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Hatred of the working class isn't Randian... - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
Hatred of the working class isn't Randian...
Mitt Romney is an amazing businessman and CEO, able to crunch the numbers and analyze the data and understand how we got here and where we're going. He has to know that the unemployment rate is 8%, not 47%; he has to know that the 47% number comes because Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II all cut taxes on and extended tax "credits" back to middle class families with children, in the hopes of encouraging more middle class children.

(The very poor didn't get credits because they didn't have any money in the first place to credit; the idea was that the middle class [read: mostly white, mostly Christian people] had Protestant values and just needed a little encouragement to have more kids, so most credits are targeted at 'having work, having kids' families.)

So what explains the attitude Romney showed in that video? Paul Krugman today in the New York Times claims it's all about Rand:
The fact is that the modern Republican Party just doesn't have much respect for people who work for other people, no matter how faithfully and well they do their jobs. All the party's affection is reserved for "job creators," AKA employers and investors.

The G.O.P.'s disdain for workers goes deeper than rhetoric. It’s deeply embedded in the party' policy priorities. Mr. Romney's remarks spoke to a widespread belief on the right that taxes on working Americans are, if anything, too low. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal famously described low-income workers whose wages fall below the income-tax threshold as "lucky duckies."

[This] reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride.
Okay, I've never read Atlas Shrugged, but I have read The Fountainhead, and while it's certainly about heroic individuals persuing their creative vision so thoroughly and so without compromise that their genius is eventually recognized by the masses, there is no disdain whatsoever for the working classes in The Fountainhead. Roarke admires the working classes: the riveters, steelworkers, stonemasons, even managers who are doing good work; he learns from them, studies them, and takes from them the values of creation. They are part of the system of creation, and Rand acknowledges that.

As of the writing of The Fountainhead, Rand had (and apparently never had) a thought for the organizations of communities outside of work; for fraternal organizations, for mutual aid societies, for families. Children never appear in her work. But she was not at all disdainful of work, or workers.

So is this loathing of the working class an Atlas Shrugged thing, or is this just another case of our oligarchical masters taking what they can from any text from which they can propagandize while still pursuing the policy of Sodom?

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alohawolf From: alohawolf Date: September 21st, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having read Atlas Shrugged, I would say that her opinions from The Fountainhead, just were carried over, she implies a great deal of respect for people who go out and work hard for their money, even if its someone else, service for her seems honorable. The thing she has clear disdain for is looking for a handout, or for someone else to solve your problems.
houseboatonstyx From: houseboatonstyx Date: September 21st, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read Atlas twice iirc, Fountainhead once, saw the movie AS Part I, and read some of her non-fiction. I think all the works are consistent, and none of them are dissing laborers per se. She has a few labor unionists as bad guys, but the proportion of bad guys in other classes (among her characters) is much higher.

She seems to respect hard work, independence, self-reliance at all levels. I don't see her as going along with the GOP 'job creators' thing. Her heroes who created jobs, did it by studying and inventing ways to increase productivity -- not by spending money they inherited.
shunra From: shunra Date: September 21st, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

I read Atlas Shrugged as well as the Fountainhead

...and everything else of hers I could get my hands on, when I was in my teens. (Much, in translation to Hebrew, which may have been inaccurate. I haven't been inclined to check back for comparison.)

But with that disclaimer, there was not a disdain for workers so much as a complete dehumanization. Ordinary workers were cogs in a machine, animals in a farm - and think battery chickens, not idealized picture-book rural with a faint French accent.

The hatred I hear in tea-party/GOP rhetoric is not exactly Randian, it sounds a little like the people who hate-hate-hate computers because they get in they way of sending email. They, too, dehumanize the mass of humanity, but they're convinced that if that mass were only excised, the road to a blissful paradise-on-earth would be clear.

Dehumanization is terribly dangerous under any circumstances, but in times of financial crisis and international tension, with resources thinning out and requirements thickening, we've got the makings of yet another genocidal war.

