Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Washington, District of Columbia,
August 01
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 13, 2012 12:49AM

Shattering the class warfare taboo

Rate: 16 Flag

Today, most Americans see conflict between the rich and us

Mitt_Romney_Matthew Reichbach wikimedia 300x The United States has always had a culturally-enforced taboo: don’t speak ill of the rich. If anyone thought or said that the rich don’t play fair, they were simply a sore loser. This taboo lasted much longer than it should have, owing mostly to the Republican practice of using “class warfare” as a bludgeon. “That’s class warfare!” they’d scream. How un-American.

Then Occupy Wall Street arrived, spoke the unspeakable, and shattered the glass wall. In fairness, the stage was set the day we were presented with the ridiculous premise of Citizens United. But tents in town squares broke the long prohibition on asking why – in a land founded on equality – the wealthy are so pampered and coddled.

A new poll from Pew Research Center confirms that Americans are thinking a lot about class disparity. And now that they are talking, it turns out that most Americans think the deck is stacked in favor of the rich. Liberals and socialists, you might be thinking? Sure Democrats and Independents weighed in with equal and broad majorities, but more than half of Republicans also agreed.

The numbers look good for an Obama election strategy focused on representing the middle class. They look bad for the Romney’s “corporations are people” strategy. According to Pew’s research, a solid two thirds of Americans might be inclined to think that the so-called “job creators” are actually self-dealing pricks. “I like to fire people,” plays right into this, not because of the context, because of the “like.”

If President Obama can win the case that he represents middle-class families and workers, a solid two thirds of Americans will support him. In fact, the “class conflict” between the rich and middle class (according to Pew) is now thought by most Americans to be much more severe than racism, ageism and nativism.

The view cuts across all common economic strata from incomes below $20,000 to incomes above $75,000. Even those who realistically aspire to cross class lines are likely to believe that the upper-income class will conspire to keep them out. In three years, Pew found, the majority who believe that middle and upper earners are in conflict has risen by 24%.

This should be an earth-shattering bit of data to anyone planning to run on the “pamper the rich for your own good” platform. When Mitt Romney defines success by how much money you amass, he ignores the contributions of firemen, teachers, nurses and the guy who makes sure your car’s wheel stays on. Those folks are now openly questioning his greed-logic.

Still, the survey didn’t find an interest in getting even with the wealthy. Americans may envy the rich, but not in the resentful way Romney would have you believe. Roughly half of respondents thought wealthy folks earned their money. Only half thought they didn’t.

But with such a plurality of agreement that class tensions exist, it could be inferred that average earners will be less likely to let themselves be taken advantage of by the rich. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? If the numbers continue to increase, it can only lead to a realignment of political views to disfavor – or at least more equally favor – the rich.

The new prevailing view also crosses age groups. Young people acknowledge the class conflict by over seven in ten, but 64% of their parents agree and 55% of their grandparents. Another interesting fact from the Pew poll is that the belief in class conflict comes mostly from white people coming into agreement with black and Hispanic Americans. Black and brown people were ahead of the curve. But since 2009, the gap between black and white views on this subject has narrowed from 23 points to nine.

So what does it all mean for our upcoming presidential election? It means that class disparity will continue to be an election issue. It means that the Occupy Wall Street message has resonated with Americans. It turns out that OWS said what people were already thinking.

It also means that a subject that America’s oligarchy and their Republican handmaidens have sought to keep taboo is now going to be freely discussed in bars and around dinner tables. That may not keep Mitt Romney out of the White House, but it surely makes his association with and advocacy for rich folks that much more of a millstone around his neck.

Even still, Obama will contend with a bad economy, Republican attempts to limit voting, SuperPACs, and the usual amount of white racism. But the overreach by the rich (and their R-Party spokespeople) looks to have created a big opportunity for the incumbent. Just ask Rush Limbaugh.

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Yes! Once loudly raised in an election year, the issue cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten. It's not going to go away. or only be whispered about in "quiet rooms". As I wrote elsewhere, the genie, once summoned and released, cannot be stuffed back into the bottle. The taboo has been broken. It is as if Gingrich has written the Democrats' playbook for them, if they will only accept it and use it. I think the real underlying question is: is there really a modern capitalism that isn't predatory/casino/crony capitalism?
Some among the Republicans may be hoping the "traitorous" attacks on "free enterprise" by Newt and Perry may defuse some of the ammunition in Obama's re-election plans by getting that discussion out of the way now. They are wrong. When the Occupiers return in even greater force in the American Spring, this will be subject one, and they will keep it in the forefront all the way to November -- and beyond.

For far too long, Americans have ignored what has been all too obvious regard income inequity and obscene compensation, as they were kept contented with bread and circus. But the presidency of Bush the Lesser put an end to that by putting an end to the American Dream.
Every candidate running represents Wall Street, Obama is just dishonest about it.
It looks/seems like (everyday? age/era) this is gonna be another wild day.
The lights flicker on and off here because of the mighty winds. Nature is feisty.
It'd gusting.
I always remember the name of the bank that the bander CEO had me arrested in.
Citizens National Band of Southern PA (Wanyesboro, PA)
I heard the word "Citizen" was dropped because the bank lost a charter.
I have no idea what that means. I know Not one FBI agent (Sonny) or DoJ cared.
Kim Doan lost health, home, apartments, and a Waynesboro PA laundromat.

