Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Poor and content

Is rich, and rich enough, said Iago -- but who is ever content or allowed to be in this consumer and corporate culture?

Poor and content is rich and rich enough,
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor.
Good heaven, the souls of all my tribe defend
From jealousy!

Certainly not those with the most right to feel they have it all. According to a recent Fidelity Investments poll, More than four out of ten American millionaires say they do not feel rich. I certainly am one and yet I certainly don't. $7.5 million seems to be a threshold of some sort for feeling safe and secure but I have to smile at that level of innocence. The rich are nearly always insecure.

"The rich are in general slaves to fear and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel" - Tom Paine-

But whether I feel rich these days is not the real point. It's that, as our primordial Blogger said, the wealthy seek the protection of power and that usually involves suppressing the less than rich. What we see in the political market is selling that suppression while demanding libertarian license for those it favors.

For most Americans, the pleasure of having to put up with any part of their income being taxed at the top marginal rate is rare as a Ferrari in rural Louisiana or a Prius in Marbella, yet to the bias-for-hire folks like Lyin' Bill O'Reilly the income of the top few percent is arbitrarily close to the poverty line, even while $55,000 gross with a pension plan is a "lavish" life if one is a Wisconsin teacher and Union Member.

O'Reilly, of course makes about $10 million in salary and gets about $50K for speaking appearances. In other words he earns about as much as a Wisconsin teacher does in a year for an evening telling his minions Mrs. Jones of the Green Bay school system is a plutocrat who hardly has to work and a millstone around our privileged necks.

Hannity, I read recently, signed a hundred million dollar contract and while some union heads make a lot and maybe too much, they represent American workers and can be fired by American workers. Just who the hell does the Fox crew represent other than those who make that kind of money look like chump change -- the poor souls. We can't fire Fox and we can't fire the Koch Brothers or the Wall Street tycoons any more than we can get those trillion dollar corporations headquartered in the Caymans to trickle anything down to us.

As the man said, it's that 'content' part that's so elusive. I'm sure that folks like Cheney and the rest of the ascetics at Halliburton think that they don't have enough and of course no corporation would survive if it decided that filthy rich is rich enough. That's the basis of Capitalism and the basis of the need to set rules for it. It's all about perspective and somehow that stratospheric perspective has been brought down not only to the bourgeois bedroom communities of America, but to the Bayous of Louisiana and the farms of Illinois. It's a triumph of consumerism like selling million dollar homes to the unemployed; buy it and the dream will come. It will, my fellow Americans, It will come to the bank and the Repo man, but not for you.

The backbone of Consumerism and the almost tragic flaw of wealth is just that human weakness of always looking longingly upwards and believing that glittering life could be yours if only it weren't for regulation and taxes on the top 1% whose yacht tenders cost more than your house and whose corporations pay little or no taxes at all. All is advertising in our new world and all of advertising is an attempt to create dissatisfaction in everyone; no matter what their homes, cars, boats, clothes, jobs, bodies and anything else might be, if money can be spent on improving them, Mammon is going to make sure you hate each and every one of them in the hopes that you'll go into debt reaching for the brass ring they keep just beyond your grasp. But it's not just the fatuous expectation, it's the ability to make people act against their own interests, to make scapegoats of themselves, to turn against those who have less instead of those who are keeping you down: the ability to turn our private frustrations into the shackles the plutocracy needs us to wear.

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