Agitate, America!: ‘Politics of Fear’ or ‘The Fright of the Billionaires’
By Nancy Churchill
A Progressive Visionary
Some of America’s billionaires are running scared because some lawmakers proposed a tiny financial transactions tax (FTT) of 0.02 percent on credit default swaps and other shady trades.
“Projected annual revenue is $150 billion per year, half … [going] towards deficit reduction and half … towards job promotion activities,” says Wikipedia of the tax.
But the rich see hoards of unwashed from the Social Welfare State coming after their stuff.
Many evoke the spectre of Hitler. In 2012, a supermarket mogul likened tax increase proposals to Hitler punishing the Jews, and the 66th richest person in the world compared it to Hitler invading Poland. These days another billionaire has weighed in, warning of Hitler’s return, and thinks the solution is “a million dollars in taxes [buys] a million votes” (because one person one vote is so — democratic!). A former US Secretary of Commerce billionaire spent $1 billion trying to “Fix the Debt,” mostly by coming after your Social Security and other so-called “entitlements.” Fortunately, his foundation foundered — fittingly, debt-ridden. Another billionaire attacks public pension funds (as if they’re responsible for America’s debt).
At salon.com, Dave Johnson says, “In one (more) example of billionaires rigging the free market for their own gain, a lawsuit alleges that the top executives of Apple, Google, Intel, LucasFilm, Pixar, Adobe and others conspired to set up a scheme to drive down the pay of executives, engineers and others. The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 100,000 employees and claims that around $9 billion was stolen from these employees in the 2000s.”
This isn’t the first time the rich have taken advantage of people, according to Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States [http://www.historyisaweapon.com/zinnapeopleshistory.html]. You may be surprised to learn in Chapter 3 that the ruling group, our Founders, in order to “bind … loyalty with something more powerful even than material advantage, … found, in the 1760s and 1770s, a wonderfully useful device…. the language of liberty and equality, which could unite just enough whites to fight a Revolution against England, without ending either slavery or inequality.”
So equality and liberty were merely useful devices. America really has always been more of a ruling hierarchy than it has been a democracy. Inequality leads to pathology. One class considers itself superior, and a culture of dread emerges — a superiority complex counterbalancing subconscious feelings of inadequacy. In short, the rich who are obsessed overcompensate for feelings of guilt and fear through bellicose manifestations of feigned bravado.
Noam Chomsky put it thus, “I think … it is … a recognition, at some level of the psyche, that if you’ve got your boot on somebody’s neck, there’s something wrong. And that the people you’re oppressing may rise up and defend themselves, and then you’re in trouble.”
I say, hey, billionaires, lighten up. This is much ado about nothing. We’re not Hitler, we’re not out to take your stuff or punish you.
We just think you can afford to level the playing field a tiny bit.
Nancy Churchill was raised in the D.R.C. (Congo), raced stock cars on short dirt tracks for 25 years, and is a proud, lifelong member of “We, the People.” She lives in Oregon, Ill.