Ross Rambles: The blindness of the comfortable

Friday, April 15, 2016

In a column published in the April 13 Chronicle Times, Kathleen Parker informed readers that she is nervous about Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism.

She states, "The striving for greater equality is always a proper operating principle, but what Sanders is aiming for without saying so is equal outcomes. The imposition of equality by third parties never works very well and inevitably carries the unwelcome penalty of less freedom."

She adds that with taxes chiseling away at income, "... where goes the incentive for work?"

Parker has a point. I do not favor pure socialism in which all business activity becomes a function of government, nor even the "democratic socialism" model of some European countries that Sanders favors, in which taxes at the highest incomes can reach a confiscatory 90 percent or more.

Where I disagree with Parker is in her statement, "... that more people are doing less well -- and the middle class has suffered -- means there's work to do, but it doesn't necessarily require radical restructuring."

Technological advances in manufacturing, agriculture and construction create greater productivity of labor, which should create greater overall wealth in society, but for several decades, the industrialized world, including America, is becoming more and more like the third world where the rich few grow richer, the middle class shrinks and the poor grow poorer.

Without saying so, this is what the ruling class wants, instinctively, maybe even subconsciously. Without radical restructuring, this is the course we're on.

Despite contrasting rhetorical posturing of establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats, they all strive to maintain the status quo, which means policies that: suppress the cost of labor, minimize the portion of the cost paid by the wealthy for society's operation and preserve permanent dynastic wealth lasting from generation to generation. (I'm not talking about farms or small to moderate size family businesses, but rather major companies or major accumulations of cash or stocks.)

As noted in my March 25 column, a matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump means preserving the status quo. Describing Trump as an instrument for preserving the status quo might seem contrary to the common wisdom, but too much is made of his blustering, obnoxious style and not enough of the fact that he is obviously a billionaire preservationist.

As in the totalitarian society described by George Orwell in his novel, "1984," the ruling class uses constant warfare and the threat of antisocial forces within the country to manipulate the populace through fear. Even Sanders plays along with part of this strategy, promising to fight the foreign faction we are currently fighting, who will eventually be replaced by a fresh and even scarier group of supervillains.

Let me interject that threats to our country from cyber attack, or the use of a dirty bomb, or even explosion of an actual atomic device are real dangers that deserve our vigilance, but dropping bombs on one of the many competing factions that might try to carry out such destruction is not an effective way to deal with the danger.

We are willing to spend more on military hardware and prisons while our infrastructure crumbles, debt grows and poverty deepens.

Millions of Americans feel a desperation that Kathleen Parker fails to understand.