“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
—Eric Hoffer [pictured above]
Not sure why I felt the need to drag that one out. Mainly, I think, because it’s apt. For what? How about everything. Very apt. Right on. Corruption is a basic human trait. To corrupt and be corrupted. Replace “cause” with the word “thought” and you realize how complete bullshit becomes standard operating procedure in fill in the blank.
This week’s blank is filled by the customary ideological arguments every time a capitalist society tanks it. Tanking is what has been happening for some time now, in case you haven’t noticed. And by capitalist society we mean most of the free world, since we’re all attached at the proverbial hip these days. It is what most brain damaged economists call conjoined fiscal tragedy. We like to call it collective woe.
Greece is going belly up and boy is this sinking the Euro and as a result the U.S. dollar and putting the kibosh on global profits. This is textbook trickle-across fiduciary contagion.
I didn’t write that. It was posted on the Kombucha cooler at the vegan pizza joint on 12th and Second in lower Manhattan. They’re doing well in this crisis. Pizza is a recession-proof business model. That one I wrote.
That hacking cough you hear is coming from Washington. A symptom of fiduciary contagion is that you quickly run out of ideas trying to contain it—that is if there were any fresh ones in the first place. And so those paid to appear as if they care or know what’s going on tend to sprint to embrace already debunked rhetoric of yesteryear; The Left pitches tired crap and The Right counters with failed dung.
To wit: “The wealthy need to chip in and take on an extra burden to pay off the deficit and add to the exhausted federal government revenues since they can afford it and have benefitted from the very system they are asked to prop up.”
A bigger pile of horse feces is hard to locate.
Who decides who is wealthy and what constitutes an acceptable level of chipping in and who exactly can “afford” what and who has specifically benefited and from what?
Is it the same people who decided which drug is a multi-million dollar prescription splash and which one sends you to Rahway? Or maybe it’s the group that has not so quietly determined what kind of sex can sell teen magazines and cheap beer and which will be a victim of systemic discrimination? Perhaps it is the marketing whizzes behind what religions are considered evil and which are profitable, or could it be those busying themselves deciding the hundreds of other hypocritical vagaries that are part of the daily routine around here.
Of course when things go financially awry you turn to those who have the scratch, just as you go to those without the scratch when war breaks out. It is the bane of a free market society that the poor die in war and the rich hand over a bigger chunk of their income to the state. But it does get a tad creepy when it’s turned into a mandated, pass-the-hat rescue.
No segment of a purportedly free nation should be singled out to bear the burden for anything. Anything? What about the greater good? Hell, especially not the greater good. The “greater good” is always a dead end. Not giving a shit about the greater good is far safer. Trust me. Economic patriotism is bad mojo and has been for decades.
Listen, a lot of hyperbole has been thrown around about fascism these past five election cycles, but just for kicks, please check out how the Western hemisphere’s most successful megalomaniacs used class warfare to attack and then extricate property, wealth and station from its citizenry.
Going after the upper classes is good politics and an excellent way to consolidate power, but it is plain and simple bullshit.
And so is this: “Raising any tax rates on the wealthy puts undue burden on the job creators and thus is consequently felt by the working class.”
Please see the above rant about “not giving a shit” and apply it to the working class.
Business 101: There is no money in worrying about the help. This is not how General Electric or Exxon or even the vegan pizza joint on the lower east side made its bones. Exploiting and crushing the working stiff is the way to true profit.
Keynesian economics is certainly a fallacy worth ignoring, but as stated several times in this space and proven in the annals of history, throwing money at problems may be no long-term solution, but it is at the very least a short-term bandage. However, cutting taxes or lightening regulations on the wealthy has never led to economic growth. Ever. Look it up.
This is why when the mythmakers go around quoting Ronald Reagan, they ignore his several and varied tax hikes and measured approaches to dealing with entitlements. Of course Reagan was first a union leader and second a Democrat, long before he became Mr. Grand Old Party. You see, Reagan was foremost a politician and thus a damned fine bandwagon jumper. The Gipper knew a good cause cum racket, so there is some there-there, but hardly anything we can deem salient to this or any argument, economic or ideological.
And please stop this lionizing of Bill Clinton. Everyone has pretty much figured out how his administration, aided by Newt Gingrich and his phony revolution, lucked out. And a less ideological and better bandwagon jumper you will not find.
Not sure how we pull out of this one, kids, but it will happen. It always does. Parts of the electorate will suffer and others will prosper and then it will be okay for some and shitty for others. But know this: There isn’t a hoot in hell you’re getting out by listening to these nostalgia heads sell you yesterday’s garbage as some weird kind of enlightened and bold thinking.
It’s just a cause gone racket.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella.