How about them political elites, huh? Five million bucks for
Clinton's wedding, 15K just to rent the air-conditioned shitters -- huge
chrome and glass babies with hot water and everything. No gas masks and
waxy little squares of toilet paper for those guys.
Yes, it looks big time from the cheap seats. But the truth is that
when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the
dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington's
political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as
the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not
work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their
income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which
ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling
class does not work at all.
Moneywise, Washington's political class is richer than the working
class by the same orders of magnitude as the ruling class is richer than
the political class. This gives the political class something to aim
for. To that end, they have adopted the ruling elite's behaviors, tastes
and lifestyles, with an eye on becoming members. Moreover, it is a
molting process that begins with the right university and connections,
and culminates in flying off to Washington with the rest of your
generation's most privileged and ambitious young moths.
enough dough to at least fake it until they make it. Fifty-one of the
100 members of the US Senate are at the very least millionaires --
probably more than that, since multi-million million dollar residences
and estates are exempt from the official tally. For instance in the
House, Nancy Pelosi's net worth is either $13 million, or $92 million,
depending upon who is counting. Why they bother to shave such large
numbers is a mystery. Thirteen million, ninety two million, the
difference is not gonna change our opinion of Nancy. Our opinion being
that the broad is loaded. More than loaded. The comparatively poor
members of Congress, like Barney Frank, are near millionaires. His
publicly declared net worth is $976,000. For the life of me, I cannot
see how they get by.
Along with the habits, the political class adopts the ruling
social canon and presumptions, especially the one most necessary for
acceptance: That the public has the collective intelligence of a
chicken. OK, so it may be very hard to disprove that at the moment, but
we must maintain at least some egalitarian semblance here. Anyway, as a
group, the political elites think, look and act alike, and act toward
their own interests. That makes them a class.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
Screw the proles, just count the money
This political class stands between all of us down here and the
minority in the ruling class waaaaaay up there, wherever the hell up
there is. No use to squint. You can't see it from where we are. That
comes in mighty handy in denying the existence of a ruling class.
On the other hand, you do not need to see an egg-sucking dog in
action to know what to expect -- or not to expect. The track record of
the political class is an open book. As the layer of millionaires
buffering the elites who pay for their campaigns, they've done their
jobs. They approved the Bush administration's massive tax cut for the
rich. They dropped the per-child tax credit for families with incomes
less than $20,000. They "reformed" prescription drugs right out of
Medicare. They reformed health care into hundreds of billions of
increased profits for the insurance industry.
However, the American political class' finest moment came in
September 2008 when the financial greed machinery of American investment
houses went tits up. The Republican and Democratic parties, major
corporations, and manufacturers of US opinion came together in one of
the greater bipartisan efforts in modern US history. There was nothing
to do, they all agreed, but buy up $700 billion in "toxic asset"
investments. "Otherwise," they prophesied, the world would end. Meaning
that the ongoing national Ponzi scheme they have always sold to the
American people as the US economy, would finally crash.
And in case there were any skeptics out there among the unwashed,
public was reminded just how much they stood to lose -- which was
everything. Deep in the boiler room, the Goldman Sachs black bag crew
had wired up the "economy" with enough explosive "financial instruments"
to take out every working mook's home, or retirement savings, which the
medical industry was already sucking up at an alarming rate. Something
had to be done before the health care industry got it all, and repo the
Yessiree, it was gonna be a "systemic collapse," by god, and if you
needed proof, just look at the way both George Bush and Barack Obama
agreed that some American corporations were too big to let sink,
therefore it was time for the public to start bailing out the boat.
Meanwhile, the royal economists were unanimous in that this "rescue" was
going to require another 10 trillion bucks somewhere down the pike -- a
very short pike. So it must all be damned serious and we gotta do this
thing. Right folks?
In an unusual display of common sense, the American public said
"Bullshit," by margins of three or four to one, depending upon region.
That did not bother political and economic elites much. What the fuck do
the proles know anyway?
