Monday, May 23, 2011

Solution: Give Everybody Money!

I've been reading Nixonland, a journalistic history of Nixon and his times--times I remember from my college days, when there were riots and protests, sit-ins, teach-ins and occasionally love-ins, and when I marched for something I knew not what.

One thing I learnt in college was that rich people were in just about every way better than poor people. I came from a gritty city where people were cynical and corrupt. The working class people I knew led dreary lives and were perfectly awful people: completely conventional, intolerant and tasteless. The men were brutal--and when young prone to violence.

I went to a small overpriced college for rich underachievers in a posh suburb of Chicago and there met adults who were, at least on the surface, decent human beings. Even if they were hypocrites that was a step in the right direction: at least they had shame. You could talk to them: they weren't just, like the working class people I'd known, tape loops making noises about immediate features of their environments and repeating trivial cliches. They weren't obsessed with discipline to enforce rigid conformity in even the most trivial details. The men weren't scary.

Anyone who likes the working class has never met the working class.

So the solution to all our social problems is simple: the obliteration of the working class through social mobility. When people have money, comfort and material security they become better people because they can afford to be better people. They can afford to be honest, generous and kind. It's when people are living on the edge they can't risk decent behavior: when they live in a tough, brutal, unfair world they become tough, brutal and corrupt. So the solution is simple: give 'em money! Make them upper middle class!

The trouble is that Republicans have sold themselves as the party of tough appealing to the lower classes and promoting policies that will make things even tougher for them--insuring, they hope, a permanent Republican majority.

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