American Culture

Land of the free, be brave.

Monticello_Reflection

photo credit commons.wikimedia.org

I am a proud Democrat. I think the Democratic Party started with a Virginia planter and Renaissance man named Thomas Jefferson. I am not proud of TJ for owning slaves. Slavery is an abomination, the antithesis of everything for which the Democratic Party stands. Jefferson himself was an abolitionist, describing slavery as holding “a wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.” He also believed that emancipation would result in a large scale race war which would destroy America, his beloved experiment in liberty.

I believe otherwise. I believe that if one allows a man to stop being a wolf and become a fellow Renaissance man, he will do exactly that. I believe this has been proven time and again during the intervening centuries. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party. I have read Max Weber. I understand that every moment is valuable, not only in the present, but also for the fruits it may bear, properly invested, in the future.

I speak to you now on behalf of the 80% of Americans who struggle today with joblessness, near-poverty, or reliance on welfare. They are your slaves. I understand your reluctance to let go of the wolf’s ear. It’s really scary, honestly, to consider what might happen if you let the vast majority whom you have wronged go free. They have legitimate reasons to storm your gates, overpower your private security, burn your 300,000 square foot Xanadu to the ground, and carry off your head on a pike.

Look at it this way. If you don’t let them go, there is a 100% chance they will do those things. It’s simple mathematics. They outnumber you a million to one. As soon as they realize their position is hopeless, you’re dead, bro. On the other hand, if you make the economy work for the many, instead of the few, it will work automatically, because the many are actually motivated to make it work. It’s really that simple.

As an undergraduate English major I got a really creepy vibe off the Economics majors. They started out as friendly, extroverted, optimistic go-getters. But as they were assimilated into the Cult of Milton Friedman, they stopped trusting their friends, roommates, parents, teachers, anyone, until they became soulless automatons, sucking all monetary value from their surrounding environment and discarding any thought or deed that did not increase their personal wealth.

This is terrifying behavior in anyone, let alone a college kid. It’s exactly the sort of antisocial behavior that results in suicide bombing. They became zealots. They became automatons, functions in a larger equasion in which their own lives and ALL LIVES are ultimately expendable. They stopped being living, growing, learning human beings and became instead known variables, puppets controlled by an invisible hand which denied them the option of considering their worth as human beings, let alone the worth of other human beings.

The Cult of Milton Friedman has dominated Wall Street since the 1980s. Whoever dies with the most toys wins. Greed is good. That’s what Donald Trump is selling. He’s a cheap imitation of Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross. Guess what, Trump? Alec Baldwin has booked 88 major roles since then. 1992 called. They want their hair back. An economy with a strong middle class is stable, because the middle class has something to lose. It’s their economy, too. If you’re trying to sell cable subscriptions for your reality TV show, for example, would you rather have 10 million or 200 million Americans subscribed to your network? With 80% of Americans near or below the poverty line, cable subscriptions are in jeopardy.

We are rapidly approaching a tipping point. As Nick Hanauer so eloquently put it, “I see pitchforks.” On one side of the tipping point is the most prosperous period in the history of the greatest nation of all time. We can go back to the postwar prosperity, As Bill Gates said on CNN, “The highest economic growth decade was the 1960s. Income tax rates were 90 percent. I mean, the idea that there’s some direct connection that all these innovators are on strike because tax rates are at 35 percent on corporations, that’s just such nonsense.”

Or, on the other side of the tipping point, we can descend into another Great Depression, or worse, another French Revolution. And the crucial piece of information, the one thing I really, really need you to grasp, is that this decision is going to be made at the very top, the 0.01% and higher. The change is going to come either way. The only choice is whether it will be a controlled glide or a crash and burn. Let go of the wolf’s ear. I love you all. Do not be afraid.

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