Then, in midstream, the political and economic owning classes
switched horses, after realizing there was more gravy for the kingpins
in buying up banks and big industries. It was unconstitutional, but what
the hell, that's what Supreme Courts are for. The proles mumbled and
peered into their TV sets for explanations that never came.
Of course, partisan opposition being what it is these days -- a
blood-soaked ditch of snarling hyenas -- Obama's election meant the GOP
needed to denounce the new Democratic president for display purposes. Or
at least shit in the Oval Office, and then blame him. So most
Republicans holding office in 2008 were forced to argue publicly against
"troubled asset relief," "stimulus packages," and the huge bailouts.
Besides, somebody had to unfurl the motley banner of a "self balancing
free market," at least widely enough for the GOP to hide behind in the
back room where the real deals are always cut. The place where the
weapons companies propose systems, using congressional representatives
and generals as sales reps. Where it is understood that, as John Kenneth
Galbraith pointed out near the end of his life, when it was safe to
tell the truth, "stockholders are just appendages, someone to hold the
bag for the corporations, and stocks are just gambling chips for hedge
funds and Wall Street," and for the suckers who think they can actually
outwit High Frequency Trading -- a.k.a. High Speed Fraud. (Thanks to
reader Brent B. for sending me that one).
Ah, but I have digressed. What else is new? The main thing is that
the smoke has now cleared, the money is in ruling class coffers, and a
spin the bottle game for a few prosecutions is underway to entertain the
crowd for the next few years. Public burnings in the national town
square of media always draw a crowd.
Bwaaaaaa! Obama won't let us play
Fortunately, for both parties, there is no such thing as an
political memory. That Lindsay Lohan dated fellow rehab client,
snowboarder Riley Giles, yes, that can be remembered. That the
Republicans signed off on similar, if smaller giveaways under Pappy Bush
and Clinton -- well, that may as well be ancient Egyptian history. So
is the fact that the both parties forced banks to make high rate home
loans to people who people who did not qualify, because the inflated
home values during the expanding bubble would make billions for big
investors who knew when to get out. Should they stay too long at the
fair and go bust, they would set up the howl of "too big to fail." The
administration, which has no more a clue to what makes the economy tick,
would then rush them pallets of money. That's what a banker calls a
win-win situation: when the banker holds both ends of a winning deal.
Meanwhile, elite Republicans still needed a beef with the new black
guy on the block who had just kicked their ass and was still very
popular at the time. The best they could come up with on the bailouts
was that they had been allowed too little input. "Obama won't let us
play with him. Bwaaaaaa!" A smokescreen of course, since he was doing
exactly what they would have done, handing Republican bankers every bit
of money the people had and a helluva lot they didn't have, but could
make payments on for the next, oh, 100 years or until the final
miserable, smoking collapse, whichever comes first.
In the end though, nobody in Washington disputed the ruling class's
right to dictate policy. After all, the political class agreed with the
ruling class's major premise: The public does not know shit, never has,
never will. Also that it is best not to get the public too riled up, not
because the public has any power (power is money in America and the
elites have it all now), but because elected officials would have to
answer brainless questions from people such as Tea Partiers. Or Ron Paul
Howard, won't you please come home
America has always had a ruling class, and it has always
the world that it doesn't. But at least the ruling class of the past was
interesting and varied, because diverse sorts of Americans were getting
You had Texas wildcatters in the "oil bidness." You had Southern
cotton and tobacco aristocrats guzzling bourbon, fondling their stock
portfolios and their black maids. You had industrialists and California
and Florida real estate hotwires, Boston Brahmins and New York
financiers. There was the bootlegginç g inside stock trader Joseph P.
Kennedy, not to mention Prescott Bush moving financial assets around for
the Nazis during WW II. They were products of varied educations, or in
some cases, no education. They came from many regions, back when America
still had distinct cultural regions, before it was completely
homogenized and stratified for maximum capitalist efficiency.
