The wealthy in America, where historic inequality is cresting after a thirty year process of labor union destruction, tax burdens shifted downward, and bought governance at the disposal of the rich and powerful, alternate their time between fluffy cushions on the highly celebrated Cloud Nine, the gated communities of Easy Street, and regular cameo appearances in The Life of Riley. That’s what happens when the bulk of the fruits of workers’ increasing productivity go to only one place: the top.
The 47% famously disparaged by Mitt Romney, routinely raked over the coals by Republican politicians and ‘thinkers’ and scolded by the Paul Ryans and Rand Pauls, and other progeny of fantasist cult pinup, and unavoidable doyenne of neo-feudalism Ayn Rand, as innately inferior, unproductive and mooching riff-raff, exist on a slightly less exalted and comfortable plane.
Behind this tale of two cities lies a seldom-noted reality: the economic elites largely owe their elevated digs to those whom they despise and oft demean. At the very least, this 47% are despised and demeaned by those who exclusively represent the interests of America’s rich and powerful, America’s ultra-conservatives and radical Republican Party.
A fair amount of this accumulated largesse is the result of decades of bottomed out taxes generous to America’s wealthy. Among the principal reasons those taxes could remain so miserly while government continued to function, is that Treasury financed government operations with surplus from the Social Security trust fund, a fund accumulated on the backs, yes, of the forty-seven percent.
The payroll taxes that built the trust fund exact a much greater portion from the incomes of the forty-seven percent than they do from those of the better off, Social Security payroll taxes capped presently at $117,000 annually. Income above it in a given year isn’t taxed.
Furthermore, it is the spending of the 47% that keeps the economy churning. More than 70% of the American economy is consumer driven, and it is the 47% who plow their salaries and wages back into the economy as soon as they receive them. Business owners and corporations, and industries of every kind depend upon it for their bountiful profits.
Indeed, even various forms of government assistance, from TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) to food stamps end up very quickly in the coffers of those who own and operate America’s businesses.
America’s wealthiest literally have more money than they know what to do with, and as we learned in the aftermath of the Republican recession, were throwing money into exotic financial products that were little more than casino bets, with no productive economic effect at all. They continue to do so, in one form or another.
Beyond that, it is the 47% who do the unsung, unglamorous and modestly compensated work that keeps the country functioning. Teachers, nurses, police officers, factory workers and retail workers all fall into this Republican-derided 47%, or, according to Mitt Romney, the 47% who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
This is the 47% who keep the airports running for the planes the affluent fly upon, build and maintain the highways they drive upon, and move their goods upon, teach their children in their private or public schools, risk their lives to save their homes when threatened by encroaching blazes, or who care for them when they are ill. Not to mention, those in the 47% serving them their food, cleaning their houses, and building them.
Republican representatives of the corporations and upper classes, may speak of these as the ones who have failed to lift themselves up, doing what John Boehner calls bottom of the ladder work, but if not for those who do such work as teaching children or treating the sick, or countless others, for the innate satisfaction the work provides, or simply to put the bread upon the family table, where would the fat and happy be? Their Republican water carriers seem to believe: just as fat and happy.
Despite all the blarney, and all the Right’s slavering over wealth and ownership, their reverence for and deification of the corporate, financial and business class as producers, despite the historically out of whack balance of labor and capital in the favor of capital, it is the 47% keeping this boat afloat. It is not the 47% who are the disposable, replaceable ones, rather those breathing the rarefied air of the upper economic percentiles.
Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and ilk, editors of the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Weekly Standard and innumerable tribunes of the rich and reactionary ought to be thanking the 47% for their sacrifices, their work ethic, worthy aspirations and laudable satisfactions at every opportunity, on behalf of their moneyed minders, rather than ripping them every chance they get, directly a la Mitt Romney, or in Ayn Rand doublespeak.