Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Some More Preliminary Thoughts

This'll be probably long and rambling, but I think a lot of it needs to be said...
There's a lot of noise about cultural issues in this country. This noise is coming almost exclusively from the rich. What none of the culture warriors are talking about is *Class*. I think these two items are related.

The people who are agitating most loudly both for and against Gay marriage are people in a demographically more affluent group. The Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannities and Bill O'reillys of this world are rich - new money rich, but they are rolling in dough. Similarly, the people who are for Gay marriage are also, generally speaking, rich. The Castro District in SF, Greenwich Village in New York, The Gay parts of Seattle, are all richer than average neighborhoods.

Pro-Choicer agitators are typically the older money brahmins (or their children) from places like the Upper East Side in NY, Beacon Hill and he richer parts of Cambridge, MA, and the richer Suburbs around DC. The agitators on the other side represent, and are financed by, rich people in the south and midwest.

Ever notice how neither side gains any meaningful ground in this debate, in terms of actual legislation? I believe this is deliberate.

So, let's do a little thought experiment. Let's say one side of the culture wars wins an absolute victory. I'll represent both sides for our purposes here.

So, abortion is outlawed nationally, except to save the life of the mother. Gay marriage is banned by constitutional amendment. Prayer in schools is authorized. Parole for prisoners becomes a thing of the past. Creationism is taught in public schools, on an equal footing with evolution. The whole cultural package is enacted, in a way that permanently changes things in such a way that overturning any of it is impossible.

What will Fox News advocate for then? What will the "conservatives" get all hot and bothered about?

Or, let's say the cultural "left" gets everything IT wants. Abortion is available to all women, and the Government will pay for it if women can't afford it. Gay marriage is enshrined in the constitution as utterly equal with hetero marriage, etc., and permanently. What will NPR be wringing its hands about then?

I think the "culture wars" are a way for rich people (whether they call themselves "liberal" or "Conservative") to make huge amounts of self-righteous noise in order to avoid addressing ECONOMICS. Namely, the huge and widening gap between the rich (whatever their politics) and the rest of us. The fact that the median wage buys a lot less for working people than in 1973. The fact that the minimum wage will buy less now than back in '73. The Democrats decided to abandon labor because the (socially leftish brahmin) rich can afford to give more, and getting labor organized and powerful isn't really a priority for them.

I say, start a party for the rest of us, and run candidates for CONGRESS as opposed to the presidency. This party would be for lower payroll taxes for most people, paid for by much, much higher taxes on the rich. The top tax rate during Eisenhower's presidency was 95%. That's not a misprint. Ninety-five percent.

This party would do everything possible to strengthen labor: No More "Right-to-work" shelters for autoplants in the south. Card-Check legislation. Support the unionization of Wal-Mart. Raise the minimum wage to, say, 10 dollars an hour.

This party would be more traditional than most Democrats on public policy questions like abortion and gay marriage: remember, working-class people, wherever they live, tend to be more socially conservative, generally speaking.

All this cultural stuff is rich people making noise to distract us from their fat, cushy, elite lives. SOMEBODY has to address the issues that are of ECONOMIC concern to the rest of us. Either that, or things will eventually (and pretty soon) start getting ugly.

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