Whatever they may have been, they were seldom dull. I would love to
have known Howard Hughes, a man who could direct a film, and build the
largest aircraft ever built, the 200-ton, all-wood Spruce Goose, not to
mention the busty Jane Russell's underwire bra. Stop and consider Bill
Gates and the other colorless puds of today. Almost makes you miss the
Think Tony Hayward gives a shit?
You hear it all the time these days: The top one percent of
own more wealth than the bottom 45% of the rest of Americans combined.
I have seldom met an American who thought this is a good thing, and
seldom met one who understood how the ruling class got so rich. Simply
put, it was through constant cultivation of bigger and more labyrinthine
government, creating legal and technical complexities to sluice money
nationally and globally in their direction, and to cover their asses in
the process. The results are such things as 3,000 page health care bills
(defining which corporate elites get which parts of the cake), or the
2,000-page NAFTA and its 9,000 tariff product codes.
Once the public was buried in such a maelstrom of legal paperwork,
computer transactions, modeling, etc., it was easy to argue that the
world had become so complex that the skills and brains to operate it
were extremely rare and those who had them were fucking geniuses. These
are people who dwell in such airy realms that we should pay them vast
amounts of money and never question their decisions. That's how we got
such oblivious duds as Timothy Geithner (who never held a nongovernment
related job in his life) running the Treasury, and tens of thousands of
the Empire's pud whackers, ranging from petty legal commissars, on up to
the Alan Greenspans of this world -- a bumbling arrogant old fart who
never had a clue but understood the rules: Look enigmatic and blow
whichever administration is in power.
In fact, capitalist natural selection for mediocrity is how British
Petroleum got Tony Hayward, who was unfortunate enough to be tossed out
of the boat onto the media beaches of public awareness in his briefs. If
ever there was a specimen of the slimy corporate salamander, we saw it
in sniveling nakedness right there. Reportedly, the salamander will
receive $18 million, plus annual pension payments totaling $1 million
per year, the possible forfeiture of which makes good news copy to cover
BP's ongoing negligence, theft and intimidation. So the public howls
and throws eggs at the straw man, who has been making $1.6 million a
year and is now sitting on his yacht "trying to get his life back." Does
anybody really believe Tony Hayward gives a shit? Oh, there may be some
news of BP's demise, its "absorption" by another corporation or
something similar to Enron, sold off piecemeal to other massive
corporations at a bargain prices, while everyone was watching the saga
of the mediocre white collar criminal, Ken Lay. You'd think we'd learn.
Corporations do not go away; they just morph along, sucking up
generation after generation's money.
The rabble at the gates
You never hear them say it, but neo-conservatives understand that
they have a mean streak down inside. They also know if they want to
share in the national plunder, they must win hearts and minds. They must
look pious and sound right while lying through their teeth and picking
our pockets. In other words, they have an astute grasp of American
politics and business -- which are the same thing, of course.
Most educated American liberals, however, believe simply being
progressive makes them, by default, the nation's saviors -- morally and
intellectually right in all things. As proof, they read more and,
allegedly, are more open minded than most conservatives, except when it
comes to their daughter dating a redneck named Ernest who lives in a
trailer court behind the strip mall. They are certainly among the
educated class in a country known for its lousy schools and a dull,
sated and unquestioning public. Education and access to education are
now our fundamental class delineators. Higher education is now for the
privileged. And that privilege, almost regardless of profession or
career, is a future that depends on government. Liberal or conservative,
it matters little. In fact, this privileged class votes Democratic more
predictably than the working class, Hispanics or Blacks.
So when educated liberals look up from their copy of The Nation or
the Jon Stewart show, they behold a chilling sight: Beefy mobs waving
teabags and demanding tax cuts to help pay for new schools and bridges,
Sarah Palin emerging from the ashes of the McCain campaign to become the
high priestess of the uncurried tribes, with a Mormon named Glenn Beck
exhorting millions of fundamentalists to seize the country. They feel
that something has gone terribly wrong with America.
