Friday, December 31, 2010

Why do the Poor Support a Plutocracy?

With income disparity being the hot topic topic today, there are many of us questioning how the wealthiest citizens, have been able to convince the poorest, that they should be on their side. If conventional wisdom is to soothe the huddled masses, to avoid civic unrest, I don't think it will work in the long term. Eventually growling stomachs will drown out the burps of the well fed.

I actually blogged on this before, questioning the phenomenon, and while I still haven't figured it out completely, I'm getting closer to understanding the tactics used to create this perverse logic.

The wealthy speak the language of their "peasants". It's despicable, but brilliant.

George Bush belongs to one of the wealthiest families in America. His grandfather, Preston Bush, made a fortune financing the Nazis. And the Bush Administration was by far the best friends that Wall Street ever had. And yet much of his support came from Americans with little help of acquiring much wealth.

Karl Rove insisted that when President Bush had "a choice between Wall Street and Main Street," he came on down on the side of "the little guy." And yet the exact opposite was true. Elitism masquerading as populism:

A president who believes in "preventive" military wars certainly understands the value of preventive rhetoric in political wars. At the start of the 2003 battle over his "jobs and growth plan," while talking to reporters at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on January 2, Bush said, "I understand the politics of economic stimulus—that some would like to turn this into class warfare. That's not how I think."

What should it be called, then, when a father and his son attacked rival Michael Dukakis for representing the "Harvard boutique"? Or when Bush Id AP reporter Scott Lindlaw—during a month long vacation at his ranch said--Most Americans don't sit in Martha's Vineyard swilling white wine." Or when W., telling how a teacher and a fireman had difficulty finding a doctor during a pregnancy, blasted high medical malpractice rates, concluding with "What we want is quality healthcare, not rich trial lawyers"? Writing in the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne observed that "if setting up a teacher and a firelighter against 'rich trial lawyers' is not class warfare, then Karl Marx is the current editor of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page."

In George W. Bush we have a president who's a fourth-generation business heir, a man who never really pounded the pavement but accumulated his wealth through family contacts and favors. As president, he moves aggressively and successfully to enact a fiscal program that (a) reduces taxes on the "investor class" more in percentage terms than on the middle class, b) abolishes the "dead billionaires' tax" (estate tax), (c) shifts the burden of taxes to "earned" income and away from "unearned income" (dividends and capital gains), and, for good measure, (d) changes IRS practice so fewer multimillionaires are audited and more poor people are. (The number of civil fraud penalties against corporations plunged two-thirds, from 555 in 1993 to 159 in 2002.) Given that tax cuts for the top I percent equal all the cuts to the bottom 90 percent—and given the trillions of dollars quietly shifting from the accounts of labor and future generations to today's investor class—George W. Bush is redistributing wealth far more than George McGovern or Huey Long ever dreamed possible. (1)

And Bush's tactics are not his alone, but part of the neoconservative strategy.

In Ontario, Neocon Mike Harris used this tactic with NDP leader Bob Rae, often referring to him as "The Professor", because he was a Rhodes Scholar. He also feigned empathy with those struggling due to his policies, by suggesting that he knew what it was like to have to live on beans and bologna, something his parents were quick to refute. Harris never ate those things out of necessity, if ever. He grew up in an affluent home.

Stephen Harper, also grew up never knowing hunger, and yet he tries to paint himself as a man of the people. Opposing those who live in "Ivory Towers", to justify his cuts to the Arts and the Draconian crime bills. And like Bush, who criticized rival Michael Dukakis for representing the "Harvard boutique", Harper is constantly using "Harvard" terms to discredit Michael Ignatieff, who not only got his PhD from there, but also taught at Harvard for about five years.

And let's not forget during the last debates, when Harper pretended to understand how the unemployed felt, by saying that he himself had been unemployed for several months. Yet when reporters later asked him about it, he admitted that he was sitting at home waiting for an election, while his wife ran a lucrative printing business. Her biggest client was the Reform Party that he would be running for. That's not unemployed, it's lazy.

And then there's Rob Ford, another millionaire trying to speak "peasant". And he brings on board yet another millionaire spokesperson for the "little guy", Don Cherry.

And don't even get me started on the corporate sponsored Tea Party.

We have got to start breaking down the Neocon language. Corporations are funnelling huge amounts of money to think tanks and foundations, all attempting to convince citizens that extreme wealth held by a few is good for us. THINK!

Does that make any sense to you? THINK!

Are the seniors (Baby Boomers) really at fault? THINK!

Is Stephen Harper really a Tory? THINK!

Should Canadians go further into debt to give corporations another huge gift? THINK!

And when you're done thinking, VOTE!

It's time to take this country back, because the only ones feeding from the public trough are the gluttons, and the Harper government is spoon feeding them.


1. The Book on Bush: How George W. (mis) Leads America, By Eric Alterman and Mark Green, Penguin Books, 2004, ISBN: 0-670-03273-5, Pg, 54-55


  1. I think your illustration is wonderful, Emily, especially "Survival of the Richest" and "Save Our CEOs" and "I have a right to go bankrupt"!!
    Now, if only we could afford to get it printed and distributed to every small house in the country. Do you think Mrs. Harper would help?

  2. Why We Vote Against Our Interests

    Quite a bit of work has been undertaken recently on why people often vote against their own interests. In fact, some of the work was driven by frustrated Democrats trying to understand why those whom they w...ere trying to help were not voting for them.

    … the techniques adopted by ideological parties to fuel and pander to our worst fears and

    to close off the sources of evidence and knowledge that challenge their ideology.

    Parties that see government's overriding or only role as security increasingly pander to our fears and our anxieties about change at home and in the world, and portray themselves as our protectors, the firm hand, the strict parent.

    And it works: fear trumps many other emotions and can blot out evidence and appeals for moderation.

  3. I wish I knew that answer. The fed cons don't care about people just corporations and I wish the myth they are great money managers would go the way of the dodo as it is not true whether Harper, Campbell, Stelmach, Regan, Thatchers etc The Libs under Iggy are not all that much different but the Libs do not have that mean streak like Harper.

    I think many poor people do not vote. I can't prove that but with all the low income people in Canada decided to vote I would bet we would have an NDP federal Government. When I used to volunteer at the community lunch (at an evangelical church no less lol ) many voting is not a high priority when your starving, can barely make ends meet or living on the streets. Although in some ridings the NDP does a descent job getting them out like in Libby Davies riding. They need to do that all over though.

    If all 18-25 year olds and poor voted we would see a lot more green and ndp seats I bet.

    [quote]Is Stephen Harper really a Tory? THINK![/quote]

    I do not know why the media still uses the term 'Tory' for. They no longer exist since Mackay stabbed Orchard in the back. (I dunno what is worse a back stabber in office or the people that elect him but I guess he is riding daddy's name??) They may call themselves 'Conservatives' but seems very little conservative about them, they are far right Republicans or Reform party....That Reform Party was way further right than the old PC party. Harper is right of Mulroney and so far right of Joe Clark he could be mistaken for Mussolini...

  4. All we can do is keep educating people and encourage them to vote. There is so much riding on it.

  5. I have always found this to be so confounding as well. I have no idea why so many people seem to vote against their own interests, but I suspect in Canada, it's probably less that than what CanadianLatitude said - poor people are simply to busy surviving to think about politics, even though it affects them so profoundly.

    However, a lot of the fear-mongering based votes probably come from the middle class, or what's left of it.