It is important to see past the outrage over Romney’s 17th century aristocrat view of half of America. It is not just the Romney world view it is a world view that has been a hallmark of conservatism since the mid 1850s. Forget the Democrats and Republicans labels – there used to be liberals and conservatives in both parties. In the 1850s through the Civil War, the Jim Crow era and up until the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s the plantation owners and later the “decent business” community were the victims of the workers. This narrative of our country and culture is bizarre at one level, supplying endless fodder for political satire. On another level is has been the anchor around the necks of most Americans. Up until the Great Depression there were a few very wealthy men at the top, a small middle-class of mostly merchants and the rest of the country, proudly individualistic, but poor, made do the best they could. During this time, up to the present the elite at the top have always held a grudge against workers. With every increase in worker rights – safety regulation, minimum wage, work breaks and time for lunch, workers compensation for the injured – the elite has felt that the people who made their wealth possible were not grateful enough. Were not differential enough to their social and economic superiors. Paul Krugman gets into that here, Disdain for Workers
For the fact is that the modern Republican Party just doesn’t have much respect for people who work for other people, no matter how faithfully and well they do their jobs. All the party’s affection is reserved for “job creators,” a k a employers and investors. Leading figures in the party find it hard even to pretend to have any regard for ordinary working families — who, it goes without saying, make up the vast majority of Americans.
[ ]…Needless to say, the G.O.P.’s disdain for workers goes deeper than rhetoric. It’s deeply embedded in the party’s policy priorities. Mr. Romney’s remarks spoke to a widespread belief on the right that taxes on working Americans are, if anything, too low. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal famously described low-income workers whose wages fall below the income-tax threshold as “lucky duckies.”
That low income workers have it so good because their wages are so low they don’t have the tax burden of the wealthy. That is a lie in two ways. Those that live below the median income level pay a higher percentage of their income in various taxes than the wealthy. Wealth allows one to do less work or work that is less arduous. When people talk about winning the lottery they talk about how much easier that money will make their lives. You never hear a “hard working” CEO offer to trade places with a roofer for a few weeks. One day on a hot roof laying new shingles would probably kill Romney. The wealthy push buttons and move money around, nurses do work. The roofers and nurses are what Romney and his cabal of friends think of as the little people who owe Romney a debt for being a mover and shaker in the world of finance. That Romney buys this world view, having lived in a bubble his whole life, is not unexpected. That so many house holds who make below around the median is one of the weirdest and upside down aspects of American culture.
But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride.
In the eyes of those who share this vision, the wealthy deserve special treatment, and not just in the form of low taxes. They must also receive respect, indeed deference, at all times. That’s why even the slightest hint from the president that the rich might not be all that — that, say, some bankers may have behaved badly, or that even “job creators” depend on government-built infrastructure — elicits frantic cries that Mr. Obama is a socialist.
Now, such sentiments aren’t new; “Atlas Shrugged” was, after all, published in 1957. In the past, however, even Republican politicians who privately shared the elite’s contempt for the masses knew enough to keep it to themselves and managed to fake some appreciation for ordinary workers. At this point, however, the party’s contempt for the working class is apparently too complete, too pervasive to hide.
The point is that what people are now calling the Boca Moment wasn’t some trivial gaffe. It was a window into the true attitudes of what has become a party of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy, a party that considers the rest of us unworthy of even a pretense of respect.
I do feel obligated that some Americans with some education, work and luck manage to achieve the dream and still have some humility – ‘Tax Me More’ Says Wealthy Entrepreneur. We know that low taxes do not create jobs. The argument, despite the constant stream of bogus conservative numbers on taxes and deficits, is not about taxes, it is about this blind zealotry to gut the social safety net, gut education and create an economic class structure where the uppity workers know their place. Romney and the rest of the conservative sugar daddies club probably have no idea the resentments they have tapped into, which will never be forgotten, among their base of white high school graduates hourly wage earners. What working class whites really think about dependency and redistribution
On “dependency,” the study finds that large numbers of working class whites (46 percent) have received Social Security or disability payments over the last two years; more than a fifth have received food stamps; 19% have received unemployment.
Yet the study also finds that three quarters of working class whites believe poor people have become too dependent on government assistance. There’s obviously overlap there, which bears out what some have already pointed out — many of these voters simply won’t think Romney’s comments about the freeloading 47 percent, or about government “dependency” in general, are about them.
The elitist Republican leaders are not talking about me phenomenon has come up previously. This relatively recent article is one example – Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It. This is where psychology runs head first into the wall of political ideology and denial. Even though I have personal experience with this phenomenon from Republican relatives it still amazes me. These people whine about some nanny state talking point they heard on Fox News, but touch their Medicare, their VA benefits, the student loans they got for their kids and you might lose a hand. Its not their benefits they think are out of hand, it is those people, the people over there somewhere – the nebulous lazy undeserving other who is ruining it for us – the deserving. There is very little fraud involved with the social safety net – private sector corporations and banks are nowhere close to being able to make that claim. There is good news,
But the findings on “redistribution” are also revealing. White working class voters want to soak the rich, and they agree with key aspects of Obama’s views about capitalism and inequality.
Nearly two thirds of working class whites want to hike taxes on those over $1 million. More than half say one of our biggest problems is that we “don’t give everyone an equal chance in life.” Seventy-eight percent of them blame America’s economic problems on corporations moving jobs overseas and 69 percent on Wall Street making risky decisions.
In fairness, 69 percent also blame government regulation and 64 percent blame Obama’s policies. But as Molly Ball notes, there is clearly a strong strain of economic populism and a powerful skepticism about unfettered capitalism among them.
When one of these working class voters does something wrong at work they take the responsibility, pay the price, sometimes with the loss of that job. When one of Romney’s pals screws up they get a bail-out. America needed stimulus after conservative economic polices drove the economy off a cliff, Republicans objected after they had spent hundreds of billions to rebuild Iraq from their shock and awe. Now, the very same free spending conservatives like Paul Ryan express their daily faux outrage on the people added to the food stamp roles. Conservatives only start to care, or pretend they care about American workers when they can use it as an election issue. Just this week Republicans who whine about the lack of jobs killed another jobs bill, Veterans’ Jobs Bill Blocked in the Senate.