There's a War Goin' on That the Poor Can't Win
It's been this way for a while, but finally we're seeing the massive obviousness of it all:
When it comes to cutting benefits for poor and middle-class seniors, or cutting the pay of our military personnel while forcing our veterans to pay more of their own health care costs — much of which likely resulted from illness due to their service in two long wars — what we hear from Washington elites is the great need for “shared sacrifice” to bring down the deficit. Yet, when debating the idea of allowing taxes on millionaires (and here it might be good to remember that two-thirds of the members of Congress are themselves millionaires) to return to what they were under Bill Clinton, it is all “damn the deficit we can’t let the wealthy suffer during this economic downturn!”
To be fair, this isn't the precise position of "all our political leaders", but it is in fact the pervading cultural norm among the power elite: the concerns of the wealthy are given much more attention than those of the middle class, and forget the poor. It is also the principle philosophy of a non-trivial number of individual elected officials who will go to the mat specifically to protect elite interests (Joementum, I'm lookin' at your jowls; Liebermania is just another word for being a sold-out hack).
It isn't this way all over the world. As we become more and more "like Brazil" in massive inequity and increasingly entrenched social underclass, the Brazillians are making steady progress in the opposite direction: decreasing inequality, lifting up more and more people into literacy and nurturing a small but growing middle class of entrepreneurs and social stake-holders. Estados Unidos is still a better place to live, sure, but if these trends continue...
The real fear here is that the trends in many places (the US, China, India, Russia) could foreshadow a new global equilibrium that ends up looking basically feudal in nature; a financial/corporate aristocracy lording it over a worldwide mass of serfs, with a thin slice of "creative class" artisans in the middle. It's ugly, but possible. Most elite members of society are increasingly international, less rooted in any particular state, and Corporations — the true multi-generational vehicles for wealth — have made their global perspective abundantly clear.
Update: I also like this mojo from the Sadlynaughts:
This country really is going to the dogs. And it’s being pushed in that direction by wealth disparity that is third-worldish in its propensity for beating down the psyches of the have-nots — only our national mythology of studiously denying that the vast majority of have-nots (including you!) are in fact never-wills prevents the whole thing from crumbling. That and the insidious creep throughout society over the past 40 years of the Randian philosophy of selfishness, rich people worship and the attendant calculated purging of empathy from the citizenry.
I feel compelled to belabor this point as someone who is in fact on his way to "making it" as they say (with any luck I'll go from one kind of class trator to another). Selfish Randian bullshit makes for bad parties and worse community. If that's the name of the game, what's the point of "success?".