... Citizen ...

I am not 'angry' at you.
I followed "Holy Ghost"
He did a potent Post.
Human nature. Sad.
It can be despicable.
Backward politicos
Put on underpants
Over their clothes.
They kiss boss butt.
They smell like a hoss.
They eat dinner in morn.
The sun comes up they hate.
They ride a hog backwards too.
I am still so sad from yesterday.
Harry' Ghost Camp View Post.
Well. Let's have a good morn.
It's time to eat ice cream`gin.
Thanks for your focused post.
I hope there is no untamed`
projected 'anger' in my spiel.
It is history repeating itself for the GOP. Once again, they are given a very rich, very white, very out-of-touch candidate to vote on for president.

This time, though, the country is in agony. Where, in 2008, the picture of ourselves was somewhat unclear, a little fuzzy - we now understand and can see sharply the divide between the "haves" who have profitted handsomely over the last 30 years as the old FDR rules were taken down one by one, and the "have-nots."

Mostly the oligarchs have gotten away with it because most folks bought into the notion that they, too, could become one of them with education and hard work.

Now the sheet's been pulled off that corpse and the truth is 99% of us have been duped. Neither Romney nor McCain ever made a thing with their hands or sold a service to anyone. They both were born to the purple, as it were.
"Class Warfare" has been a dirty word for a long time, and it is disturbing to hear progressives suggesting that we embrace the term, and embrace the idea that "they have too much money, and we want to take it away". That is not how I feel. I prefer to say that I want to force capitalism to conform to the law, and for laws to be enforced, and for corporations and the wealthy to loose their influence in having our laws written so that they can conduct their business in an unfair manner. I want to march "crooked capitalists" to the guillotine (metaphorically).
oh yeah and what was mitt romneys wealth again? tens of millions?
yeah its a bogus taboo on conversation that was taught to me in elementary school, "class warfare".... I think I can still vaguely remember the middle aged librarian who asserted it at the time.... more in my blog

"rich people march on washington every day"
--i.f. stone

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
--supreme court justice louis brandeis

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
--upton sinclair

"One withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas."
--victor hugo

"The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid dens of crime that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern. "
--cs lewis

occupy party reaches critical mass/seismic effect--now what?
Growing up in the Cold War Era, saying publicly that USA had social classes could open up an FBI investigation. In the 1960's, student radicals were chided for noticing that the USA had a class structure. We were told that all of that "1930's stuff" was yesterday's news.

Then, I noticed several years ago that even TV commentators were using the term "working class". Using that termed marked you as a socialist or a communist just a generation before.

Now the Republicans (of all people) have given us permission to use the term "class war". They also gave us permission to use the word "socialism" by labeling Barack Obama a "socialist."

Now we actual socialists can talk about who really started the class war and explain that Barack Obama is not really a socialist, but here are some people who are and this is what they think. The last major socialist conference I went to was filled with eager young people.

I think young people today are more friendly to socialist ideas because of the abysmal Republican record on the economy and the Republican habit of labeling all economic dissent as "socialism" or "class war".

So keep talking Republicans, your words are worth more than stacks of dusty socialist pamphlets.
It really is time for this discussion. It really is time we start standing up and demanding change.
Great stuff. It can't be said enough: Thank you OWS for reframing the debate from debt to corporate greed.
I like how you blame Romney, the Super Pacs and the rich but you leave out that President Obama is planning on spending $1 BILLION dollars on his reelection and that doesn't count what HIS super pacs spend.

President Obama is a fraud. After speaking the other day promoting class warfare and class envy he flew off to a reelection event that was $35,000 per couple. Nope, Obama wants nothing to do with the so called 1%, as long as they give him their money.
Great post, I hope the more it's said the more it's repeated. I didn't pay much attention to what other people think is the right subject or if they think I have sour grapes. I've been involved in class warfare being under a living wage but above poverty for decades. I considered myself the target so I talked about it for decades.

More than anything the middle and upper middle class didn't respond to me in conversatison with much other than why they thought it could never happen to them. Because they work really hard and did all the right things so it must be your fault, or they have a degree for a special skill or they had the right marriage and got enough child support so why didn't you? They get paid more because their job is really hard. That was always the type of repsonse.

Now many former middle class are complaining because the lesser paid jobs are hard, unrewarding, dead end and it's nearly impossible to survive on low wages. It was always that way, poor people don't like being poor and aren't lazy, they just don't get paid much. It's depressing and eventually you realize it's never going to change and there's no way out. Once you're poor it's a heck of a lot harder to get out of it. Many former middle class are learning that now too. Instead of understanding the poor and joining them they still think them unworthy, the poor know that if things change the middle class will again dump them like rebound sweethearts. I may not have a formal education but some things I understand very well.

