The 99% Solution

The target isn’t “the rich”

October 29th 2011

 A few days ago, Michael Moore, the documentarian and author, wrote a piece for his blog entitled “Life Among the 1%”

Moore, who has gross income – or is it just revenues? – in the region of $50 million since 1989, qualifies as a one percenter.

Now somehow, in the heads of the apologists of the GOP, that means that the 99%ers are supposed to hate Michael Moore. The idea is that he’s an eeevil plutocrat who, true to his class, feels entitled to strip America of all her assets, giving nothing in return. An idle coupon clipper who feels his justification lies in his inherited wealth. A speculator who leaves millions in poverty so he can make untold millions jacking up the price of daily necessities for personal profit. Maybe he sends hundreds of lobbyists to persuade Congress not to pass laws that might impact insurance companies, such as a decent health care program, or to understand the profits of war make a few thousand dead American kids more than worth while.

Oh, wait. That doesn’t describe Michael Moore. He doesn’t do any of those things. In fact, between paying his taxes and giving his money to foundations or putting it into future movies, it turns out he isn’t even a one percenter in terms of net income. He lives in the same house he did in 1989, and he drives a ten year old car, and it’s pretty clear he didn’t put money into a makeover so he would look rich and powerful. In fact, about the only concession to wealth and fame he’s made is hiring personal security, because nutball right wingers keep trying to kill him or at least beat him up.

Well, ok, I can understand that. Just about any left winger on the web has tales of harassment and stalking by right wingers who think that lack of ability to respond in debate can be made up for with bullying and sometimes terrorism. No sane person would begrudge Moore a little cash to ensure that some courageous paragon of conservative family values doesn’t beat him up, or his kids, or his elderly parents.

But the thing is, even if Moore were keeping half a million for himself each year, putting him in the top 1%, the rest of us wouldn’t hate him.

Take Albert Pujols. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s destined for the Hall of Fame. He’s a great baseball player, popular, loved by his team’s fans and respected by everyone else. And he doubtlessly makes his team owner a mint in the process.

Now, I would question whether he’s really worth the money he gets paid. He gets more than a thousand times what a typical high school teacher gets, and somehow I find it hard to believe he contributes a thousand times as much to society as any decent high school teacher.

But I don’t hate him for it. Now, if I was to learn that he was using the money he was making to undermine the government, and sell America out to foreign interests, and throw people in jail for reasons that shouldn’t be crimes, then yes, I would resent him. I would resist him. If it was in my power, I would overthrow him.

I don’t know that Pujols does any of those things, but I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Money can have a corrosive effect on people, and maybe Pujols has to struggle with that. But lacking any evidence that it has made him socially destructive, I assume that he is not.

The issue people have with the top 1% isn’t that they are rich. Most of us would like to be rich. Or at least comfortable. It would be nice never to have to worry about meeting the rent or mortgage, or fretting over how to pay to get the kids through college, or struggling to keep the lights on. Most of us would be more than happy to settle for that.

And it used to be that most Americans COULD settle for that. That’s not the case now, and it’s because of what some of the 1% have done to ensure that they never have to work again or share the wealth with anyone.

The trouble isn’t that the 1% are rich. The trouble is that many of them cheat us in order to become richer without effort. That’s why there’s thousands of people facing psychotic cops in Oakland tonight, and unrest and confrontation in hundreds of American cities and towns, and thousands of other places around the world.

The top 1% cheat. They’ve won the game, and now they want to rig it so nobody else can even play the game, let alone win it. They own the casino, and are rigging the tables not so they win 53% of the time, but so they win 99% of the time. They don’t know where to stop, and justify their cheating by pointing out that all the other casino owners cheat even more.

Corporations provide a total of 4% of revenues to the government. Yet the laws have been changed to give them almost unlimited power to select who will be in government, and what their policies will be. They even write the bills for them. It came…

At our expense. That’s a cheat.

Of the entire national economic growth over the past 30 years, 90% went to the top 10%. Productivity more than doubled, and it wasn’t doubled by the top 10%. It was doubled by the lower 90%. They didn’t see their incomes double over that period. Indeed, incomes for most of us barely inched up 15%. While the top one percent saw theirs go up 275%. Worse, it’s a percentage of an income that was already eight times as high to begin with. Spread out evenly, everyone’s income would have gone up, in real dollars, about 80%. But we lost out. It came…

At our expense. That’s a cheat.

Draconian laws, parsed as populist, allow corporations to force contracts on people that waive any right to legal redress, furnishing instead arbitration panels selected by the corporation. You’ll even find such waivers in the “warranty registrations” for minor household appliances. The game is rigged. In the name of “tort reform” corporations stripped people of the right to sue, not because a toaster was peach-colored instead of tan, but because some corporation screwed up to save a couple of bucks and blinded your children and left them mentally incapable of caring for themselves. There is no longer any redress. It came…

At our expense. That’s a cheat.

Other laws make it nearly impossible to function without being tossed into the vast Gulag that is the American prison system. Downloaded a song that was made in 1937? Face a fine of $125,000 and five years in jail. Never mind that said song might have not sold a copy in 15 years. Monied interests pay private concerns to try and catch downloaders, and some of them aren’t above entrapment to do so. There’s big money to be made in busting the ‘guilty’. Life is good for bounty hunters on debts, back taxes, quoting news articles on the web, and so on. One outfit spent several very lucrative years dunning people with copyright violation claims, threatening to sue for millions, and settling out of court for thousands—against people who quote single sentences from a news story on the web! This encourages more laws, more private prisons, more prison labor industry—a vast slave network that destroys our freedoms and makes us afraid to say or do anything. They learned to control the American people by criminalizing everything. It came…

At our expense. That’s a cheat.

The Republicans swear openly to further sabotage the economy in hopes it will destroy the Obama presidency. They don’t even bother trying to hide it, and the public has noticed. Even as Faux News cheers that Obama’s positive ratings have dropped into the 40s, the Congressional GOP popularity ratings have dropped into single digits. They don’t care. They own the funding, they own the vote counting, they own the democracy. They don’t give a shit what the people think, because they don’t have to. What the people think doesn’t matter. It came…

At our expense. That’s a cheat.

The media are in full smear mode against the OWS demonstrations. In a ludicrous example of the type of journalism for which the Soviet Union was once reknowned, the Washington Post showed pictures, not of the Oakland cops firing tear-gas and rubber bullets and flashbang grendades at the crowd. They didn’t show the Iraq vet, felled by a bean-bag shotgun round, lying bloody faced on the ground. No, they showed a picture of an Oakland cop bending down to pet a kitten. Much of the mainstream media in America is suborned by the 1%. It’s a parody of our once-proud free press. It came…

At our expense. That’s a cheat.

The shambling toadies of this unelected elite like to pretend it’s class envy that drives the 99%. So it makes sense for them to assume that we should hate Michael Moore, or Albert Pujols.

But it’s not class envy. It’s class warfare. But it’s not against the rich.

It’s against the cheats.

It comes…

At the expense of the entitled class who have robbed us blind.

That’s justice.

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