Time To Make Life Hard For The Rich

By Hamilton Nolan

Source: Splinter

It is time for polite, respectable, rational people to start saying what has become painfully obvious: It is time to stop respecting the rich, and start stealing from them. In earnest.

Inequality is eating America alive. It has been growing for decades. To say that “the American dream is dead” is no longer a poetic exaggeration—it is an accurate description of 40 years of wage stagnation and declining economic mobility that has produced a generation that cannot expect to live better than their parents did. Not because of devastating war or plague, but because of a very specific set of rules governing a very specific economic system that encourages the accumulation of great wealth among a tiny portion of the population, to the detriment of the vast majority of people. Our political and business leaders have chosen to embrace a system that favors capital over labor. A system in which the more you already have, the more you make, and the less you have, the harder it is to build wealth. It is a system designed to increase inequality. It is functioning exactly as designed. And now, it is about to get worse.

How long are people supposed to tolerate being smacked in the face? By the rich? Who already have more than enough? It is not as though the fact that inequality is a crisis is a fact that snuck up on anyone. Economists have seen the trend for decades, and the general public has been well aware of it since at least the financial crisis. Obama called it “the defining challenge of our time.” Thomas Piketty became a rock star by writing a very dry book about it. It’s not an underground thing. It is well known and well understood by the people in control of the institutions with the power to change it. The response to this dire situation by the Republican Party, which a wholly owned subsidiary of the American capital-holding class, has been to pass a tax bill that will horribly exacerbate economic inequality in this country. It is a considered decision to make a bad situation worse. It is a deliberate choice—during a time when the rich already have too much—to take from the poor in order to give the rich (including members of Congress and the President) more. That is not a metaphor. That is the reality. That is what the Republican party is about to accomplish on behalf of the donor class, calling it “middle class tax relief” in the face of mathematical proof to the contrary. Even to my cynical ass, the sheer fuck you-ness of this action towards the majority of the country is breathtaking. This is not just a failure to solve a severe problem; it is the expenditure of vast amounts of political capital to make the severe problem worse so that a tiny handful of people will get wealthier than anyone needs to be.

Ideally, in a democracy, elected leaders reflecting the interests of the people would pass taxes and regulations to reverse the growing inequality here. For that to happen, we would need to end gerrymandering and reform campaign finance and probably abolish the Senate and the Electoral College, and that’s just for starters. It is not imminent, in other words. Our broken political system, which is designed to reward money with political power, is actually moving in the opposite direction of a solution. Who is suffering because of this? Most Americans. Certainly the bottom 50% are acutely suffering—money that would have been in their paychecks has been instead funneled upwards into the pockets of the rich. Every desperate family that has found themselves coming up short for rent or food or medicine, every American who has downgraded her dreams and aspirations because they became financially implausible, has been directly harmed by the political and economic class war perpetuated by the rich, even if they cannot see the perpetrators with their own eyes. I think that people have been more than patient in the face of this slow-moving crisis. In 2009, when the markets crashed and millions were laid off, nobody rioted and kidnapped the financiers and burned their homes. The outcome of that lack of direct action is the situation we find ourselves in today.

Violence against people is morally wrong and a bad way to solve problems. But capital is different. One thing that would help to create the political environment conducive to solving the inequality problem would be to make the cost of accumulating all that capital too high to be worth it. In other words, to create a downside to being too rich. I have personally stood in a room full of hedge fund titans and billionaire investors warning one another explicitly that inequality must be addressed lest the U.S. become a place like Latin America, where rich people are forced to live behind walls, surrounded by armed guards, because of the very real risks from the rage of the poor. Rich people in this country do not want to live like that. If they see that they must stop being so greedy in order to enjoy their own freedom, they will stop being so greedy. Those conditions have to be created by people who want justice.

