People who live outside the Beltway may not be aware of the fact that in Washington, DC, we have a local competition to see who can write the most shallow, cotton-headed thing about politics. That competition is known locally as "Politico," and today, the 2010 contest appears to have been won by Roger Simon, who has penned what, for all intents and purposes, is a tone-poem to pure inanity.
The rich are different from you and me. They are swine.
So begins this piece, written by someone who is doing a lot better in this economy than say, many of the people who will show up in this forthcoming book, about the economic realities in America. Simon goes on to paint a strange picture of what's been going on in the Congressional debates of the past year:
So say many of the Democrats in the House of Representatives who would rather that jobless people lose their unemployment checks and middle-class people lose their income tax breaks than that the rich get a dime extra.
What Simon appears to believe is that because many Democrats do not support the tax cut compromise on offer, this means that they want people to lose their unemployment benefits. This neatly omits the fact that Congressional Democrats have had to wage a grueling war over the past year to keep the unemployed afloat, in a job market where there are five job seekers for every job opening.
In reality, the Democrats who oppose the tax cut measure are fully aware of the parts of the deal that are there to make it painful to oppose -- unemployment benefits and the further economic stimulus that Charles Krauthammer recently termed "a swindle." (He opposes the tax deal, too, by the way, because he is a terrible hater of the wealthy, I guess?) The tax cut compromise is essentially a massive helicopter drop of money into the economy, and Democrats who oppose it do so because they correctly recognize that a disproportionate share is going to be lavished on people who have done very well in America's recession, and who didn't do much, in terms of productivity, with the largesse over the life of the original Bush tax cuts.
Simon seems to think that Obama has made this deal happen because he is animated by his robust book sales, thus giving him a sympathetic perspective into the lives of wealthy people and the terrible things they have to endure. Actually, we are where we are today because all the Democrats punted on the issue of rolling back the tax cuts on the wealthy when they had a modicum of leverage, and now they have to give up on a 2008 campaign promise because the GOP knows that the Democrats will never be able to bluff them again. For fans of the "first as tragedy, then as farce" theory of history, flashforward to 2012, where we will apparently have another "showdown" over this issue. (SPOILER ALERT: The middle class gets rolled again.)
But now that Simon has slapped you across the face with the blunt edge of his rapier wit, we're off on one, long emo saga about Growing Up Roger Simon In America, with a soundtrack by Arlo Guthrie.
To me, this flies in the face of the American dream, which is to work hard, play by the rules, save your money and marry wealthy. As a kid, I dreamed about being adopted by a rich family. My father was a truck driver and my mother was a housewife, and adoption seemed the quickest route.
It was not, however, to be. But I never resented the rich. On weekends, my father used to take the family on drives through wealthy neighborhoods -- I am not making this up -- so we could ogle the homes of the affluent.
The good news for Simon is that there are whole neighborhoods of houses just sitting around empty now, because of the economic collapse, and he can have his pick of the litter once he chases all the coyotes off the property.
Then there are paragraphs documenting how Simon basically got jobs and saved money and bought a terrible teevee and a crappy car, and later bought a less terrible teevee and a Toyota, and, I guess he wants a medal for doing what lots of Americans used to be able to do pretty successfully, most notably back when the wealthiest were taxed at the Clinton-era rates. At the very least, to Simon, people who want things shouldn't be mad at the people who have things, which is really the shallowest take on income inequity I have ever heard.
But I never resented that. Which is why class warfare doesn't work in America and why congressional Democrats are being stupid. In America, the class structure is fluid. You don't have to stay in the economic class into which you were born. People don't really hate the rich, and we don't really want to confiscate their wealth.
Only half of the wealthiest people in America inherited their wealth. The rest earned it. But whether their wealth is earned or inherited, I just want the rich to pay their fair share of taxes, not some kind of punitive share.
Yes, the gap between rich and poor is growing in this country, and too small a percentage of the population owns too much of the wealth.
Don't like the way wealth is distributed? Then you can join congressional Democrats and grump about it, or you can get some wealth for yourself.
This is some of the most out-of-touch-with-what's-happening-in-contemporary-America nonsense I have ever read in my life, because here is a rebuttal to it, in its entirety, in a single word: bailout.
Here's the link if you'd like to see for yourself. Burn the internet after reading, obviously.
15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America [Business Insider]