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Anyone who is willing to work ...


The bit of wisdom above is from the second page of the novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by the mysterious B. Traven. It is often the case that wealthy people believe that jobs are readily available for the poor -- and it is probably not a coincidence that this is self serving in that it helps them to justify being wealthy.

Marie Antoinette is, by tradition, credited with saying these words in response to the information that poor people had no bread to eat: "Let them eat cake." It was a demonstration of how utterly calloused she was or of how utterly ignorant she was of the circumstance of most of the people in France at the time.

Today, we are in a new Gilded Age with extremes of wealth and poverty and a shrinking middle class. Yet, it is the wealthy from whom we hear complaints. The Republicans complain that Obama is initiating class warfare by drawing attention to the great disparities in our country, and the fact that for over the last forty years wealth that has amassed from gains in productivity by workers has almost all gone to rich people and not to the workers, themselves.

Too, there is the absurd situation where many middle-class people are paying higher income-tax rates than those making many millions of dollars. Yet the Republicans are unwilling to allow a correction of this circumstance.

The wealthy no longer live in regular neighborhoods like the rest of us.  They have their gated communities to put them in a wholly secure, other world where they cannot be touched by suffering or the troubles of ordinary people.  A high number of wealthy people come to think themselves royalty of a sort.

The Times are frivolous and superficial. Welcome to our own private garish, tasteless, gaudy Imperial France.

Comments

Steve said…
Outstanding post, Tom! It echoes what I'm reading right now in Robert Reich's great new e-book "Beyond Outrage." As you imply and he explicitly states, the REAL "class warfare" is what the rich are inflicting on the rest of us by using their wealth-enabled political power to grab bigger and bigger slices of the American pie while leaving the rest of us to scrap for a diminishing number of crumbs. Marie Antoinette had nothing on them. And they're so isolated from us behind their security gates that they probably don't even know it, and they actually feel slandered when someone dares to suggest that Mitt Romney's wife has no understanding of the daily challenges most women face.
I have Krugman's new book, End this Depression NOW which echos much the same sentiment.

Too, I am happy to see that yesterday the Times had an editorial highlighting some frightening facts about disparities in income and debt between the rich and the rest of us, "Inequality, Debt and the Financial Crisis."

Maybe, just maybe, the people in our country will wake up and rise up against the injustice that is alarming already and quickly getting worse and worse.

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