The Ruling Class: Us vs. Them

Discussion in 'Tea Party' started by PoliticalChic, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Here is part of an essay by Angelo Codevilla, that will resonate with quite a few...and make thinkers uneasy...

    1. September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors' "toxic assets" was the only alternative to the U.S. economy's "systemic collapse…." And also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets' nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.

    a. The citizenry discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term "political class" came into use.

    2. Next, those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public's understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the "ruling class."

    a. Republican and Democratic office holders show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.

    b. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government's agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government's agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to.

    3. Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust. Until our own time America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. Few had much contact with government, and "bureaucrat" was a dirty word for all. So was "social engineering." Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday's upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.

    a. Today's ruling class was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints.

    4. As government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

    a. While most Americans pray to the God "who created and doth sustain us," our ruling class prays to itself as "saviors of the planet" and improvers of humanity.

    You can find the essay at The American Spectator : America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution
     
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  2. sangha
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    sangha Senior Member

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    And the wingnuts think the left wants a class war.
     
  3. Toro
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    Toro Diamond Member

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    You know, as a foreigner in this fabulous country, it has struck me that there is almost a shadow aristocracy in America, which is odd given that the country is such a meritocracy - one of the reasons why America is so cool!. It seems like a bit of a contradiction.

    It seems that one has an easier time in this country getting to the top if you go to an Ivy League school.

    I believe that most, if not all, of the Supreme Court justices went to an Ivy League school.

    The last three Presidents went to Ivy League schools.

    Most Fortune 500 CEOs went to Ivy League schools.

    Now, I understand that the top schools attract the best students, but I find it a bit odd that in this nation of 310 million, about a half dozen schools or so produce most of its leaders in many fields.

    In fact, its not that they went to an Ivy League school, its the fact that many are disqualified if they don't. I work in finance and have extensive dealings with Wall Street, and many Wall Street firms won't even look at people if they don't have an Ivy League degree. You could be number one in your graduating class for the University of Indiana, but many would rather look at someone in the middle of their class in Harvard. My guess is that this is also the case in other professions.

    It is not like you can't rise to the top if you didn't go to Harvard or Princeton but it seems somewhat of a contradiction to me that the greatest meritocracy in the world places so much emphasis on where you went to school.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  4. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I'm going to assume that you read the essay, and have considered the premise that a minority of folks run this country, its policies, and its economy.

    If so, were there any errors in Progressor Codevilla's thinking ,and if so, could you point out a few...

    He outlines how the ruling class agenda has obviated capitalism...

    1. By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. While the economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force, modern government is about nothing if not tampering with civil equality. By endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices -- even to buy in the first place -- modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Thus if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu.

    a. Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally. For example, the health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others because their senators offered key political support, but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass what indirect taxes onto the general public.

    b. The financial regulation bill of 2010, far from setting univocal rules for the entire financial industry in few words, spends some 3,000 pages (at this writing) tilting the field exquisitely toward some and away from others. Even more significantly, these and other products of Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses empower countless boards and commissions arbitrarily to protect some persons and companies, while ruining others.

    c. Thus in 2008 the Republican administration first bailed out Bear Stearns, then let Lehman Brothers sink in the ensuing panic, but then rescued Goldman Sachs by infusing cash into its principal debtor, AIG. Then, its Democratic successor used similarly naked discretionary power (and money appropriated for another purpose) to give major stakes in the auto industry to labor unions that support it. Nowadays, the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws.

    3. The discretion of the ruling class has replaced any semblance of free market capitalism. By making economic rules dependent on discretion, our bipartisan ruling class teaches that prosperity is to be bought with the coin of political support. Thus in the 1990s and 2000s, as Democrats and Republicans forced banks to make loans for houses to people and at rates they would not otherwise have considered, builders and investors had every reason to make as much money as they could from the ensuing inflation of housing prices. When the bubble burst, only those connected with the ruling class at the bottom and at the top were bailed out.

    a. Similarly, by taxing the use of carbon fuels and subsidizing "alternative energy," our ruling class created arguably the world's biggest opportunity for making money out of things that few if any would buy absent its intervention. The ethanol industry and its ensuing diversions of wealth exist exclusively because of subsidies. The prospect of legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions and allot certain amounts to certain companies set off a feeding frenzy among large companies to show support for a "green agenda," because such allotments would be worth tens of billions of dollars. That is why companies hired some 2,500 lobbyists in 2009 to deepen their involvement in "climate change." At the very least, such involvement profits them by making them into privileged collectors of carbon taxes. Any "green jobs" thus created are by definition creatures of subsidies -- that is, of privilege. What effect creating such privileges may have on "global warming" is debatable. But it surely increases the number of people dependent on the ruling class, and teaches Americans that satisfying that class is a surer way of making a living than producing goods and services that people want to buy.
    The American Spectator : America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution
     
  5. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Interesting that you touch on that, as it is discussed by Professor Codevilla...


    1. Much less does membership in the ruling class depend on high academic achievement. To see something closer to an academic meritocracy consider France, where elected officials have little power, a vast bureaucracy explicitly controls details from how babies are raised to how to make cheese, and people get into and advance in that bureaucracy strictly by competitive exams. Hence for good or ill, France's ruling class are bright people -- certifiably. Not ours. But didn't ours go to Harvard and Princeton and Stanford? Didn't most of them get good grades? Yes. But while getting into the Ecole Nationale d'Administration or the Ecole Polytechnique or the dozens of other entry points to France's ruling class requires outperforming others in blindly graded exams, and graduating from such places requires passing exams that many fail, getting into America's "top schools" is less a matter of passing exams than of showing up with acceptable grades and an attractive social profile. American secondary schools are generous with their As. Since the 1970s, it has been virtually impossible to flunk out of American colleges. And it is an open secret that "the best" colleges require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages. No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in. The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records. Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority.a. Its first tenet is that "we" are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation's paradigm that "all men are created equal"?
     
