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HE'S A SOCIALIST!
October 6, 2012 1:40 PM   Subscribe

A society where the lucky few reap prodigious financial rewards is one where many will fall short of their dreams through no fault of their own. We must insure all people against disability, against sickness, against hunger, and against homelessness. I realize that these things cost money. I believe that the costs of building and maintaining a great country should be shared by all of us, beginning with the people who benefit the most from our society. I believe that people like me (and people who are far wealthier) should pay more in taxes.

So-called "job creator" acknowledges that he lives in a society and owes a debt to it, as a response to (seemingly in agreement with) a satirical Job Creator Manifesto published in the Washington Post.

Both pieces address the right-wing trope that exalts the rich as benevolent "job creators," and casts the specter of the mention of inequality as red communist class warfare.
posted by univac (40 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sure, but he also has a Ph.D. in French intellectual history from Berkeley, which means that no matter how successful his company was, his views won't carry much weight with the people he's arguing against.

It's actually an amazing feat of culture-war trope concentration: Ph.D.'s, France, intellectuals, history, and Berkeley, all in one line of the CV!
posted by escabeche at 1:47 PM on October 6, 2012 [23 favorites]


He's one of the two main bloggers on baseline scenario the other being former IMF chief economists Simon Johnson.

They're not big fans of "too big to fail" banks.
posted by delmoi at 1:47 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Geeze. When things get so bad the affluent begin to notice, the Revolution is probably on its way....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:56 PM on October 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Job creator" is such bullshit anyway. It assumes that the wealthy get their money from god and then dole it out in the form of "creating" jobs by randomly owning a widget sweatshop (or whatever).

Whereas the reverse is the truth: I, and everyone else like me, is a rich-douchebag creator. Jobs don't exist in the widget factory because a benevolent rich dipshit decided he was going to open a factory with his wealth and keep it going no matter what--they exist because I, and others like me, decided to buy a widget. If no one buys widgets, no widget jobs, loss of wealth. If lots of people buy widgets, lots of widget jobs, and wealth for the widget factory owner.

If you keep fucking me and people like me so we don't have any money, no one is going to buy widgets, and eventually your wealth will go away. Paying taxes commensurate with your wealth is one way to keep more money in the pockets of widget buyers and keep more money flowing into your overflowing coffers.
posted by maxwelton at 1:58 PM on October 6, 2012 [116 favorites]


I got this one figured out I think. Many people who have succeeded, Gates and Buffet among them, publicly acknowledge that public schools, roads , and a country not ruled by the whims of warlords, enabled their successs. In fact I don't think it is possible to succeed, by US standards of success, anymore without these shared resources. Going out into the woods with nothing but your bare hands and coming back with a sack of gold is no longer possible.

Anyone who succeeds knows this, that they used shared resources to do it. Because they used those resources to succeed.

The only people who do not know this are the people who have not succeeded by the modern standards of success in America.

These "non-succeeders" look at a road or a school and think, what did that school ever do for me? Fuck that public road. After all, they had just as much access to roads as Bill Gates and they are still not billionairs. Must not be the roads right? bill Gates must have done it all by himself.

Certain "succeeders" know that there is a large segment of the population that thinks this way and are playing to it. After all, anyone who actually built a company, as Romeny claims, simply cannot believe he did it all by himself.

It is an act for the rubes. That is the worst part about theses guys. Instead of saying "you know, you can do it too" they say "yeah, fuck those roads and schools, they didn't do jack"
posted by Ad hominem at 2:08 PM on October 6, 2012 [39 favorites]


The ideological slants of the 1% match the slants of the other 99% of the population.

The myth that needs addressing is the one that is propagated by this post: that somehow the majority of rich people are indifferent or actively hostile to everyone else.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:09 PM on October 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you keep fucking me and people like me so we don't have any money, no one is going to buy widgets, and eventually your wealth will go away.

There is an old proverb, "the thin starve before the fat lose weight."
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:12 PM on October 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


and you think a lot of rich people aren't actively hostile to those below them?
posted by ninjew at 2:12 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, by these guys I meant people like Romney, who climbed the ladder and are now trying to talk the American people into burning the ladder to stay warm.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:13 PM on October 6, 2012 [17 favorites]


The myth that needs addressing is the one that is propagated by this post: that somehow the majority of rich people are indifferent or actively hostile to everyone else.

Income inequity and the subsequent abuse of power is inherently hostile to the 99%.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:15 PM on October 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


"Job creator" is such bullshit anyway. It assumes that the wealthy get their money from god and then dole it out in the form of "creating" jobs by randomly owning a widget sweatshop (or whatever).

