Thursday, March 05, 2009

Like watching a medley of Neros

According to popular myth, the Roman emperor Nero played the fiddle while all around him Rome burned. While not strictly speaking true, the story serves as a handy allegory when talking about the lead-up to the economic meltdown.

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show writers have come up with a blistering eight-minute indictment of the ultra-wealthy money handlers who not only helped create the current mess, but continue even today to perpetuate the suffering in an attempt to maintain their precious status quo.

One of the biggest faults within the American psyche is that everyone thinks they're going to be rich one day. That's the only way people like the CNBC spinners can sell their narrative to the masses. We, as a nation, need to get realistic about our expectations and work together to help accomplish the economic recovery that will result in a more healthy, comfortable middle class.

Because without drastic measures, we're definitely headed towards a society that will have only a wealthy, privileged few; and a massive, economically-disadvantaged majority. Not the sign of a healthy economy.


Anonymous said...

"One of the biggest faults within the American psyche is that everyone thinks they're going to be rich one day... We, as a nation, need to get realistic about our expectations and work together to help accomplish the economic recovery that will result in a more healthy, comfortable middle class."

No no no no. I don't mean disrespect on your site, but you just stated everything that I hate about liberalism/progressivism. Striving to better yourself and be successful is not a fault - rewarding or even succumbing to the complacency to acceptance mediocrity and failure is a fault. Every other species on the planet is programmed to survive by natural selection. In other words, the fittest survive long enough to pass on their DNA and keep their species as strong and as able as possible to adapt to changes around them. Man is no different - we are naturally competitive, whether for mates, living conditions, - and even sports. The psyche you describe as a fault has been a part of life for millions of years, and suppressing it will never work. You are right - not everyone will be rich one day, but accepting that fact will just suppress people from trying their best to get there. Some people said a black man would never be president - if blacks had accepted that, we wouldn't be where we are today. Should we have tried to suppress Barack from thinking about being president when he was young because he was black and its really tough to get that job?

Again, no disrespect, but c'mon man. Don't suggest acceptance and complacency over reaching for the stars.

Nopartisan said...

Don't confuse being well off or comfortable with being rich. Most people strive for a comfortable life, not a life of wealth. The problem is that these jokers are destroying the ability of average people to get that comfortable life. If you want to be rich and have the talent and drive to do it, then more power to you. However you don't have the right to upend the economic stability of millions because of greed. It as usual comes down to excess.

CT Bob said...

No offense taken.

I'm not saying that "acceptance and complacency" is the answer, but the "culture of greed" has led to myriad problems for the middle class.

And the only way the GOP could sell their bill of goods to the masses is by saying those tax cuts that will actually benefit the majority of the middle class is a BAD thing; and it's fine to give financial institutions hundreds of billions, but anything that will directly benefit the middle class is wasteful and unnecessary.

People WANT to believe that they're going to be wealthy one day, so they conclude that the very tax cuts that will benefit them the most are detrimental to the economy. While setting the tax rates for the wealthy back to where they were during the Clinton administration (when the nation experienced eight years of tremendous growth, and we actually had a budget SURPLUS) will spell doom for everyone.

"Joe the Plumber" is an example of this mindset. Here's a guy who makes about $40K/year being a plumber's helper, and he would get a nice tax break. But he's against the new tax structure because he's supposedly going to buy out his boss's business one day. You know what? He'll probably get there somewhat quicker if he gets to keep a bit more of this pay.

That's what I'm talking about. There's still plenty of opportunity for the cream to rise to the top and economic Darwinism to take place. Remember, there were PLENTY of millionaires during the Clinton years. That's not going to change now.

Anonymous said...

Actually, to sort of agree with you - I think giving the financial institutions hundreds of millions was a bad idea too. Yes, big companies would have failed, but I can't see how that money has prevented or slowed the economic downturn we continue to slide into. I believe tax cuts for anyone, including the middle class, as long as they are actually paying taxes, is a good idea. In fact, the middle class is more likely to use that money to stimulate the economy than tax cuts for the rich - but thats not why I think lower taxes for the rich are a good idea. For one, I guess its my definition of upper class. To me, if your family is making 200k a year, you're upper class. These people pay the lion's share of the tax burden, yet get no more services than the guy paying nothing. There are certainly some members of the upper middle class that do get special favors and treatment depending on their political connection, but the average family that makes that kind of money has little political influence than anyone else. These people fall into the category of those paying the heaviest tax burden, yet get nothing in return for it. Again, success is punished. Should they pay more for the greater good, yeah, probably. But thats not to say they should shoulder as much as they are. They deserve a tax break or two where they can get it.
I should clarify that I am not a rich person - but I would sure like to be someday if my hard work pays off in the way I hope it does. I just want you to see that my motivation for wanting tax breaks for the rich is not solely because I want to be rich someday, but because they carry the bulk of the load and more often than not get little in return. I am sure you will agree with this particularly ideological stance, but hey, agree to disagree.

CT Bob said...

Fair enough.

But you know, I'd love to have that problem - the one where I make SO much money I might get taxed at a higher rate than I am now. As far as problems go, I think I'll be able to handle it!

Rich people problems are so different than the ones most people face, like affording health care, making house/rent payments, reliable transportation so they can work, shit like that. If I had to downsize my country club membership, or drive a three-year old Mercedes instead of a new one, I'd learn to adapt.