  6. sangha
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    sangha Senior Member

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    "If so, were there any errors in Progressor Codevilla's thinking ,and if so, could you point out a few...

    He outlines how the ruling class agenda has obviated capitalism..."


    Sure, the Professor is wrong to think that capitalism was ever "non-obviated"

    He equates "capitalism" with "free market fundamentalism" and, as a result, anything that deviates from his limited understanding is deemed "socialism", as if socialism were incompatible with capitalism
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  7. glew
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    glew BANNED

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    I have no problem looking up to and taking orders from someone who has been there and done that, with regard to whatever job I am doing. That is the "meritocracy" you are talking about. At some point, I will be telling some newbie what to do because I have been there and done that (this is especially true in land surveying). The divide comes from people, who have only been groomed to win elections, telling the car maker how to make cars and the banker how to invest and make money and the doctor how to treat patients and the average Joe, how to feed and raise their children. See, the liberals are an equal opportunity controller...while us conservatives mostly just want to control the government in any of its forms. Nice comment Toro...an interesting take from someone on the outside looking in.
     
  8. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I appreciate your trying to answer the question, but you seen to have missed the salient parts of the essay.

    1. By "non-obviated" you seem to be implying that capitalism is in effect in our society. Clearly, you are mistaken. We are ruled by a government that selects winners and losers. This is frequently called 'crony capitalism,' and an example would be:

    a. .Department of Energy Weatherization Boss, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewal
    “Swat teams will go down every block and see that every business and building is more energy efficient.” This is Kathy Zoi.

    $16.8 billion from the Stimulus Fund for Green Energy development. Only one window maker is on the list of those given green stimulus funds: Serious Materials- $548, 000
    But their windows are no more efficient than Pella, Anderson and Marvin.
    Some six times in the last year, the President and the Vice-President have visited the factories of Serious Materials, providing photo ops, and news conferences as to how efficient their product is, how they are creating ‘green jobs.’

    Strange according to government watchdog group Freedom Foundation of Minnesota.
    This group wonders why Serious merited this largesse; their question is not based on policy issue, but on conflict of interest. Ms. Zoi is the wife of Serious Materials vice-president. The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : Conflict of Interest for Obama's Weatherization Czar

    a. Serious Materials first made the news when a Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago closed and laid off some 200 union workers. The workers occupied the factory and refused to leave, until they got their jobs back. Serious Materials took over the factory to great fanfare, promising to rehire the laid-off workers. The promise never materialized. The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : Neither Extortion Nor Subsidies Keep Failing Business Afloat

    If you believe that this story is an example of capitalism in action, you are severly limited in understanding the subject.
    If, on the other hand, you are pretending that we live in a capitalist society, you are simply mistaken.


    2. “The Big Ripoff,” by Tim Carney: in a supposed free enterprise system, Congress obviates free enterprise by picking winners and loser. While promising to ‘reform’ the healthcare system by reducing costs, this Congress subsidizes drug companies and forbids re-importation of prescription drugs. This is not capitalism.
    Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money

    3. Even when companies try to behave as capitalistic enterprises, corrupt government practices make it very clear that to remain successful, they must engage in crony-capitalism.
    a. In 1998, Microsoft had no lobbyists, and contributed little to either party. The administration began prosecution as a monopoly, causing tremendous problems for Gates, and roiling the markets in the process. Microsoft learned its lesson. Contributions were forthcoming and now has a huge lobbying arm. This is not capitalism.


    Did you miss any of the following from the essay?
    ...our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty.

    By endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices -- even to buy in the first place --

    Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally.

    ...codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass what indirect taxes onto the general public.

    ...spends some 3,000 pages (at this writing) tilting the field exquisitely toward some and away from others.

    The discretion of the ruling class has replaced any semblance of free market capitalism. By making economic rules dependent on discretion, our bipartisan ruling class teaches that prosperity is to be bought with the coin of political support.

    ...opportunity for making money out of things that few if any would buy absent its intervention.

    ...companies hired some 2,500 lobbyists in 2009 to deepen their involvement in "climate change."

    satisfying that class is a surer way of making a living than producing goods and services that people want to buy.

    And, as far as "...as a result, anything that deviates from his limited understanding ..."
    It seems that the Professor is not the one with limited understanding,
     
  9. Baruch Menachem
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    Baruch Menachem '

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    It bugged me that all the foxes agreed there was an emergency and cleaned out the henhouse.
     
  10. sangha
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    sangha Senior Member

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    By "obviated", I mean "obviate". IN the real world, words have meanings. They just mean what you want them to mean

    I own several businesses that are successful and profitable. The govt never picked me. I've received no grants or subsidies or any form of govt assistance. The idea that the govt decides every winner and every loser is something some nutjob on a street corner shouts out while everyone else tries to ignore him.

    Basically, the entire argument you've presented is one of the most ridiculous I've seen on USMB, and there is plenty of competition. Not only does it fail to identify anything that is inconsistent with capitalism, it doesn't even distinguish this so-called "elite" from a meritocracy

    Count me in with the poster who has no problem letting the people who know what they're doing do what they do best. It's called a meritocracy, and most americans support it
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2010

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