Our situation is absurd. Not since the Gilded Age has it been more clear that a few people have too much. Furthermore, the people with too much are investing in political clout to give themselves more. It’s just wrong. If the government won’t help, we have to help ourselves. Sticking up a billionaire on the street for $100 is not going to do it. But one can imagine other ways that angry Americans might express their dissatisfaction with our current division of wealth: A large-scale online attack against the holdings of the very rich; yachts sunk in harbors; unoccupied vacation homes in the Hamptons mysteriously burned to the ground. Sotheby’s auctions swarmed by vandals, Art Basel attacked by spraypaint-wielding mobs, protests on the doorsteps of right-wing think tanks, venomous words directed at millionaires as they dine in fancy restaurants. People have a right to life and safety, but property does not. A life spent screwing the little people so that you can acquire lots of stuff loses its allure when you know that all that stuff will be smashed to pieces by angry little people. It is not hard to put together a list of those who should be targeted—Forbes publishes it every year. Likewise, public campaign finance records give us a pretty good idea of exactly who is funding the politicians who are perpetuating this economic war on behalf of the rich.

It is nice to imagine a grand, well-targeted computer hack that would neatly transfer billions of dollars out of the accounts of, say, the Walton family and into a charity account that would disburse the money to the poor in untraceable ways. That seems far-fetched. Realistically, what people can do now is to start thinking about ways to make it uncomfortable to be too rich. Socially uncomfortable and otherwise. When the accumulation of great wealth ceases to be a praiseworthy endeavor and instead becomes viewed as a sick, greedy pastime whose only reward is the hatred of your fellow citizens and the inability to live comfortably without fear of your excessive property being destroyed, rich people will rethink their goals. Until then, inequality will keep rising, and everything, for most people, will continue to slowly, slowly get worse.

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4 Responses to Time To Make Life Hard For The Rich

  1. Pingback: “The Shadow of an Israeli/U.S. Attack Grows Larger by the Day” – An Outsider's Sojourn II (The Journey Continues)

  2. Pingback: Time To Make Life Hard For The Rich | Viewing Every Reality

  3. Boy. Quite don’t know where to start with this one. Just to be clear I don’t consider myself wealthy, but because I own my car, some people do consider me rich. Seeing someone or some group as rich is relative. Now it is true that the system is unfair and inequitable. But accumulating personal wealth isn’t a problem it’s a incentive. Should there be a program to assist those who are unfortunate. Sure. The issue is not wealth but power. The power that comes with wealth.The power that allows you to unfairly accumulate more wealth and power and shut out those who may challenge your accumulation. We’re at war against the powerful to give help and hope to the powerless. Targeting wealth is a red herring. Who is rich? Who decides? Am I rich? Will you steal from me? Socialist war drums. Robes Pierre.
    In the end, who will shepard the weak?
    The question is,
    How do we challenge power effectively?
    How do we protect our hard won freedoms?
    The twenty first century book burning has begun.
    Wake up people.

  4. The “American Dream” Has Never Really Been An Easy Ride For Anyone But The Most Determined, Thick-Skinned, Inventive And Honest Folks From Wherever They Come From.

    It’s Why I Penned This Narrative In 2002:

    It Worked In The Southeast. REAL Towns In E Tenn Were The Basis Of My Narrative “Paradise Is Down A Two-Lane Blacktop, Pinned To The Top Of My “Post” Page.

    It Literally Saved A Number Of Small Communities That Would Have Succumbed After Losing Their Main Income Producing Industries.

    Author’s Comments: As we close in on the 2017-seeing so MANY things in need of CHANGE-this poem rings more true than it did in 2002 when I first wrote it.

    If we DO NOT DO ALL that needs to be done to get this for ourselves and our children, perhaps we deserve to be serfs in the oligarchy we’ll get instead.

    The Poem:

    First, we were drawn by the land,
    enticed by the promise of freedom…
    fresh faces in new places, where
    we built our farms, our stores, mills
    smithies, with our own dreams
    and our own Hands, paying our way
    with the sweat of our brows,
    leaving our bones and legacies
    as our testimony to those
    who would follow.

    Then, great factories replaced
    the smithies, concrete towers
    supplanted the wheel mills, and
    we were drawn from the land
    to the growing cities for what we
    believed were better dreams,
    brighter futures,…”the good life.”

    The farms we left were swallowed
    by corporations, the family
    store was neglected by the lure
    and flash of the corporate chains.

    We were the great middle class,
    living a vision, that for most of us,
    never truly existed, leaving
    nothing, but broken dreams
    as our legacy.

