy to the maid, so why should a woman with at least half of 180 000 in investments alone do it? Some Hollywood stars adopt kids – often from poor countries (which has its own problems) but the children in the graphic don’t look adopted.

    Also the artist drew middle class people, which doesn’t fit at all with the income shown. People that rich don’t simply buy better clothes – at those figures, they can afford tailor-made-to-measure clothes, which will look completly different. Plus grooming and hair that costs several hundreds of dollars. No way they would look that frumpy.

  • DavidCheatham

    I wonder at what point companies that operate franchises will start _preemptively_ making rules about asshats who start publicly taking idiotic and malicious political positions.

    At what point will, for example, the McDonald corporation look around and see what happened to Wendys and Taco Bell, and send out a very threatening memo to franchise owners ‘If you start trying to associate the McDonald’s brand with conservative politics and start sprouting off about how you’re so happy that you don’t have to provide health insurance, we will slap your franchise with huge fines and perhaps even take it away from you. McDonalds does not take political positions, nor does it brag about how _little_ it pays employees.’

    Not that this would be ideal, I’m sure plenty of places are cutting back hours _silently_, because, hey, they were already doing that. So it’s not any sort of ‘victory’ if they stop bragging…now we won’t even know.

    But I was just wondering how long these chains will keep letting franchise owners do so much damage to their brands before it become the equivalent of getting a C on health inspections or all the other stuff that gets franchises in immediate hot water with their corporate overlords.

  • olsonam

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we never gave away free shoes to children because all the parents in the world could afford to buy them shoes? I like the St. Basil quote but when it comes to clothes and shoes in the
    modern era, it’s much better to buy fewer things from sources that use
    fair trade labor. 

    Poor people don’t actually need or want most of the
    clothes that you want to get rid of.  I appreciate the
    sentiment behind TOMS shoes but it’s much better to support well paying
    jobs so that parents can afford to buy their children shoes, rather than
    supporting low wage labor. 

    Except for a recent buy of Converses (some are made fairly, but mine were made in Vietnam) all my clothing and shoes are bought fair trade.  It’s an investment of time and money and I wince whenever I see the price but I think it’s almost charity to avoid products made by people paid with low wages.

    Now if only there was a way to get electronics that don’t have rare earth metals…

  • Münchner Kindl


    Now if only there was a way to get electronics that don’t have rare earth metals…

    A netherlands group is working on producing the first fair-trade cell phone. It will be bigger than the modern ones, because a lot of the rare earth metals are used for miniaturiaziation. They will use an existing mine in South Africa with fair pay and make all contents accountable and trace-back (which is proving very difficult).

    Also, good on the fair trade clothes! Yes, they are expensive. And yes, the long-term solution is a living wage in the production countries, and living wage in 1st world countries, too, to afford the expensive items. But the short-term strategy is to give children shoes right now.

  • Whengreg

     I get 3 million, not 30 million.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which is still equivalent to the total annual pay of over a hundred people at my pay grade.