On the NPR show On Point this morning, what sounded like a Republican Party operative presented the talking point that President Obama and the Democrats engage in class warfare in pitting poorer Americans against the wealthy, the job-creators who pay most of America's taxes.
Okay, if there were really class warfare in the United States, those old big-city armories would be filled with National Guard enlisted men debating whether to fire into the mobs of unemployed proletarians or shoot their own officers. So let's ratchet down the rhetoric to, at most, "class struggle."
Who pays what in taxes gets complicated and isn't resolved by just looking at receipts from the US Federal income tax. But I'll grant that the rich pay a lot of taxes in the USA, and I want to look at that.
Let's say I had succeeded in whoring myself to Hollywood and am now maybe not totally, obscenely, filthy rich but dirty enough to have a fancy home overlooking Malibu or some much fancier place along the coast the real me doesn't have the connections to even know about. My screwed-up, ingrate kids go to private schools, interrupted now and then for drug rehab at private clinics. A security firm guards my property, and I helicopter out to my private plane at a private airport to take me to my yacht.
The peasants, proles, and Democrat (sic — I'm still in character) politicians want me to pay for public schools and Medicare and Social Security and inner-city police and such, and I don't want to pay for services I — and people like me — don't need.
I allow that the cops are handy so California riff-raff don't even get near my house's check points, and a military is handy to keep away the foreign riff-raff; it's not like I want to pay no taxes. It's just not to my interest to pay a lot of taxes for a "public interest" in which I have no immediate personal interest.
But you peasants and proles need public services and want me to pay.
We have different interests. Those different interests conflict. Those conflicting different interests are based in class. So, to repeat others and myself — the Right should cut the crap already and admit that there is class conflict and that it's a constant and inevitable.
Now, what to do about it? If I really had gotten rich in the film biz, there's a fair chance I'd become a "corporate liberal": as we used to say, "a conservative with brains."
The dirty-rich Rich Erlich would tell that Republican operative and his ilk to shut the hell up and acquiesce in somewhat higher and more progressive taxes, enough to get a real stimulus into the US economy and get unemployment down.
You "give back to the community," act as "a responsible corporate citizen," let the wealth "trickle down" with a few donations, some higher taxes — and you don't enrage the riff-raff and kill off the geese that lay the platinum eggs.
Immiserate the working class and start imperiling the middle class — as the Republicans risk — and you're inviting 1789-Redux and a real bourgeois revolution.
Keep harping on "class warfare" and avoid dealing with class conflict, and you're pitching a potentially wildly popular new reality show: "Live, for a while, from New York and Los Angeles — Guillotine!"
The rich Rich Erlich would remind the Republicans, "Steal moderately; steal long — and prosper." (You bet your ass, "and prosper.")