Morally Repugnant Elite

I was reading an article from 1994 on Haiti’s “Morally Repugnant Elite” and was stopped cold by the first paragraph:
“Haiti’s tiny upper class, the 1 percent of the population that hogs half the nation’s income, is referred to by American diplomats in Port-au-Prince as ‘MREs’, short for ‘morally repugnant elites’.”

The notion, in 1994, that one per cent of a nation could control half a nation’s income was so objectionable as to be morally repugnant. Yet now the entire world is that way. Worse than that, even. One percent of the world now has more money than the other 99%. Indeed, sixty two people, combined, are now richer than the several billion of the poorest half of the population of the world put together. Haiti, as appalling as it was in 1994, had a more equitable balance of income than the entire world has today. The rich keep getting richer, hogging, as the article says, half the world’s income, with no sign their share will not keep growing. There is money being made, but less and less people are seeing any of it.

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Making fun of poor people on Black Friday

It’s been pointed out that Black Friday is the only day of the year that lower income families can afford to buy household items otherwise beyond their means. I think there’s an element of class prejudice in our condemnation and satire of Black Friday shoppers. After all, it’s not the upper class and two per centers cramming into Walmart, and you don’t see all those professionals without kids lining up to be the first in at Target. We’re just keeping alive the fine old tradition of making fun of everything poor people do.

You can’t be a democratic socialist and think you’re better than the working class. But that is the problem when Progressives have the highest income level of any American political orientation. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed Occupying Wall Street a couple years ago had incomes that qualifed them as wealthy, one third had post-graduate degrees, and the vast majority were white. Rather than reflecting the working class, they were much were much reflective of the American upper class. Those condemning ‘Murica tend to be the very thing they hate. If they weren’t so overpaid, there wouldn’t be so many of the less fortunate acting crazy at Walmart on Black Friday. Shopping at Whole Foods is a far more destructive act than fighting over a microwave at Walmart.

If you make good money now, and live comfortably, you are probably in the top fifth of American Income earners. That makes you part of the problem. Just ask Bernie Sanders.


The disappearing Middle Class


From the “Harper’s Index” in the September 2012 Harper’s Magazine….

Percentage change since 1970 of the share of metropolitan American families residing in affluent neighborhoods: +121

Residing in poor neighborhoods: +108

Residing in Middle Class neighborhoods:  -34

The math there is just brutal. There are more than twice as many–almost two and a half times as many–affluent households now than there were in 1970. There are over twice as many poor households as they were ion 1970. And the number of middle class households is down a whole third. If you consider that the total household wealth money supply has been fairly fixed over that time, you can see how this happened.  The upper class has increased their share by taking it from the middle class. Their increased wealth didn’t come out of nothing. It’s not like there was a Gold Rush that increased the money supply several fold over night. Nope. It’s just that the salary structure and profit taking and were fundamentally altered so that most of that cash went to the rich and upper middle classes (who are now the lowest rung of the affluent  class.) They’ve locked in this bias, too–when the recession hit, that they themselves caused, the upper class–the top 20%–suffered almost not at all. All the pain was born by the middle and lower classes, especially the middle class, who have been so stripped of cash that they can no longer even afford to be middle class. That’s what has made this downturn so devastating, and why the middle class can’t seem to recover: there’s no money for us. Almost all of the benefits of the recovery have gone to the top twenty percent.  The redistribution of wealth in this country has been profound…one of the greatest economic shifts in our history. The recession made that gulf even wider,and hardened it.,.and endlessness of the recession has only continued that process. There can’t be a reversal of this trend for a generation or two. The middle class of even twenty years ago will not regain their position, not in their lifetimes. Our best years are long behind us. So we’ve adapted. We live poorer, spend less. We live in a totally separate world from the top twenty. The businesses that succeed nowadays are ones that cater to the twenty percent. Businesses that cater to the middle class fail.

I don’t see a way out. We’ve lost the class war. Got our asses whipped before we even realized that there was a class war.