Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Grinch On Thanksgiving

Via Mark Kleiman at The Reality Based Community, there is a brief discussion of economist Robert Frank's commentary in today's NYT, Sometimes, a Tax Cut for the Wealthy Can Hurt the Wealthy. Frank outlines the corrosive effect that tax cuts have had on the country as a community, reducing our overall welfare, both rich and poor. While not precisely on point, I am somehow reminded of H.G. Wells' dystonia described in The Time Machine:
The Upper-world people might once have been the favoured aristocracy, and the Morlocks their mechanical servants: but that had long since passed away. The two species that had resulted from the evolution of man were sliding down towards, or had already arrived at, an altogether new relationship. The Eloi, like the Carolingian kings, had decayed to a mere beautiful futility. They still possessed the earth on sufferance: since the Morlocks, subterranean for innumerable generations, had come at last to find the daylit surface intolerable. And the Morlocks made their garments, I inferred, and maintained them in their habitual needs, perhaps through the survival of an old habit of service. They did it as a standing horse paws with his foot, or as a man enjoys killing animals in sport: because ancient and departed necessities had impressed it on the organism. But, clearly, the old order was already in part reversed. The Nemesis of the delicate ones was creeping on apace. Ages ago, thousands of generations ago, man had thrust his brother man out of the ease and the sunshine. And now that brother was coming back changed! Already the Eloi had begun to learn one old lesson anew. They were becoming reacquainted with Fear. And suddenly there came into my head the memory of the meat I had seen in the Under-world. It seemed odd how it floated into my mind: not stirred up as it were by the current of my meditations, but coming in almost like a question from outside. I tried to recall the form of it. I had a vague sense of something familiar, but I could not tell what it was at the time.
There is an unsettling feeling about in the country this Thanksgiving.

We're involved in a foreign war fought by a military drawn primarily from the lower economic classes of our society. At the top levels, the war is commanded primarily by those who have never served in the military and whose sons and daughters are unlikely to ever serve.

The industries that have traditionally lead this country to its position of dominance in the world economy are failing. As they fail, they default on the pension and health care expectations upon which their workers, both past and present, had designed their lives.

The income gap between the ultra-rich, the rich, and then everyone else, continues to widen. There is no longer a sense that Americans still have the implicit assumption of previous generations that their offspring would be more prosperous than they were.

Certainly there are reasons for these trends that cannot be laid at the door of any political party. Technology has reduced barriers to trade. This, in turn, has sharpened both the pace and the intensity of economic competition. Yet, the policies of the current administration have only made things worse.

A foreign war, whether rightly or wrongly launched, is being incompetently conducted. Federal budget deficits, fueled by tax cuts that flow primarily to the rich and ultra-rich, threaten to undermine our competitive position. Access to quality education, both at the secondary and college level, traditionally a stepping stone to a better life, is becoming more limited. The poor and the middle class are, justifiably, uneasy about their ability to continue to afford adequate health care.

In American historical mythology, the Thanksgiving table was a communal table. While certainly never really true, the myth served a valuable purpose. By celebrating the ideal of America as a community, it strengthened that community.

In a basic and fundamental way, the policies of the current administration, and their knavish and foolish followers, are profoundly anti-American.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic? Interestingly enough, how you see life is actually a component in how it will turn out for you"-Offra Gerstein.

I love that quote. Sort of fits you to a T.

Anonymous said...

You don't you have anything better to do on Thanksgiving?

Allen said...

Why is the previous poster complaining about what you do on's your time, not their's. Portable Players

Blue Cross of California said...

Affordable adequate health care is something we all want as we are in a major health care crisis. I hope one day we can receive affordable coverage.