Thursday, January 26, 2012

Class wars

Getting rather annoyed about the use of the phrase "class war" to describe those arguing that the wealthy should pay more in taxes. Leaving aside the motives of those spreading it as a meme - a rather transparent yet successful attempt to discredit the argument by pretending it's something else - it's also wrong.

As an ex-Brit, I know what classes are, and being rich or poor doesn't determine the class you're in. Being a member of a privileged class though tends to mean you have power, which usually implies you're given wealth as part of the deal.

The US has classes, but it also has a number of other social structures that undermine the class system and make it less of an issue than it is (or to some extent was) in the UK. The rich and powerful do what they can to remain rich and powerful, and ensure their children are rich and powerful, and that makes it harder for those who aren't rich and powerful to move forward, but you can't really point at the rich and say they make up a unified establishment linked socially and economically. The wealthy's use of power tends to be through bribes - sorry, lobbying - and control of the media, not through sitting in a House of Lords or having friends who do.

You can argue that there's similarities, but in reality, the similarities are only in the sense that the powerful have the power to remain powerful.

Arguing that the wealthy should pay more in taxes is not "class war", even if, as those who promote the "class war" meme, the argument is because we're at war with rich people. Rich people are not a class.

And, just to make it clear to my right wing friends who slavishly repeat this stuff, nobody's arguing you shouldn't be rich. We just don't see it as good policy to tax those who benefit the most from a society - by definition - at the same or a lower rate than everyone else. And right now we know that we're in a state where there's a chronic lack of demand, which isn't going to be solved until money starts to flow into the pockets of the majority.

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