This is incorrect. The archetypical conservative "Job Creator" is one who was born poor but started up a business that grew and created a bunch of jobs thereby rendering them rich. It's all very Horatio Alger.

Of course in the real world people who inherit money and businesses control a lot more wealth than those who made it themselves, but conservative ideology has a bit of a blind spot there.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:18 PM on October 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


and you think a lot of rich people aren't actively hostile to those below them?

I think we both know that a lot are.

On the other hand, this month $181,000,000 poured into the election fund of our socialist health care tax-raising president. You think that came from poor people?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:21 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given the overwhelming weight of evidence in favour of the proposition that 'the majority of rich people are indifferent or actively hostile to everyone else', what possible justification is there for calling that proposition 'a myth' other than that it is in the interest of the rich to do so, and that there is a concomitant market for people to attempt to do so on their behalf.
posted by motty at 2:23 PM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is incorrect. The archetypical conservative "Job Creator" is one who was born poor but started up a business that grew and created a bunch of jobs thereby rendering them rich. It's all very Horatio Alger.
Not really. The "Job Creator" stuff is intended to appeal to rich people in order to get them to donate to political campaigns. It definitely includes people who were born into rich families, it's just that they convince themselves that they did it all on their own. Just like how Mitt Romney didn't even need any inheritance money from his dad, because he was already rich from running Bain Capital when he died. But that ignores the private school, getting to go live in a castle in France to avoid the Vietnam war, and all the networking benefits of being the son of a rich industrialist/politician.

In any event, the policies that the republicans push on behalf of "job creators" are simply policies that benefit rich people, regardless of whether or not they even create any jobs themselves (If a person inherits a ton of money, and does nothing but invest in stocks of companies that mainly employee people in China, they still get the same tax breaks)
On the other hand, this month $181,000,000 poured into the election fund of our socialist health care tax-raising president. You think that came from poor people?
Some of it did, lots more came from middle class small donors. A lot of Obama's big donor support is also based on social issues like gay marriage.
The myth that needs addressing is the one that is propagated by this post: that somehow the majority of rich people are indifferent or actively hostile to everyone else.
A lot of them are just totally oblivious. They never see or interact with anyone who's not a 1%er, other then service people. Obviously there are liberals with money, but so much is dependent on how much money people have. You might have 100 liberals who make a million a year, but that pales in comparison to someone like Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers
posted by delmoi at 2:36 PM on October 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


He takes after other well known socialist writers, e.g.:

Thomas Jefferson:

"Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils, and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests, & nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance."

To George Wythe, from Paris, August 13, 1786
Excerpted here from The Quotable Jefferson, collected and edited by John Kaminski, Princeton University Press, 2006, p. 84
____________

Tom Paine:

“… Whatever wisdom constituently is, it is like a seedless plant; it may be reared when it appears, but it cannot be voluntarily produced. There is always a sufficiency somewhere in the general mass of society for all purposes; but with respect to the parts of society, it is continually changing its place. It rises in one to-day, in another to-morrow, and has most probably visited in rotation every family of the earth, and again withdrawn.

“As this is in the order of nature, the order of government must necessarily follow it, or government will, as we see it does, degenerate into ignorance.

” … by giving to genius a fair and universal chance; … by collecting wisdom from where it can be found....
... As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.”
—————————————–
Tom Paine, The Rights of Man
posted by hank at 2:39 PM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is not as one sided as you seem to think. It something like 60/40 Repubs/Dems in the wealthiest cohort.
posted by JPD at 2:44 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The ideological slants of the 1% match the slants of the other 99% of the population.


If your own political position is such that you consider voting for Obama and voting for Romney to be the same slant, sure.

But year in and year out, rich people are more Republican than middle-income people and middle-income people are more Republican than low-income people.
posted by escabeche at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ad Hominem, I love your use of the word "warlord." "Economic warlords" needs to be injected into the popular political lexicon immediately. It refers to the super-rich moustache-twirlers whose wealth affords them such a degree of autonomy from our laws that they are like rulers themselves.
posted by univac at 2:48 PM on October 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


But year in and year out, rich people are more Republican than middle-income people and middle-income people are more Republican than low-income people.

Sure, but with the exception of the vanishingly small group of top incomes + high school degree or less the ratio is around 60/40.