I cite Avrum Burg's book "The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes", which stated that many dozens of millions of deaths took place in genocidal killings in the 20th century. I would agree with his argument that each of these deaths was preceded with the dehumanization of a class of people.

I'm glad I read all of that. Gladder, still, that I figured out how little it had to do with real human beings before anyone was harmed.
danlyke From: danlyke Date: September 21st, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think we have only to look at Ryan's flip-flopping on his respect for Rand to see that most of those claiming to like her opinions haven't actually looked into Objectivism and the reasoning behind those opinions. For one thing, don't most on "the right" claiming her also claim Christianity?

So, yes, I think Rand expressed respect for labor, for anyone who produced things. I think, actually, that that's some of why her work resonates: We all want to think that even as cogs in the machine we're being productive.

But I'd also note that she wasn't always consistent. The first cracks in my ardent Objectivism came when I read her essays in the Ayn Rand Letter on the space program and patents and IP. Both of those ended with a healthy dose of pragmatism that showed that she'd abandoned principle and started pandering to her audience.
wendor From: wendor Date: September 21st, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, but your statement "The very poor didn't get credits because they didn't have any money in the first place to credit" is not correct.

Because the EITC and CTC are refundable credits, people who qualify for them can get back more money than they put it.

According to the IRS, the refundable portion of the credit (the "get back more than you paid in" portion) was 81.49 billion dollars in 2009 (the most recent year they have made numbers available for)

So those two credits aren't really "credits", they are direct payments to qualifying filers. In 2009, according to the US Senate Committee on Finance, 30% of all US income tax filers had a "negative tax liability" and got back more in "refunds" than the total they paid in.

For comparison, the entire food stamp program in 2009 was only 77 billion dollars. Making the EITC and CTC refundable created the single largest government handout program in history. And it's one that never shows up in lists of "entitlement programs" at all.
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: September 21st, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I received the EITC for several years until I was able to get a programming job and move firmly into the "53%". Part of what I did while I was getting the EITC was volunteer for my local Credit Union and the IRS's VITA program -- helping low-income people prepare and e-file their taxes for free. As such, I learned a lot about how the EITC worked in the mid-00's. The rules may have changed since then.

The EITC was (and may still be) a refundable credit of 15% of your earned income, up to a cap (that depended on how many dependent children you had), remained at a constant level for a while, and then phased out with the same 15% slope that it ramped up with.

If your income is not earned income -- retirement income, social security, unemployment, alimony, child support -- and that's what you are living on, it's entirely possible to be very poor and not get any EITC.
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: September 21st, 2012 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
While the EITC and CTC are capable of reducing one's tax liability to below zero, all deductions and credits serve to reduce tax liability.

If someone in the 35% marginal tax bracket reduces their taxable income by $50,000 because of the home mortgage interest deduction on their new $1,000,000 home, the $17,500 they save on their taxes is just as much a cost to the Government (and other taxpayers, like me) as the EITC to 3 families each having 3 kids and earning $30K a year (to get the maximum EITC of $5891/year). The mortgage writeoff cost the government $100 billion in 2011 (according to congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates).
wendor From: wendor Date: September 22nd, 2012 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, EITC has changed a bit. 15% has now become 40% for single filers and 34% for married.

The key indisputable figure though, is that Congress (both parties) have hidden a 81.49 billion dollar handout by allowing "refunds" of more than the person paid in.

If you want to give that assistance to people I say great.....put it above the line and budget it as an assistance program paid directly to qualifying recipients. Stop hiding it with this ridiculous idea that someone should get a "refund" of more than 100% of their payment.

The other unfortunate aspect of refundable credits is that they are extremely difficult to audit. In 2010 it was estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of EITC filings were fraudulent (to the tune of $8-$10 billion)

dv_girl From: dv_girl Date: September 21st, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Romney is a used car salesman trying to con people into overlooking a bad transmission.
ideaphile From: ideaphile Date: September 23rd, 2012 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Spam??

