5 September 2004
Something v. something
Debra Dickerson at Slate says that if we're going to pit one group against another, better class warfare than racial warfare:
Class conflict makes sense; it keeps the powerful from riding roughshod over senior citizens who can't retire from manual labor in the hot sun. The truth is, I have far more in common with the rich white man than I do with [a] poor black grandfather (who would never dare to park on private property in this neighborhood). A world of perfect harmony would be lovely, but until the rapture comes I'd rather blue-collar types of all races faced off against us "suits" than one race against the other. There is nothing logical, natural, or beneficial about a world organized by race the very concept is irrational. Any system divided along racial lines, implicitly or overtly, will be immoral, inefficient, and unstable. (Take, for example, poor whites' hatred of slaves, rather than of slavery, for depressing wages.)
Class conflict, on the other hand, is natural and rational. It brought us the minimum wage, OSHA, Social Security, the weekend, overtime, pensions, and the like. While none of those are unmitigated successes, a system organized along class lines acknowledges that capitalism doesn't police itself and that labor must have a voice it wasn't the capitalists who pushed for child labor laws and the eight-hour work day. Everybody loses when societal goods are distributed on the basis of race, even those in the front of the bus.
There are some mechanisms for correcting the excesses of the market, and all else being equal, I'd prefer to rely on them, but all else isn't always equal, and sticking it to Joe and Susan Sixpack and their 2.3 kids on the basis of philosophy strikes me as unnecessarily cruel.
On the other hand, the bumper sticker I saw yesterday "NO DEDUCTIBLES / NO COPAYS / NO INSURANCE COMPANIES / JUST HEALTH CARE" (I may have a couple of these out of sequence) strikes me as unnecessarily silly, and I rather think it would have carried more weight had it not been stuck on the back of a $30,000 truck.
(Via Outside the Beltway)Posted at 6:46 PM to Political Science Fiction