There are still many many people in that top cohort who support many progressive causes.
posted by JPD at 2:52 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, this month $181,000,000 poured into the election fund of our socialist health care tax-raising president. You think that came from poor people?

I barely make squat for a living, not even close to what a socialist would begin to consider affluent.

And yes, some of that $181k came from me. Not a lot, but it was what I could afford.
posted by lampshade at 2:53 PM on October 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Re: Ad Hominem's comment above - the frustrating part is that humanity as a whole is just now (in a historical blink of an eye) getting a grip on the concept that not all ____ works for everybody. And we could try teaching the "Fuck the System" crowd that this is nothing to get in a knot about, and that we're working on diversifying things, but that would fall right into a logical fallacy: trying to teach people one way of looking at things...

I think we're working many channels to get it done though, so there is some hope.

yep, you read that right, reference to SOAD
posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:05 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A hundred years ago, my great- great grandfather was a self-made millionaire and once a week he'd sit at the cashiers place in his shop and give out money.
My great- grandfather expanded the store, and the giving. He started up the local ambulance service and founded a museum.
My grandfather expanded the store to a global level and was praised by the local unions in every area he expanded as a person who engaged for the worker and his/her family rather than profit.
All of these three men saw it as a duty to create jobs and to increase worker-safety and security.
My uncle talks about high taxes and socialist government every hour of the day. He has lost every single penny he was given - at least 20 million dollars, probably ten times more. Every single job our ancestors created has been lost. All the new jobs we could have created within our highly specialized field are happening in other countries.
Everytime I hear a conservative politician, I see my uncle; an irresponsible, self-absorbed brat, who throws away the knowledge of generations in order to serve his own limited gratification. This is not what conservatism was, but it is was it is.
I am not wealthy, but I am also not poor. And I am certain the ideology and practice of my ancestors was and is a lot more healthy than that of my uncle. I dream of recreating our business - that might not be possible. But I have learnt the hard way that my uncle's cynical view of business is neither feasible nor productive.
posted by mumimor at 3:06 PM on October 6, 2012 [59 favorites]


Some of the comments at the foot of that article... wow. I particularly like one that waxes nostalgic for the time when social aid came from the charity of the rich. Yeah... let's go there.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2012


There's nothing wrong with the term "job creator". Some folk actually do useful things that create lots of jobs. They help society along, even if they've already had help from parents and others to achieve it. They should still be praised. The problem comes when we call anybody with great wealth a "job creator", as though they ought be worthy of praise just for having money. In truth many of them are doing bad things with their money, or at least just sitting back watching interest grow to capital. More Gates, less [insert your own hate figure here].
posted by Jehan at 3:21 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Artful, what? You aren't eager for some good old fashioned Pullman towns? Come on!
posted by Max Power at 3:28 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are still many many people in that top cohort who support many progressive causes.

...when it amuses them. Or when it serves their interests.

I have heard this before. I remember in my local Occupy Wall Street group, we were discussing the local 1%. The richest people in town are all real estate developers, I named them specifically. I mentioned one Mr. M, and one of the women became furious. She started yelling at me, "Mrs. M donated $1000 to my Yoga studio!" And she stomped off and never ever came back. I wanted to ask details, like if Mrs. M. just bought a lifetime membership rather than made a donation, and if she was aware Mr. M. earns about $1000 every 10 minutes and that is just pocket change to them. But it is probably unwise to tell people the 1% thinks of them as their pets.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:32 PM on October 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with the term "job creator". Some folk actually do useful things that create lots of jobs. They help society along, even if they've already had help from parents and others to achieve it

There really are rich people who advance society. Elon Musk is one. Watching the Tesla documentary he was floating that company with his own money and I kept thinking "what a dope, he is going to lose that money". Upon reflection I realized that no matter what happened to his millions, he is advancing the state of electric cars. He cared more about his idea than his money, which is why he is destined for greatness when so many people are not.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:38 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


This New Yorker article also mentions how we don't recognize that the super rich also "self tax" by donating to things like ballet and stuff! They are REALLY good people!

“People don’t realize how wealthy people self-tax,” he said. “If you have a certain cause, an art museum or a symphony, and you want to support it, it would be nice if you had the choice.”


posted by Max Power at 3:40 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"economic warlord" is an excellent turn of phrase. I'll be sure to inject it next chance I get.
posted by rebent at 3:41 PM on October 6, 2012



...when it amuses them. Or when it serves their interests.


well no. I mean that's just not an unprovable statement. I mean every dollar that someone gives no matter how wealthy they are serves what they perceive to be their interests. Whether that interest is "Better health outcomes for everyone everywhere" to "carried interest as capital gains."

