First, before getting into the “one percent” matter…
I have heard few interviews on NPR that were more cogent, intelligent and rich in wisdom and knowledge than this one, with Bruce Levine, a professor of history at the University of Illinois, who is author of The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South and Confederate Emancipation, Professor Levine deals handily with the edifice of completely made-up rationalizations we hear fermenting these days: e.g. that slavery was declining in the South during the lead-up to the U.S. Civil War (phase 1).
Not one of the excuses offered by apologists — like Judge Andrew Napolitano — stand upon anything more substantial than wish-fantasies and fairy dust.
Listen to the audio version. This is a wise and knowledgeable fellow. An example of why those waging war on science had to expand their campaign to encompass history, economics, journalism and every other clade of knowledge in American life.
== It’s not the “One Percent” ==
Stop referring to “the one percent!” It is a trap. Indeed, it may be a polemical trick, foisted on us all by a conniving oligarchy that does not want to face the ire of a united citizenry.
Those chanting “we’re the ninety-nine percent” only thus empower Fox-pundits to respond that “most of the one-percenters are small business owners, or hard-working doctors and dentists who are demonized by the left for their well-earned success, stigmatized for providing valued goods and services.”
And that’s completely true!
Look, you polemical liberals out there, do you really want three MILLION of America’s most productive, innovative and hard-working people to be driven into the arms of the real oligarchs, by tarring them with the same, simplistic brush? Guilt-by-association?
There’s a word for that. It is “stupid.”
In fact, according to this article in the Atlantic it is the top 0.01 percent—that’s the uppermost one percent of the top 1 percent—that’s leaving the rest of the top percentile behind, in the dust along with the rest of us. “While nine-tenths of the top percentile hasn’t seen much change at all since 1960, the 0.01 percent has essentially quadrupled its share of the country’s wealth in half a century.”
Alas, what this article leaves out is discussing the one-percent of THAT clade… or the 0.0001%ers. Those are the folks always to scrutinize. Even the father of modern market enterprise capitalism said so!
They aren’t all bad, just because they are rich! Indeed, the Silicon Valley billionaires and other entrepreneurs who developed goods and services by working closely with thousands of skilled and free-thinking engineers – these men and women know that it is a relatively flat, well-educated and open “diamond-shaped” society – dominated by a vibrant and empowered and knowing middle class – that creates the kind of opportunities that let them succeed in a positive-sum way. Getting rich while making us all richer. Guys and gals like that are sensitive to how it all would get ruined – will get ruined – if we follow the age-old human pattern. Into feudal-inherited-oligarchy.
Interestingly, those open-market-friendly rich men and women are mostly democrats.
So. Shall we get mad? Chant and wave torches and polish our tumbrels? No, we must recall enough history to remember this is an old, old problem. Those who are meddling in our politics and hiring propagandists to restart the American Civil War, they are acting entirely according to human nature, spanning thousands of years. It is not morally culpable that they are too stupid to rise above basic, pre-sapient instinct. Alas though, it does mean that those obeying ancient-harem-seeking instincts are not as smart as they think.
By doing all of this, they in fact prove a fundamental of nature. That all good things are toxic, when too concentrated. Water, food, oxygen… wealth. It is one thing about which Adam Smith and Karl Marx absolutely agreed.
In order to save and preserve as system in which each of us can get rich — by providing competitive-creative goods and services – even very, very rich (so long as it is fair) – then we may have to put some kind of limit upon the number of verys.
== Obscure… but related ==
Speaking of very… this is very interesting, if too radical for our present world to experiment with… except maybe in a sci fi novel… Geo-libertarians hold that all natural resources – most importantly land – are common assets to which all individuals have an equal right to access; therefore, individuals must pay rent to the community if they claim land as their private property. They simultaneously agree with the libertarian position that each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor as their private property, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community, and that “one’s labor, wages, and the products of labor” should not be taxed.
This is one example of the many alternatives that used to be discussed by the Greatest Generation… before we Boomers took over and made everything simplistic, reflexive, emotional… and admit it… not one of you has ever read Adam Smith or Karl Marx. If your life depended on it, could you describe accurately what they said? Or even define what “left” and “right” mean?
Really? Well… this blog does attract the erudite. But those few of you are very very rare.