Tag Archives: social class

War is Betrayal: The 1% lures the 99% into doing the fighting

16 Jul

The poor embrace the military because every other cul-de-sac in their lives breaks their spirit and their dignity. Pick up Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front or James Jones’s From Here to Eternity. Read Henry IV. Turn to the Iliad. The allure of combat is a trap, a ploy, an old, dirty game of deception in which the powerful, who do not go to war, promise a mirage to those who do.

I saw this in my own family. At the age of ten I was given a scholarship to a top New England boarding school. I spent my adolescence in the schizophrenic embrace of the wealthy, on the playing fields and in the dorms and classrooms that condition boys and girls for privilege, and came back to my working-class relations in the depressed former mill towns in Maine. I traveled between two universes: one where everyone got chance after chance after chance, where connections and money and influence almost guaranteed that you would not fail; the other where no one ever got a second try. I learned at an early age that when the poor fall no one picks them up, while the rich stumble and trip their way to the top.

Those I knew in prep school did not seek out the military and were not sought by it. But in the impoverished enclaves of central Maine, where I had relatives living in trailers, nearly everyone was a veteran.

When soldiers return home: Continue reading

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United States of inequality – Inequality – Salon.com

5 Jun

As we wait for the results of the Wisconsin recall election, a refresher course on what the struggle over the future direction of the United States is really about might be in order. Fortunately (or depressingly) the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality has put together a new package of easy-to-digest “educational materials on trends in inequality” that pound the message home. The gist: the United States is becoming more unequal every which way you can imagine.

Between 2009 and 2011, the press release for the project notes, “media mentions of the phrase ‘income inequality’ increased by over 250 percent.” But changing trends in income distribution are only one part of the vast distortions rippling through American society. The slides now available for perusal at http://www.inequality.com are divided into 14 categories: debt, education, employment, family, gender, health, immigration, income, mobility, politics, poverty, race, violent crime, and wealth.

The most obvious insight gleanable from the charts is that class background matters. If you are poor, you are more likely to be in debt and have health problems, and less likely to get a quality education or have your priorities reflected in politics. Of course, that’s always been true, not just in the U.S., but everywhere.

via United States of inequality – Inequality – Salon.com.

DON’T LET EVIL DIVIDE US! – YouTube

31 Jan

George Carlin on class structure in the USofA: The upperclass has all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes and does all of the work. The lower class is there to scare the sh*t out of the middle class to keep them doing all of the work.

DON’T LET EVIL DIVIDE US! – YouTube.

Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

5 Nov

The OWS movement recognizes that America is divided into a ruling class and a class of servants.

Yes, America DOES have a ruling class. It’s not a hereditary ruling class, like the old European aristocracies. It’s permeable. One can enter it from below, and one can be thrust out of it too.

Of course the existence of this ruling class contradicts official doctrine, which says that American is ruled by the people and for the people. Members of this ruling class, therefore, will deny its existence. Certainly, the politician members MUST deny it.

Just what these rulers say among themselves, at the Bohemian Grove, in board meetings of for-profit corporations (e.g. General Motors, Goldman Sachs) and not-for-profit (e.g. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ford Foundation), in private clubs of various kinds, that’s a different matter. On that, I suspect, some are frank about being among The Rulers while others persist they are still of the people.

Nor do non-member Americans recognize the existence of this ruling class. Well, some of us do, some of us don’t. It’d be interesting to see whether recognition of the ruling class is stringing among non-voters than among voters. After all, if you do see that there’s a ruling class, what’s the point of voting? You vote doesn’t matter. At the same time, one might vote out of identification with and affirmation of that very same ruling class. After all, maybe you too will be tapped to enter into the sacred halls of the ruling class.

All of which is to say that, while a ruling class exists, though not a classical ruling class, class consciousness is weak, on both sides of the divide.

Outing the Class Divide

And THAT’s the biggest service that is being performed by Occupy Wall Street: identifying the class divide in America. The 1%, that’s the ruling class. The rest, no matter how many things otherwise divide us, we are the 99%. Continue reading