Monday, December 27, 2010

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."

That's F. Scott Fitzgerald, from his short story, "The Rich Boy" (1926.) The man was a fiction writer when said people still had to take a grasp of what was going on around them and transmit that through a fictional story to be considered a great writer. Now you just have to spew the content of Jane's Defense Weekly with some half-assed dialogue and you can be Tom Clancy. And get off my lawn. (No, really, there are some truly excellent modern writers. I'll get to that later.)

The concept that Fitzgerald was trying to get across was that of the nurture side of the classic nature vs. nurture debate. The conditions in which one was raised tend to shape the worldview of the individual. There are still instinctive reactions (e.g. nature is still part of it), but the broader actions of life like, say, policy design will tend to follow what you've become accustomed to, whether as a child or later... unless you're dumb as a post and claim that global warming can't be a reality since god promised that he wouldn't hurt us again after Noah's boat landed, like Representative John Shimkus does. Congress really is high comedy sometimes.

So, if you were an idealistic young lawyer who had spent a good part of your life working with impoverished communities or on various civil rights issues, but along the way had done time at Harvard Law... and then been elected to state office... and then national office... the whole way along hobnobbing with money and lobbyists and apparatchiks... wait. Am I reminding you of someone?

Oh, yeahhhh. That guy. "Change you can deceive wit-" sorry- "believe in." It never fails to amuse and then irritate me when people declare that this or that candidate is THE guy (it's almost always a guy...) that will be the "difference maker." The one to "change the way Washington works." The one who's really "in touch with the people." That kind of crap has been spread around since Rome, but then it was who was really in touch with the mob (read: rabble) to keep them from rioting and toppling the state. The way to be in touch with them was to buy them off with the bread dole and public games. Now you just have to convince people that their pet agenda is the one thing on your mind long enough to get past the first Tuesday in November.

So, community organizer to Wall Street's best friend? How does it happen? It happens because of the nurture effect. If you hang around long enough with people who tell you the Chicago gang's economic ideas are the only reliable answer to life, the universe, and everything (42!), pretty soon you'll be thinking like they do. When you start to think that way, it becomes very easy to imagine that your station in life is reliant upon thinking that way. Presto! You could have seen this coming as soon as he hired Geithner and Summers to be his economic team (By the way, one of my dearest wishes in life is to drop Larry Summers into the middle of an intersection somewhere in Russia or Latvia or one of the other nations he traumatized with his economic "shock therapy" and see how long it takes for the population to get medieval on his ass.)

Your savior president doesn't care about you. To paraphrase the eminent philosopher D. Duck: "He's rich! He's wealthy! He's comfortably well off!" That means you're one thing and one thing only: you're a number ("You're the weak... and I am the tyranny of evil men.") He needs a certain amount of numbers to stay in office, so as long as you do your duty every 4 years and abandon all critical thought, walk into a booth and pull a lever/connect an arrow/touch a screen and elect him or someone like him, you've fulfilled your role, as far as they're concerned. He's not there to serve you or help you. He's there to serve the people that pay for all the advertising that you soak up, swallow, and believe for a few months before having your image shattered once again. If you drop out and don't participate at all, that's even better. They don't even have to pay to sucker you in. They can go on draining the money out of your paycheck and denying you opportunity without even having to pay lip service to your concerns. And you'll let them, because your iPod is much more interesting, right?

They have control. They know that they have control. And you're letting them have control every time you believe that anyone with a D or R following their name will somehow act differently and act in your interests. How much do you have in common with a millionaire? With the results of the latest election, 100 of 100 US Senators are millionaires (prior to that, the lone exception was Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.) These are the people you expect to represent you? It doesn't matter that someone used to be a community organizer. Once they're rich and in office, it's over (funny how those two go hand in hand by default, isn't it?) And if you think I'm talking about "class warfare", you're right, because there's been a class war going on in this country since its inception and the non-wealthy have a two century losing streak. Wake up to it.


  1. I knew Obama wasn't a progressive when I voted for him, but I'm really disappointed in how poorly he has mismanaged the political process. Assume for the moment that he's wanted exactly the policies he's gotten out of the health care, tax, and other debates. He still screwed up because he should have started where my policy preferences are, pushed them until it became clear that there was an impasse, and then open the door towards his actually preferred policies as a grand bipartisan gesture. Hasn't this bozo read Machiavelli? I want my politicians to at least be intelligent about how they manipulate their supporters...

  2. I suppose it's possible to believe that he's just a lazy Machiavellian, in that he knew that he didn't have to try very hard to manipulate his base with the foreknowledge that people would just have to wail about how horrible the GOPs is/would be and everyone would fall in line like good little zombies.

    "BEGINNING, then, with the first of the qualities above noticed, I say that it may be a good thing to be reputed liberal..."