1 March 2006
A class war and nobody came
While it's of course a tragedy that Bill Gates has so much more money than some guy who pumps gas on the north side of Trenton, New Jersey, few people have volunteered for a tour of duty in the supposedly-inevitable class war. Whither this complacency? I think it may have something do with this:
[T]he gulf between the top 10% (or top 1%) and ... those below just isn't that big it's big in raw numbers but it's just not that big in terms of quality of life. I live in a $150,000 house (in the Midwest). Within 1 mile of my house are $2,000,000 houses, which I drive by every day, and $50,000 houses. I'm not sure what progressive cause I should be thinking as I drive by: "My God, how can I live in the presence of such a well groomed lawn?" or something? The knowledge that they can afford to fly more often than I can? They eat more steak? What? Ultimately, I think people aren't especially resentful of the superrich because there just aren't that many of them, and it just doesn't reallly matter whether they exist or not.
Then again, like wealth, the capacity for envy is not evenly distributed; some people feel it much more than others. And if you factor out envy, what's left for the class warriors? Discredited, or at least discreditable, Marxist musings; the dubious assumption that it's all a zero-sum game, that there are only so many dollars in the world, that handing Shaquille O'Neal twenty million of them in a year results in fewer cans of spinach at the food bank; the notion that when Jesus said "Feed my sheep," He was thinking that the proper way to do so was to render a great deal unto Caesar, that Caesar may have the capacity to operate the Department of Sheep-Feeding and support legions of minions therein.
Beyond that, there's that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" business. Some people, you may be sure, will believe to the end of their days that the pursuit is a fraud, that the race is rigged, and to prove it to you, they will point to the finish line and note that not everyone has yet arrived. The proper response: "Who put you in charge of the stopwatch?"
James Brown, the hardest-working man in show business, once sang "I don't want nobody to give me nothin' / Open up the door, I'll get it myself." So long as the door remains open, people will continue to get it themselves. A heck of a system, if you ask me.Posted at 8:57 AM to Political Science Fiction