The longer the recession lasts, the more people will understand it was always about who the powerful needed and who they could dispose of. The middle class are expensive to keep, the poor cost very little. It's like raising livestock, you don't raise a breed that tramples a lot of pasture but gives little profit, how many pounds per acre. The rich don't need a thriving middle class to spend more money on for labor. The truth is often ugly but it's still true.
Look at it this way: The Republicans insist that people like Willard Romney are "job creators" and must be catered to.

His Bain Capital record shows otherwise. Romney and Bain were corporate raiders, scooping up businesses, selling off anything moveable, and discarding the remains. People lost their jobs, many very likely lost their homes.

Casting Romney as a job creator would be akin to thinking an arsonist is a good choice for fire chief.

And to those who decry the fundraising of President Obama, are you advocates for unilateral disarmament in other instances as well? Can I come live in your ivory towers?
Nothing new, the rich from the dawn of time has had the advantage. It is only the last 100 years we have seen a middle class between the poor and rich. The rich will always have better healthcare, education, employment opportunities for themselves and their children. This will never change. This country was founded on the idea that everyone has the right to pursue this advantage based on merit not birth right. This idea is what has produced the middle class in the first place.

The job of government of the people is to maintain level playing fields so those that have will not use their wealth and power to subdue and prevent anyone from moving up the ladder. The idea is simple. Having wealth gives you an advantage, but when that wealth controls the actual market and government that regulates those markets in which everyone participates in it becomes an unfair advantage. That is what needs to be protected the field not making sure everyone has the same.

There will always be workers and owners. The owners will take the lion share and as long as the system is maintained so the worker has the opportunity to pursue the same economic opportunities of the owner the system is working.

The idea of everyone is equal is an illusion, because for every person who has the drive, desire, and ambition to be the one percent, there are 1000 who just want to put in their 8 hours go home and watch some TV and dream of being rich or having what their boss has. Wishing will not make it so.
I'll bet you $10,000 that you're right about class warfare being no longer taboo.......
Was there a taboo on discussing class warfare? How ridiculous! I'm all for it, beginning with a program to sterilize poor people. They're simply disgusting, what with their shitty food and thrift store clothes and rusty old cars and, especially, all that icky poverty.
This should be an earth-shattering bit of data to anyone planning to run on the “pamper the rich for your own good” platform.This should be an earth-shattering bit of data to anyone planning to run on the “pamper the rich for your own good” platform....he ignores the contributions of firemen, teachers, nurses and the guy who makes sure your car’s wheel stays on. Those folks are now openly questioning his greed-logic.

And I say, it's about damned time. What I think--and hope! --will happen in this election year will be that ordinary peole will finally say, "No, I think it's time to ask the wealthy to sacrifice more." I also hope public demand for the overturn of Citizen's United will become a loud, united roar that will be utterly impossible to ignore. (Well that, and Mittens Romney will be electorally crushed.)

"If President Obama can win the case that he represents middle-class families and workers, a solid two thirds of Americans will support him."

This sentence is correct and disturbing, because all he has to do is win the case, not actually represent the middle class, families and workers. That is the problem with Obama, his rhetoric is good, his policies are bad. He is a pitch man for Wall Street. He is their wet dream. People believe he is something he is not. Have you not been paying attention during his admn. Shit is fucked up and bullshit. OWS is as much against him as they are against the Repugs.

Catnlion is right. Oh shit, I can't believe I said that. Obama will get a billion dollars for his re-election campaign. Most of that is from Goldman Sachs and his other Wall Street paymasters.
If President Obama can win the case that he represents middle-class families and workers, a solid two thirds of Americans will support him.

Allow me to paraphrase H. L. Mencken:

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

The Republican Party not only DOES NOT represent the interests of middle-class families and workers, it clearly represents policy inimical to their interests…yet for the last four decades, the “middle class” has helped Republicans obtain victories in all levels of government.
Interesting how the rich only call it class warfare when the poor fight back.
♥╚═══╝╚╝╚╝╚═══╩═══╝─╚for giving us insight that we might never know!
Amaze amazement. I followed Sweet Algis K. This is an old (classic) post.
Hunter S. Thompson was often lambasted because because he cussed like"`
a`editor or`
a `lost sailor.
"Frankly, I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor (he honest?),
so writing
is the only
left for me."
He lame too?
Arthur Miller `
"It is my art ... And I will do it as long as I can.
When you reach a certain age you can slough
What is unnecessary - concentrate on what is,
And why not?"
Politicos go study the bible after they done conk?
Maybe they do a `Bardo' and read classic in hell?
It's hard to imagine a post-death and hear`wails.
They're goons
Be benevolent
Distribute loot
It's corn mold
Fools hoard
Oy Wastrel
not the blogger
the weasel rats
they go scurry
they're dark
lost beast
not virtue
ay debased