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Leaner and Meaner America - Elf M. Sternberg
Leaner and Meaner America
We now know the game is rigged. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, when the incoming leader of the Senate announces that his first major objective is the dismantling of the Federal Elections Committee, when the dishonest drumbeat of Social Security insolvency goes on and on, when the most popular news channel on the air is the one where rich people convince middle class people that poor people  you know, the ones with no money, influence, or authority  are the real problem, the game is rigged.

And it's not just here. There's no reason for the UK to privatize the NHS, other than that some small but powerfully rich sector of the marketplace can't stand to see money moving without extracting their rent. The same is true in Australia, where the conservative government has decided that health care is a "moral hazard" so dire citizens that cutting its medical care insurance entirely seems to be the objective of the current conservative government.

We also know now that the middle class hasn't benefited from the rise in the stock market, or world valuation, at all in the past 40 years. Ever since Reagan's "trickle down" theories became mainstream, the mainstream has ceased to benefit at all from the supposed rising tide. The US lower middle class has been caught in what economists are now calling

the valley of despond since 1988, and it doesn't look like it's going to get any better any time soon.

As conservative policies trap us all in a vicious cycle of cutting taxes, which benefit the rich for more than anyone else, which in turn lead to fewer services, which lead to more despair, which lead conservatives to conclude more taxes must be cut, and as long as we continue down a path whereby the vast majority of Americans understand that the game is rigged against them, they also believe that any benefit to one group must come at the expense of another group. If they themselves, whatever tribal identification they hold, is not benefiting, then they are being used. And that, in turn, contributes to the viciousness.

For most of our civilization, we lived in a zero-sum world. Our culture evolved to perceive a zero-sum world.

And that sad fact is, we've allowed our cultural leaders to re-create it.

Current Mood: cynical cynical
Current Music: Beastie Boys, Sabotage

4 comments or Leave a comment
jordan179 From: jordan179 Date: January 5th, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Isn't taxation by definition "zero sum," because it involves taking from A to give to B, as opposed to the positive-sum game of voluntary trade?
elfs From: elfs Date: January 5th, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

The marginal utility of a public fire department versus a private one is well-known. The same is true of a large number of misery-alleviating mechanisms that can only be implemented by governments.

gipsieee From: gipsieee Date: January 6th, 2015 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Taking from A to benefit all frequently has more utility than requiring A, B, C, and D to individually pay for a service if they wish to use it.

See also public sewers, use fees only cover part of the cost, taxes cover the rest and I do not want to live in a city of any size without a functioning closed sewer system.
gipsieee From: gipsieee Date: January 6th, 2015 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Damnit. I hate it when people I respect post things like this because I really don't want it to be true and yet it still is.
4 comments or Leave a comment