The Real Ponzi Scheme

September 24, 2011

“No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.”

This simple and obvious truth was articulated by Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren last week.  She was answering
Republican claims that president Obama is practicing class warfare in his efforts to have the financial cream of the USA pay for their good fortune in being able to fulfill their dreams in an environment set up and paid for by all Americans.

What Warren was pointing out is that the infrastructure that has benefitted the most fortunate among us was not created and paid for by them alone, but is the product of the composite dream, shared effort, financial backing and resources of the commonwealth. What she’s saying to the country’s deepest pockets is, simply, “Don’t forget where you come from. You are not a universe unto yourselves.”

Republicans would like all of us to forget this. This is their current primary political objective. They would stiff  Americans of humble means to serve their own interests.

The irony of this class warfare sound-bite currently being hyped by the right is that it’s an enormous projection. In the world of psychology a projection is defined as a defense mechanism whereby a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, and ascribes them to the outside world, usually to other people. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Michelle Bachman, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, that whole Tea-Party-Pandering bunch is ascribing to the left what they themselves have been so completely immersed in: class warfare. Every move they make, every obstacle they throw up to corrective economic action, every sound bite they concoct, every one of their “nos”, every policy they promote is geared to make the wealthy wealthier, the middle class poorer, and the poor—  well, forget about the poor.

As Roshi Bob said, “When the rich rain economic bombs upon ordinary folks, that’s just capitalism. When ordinary folks point out the bombs, that’s class warfare.”

What Elizabeth Warren brings to light in her brilliant push-back is the sheer hypocrisy of these people —their blind adherence to principles that serve them alone and which acknowledge nothing of the contributions of average Americans to the greatness of the nation and to their own prosperity. In that regard alone these are not good people, they are on a self-deluded campaign to ruin what America has meant to the world. I repeat: despite their fine suits, silk ties, perfect teeth and Christian credentials, these are not the kind of folks that lift up, they are societal wrecking balls.

But Warren was not being seditiously socialistic in her remarks. In fact she allowed for the impulse of greed that drives capitalism but added a fact-based moral dimension. She went on to say: “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory … because of the work the rest of us did.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Republicans, however, would have us believe that the rich have achieved richness by dint of their own remarkable efforts alone. Warren on the other hand says, that’s just baloney. And she’s suggesting, if you don’t believe this look to your local police officer or fire-fighter.  It was not the CEOs of Exxon or the Bank of America, or the Koch Brother who rushed into the World Trade Center on 9/11 to save lives, it was average Americans who did that and, what’s more, continue to do that to make the prosperity of the Koch brothers possible.

It was not the Paul Ryans of the world who sweat and died building Hoover Dam or the great bridges that link the industries of the nation.  It was not the Michelle Bachmans, Rick Perry’s or Mitt Romneys who sweated and died building the infrastructure that made the financial success of these people possible.  They enjoy their success because of the commonwealth of the nation. Their accomplishments were not produced in a vacuum.

The Republican Party has been milking the financial meltdown resulting from eight years of disastrous conservative mismanagement for all it’s worth. They have been intent upon diminishing democratic government to serve the interests of their primary constituency: the richest among us. And they have, with too much success, been cobbling together the kind of American that suits their objectives. “An America,” writer Harry Walsh says, “… of slogan shouting hateful mobs.”

Walsh goes on to point out that, “We have seen this kind energy before, and seen the mass graves that come with it.  Any otherwise good person caught up in it should be ashamed. Any otherwise intelligent person who is too lazy to look seriously at facts and too intellectually lazy to consider and hold in mind seeming contradictions should also be ashamed”

Elizabeth Warren would like us to look at least one simple fact: this is a nation that was built by the rich and the no-so-rich as well.  This is not a fiefdom of so-called  “job-creators” it’s a pluralistic, democratic Republic built by shared effort.

Americans forget this at their peril.

by Jim Culleny
for the Shelburne Falls Independent, 9/24/11


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