Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world

12/21/2008

They Conquered the Poor. Now to Enslave the Middle Class.

Filed under: General,Society — Dangerous Dan @ 10:50 pm

One of the devious things about government welfare is that it tends to enslave those receiving it.  This is so for individuals as well as for companies (which is one of my worries about the bailout nonsense, but at least the financial clout of companies better enables them to control politicians as opposed to the converse).  During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt embarked on a massive expansion of the federal government that included instituting numerous work programs, welfare, taxes, anti-business measures, etc., all in the name of protecting the little guy.  We now realize that the New Deal programs actually prolonged and deepened the Depression (that FDR is the one who made it "Great") and thus they did nothing to actually help the little guy.  But the actual result is irrelevant.  The point of it all is that it seemed to be helping, that Roosevelt and the Democrats seemed to be looking out for the interests of the lower class, that the government seemed to be taking actions on their behalf.  In the game of politics, reality plays second fiddle to appearances.

While Roosevelt spoke nobly about assisting those in need, one of the insidious purposes behind his measures was creating a dependent voting bloc.  He and his advisers were keenly aware that by doling out government assistance to the lower class, the lower class would in turn become dependent on the government and, more specifically, on the political party that had bestowed the favors on them, kept the favors coming, and promised ever more in the future.  Roosevelt and the Democratic party created a group of voters whose votes were dependable because those voters were dependent on the Democrats.  In short, the Democrats enslaved them, not with sticks, but with carrots.  And since the 1930's, the Dems have defended all manner of failing, inefficient, and/or destructive programs in the name of giving assistance to the lower class – assistance they claim is necessary if the poor are to have any hope of surviving or of mere subsistence, let alone have hope of any kind of success.  Despite the falsity of such a notion and despite that the programs far more often do more harm than good to those whom the programs ostensibly aim to help, the programs persist.  Not because they actually help, but because they appear to help, and it seems like the Democrats are looking out for the interests of the lower class by supporting them.

As time goes on, the liberals and so-called progressives need do even less for the poor.  They must only concentrate on appearances.  The lower class has become a dependable enough voting bloc that the Democrats have to do very little for them in order to keep their votes; they just have to make enough noise about helping them to keep them favoring the left.  The Republicans on the other hand, have trouble capturing their votes on anything other than values since it's damn difficult to convince people that receiving less of what they already get for nothing is actually in their best interests.  Increasingly, Republicans have become less conservative and less Reaganite and have sought to shower gifts from the government larder on the lower class and Bush even dubbed it compassionate conservatism.  Other than this being wrongheaded for the above reasons, it was also a politically losing proposition as the Democrats created and own this game and can easily outplay the Republicans at it on reputation alone.

Having conquered the lower class, though, it seems the liberals are finally now ready to move on to their next victims: the middle class.  To be fair, volleys have been fired at this class for awhile, but the full assault looks to be in the offing.  Obama has appointed Joe Biden to be a "working families czar" who will head the White House Task Force on Working Families.  The Task Force (c'mon, 'task force'?) is… ummm… tasked with "raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America."  First, this is a classic example of political terminology that is practically focus group-driven.  'Working families' sounds nice.  Everybody likes working families.  Though if we apply a few moments of thought to it, the term is empty since ANY family with a working member could be termed a working family and so it's uselessly broad.  At any rate, the middle class will now find itself under assault with carrots (I believe Jonah Goldberg would refer to this as 'smiley-face fascism').  The odd thing about this is that the middle class typically doesn't need help nor want it.  This is a class that has achieved and earned where it is, seeks to do better, and would just as well be left alone.  This is a class that has also traditionally been a hindrance to centralized government in any society.  Historically, in most places, the upper class is wealthy enough to resist threats put to it by the government, is in thrall to state beneficence, or is the same as the power structure.  The lower class in these places is too weak, too uneducated, and/or too disconnected to resist.  The middle class, though, is wealthy enough, smart enough, and important enough to resist too much restrictive government encroachment.  Not being part of the power structure, it also has little interest in preserving it for its own sake.  Thus, in the U.S. at least, it must be conquered in such a way it doesn't realize it's happening.

How?

Obama has set up several key goals for the task force, including expanding education and training; improving work and family balance; a focus on labor standards, including workplace safety; and protecting working-family incomes and retirement security.

These sound like nice goals, but that's the problem.  These aren't government responsibilities and the measures instituted are likely to be ineffective, inefficient, and/or destructive (most will certainly be anti-business and, like most pro-employee measures, anti-employee as a consequence).  But again, reality is beside the point.  All that matters is that the programs seem to work, that they seem to be helping, that the Democrats seem to care about middle class families.  It's the appearances that matter.  Soon, many of these middle class families will become dependent on the measures and unwilling to go without them.  They will also vote for the party which grants them the favors of the state, will keep them coming, and which promises more in the future.  The middle class will be have been conquered and enslaved as a captive voting bloc of the Democratic party, just as the lower class was before it.  The upper class will be irrelevant by this point.

It's hard to resist policies that sound good.  Conservatives and libertarians, though, need to make the case that sounding good is all these policies amount to.  When the cost is assessed, most Americans can and should be repelled by the assault on the middle class.  Nothing comes free and what Obama seeks will cost money, jobs, power, and freedoms.  In future posts (assuming I'll have time), I'll argue this is so for the various middle class "benefits" here being proposed.

2 Comments »

  1. Nothing more needs to be said than, BRAVO. Anyone with even the slightest inteligence and widom must realize the veracity outlined here. Lemmings, take note . . .

    Comment by Jay Ford — 12/22/2008 @ 10:41 am

  2. I’m not sure the assault can be stopped! The folks of the twenties could have been naive but this greater deppresion seems very engineered and Orwellian! I think it will be permanent and we will have a total dictatorship by January of 2010! 234 years is not long enough to have given our experiment a chance! LETS UPHOLD IT AT ALL COSTS!

    Comment by Jonathan Kamps — 7/13/2009 @ 1:10 pm

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