Sunday, October 15, 2006

Q: What do you call a Democrat with money?

A: A Republican.

Given that the 2006 election is but weeks away, allow me to share these thoughts.

First, the terms Liberal and Conservative have different meanings in different places. In the UK a person that has liberal political thinking is a person that champions the rights and wisdom of the individual. A person that supports conservative ideals is a person who thinks that the rights of the individual most be moderated with the welfare of the nation. Thus, the individual needs to be governed.

In the US, well… I have no idea what the terms Liberal and Conservative mean. Ten years ago I would have said that a Liberal thinks that the state has a certain obligation to insure the wellbeing of the governed and a Conservative supports the notion that government has marginal responsibility for the citizen; that the individual is quite capable of taking care of him and herself. Government should concern itself with keeping a good standing army, a decent interstate highway system and making sure the banking system is not a house of cards.

Second, I used to think that the Democratic Party was the party whose fundamental political affiliation was with working stiffs and that the Republican Party had the interests of Big Business at heart.

Now I think that both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have the interests of Big Business as its first concern. The working stiff, the man and woman who can plan to spend fifty to sixty years of his and her life doing that thing called a “job” has absolutely no political party to look out for his or her interests.

Like it or not, one of the pillars of the Industrial Age is what I call the Fundamental Covenant between Big Business and the Working Class. It goes like this: Give me, Big Business, all of your adult life working in my factories and offices making stuff that may or may not be of interest to you. Get up every morning and work eight to twelve hours a day, five to six days a week, in conditions that may or may not be interesting, meaningful, and healthy to your body and sensibilities and in return I will pay you a decent enough wage so that you, your wife and your kids can live in a sort of nice place, have enough food to eat and movies to go to. And since you will make enough money so only one adult, most likely the guy, will have to work, the other adult, most likely the woman will have the time to make really, really good things to eat. So, at least your dinner won’t be boring. Also, your kids will get to go to good enough schools, the cops won’t be too corrupt and if there is a war, those who live through it will get to go to college on the government’s dime. By the way, if there is war, everybody goes. Only the really rich kids get to stay home.

Also, when you retire, you’ll get a pension with enough to get you through to old age. You won’t get a hip replacement, bone marrow transplant or cataract surgery because we don’t know how to do that stuff. But, don’t worry about polio or smallpox. We've got that covered.

But that was then and this is now.

Now to be thought of as working class is shameful. It’s all Big Business. We live in a time where every house is a castle and nobody has enough money to pay for them and all the other stuff they don’t really need. So the only recourse is to borrow, which Big Business really likes because all the banks are really big. Most savings and loans were wiped out in the late 80s during the Silverado Scandal.

Now The Covenant looks something like this: We, Big Business will pay you some money, maybe a lot of money if we like you. By the way, we are under absolutely no obligation to do anything for you in the way of long term employment. As a matter of fact, if we can find a place where we can get the work done cheaper, we will. But don’t worry. You’ll get twenty six weeks of unemployment, if you are eligible.

Don’t forget that unemployment payments are not tax free. Everybody pays tax all the time, unless you're us, that is. However, not everybody is entitled to the stuff you get taxed for. In fact, most of the money that we get from Federal tax collection will go to pay for defense, military contractors and to pay down debt for those things we, erh.. I mean the Government bought but couldn’t pay for. Yeah, Social Security and Medicare get a lot too. Why do you think we want to get it into our hands?

The good news is that if there is a war, your kids won’t have to go. But if you can’t make enough to get them into college or provide them with any sense of security about their future welfare, they are welcome to join up and we’ll, oops, I mean the Government will give them money toward college when they get out, if they get out.

In terms of pension, put some money in a 401K. However, if it goes south, don’t blame us. You’re in charge of your money. But, on the other hand, if you need major, life sustaining surgery, you can get it. All you need to do is pay for it. If you’re old enough for Medicare, you’re in. If you have a job that provides health insurance you’re in (for as long as you're on the payroll). If you’re on your own, well you’re on your own. You figure it out.

And so on.....

P.J. O’Rourke had a great saying when considering De Toqueville’s observation on American democracy: “We’ve voted ourselves rich.”

Me, I’d rather be working class. The food’s better. The sex is better. The music’s better. The only thing I wish was that there was a political party that had the real interests of working class Americans at heart. And, it ain't about keeping prayer in the classroom. It's about keeping food on the table and books in the library.

So think about that the next time you’re about to vote.

PS: The government still seems to be good at keeping a standing army. But the highways suck and the banking system is a house of cards. Also, the important elections are rigged. Have been for a while.


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