Immediately they conclude that it is the American people's fault
through their backwardness, incomprehension and misdirected anger, and
that maybe it serves them right for not rallying behind the flying
progressive standard. (I've been plenty guilty of this myself over the
years, and am now a recovering American liberal, well on my way not to
conservatism, but toward a strumpetocracy, government by strumpets. It's
a real word, Google it.) Not that the progressive flag was actually
flying; American liberals threw down their standard 40 years ago in the
rush for comfortable technical, teaching and administrative jobs in
government, universities and non-profits. "Ah yes," they wailed, the
people have let us down. They are absolutely disgusting!" liberals
agreed. And they still agree. Read the comments on Huffington Post or
Or look at the arrogance of Barack Obama's characterization of
American heartlanders "clinging to God and guns." Which we do. However,
implicit in his statement was that both God and guns are indicators of
an ignorant loser class. When opponents scalded him for his remarks, he
justified them by pointing out he had said, "what everybody knows is
true." Meaning everybody in his class, the educated liberal class. Hard
to believe their predecessors were the point men and women for the
Scopes trial, the eight-hour day, unions, anti-McCarthyism, Cesar
Chavez, Negro civil rights.
Big dogs eat first
The ruling elite stays in power through the patronage both parties
offer their supporters. They hang onto or follow their party's leaders
much the same as remoras cling to big sharks, and pilot fish accompany
sharks, happy to get the leftovers. Both parties provide their activists
and followers with livelihoods, through programs or legislation that
just happen to make the rich richer.
One good example is the psychologists, doctors and social workers
initiate the process of getting half the country on anti-depressants or
mood stabilizers, a term that should scare the hell out of anyone who
grasps the concept of the corporate state. They get their jobs through
government funding, or research that defines behaviors as illnesses
requiring powerful psychoactive drugs.
One new favorite is ODD, oppositional defiant disorder, in which
children act like -- surprise, surprise -- the young assholes that
children can sometimes be. Teenage rebellion becomes a psychological
disorder. Diagnostic manual symptoms include "often argues with adults,"
an unheard of behavior of teenagers calling for antipsychotics such as
Risperidone. Side effects of Risperidone include a mild speed like buzz,
a super erection lasting hours, lactation and suicidal tendencies.
Big Pharma makes billions more in the name of alleviating the
people's suffering. Obviously many millions are indeed suffering, but if
that is the case, then American society is suffering. Never will it be
asked publicly just what psychic anguish our society is suffering from.
Because the answer is capitalist industrial commodity disease, and the
psychic pathology of Americaness. That would mean consulting Mr. Marx,
who predicted much of it, or Arthur Barsky, who brought the definition
up to date.
For Americans, self-examination is not just rare, it is
which one source of our pathology. Missing from our national character
is love of the common good, and our collective civic responsibility
toward one another. But if we acknowledged collective responsibilities
to the individual members of our society, then we would have to deal
with the issue of class in this country. Better to medicate the entire
nation. To do that, you need big government.
In the process, the already rich get richer and the rest of the
middle class commissariat becomes more dependent upon the rich. As
conservative editor and writer Angelo M. Codevilla, pointed out in a
July 2010 article: "By taxing and parceling out more than a third of
what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into
American life, our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth
and poverty." A third is more than enough to tip the scales at their
Keep ‘em dazzled with foot work
Meanwhile, there are the rest of us. That great throng of
family loving folks, professionals and peasants alike, libertarians,
patriots, people who worship god and those who loath religion -- people
who still believe that hard work is the road to success despite the
evidence, people who know differently because they sell used cars or
work for the US Post Office -- citizens who rightfully suspect that
government taxes merely feed the beast, or who believe, again rightly,
that no politician truly represents their interests, and that the
government is now in the business of social engineering for economic
purposes. Fundamentalist Christians, gays, small businessmen, Hispanic
Americans, organic farmers, pro-lifers and abortion supporters, union
workers in the North and Southern anti-unionists, school teachers and
stump preachers -- we all feel threatened by our government.
At the same time, in order to keep revolution at bay, and the
military in cannon fodder and defense industry in contracts, we have
been heavily indoctrinated to believe America leads the world in all
things, and that the rest of mankind lives less prosperous, less free
lives, coveting our "lifestyle." In short, they are lesser people.