Writing a check to someone who supports universal healthcare wouldn't serve my direct personal interests today. I'd do it because I think it supports the greater interests of society, which in the end is good for me and what ever progeny I might have.

Yes, giving 1000 bucks to a yoga studio is probably not a great example of the altruism of the wealthy.
posted by JPD at 3:41 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ad Hominem, I love your use of the word "warlord." "Economic warlords" needs to be injected into the popular political lexicon immediately. It refers to the super-rich moustache-twirlers whose wealth affords them such a degree of autonomy from our laws that they are like rulers themselves.

I used to work in Central Coast California Wine Country, working for the local County reviewing the building and grading permits. I heard from co-workers that they had seen a shift in some of the people developing new wineries, especially a shift from the millionaires to billionaires. The millionaires had a lot of money to spend, but generally realized the rules still applied to them. They'd complain when reviews took longer, or environmental review that was standard throughout California slowed down their project. The billionaires, on the other hand, thought they could just pay more and get everything approved today.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:56 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, this month $181,000,000 poured into the election fund of our socialist health care tax-raising president. You think that came from poor people?

Not really, at least for this month. See Politico:

The average contribution was $53, and 98 percent of all contributions were of $250 or less.

Which is the product of both small-donor support and the fact that maxed-out donors are...well, maxed-out. They can't give any more hard money to the campaign. The sorts of people who can give $2,500 tend to give earlier, and can't be resolicited.

Small donors, on the other hand, take longer to engage, and can be hit up again and again going into Election Day.

The SuperPACs and c4s, however, are absolutely being funded by the private jet and caviar set.

This has been a public service of your local campaign finance pedant.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 4:02 PM on October 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


This New Yorker article also mentions how we don't recognize that the super rich also "self tax" by donating to things like ballet and stuff! They are REALLY good people!

It's worth reading the Stephen King article from this thread for very cogent reasons on why philanthropy cannot provide services the way that government spending does. (I realize you're being sarcastic; it's a sarcastice soapbox for me to employ).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:06 PM on October 6, 2012


Max Power: "They are REALLY good people!"

A lot of them, I would even go so far as to say most, are. That's got fuck all to do with the tax rate necessary to pay the cost of government. Thankfully, most of the rich folks I know grasp that concept and are perfectly willing to pay more tax. Of course, they're the sort that make money from businesses they operate, so they're not the folks getting the benefit of the capital gains preference anyway.
posted by wierdo at 10:02 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


son of 'real housewife of miami' punches homeless guy in the nuts (and videotapes himself doing it)

And the thing is, you look at mitten's 47% video, etc, the fact is a lot of these rich people - it's impossible to know what percentage - really do resent/dislike the poor.
posted by delmoi at 10:05 PM on October 6, 2012


If you keep fucking me and people like me so we don't have any money, no one is going to buy widgets, and eventually your wealth will go away.

Oh I used to think this. I used to think, "Hey dummies! Wake up! If you crush the middle class who will buy your washing machines?" But now I realize 2 things: 1) They are all selfish, greedy fucks acting in their own best interests, 2) they can sell washing machines to people in China or Saudi Arabia or South Korea.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:46 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, but the governments of those nations actually control the means of production. The power, in that case, is illusory. Right now there is a strange dynamic in which the rich of the US believe themselves superior to all power on earth, enforced via the American military. Well, once the people of the US are sufficiently ruined that they're no longer even reliable drone pilots, you have a problem.

I'm waiting for the first time some powerful person from the West who considers himself above such petty things as nationality and politics gets off a plane in China and promptly disappears.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:04 AM on October 7, 2012


Is Romney president yet?
posted by colie at 1:06 PM on October 7, 2012


CSPAN: "Richard Wolff and David Barsamian talked about the economic crisis and argued that it can be traced back to the 1970s, when the economic system shifted from benefiting a vast majority of Americans to one which mostly benefits only the very rich. Mr. Wolff responded to some questions submitted by members of the audience at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco." [1 hour, 30 minutes]
posted by cashman at 4:06 PM on October 7, 2012


It's funny and cute that anti-socialists keep spouting how much 'people's belongings belong to them' but everything eventually was stolen from the earth, so in fact, we will all be going back to the earth, and all our belongings too, making the universe about as socialist as anyone can theorize about.

When the zombie apocalypse is upon us, who will make the toilet paper? That person will be rich indeed.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 6:53 PM on October 7, 2012


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