How would Rick and the tea-partiers feel if the government told them exactly how much money they had to spend on their children every month? And wage-attached their pay checks and deposited those funds in their ex-wives' bank accounts?
Tom Friedman's column today calls for re-thinking American capitalism by striking a series of "grand bargains," and as usual his analysis of what stands in the way of such grand bargains bears no relationship to the realities of American politics.
If the house organs of the financial sector and the house intellectuals of the Right are all talking like a Marxist study group, then perhaps we are on the verge of a major transformation -- not only in terminology but, more importantly, in the facts on the ground.
If Occupy Wall Street signals the end of our own, atypical period of acquiescence, could a return to a version of "class warfare" that would, once upon a time, have been familiar to so many Americans be on the horizon? Finally!
Ask anyone on the street if they have heard of Karl Marx and the answer more often than not would be yes. Ask those same people what they know about Marx and the responses will be wildly different - and usually wrong.
Marx was half right. Unfettered capitalism has promoted class polarization in the US. But it's far from inevitable that this will produce class conflict, revolution, and a new social order. American workers are too weak and disorganized.
I grew up on both the Disney and non-Disney versions of the fairy tales, but unlike my daughter, I didn't wear their images on my T-shirts, lunchbox, umbrellas and every second piece of apparel I owned.
When we attach the word "revolutionary" to every new development, we debase its meaning. We become more than a little superficial -- not to say a little more prone to the true revolution we never saw coming.
Rather than understanding that the problem of the 20th Century was the refusal of capitalism to compromise with human beings, many now think the problem of the 20th Century was the few compromises capitalism did make.
Deng Xiaoping probably would be concerned to see that Chinese population policies and practices as well as the engine of capitalism appears to be creating a Marxian nightmare of bourgeois and proletariat.
What we need is a change in the conventional wisdom in Washington, away from the idea that what is good for Wall Street is good for America, and toward the idea that we should be skeptical of the megabanks.