Look, I don’t mean to keep harping on this, but lower-income bracket people like us are painfully stupid when it comes to dealing with upper-income bracket people like them.
So stupid, we ought to tie ourselves into giant burlap bags and throw ourselves into a lake to help cleanse the gene pool.
But we don’t.
Greed is good, right?
Instead, we blindly accept an income-tax system that allows the federal government to take 30 percent of the wages from the hard-working secretary of billionaire investor Warren Buffet while he pays a mere 17.5 percent. Look it up. Even Buffet, the world’s third-richest man, believes it’s grossly unfair, especially now that the mob bosses who own this lousy joint are proposing to cut taxes on the rich even further.
We also blithely accept three great lies that rich people repeatedly tell to keep us from storming their manors with pitchforks and torches because we’re sick and tired of getting ripped off.
They use this mantric psycho-babble on us to keep us happy. Happy enough that we’ll keep standing on the line at the bottle-capping factory, anyway.
They’re also afraid of us. And they should be, because there are a lot more of us than them and we were raised with such bad manners that it wouldn’t bother most us in the least to lop off a few of their heads and cart them around the city on poles.
Lie #1: Hard Work Equals Wealth
American children are raised to believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and, although they might not know it, the influential ravings of a late 18th-century B-rate writer cum armchair philosopher named Horatio Alger. He captured the public’s greedy imagination with a string of best-selling children’s books about poor young men who grow up to be rich because they’re determined, honest and hard working.
Most of us kids quickly find out we were lied to about the bunny and the fat man in the red velvet suit. But because we’re as dumb as tree stumps, we never stop believing Alger’s myth is true.
ARE WE OUT OF OUR FUCKING MINDS? WHAT IS IT ABOUT OUR LIVES OR THE LIVES OF ANYBODY WE KNOW THAT WOULD MAKE US BELIEVE THIS BULLSHIT?
Here’s the plain truth: Hard work equals hard work. Period. The American Dream only comes true if you stay asleep.
Think about that grease-covered guy who rides around on the back of the garbage truck. He works his sorry ass off every day, hoisting an endless stream of stinking cans filled with rotting meat and dirty diapers. He does this whether it’s hot, cold, wet or dry. He works hard, harder than almost anybody we know. But he’s never getting rich, not unless some maid accidentally throws away a few Hefty bags full of money the Master of the House absentmindedly set on the back porch. Nope, the best thing garbage man can hope for at the end of the week is a $20 tip and a hug from a happy housewife with a nice rack.
His son’s not getting rich, either.
A 1978 study found that only 23 percent of the sons of uneducated, poor American fathers grew up to become well-educated workers with high-paying jobs. Today, thanks to the widening gap between rich and poor that’s shrinking the middle class out of existence, less than 10 percent now make the jump. And the number is shrinking every day.
Want to improve your odds?
Move to Europe, where about 60 percent of young workers have a shot at a better life. Yep, those Euro-trash socialists, the ones with six weeks of guaranteed vacation and free public health care, actually live the American dream more often than we do.
Lie #2: God is a Capitalist
I could summarize this argument for the super-rich, who are constantly invoking the Christian God as The One True Path to Riches, but why bother when I have that fabulous conservative talk radio-show host Rush Limbaugh to do it for me?
There's nothing filthy about lucre.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we now know why there is this institutional opposition to low tax rates in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. It’s because low tax rates are Biblical in nature and in root,” Limbaugh says. “When you can trace the lowering of tax rates on grain from 90 percent to 20 percent giving seven fat years during the days of Pharaoh in Egypt, why then you are tracing the roots of lower taxes and rising prosperity to religion…You can trace individual prosperity, economic growth back to the Bible, the Old Testament. Isn’t it amazing?”
Yeah, it’s fucking awesome!
Except that it isn’t true!
Take that scripture Limbaugh referred to. It’s from Genesis, Chapter 41, and it’s about the wisdom of instituting taxes, not cutting them. After Egypt’s Pharaoh had a dream that prophesied seven fat years to be followed by seven lean years, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat advised the ruler to “appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years…and lay up corn under the hands of Pharaoh.” In other words, he urged the Pharaoh to implement a 20 percent grain tax to help the land avoid starvation when the locusts arrived.
It worked, too.
But even if Limbaugh was right about that scripture, stop and think for a second about what we know about God.
Remember the Sermon on the Mount—you know, the one with the blessed this and the Beatitudes that? There were a lot of hungry people there. A capitalist would’ve tapped that market and charged admission, selling front-row tickets at eight times their face value, and forcing people to buy watered-down beer for $6 a cup. But Jesus put on free fish fry for 5,000.
But wait! What about the Big Boss, God?
Yeah, sure, the Heavenly Father looks like a capitalist on first glance. He lives in a mansion way up on the hill in a gated community where the streets are paved with gold, for instance. But we’re all invited to live there with Him. Rent fucking free! And there’s going to be an all-you-can-eat buffet!
As weird as it might sound to us, it looks like God might be more of a socialist than a capitalist.
Lie #3: Greed is Patriotic
English writer Samuel Johnson once declared that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
We have blinded ourselves with the American Dream.
Now it’s the first refuge. Every time their warped thinking is challenged, the rich people who own this country—and much of the world—immediately wrap their lifestyle in the American flag and label their critics traitors to the Stars and Stripes.
Cowboy up and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, they say.
Greed is good, they say. If you want it, go get it.
Never mind all that bullshit about America being of the people, by the people and for the people. It’s really of yourself, by yourself, and for yourself. Because here in the U.S. of A-holes, every day is Independence Day, and it’s every man, woman and child for themselves.
But rich people are wrong.
Their way of life is killing civilized Democracy, the one good thing that set America apart from the rest of the world and made it great. We Poorletariats have all but lost our voice, our ability to use the power granted to us by the Constitution to prevent a certain class of people from becoming an Aristocracy—the fucking Landed Gentry—and effectively ruling our country by concentrating all of its wealth and power in their hands and their hands alone, a practice that was tried and failed centuries ago by Europe’s fuedal lords and kings and queens. In political terms, America’s new aristocracy have become Death, the Destroyer of our World, and we’ve all known it ever since the fictional businessman and antihero Gordon Gecko uttered these prophetic lines nearly a quarter of a century ago in the 1987 film, Wall Street:
“The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it.”
Yeah, we’re a part of it, all right.
The dumbest fucking part.
A note: I’d like to dedicate this incredibly long and abrasive series of polemics to my good friend, Jayne Martin. Jayne lives in California, which is probably going to be destroyed pretty soon by either an earthquake, a tsunami or radiation. Perhaps all three at once, making political arguments like this kind of pointless. Nevertheless, Jayne’s tireless passion for justice is inspiring.