Still though, we have in common that none of us like the idea of a
ruling class. We did not from the very beginning. Yet, we no longer take
effective action, because it has become impossible to identify what we
might do to change anything. Instead, we react to events. That is what
the ruling class wants, because if we are reactive, then outcomes can be
controlled by controlling the stimuli. Keep 'em dazzled with foot work.
So the stimuli keep coming at us faster than we can think. And they are
presented as fate, or the result of "fast changing world events," or a
banking collapse no one could have predicted -- things to which we must
respond immediately. Most of us just give up. Which again, is what the
ruling class wants us to do -- become a uniformly pliant mass.
Because the revolutionary destruction of the current economic
bad as it is, would crash the country's economy even more quickly than
the current process of theft, we are not likely to see an outright
revolution that overthrows the ruling class. Look at the sorry assed
"Tea Party Revolution," which will have to be allied with the GOP (which
its backstage leadership has been anyway) in 2012 if it wants to be
even a small factor. Media noise about the Tea Party doth not a
revolution make, and it certainly does not overthrow the ruling class,
who do not mind the wrath of the rabble, so long as it does not get in
the way of the money.
And besides, the ruling class holds all the money, not to mention
media that informs the populace as to what is going on in our country.
It controls our health care, our banking and retirement funds. It
controls our education or lack of education, and it controls the price,
quantity and quality of the food we eat. It controls the quality of the
air we breathe, and soon, through pollution credits, even the price they
will pay for that air. Most importantly, it holds concentrated legal
and governmental authority, not to mention the machinery of both parties
to grant itself more authority.
In the face of all this stands a very diverse public, which
regardless of what some might claim behind a few beers, is not about to
take up arms or use force to unseat the ruling class. When your life and
your family are so utterly controlled by persons and forces that you
cannot even see, you don't take such risks. That's not gutlessness. It's
Therefore, you are left with a rigged game called legislative
This is an invisible power process, masked by another process called
public relations strategy, which feeds it into yet another process
called media, that makes "news decisions," as to what you need to hear
or see. And there's plenty you don't need to hear. For instance, NPR,
the New York Times and thousands of other outlets refuse to use the word
torture to describe waterboarding, preferring instead "aggressive
interrogation methods," unencumbered interrogation, free interrogation,
or similar euphemisms. NPR's justification for sugarcoating US torture
is, ""the word torture is loaded with political and social
Truth is a hard road to travel
After decades of hyper-militant consumerism and its attending
alienation, and a national consciousness spun from pure capitalist
bullshit and mirrors, it is testimony to the American people that they
can still see to piss straight, much less recognize any sort of truth
whatsoever. Yet, a portion of Americans are beginning to grasp the truth
about what has happened to their country -- that it has been bought and
paid for by an elite class in a nation that is supposed to be
classless. They are beginning to realize that, when it comes to actually
governing our country, we are powerless as individuals -- even members
of the political class -- and serve the overall will of its true owners.
It's been that way so long we've become conditioned to accept it as a
natural state, something we cannot change, and do not even know how to
question, because, like the atmosphere, it's just there.
The higher truth is something we recognize when we encounter it. We
may not have the right words, or all the facts, but we can feel it in
our bones. Intuition is the first glimmer in the distance. It goes
unsaid that we always have the choice of not looking in truth's
direction, or not looking for it at all. Seldom is it a pleasant sight,
which is the chief sign that it is truth. Even the best of it arrives to
the sound of ominous bells.
I think about that young reader, Brent B., who takes time to email
now and then. Today he wrote, summarizing the only thing of which I am
It's a hard thing to know the truth in this
world, it's like something inside of you dies, but sometimes you still
have to know it.
Joe Bageant is the author of Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. His newest book, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir,
deals with America's permanent white underclass, and how it was
intentionally created. To be released in September in Australia and
October in the United Kingdom.Rainbow Pie is available for
preorder from Amazon-UK and Amazon-Canada. In Australia, the book
can be pre-ordered at Scribe Publications.