I wrote a nice long comment here but LJ says it was marked as spam. I hope Elf is able to approve it anyway. If not, I can chop it up and post it in pieces.

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elfs From: elfs Date: September 23rd, 2012 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Spam??

I got two copies in email; I think Livejournal saw the repost and assumed it was spammy, because it didn't show up in the actual queue.

Pity; I thought the points you made were worthwhile.
ideaphile From: ideaphile Date: September 24th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Spam??

Elf,

I replied once, got the spam message, then replied again and tried to post only half of the message. That also earned a spam notice, so I deleted the second attempt myself.

The first post is actually still here; at least it comes up for me.

http://elfs.livejournal.com/1525444.html?thread=7883716#t7883716

If you can approve this, please do. Otherwise I'll keep trying to post in smaller chunks. Or I may have to chop up and disable the links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in case LJ doesn't approve of that sort of thing. :-)

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bolindbergh From: bolindbergh Date: September 24th, 2012 10:35 am (UTC) (Link)
LJ seems to class anything that contains non-LJ URLs as spam these days.
ideaphile From: ideaphile Date: September 25th, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)

The unemployment rate...


...is a heck of a lot more than 8%.

The Obama administration has been cheating outrageously. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the instrument of this policy. To its credit, the BLS clearly documents the nature of the cheating. See here, for example:

http www bls gov /cps/cpsaat02.htm

From 2008 to 2011, for example, BLS says that the US "civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and over" increased by about 5.8 million people, but the portion "not in labor force" increased by 4.5 million-- that is, from 6.1% to 9.4% among men and from 5.4% to 8.5% among women.

This means that by the stroke of a pen-- Obama's pen, that is-- the official unemployment rate was arbitrarily decreased by over 3%.

For the latest data, see:

http www bls gov /news.release/empsit.t01.htm

This page shows the latest August 2012 data. Just in a year, the "civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and over" increased by about 3.7 million-- and the "not in labor force" number was raised by 2.8 million, thus arbitrarily paring off another couple of percent from the official unemployment figures.

This page even goes so far as to document the BLS's official estimate of how many people are excluded from the unemployment figures in spite of wanting to work; see "persons who currently want a job" as a portion of the persons "not in labor force." Now, how does it make any sense to exclude these people from the official unemployment numbers, except as a political favor to the current administration?

Yes, previous administrations have taken advantage of this cheat, but as I explained above, the Obama administration has taken it to a new level, cutting a real unemployment rate of around 13% to around 8%.

But let's take the broader view. Rather than focusing on who would work if they could get a job, let's think about all the work we COULD be getting out of the population of the country, but just aren't.

Let's call this the non-employment rate.

Consider this page:

http www bls gov cps/cpsaat03.htm

After removing those aged 65 and over, we can see that there are about 200 million people in the country aged 16-65. Of these, only 133 million are employed.

The BLS defines "employed" as (approximately) those who did ANY work during the period. About seven million of these 133 million worked less than 15 hours ( http www bls gov /cps/cpsaat19.htm ); we might say these people account for the equivalent of only about two million jobs.

We might also reasonably say that many of those over 65 are employable. After all, 7 million out of the 40 million in that age group were employed in 2011. How many of the other 33 million are employable is entirely a matter of conjecture, but it's surely millions more.

So now we can say that the non-employment rate is certainly somewhere in the range of 35%-40% of the employable population. There's really no more margin for debate than that.

In summary, a whole lot of people in the US aren't working, and of the three figures we can calculate from the BLS numbers-- the official rate of 8.2%, the more realistic 13% rate, and the non-employment rate of 35% or more-- the official one is the least useful to us in understanding why that's true.

Of course, this isn't to defend Romney. His 47% figure is obviously just made up, and I'm sure he hasn't considered the numbers I'm showing here (because if he did, he ought to be talking about them).

But 47% is closer to 35% than 8% is, so maybe Romney has a better instinctive understanding of reality than you do.

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(Links butchered because when they're intact, I get an error:

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