Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Wealthcare:" Reviews of two books on Ayn Rand and her impact

The current era of Democratic governance has provoked a florid response on the right, ranging from the prosaic (routine denunciations of big spending and debt) to the overheated (fears of socialism) to the lunatic (the belief that Democrats plan to put the elderly to death). Amid this cacophony of rage and dread, there has emerged one anxiety that is an actual idea, and not a mere slogan or factual misapprehension. The idea is that the United States is divided into two classes--the hard-working productive elite, and the indolent masses leeching off their labor by means of confiscatory taxes and transfer programs.

You can find iterations of this worldview and this moral judgment everywhere on the right. Consider a few samples of the rhetoric. In an op-ed piece last spring, Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, called for conservatives to wage a "culture war" over capitalism. "Social Democrats are working to create a society where the majority are net recipients of the ‘sharing economy,'  " he wrote. "Advocates of free enterprise . . . have to declare that it is a moral issue to confiscate more income from the minority simply because the government can." Brooks identified the constituency for his beliefs as "the people who were doing the important things right--and who are now watching elected politicians reward those who did the important things wrong." Senator Jim DeMint echoed this analysis when he lamented that "there are two Americas but not the kind John Edwards was talking about. It's not so much the haves and the have-nots. It's those who are paying for government and those who are getting government. "


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2 comments:

byafi said...

You may well be missing an important point. Many people, not just those on the "right," believe that our government of Dems and Reps is selling us out for votes. (Why they are just now discovering this is a separate issue.)

What they have yet to realize is that government's primary tool is force backed by the threat of violence. Of course, this is why so many want government to "regulate" and control - those being controlled are allowed no choice.

The risk for politicians is that someone will convincingly point out that cooperation is a better model for human interaction than is coercion, and that while coercion may lead to free lunches in the short term, the longer term is a disaster.

We managed to eliminate chattel slavery in this country, though not very peacefully. The next step is to eliminate the serfdom that creates the classes you mention. It isn't just that some are paying for the government that is extorting their earnings to do it; it is that others are becoming dependents who can no longer contribute to creating the wealth we all need to live the kind of lives we want.

"Cooperation, not coercion."

Deborah Lake said...

I wish I were missing that point. There is no doubt that all but a few politicians are mere purchased shills for corporate interests. The only difference between Republicans and Democrats that I am able to observe is that Democrats may be slightly less willing to kill citizens outright by sending them to fight in wars.

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