02 October 2011

'The wealthy are not the enemy.' Are they our masters?

Michael P. Roarke, an East Greenbush businessman, never identifies himself as a Tea Partier or even a Republican in his letter to the Albany Times Union, which was published Saturday, but he seems to express the prevailing viewpoint in those groups in stark, arrogant terms. "I resent the vilification of the rich," he writes, accusing the newspaper of the practice. He quickly explains that he doesn't consider himself rich, but wants to become rich. He knows the rich as his clients, and in his experience they all work long hours and are very careful with their money. But he soon shifts, perhaps inevitably and perhaps unconsciously, from a defense of "the rich" (many of whom, after all, actually support the policies he opposes) to a vindication of his own current class of small businessmen. As one of that class, he blames politics and government for the uncertainty that has inhibited economic recovery.

I stand with my fellow small business colleagues, the backbone of this nation, those who employ a few to a few dozen fine employees: Washington has terrified us with its profligate spending, reckless deficits and inability to make small adjustments to save our social promises. Only a return to reasonable spending (19 to 20 percent of GDP) will give us confidence to hire again.
It is hard to work all your life and attain some measure of success and then watch the tomatoes fly over your head and hit the business owner a little further up the line. Am I next?Times Union, please be careful with your rhetoric. You need the upper 20 percent. A lot.

Roarke sees himself on the border of small business and rich. That means he sees himself as the "backbone of this nation" and approximately part of the "upper 20 percent" that the newspaper, and by implication the rest of us proles, "need ... A lot." He trembles in terror of Washington spending, which he attributes elsewhere in his letter to "a mere distribution of income." Were Washington spending all that money on war or fighting terrorism, he claims, the rich "would be first in line to support new revenues." But he forgets that the nation has been "at war" for a decade -- unless he intends to dispute the legitimacy or necessity of the War on Terror -- and in that time there has been no such rush to contribute. Again, when there have been appeals for the rich to give more, they tend to come from people far richer than Roarke, those whom he writes to defend.

I won't dispute Roarke's feeling of terror, but I will say it makes me wonder how he ever came close to success in his trade, given his obvious risk-averse attitude. However, I will dispute his arrogant self-regard, his description of himself as "the backbone of the nation" when he reveals in the very next clause that the backbone itself has a backbone, its "fine employees" whom Roarke presumably "needs...a lot." If the rest of us must modify our policies due to our dependence on Roarke and his "small business colleagues," than how might their dependence on their fine employees oblige them to modify their demands upon society? People like Roarke seem never to consider this question, on the assumption that, so long as the jobs are theirs to give, dependence is a one-way street and gratitude a unilateral obligation. Today, they act as if their power to hire, and our presumed need for them to do so, entitles them to dictate the nation's economic and social policies.  Perhaps he believes that society's dependence on small businesses and their wealthy clients is part of the natural order of things -- but when many depend on a few to give them the tools to earn their livings, and the few presume to dictate the terms of the many's living, that sounds like a job for politics if politics has any meaning. Roarke may think he has an unbeatable argument against excessive government, but he may also have made a case against entrusting the nation's recovery to people like him.


Anonymous said...

What, exactly, does the government's spending have to do with his hiring people? This is just further evidence of the fear/paranoia and outright stupidity of a certain class of Americans.

Arrogant dirtclods like him see himself and his filthy ilk as "the backbone" of this nation, but that FACT is, the backbone of this nation are the working class, not the employer class. It would serve him right if his employees read this tripe and everyone of them quit.

I, for one, am so sick and tired of the condension coming from dolts like this. The only thing people like him "merit" is a firm, steel-toes boot to the crotch.

It is truly in the best interest of the working class people of this nation to band together in one national labor union - beyond the control of small-minded criminals and arrogant dirtclods alike. That is the ONLY way the working class of this country will ever get a fair deal.

Anonymous said...

Let's put this in terms even dirtclods should be able to understand. Are predators the natural enemy of herbivores? Corporatists are predators. The working class is their prey. They may not kill and eat us, but they exploit us for their own benefit.

There is a reason predators tend to prey on the weakest and most helpless of the herd animals they hunt. It is because they are lazy. It is far easier to hunt and kill the injured, the young and the infirm than it is to chase down, tackle and slaughter a healthy beast in it's prime.

As predators are, corporatists are lazy. It is far easier for them to "make a killing" (in the short term) by cutting costs and laying off members of the labor class than by putting in the effort to increase market share by creating new products or services or by vastly improving their current product(s) and/or service(s).

Like their counterparts in nature, corporatists have no plan for long term growth. No sustainable model. Their only motivation is next quarter's profits. It is time for the labor class to consolidate and present a unified front to the capitalist predators. It is time we stopped being prey. If that means stampeding the predators out of existence, so be it. It is time we flexed OUR muscles and made them understand - this is either a symbiotic relationship and WE ALL profit, or we eliminate them completely and replace them with a government (by, of and for US) who will accede to our demands. It is time we made the corporatists understand, it is THEY who are replaceable.