    Times and paradigms pass.
    Some of our small towns just died,
    some were swallowed by the
    circling cities, others are
    barely hanging on, yet,
    here and there, new pioneers
    are returning, bring their
    fresh faces to the old places,
    rediscovering the old ways and
    creating new ones, as America
    finds her roots again.

    Hollywood, Broadway, & Prime Time
    doesn’t show our true image.

    Our story isn’t on CNN or in USA Today.

    We’ve journeyed back, off the
    Interstate, rebuilding the
    Courthouse square, starting farms,
    building houses, stores, and families,
    infusing our enterprises with
    Faith, truth, love, patriotism, and a
    determination to not allow our
    unique visions or our new freedom
    to ever be swallowed by mere
    sound-bites, glamour, glitz,
    or pulp fiction.

    The America and World
    we must become is the one
    we always knew in our hearts.

    We had only to remember that
    Paradise is down a
    two-lane blacktop,
    where the tree of
    wisdom waits for all
    who prefer revelation
    over information.

    The super highways
    and bypasses, the
    jets, planes, buses,
    and trains can only take you
    by the “American Dream”.

    The turn down that two-lane
    is a calculated decision
    to arrive there, a journey
    you take, only if you’re
    hungry for a new vision,
    if you’re ready to put down
    some new roots, and make
    your own legacy with
    your own hands and the
    sweat of your own brow.

    If you’ve caught
    that pioneer spirit,
    then here’s the place
    to draw close to the tap
    roots of the “American Dream”,
    where the juices flow
    strong and rich, near the power,
    right at the source.

    You have truly arrived,
    friend, for you’ve
    come to a powerful
    place to begin anew,
    where you can find purpose,
    change the landscape, acquire
    wisdom and real estate, create
    your own legacy, where your
    accomplishments and children
    earn respect and receive honor,
    where your babies and bones
    are attended with reverent
    tender care by real peacemakers.

    Oh yes…if you destroy,
    mar, steal, or harm
    those and that which
    is in their care,
    you’ll have a fight
    on your hands, the like
    you’ll not soon forget.

    No, real peacemakers are
    the architects, the restorers,
    the creators and shapers,the
    healers, the comforters and
    nurturers, the sowers and
    caretakers of paradise.

    They are recreating and
    shaping their future and
    shall be counted blessed.

    No need for a plane, bus,
    or a train to come.

    We’re waiting at the
    gates of paradise at the
    end of any two-lane blacktop,
    beckoning, as Lady Liberty
    has for over a century,
    “Send us Your tired, your
    poor, your down-trodden,
    struggling to be free…”

    We’ll be waiting.

    Written 2002 by Ric Ohge aka Rex Dexter

    One Small Town – Can Change The World
    We are co-creating a blueprint for a new social structure, a new system, a new reality, without the need for any violence, opposition, resistance, or conflict. All the socio-economic structures of our individual countries have failed us dramatically. Every day we witness a continued assault on our people and the world around us, orchestrated by the global elite who have taken control, of every aspect of our existence. Every single one of us, rich or poor, is born into life-long slavery and bondage from which there is no escape under the current system. Most of us know that the system we are born into does not serve humanity, but very few of us know what to do to change it.

    We can no longer sit idly, watching the destruction of our people, our communities, our countries, and our human potential, by greedy corporations supported by governments with no remorse for their actions, or accountability to the people they are supposed to serve. We can no longer sit silently, hoping that someone will do something to stop this assault on our liberties and future prosperity. It has fallen on the shoulders of the common people, to unite and create a new way…a new system…a future filled with abundance and prosperity for ourselves and our children. We are creating a totally new system free from economic slavery… where we turn competition into collaboration… a new social structure where we all benefit from our collective efforts and individual talents… a new world where people are put before profits, and the resources & materials are used to enrich all our lives. Welcome to the world of UBUNTU and Contributionism.

    Visit: https://www.ubuntuplanet.org/

    A Word from North Frontenac Ontario Mayor Ron Higgins – The FIRST One Small Town!
    https://www.ubuntuplanet.org/news/report-mayor-ron-higgins/

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